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  • A New Song

    Eight years ago today, God surprised us with the birth of our sweet Margaret six weeks before her due date.  At the time, we had no idea of His glory being birthed into this world through this tiny pink-skinned bundle.  Her first days were spent in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where our feet kept rhythm in old wooden rocking chairs, eyes staring and hearts praying for this tiny miracle baby girl.  Our hearts overflowed with joy, yet the joy was overshadowed by blood transfusions and unending tests.  Our family spent countless hours praying and begging God to heal our blond-haired four and half pound daughter.   Our Father heard our cries.  God didn't heal Margaret's body instantly, but he healed her little by little.  

    At seven months of age, Margaret was diagnosed profoundly deaf.  As I look back, I remember the acute pain of her diagnosis.  I experience the gnawing pain of the months and years of surgeries and therapy that followed.  I would never have signed up for this part of our story, but I now see this journey through this valley of darkness and suffering revealed God's great glory and goodness in our lives.  The Father used our baby girl's painful first months and her deaf ears to teach our family to hear a new song of His love. . . A melody perfectly written to magnify His glory in our hearts.  Oh Father, teach us to sing a new song in 2016!

                                                                  Deaf and silent ears                                                                                                                                                       Who would ask,                                                                                                                                                             Only He to bring                                                                                                                                                           music and life.                                                                                                                                                              A new song                                                                                                                                                                    A soul dance                                                                                                                                                                  A heart like His.

                                                                 Speak and listen                                                                                                                                                            feel the rhythm.                                                                                                                                                             Know the voice                                                                                                                                                             Of the One                                                                                                                                                                     Who opens deaf ears.                       

                                                                The One                                                                                                                                                                         Who teaches us                                                                                                                                                              to sing a new song                                                                                                                                                        til He comes                                                                                                                                                                 and forevermore.                                                                                                

     

  • My earthly battle- depression

                                                           

    Father, Shine your light into the darkness of my mind.  I cannot see for today's flame of life has been extinguished.  You alone can lift the oppression of this deep darkness.  I have seen the flame and lived in the light, so I know that the light will once again shine in this dark room.  Take my hand and remind me of your presence so that my fearful heart will rest. . . rest in the emptiness and rest in the the longing for a life where darkness does not exist.  The dark days expose my heart's desperation and dependence on you and that is good.  Help me to fix my eyes on your deep, deep love as I journey through the darkness.  Hallelujah! Shalom is ahead.  There will be a day when all darkness will end and I will forever and ever bask in your glorious Light.  Come quickly, My beloved. 


  • Beholding is worth the waiting

    I have spent this morning thinking about time and its effect on me.  In many ways I am enslaved to schedules, plans, and expectations.  I want results quickly and expect no time of waiting.  When delays occur, I am troubled and sense that time is being wasted.  God is teaching me that time is important.  The seasons of waiting and the in-between times are even more important than the final results.

    I absolutely hate waiting.  I walk fast.  I read fast.  It is not in my nature to wait.  I find myself wanting to manually pop the toaster before the toast is actually toasted.  Seriously, I hate waiting!  Through the years the Father has enrolled me in many schools of waiting all of which were significant in my life story.  It has been these seasons of prolonged waiting and unmet desires that have caused me to thresh out my own desires and have stretched my faith beyond the point I thought I could reach and still be alive.  It is these in-between seasons that the Father has used and is using to silence my impatient demands and to enable me to rest in His perfect timing. 

    As I read Matthew's account of the events leading up to the Crucifixion, I marvel at the discipline of Jesus to submit to His Father's schedule.  He quietly and perfectly waited on God's timing.  Like me, the disciples were impatient and didn't embrace Jesus' willingingness to wait for His Father's prompting.  Time wasted meant nothing because Jesus heard only the divine ticking of His Father's clock.  And so there is also no time wasted in my own life.  These moments, hours, days, and years are perfectly measured, counted, and recorded by God the Father. When the time has come to move, He will arrive in a way that we will stand in awe.  Our hearts will be amazed and our spirits will have no doubt that He has moved on our behalf.  We will see and be astonished by His marvelous glorious timing.

    The waiting, the delays, and the in-betweens, have purpose in our lives.  These seasons of uncertainty cause us to stop the striving and to still our hearts.  It is these watching and waiting hours that reveal our desperation and our dependence on Him. The waiting blocks our human tendency to demand our own way and to plan our own itinerary.    

    I am thankful for His divine waitng in my life.  Although undesired, the monotonous delays have revealed the deep, deep love of the Father.  I am learning that this life is not my own and it is not about me, but it is for His glory. When I remain focused on His immeasurable glory, I realize that I can truly rest in the waiting hours.   God uses the waiting and watching hours to give beautiful glimpses of His sufficiency and His provision. It is the long painful waiting, those moments, days, and years when I see and feel nothing, that He uses to prepare me to experience the brightness of His glory.  The Father calls me to stop and Behold!  The beauty of His glory is worth every second, minute, hour, day, month, and year of the waiting.  I wouldn't want it any other way.   


  • The Red Lily

    In September 2011, I had the incredible privilege of attending a directed silent retreat. God had placed this desire in my heart many years ago as I read accounts of other believers entering a time of silence and solitude. When the email invitation arrived last spring, I immediately signed up for an autumn week of silence and fellowship with the Father. Although I had much to pray about in my life, my desire was purely to sit at the feet of the Father and to enjoy the gift of uninterrupted time with my Creator. In fact, even before I left home, I committed to not use this time of solitude as a time of praying about difficult and painful circumstances. Instead, I desperately wanted to spend these minutes, hours and days connecting with the Father and savoring the joy of intimate fellowship. I shared with Kathy, my spiritual director, that I simply wanted to SEE how the Father SEES me. Of course, I had lived my 39 years with the knowledge that He deeply loves me and that His plans for me are good, but I really wanted my heart to see and believe the Father's heart for his little girl.

    I entered the week with a watchman's eye and a quiet restful heart. Prior to going on this trip, my good friend who was also along side me in silence, had given me a book to read about a lady who had experienced the gift of a week alone with the Father. Her silence was spent in the wilderness, while my week was spent in a room at St. Ignatius in Atlanta. ( The rooms at St. Ignatius are sterile but the grounds are holy and anointed.) I was struck by the author's account of God's presence in nature, particularly calling birds to minister and reveal His presence. Our group entered silence prior to our first dinner together. The intimacy of community spent in silence is indescribable, an experience I will never forget. As I dined with both friends and strangers in complete silence, I looked up in the dining room and saw a hummingbird flying all around the room. I realize it sounds crazy, but I saw this tiny creature and sensed the Father had sent this hummingbird to reveal His presence. In my spirit, I felt like the Father was saying, "I am here. . . completely present, so much so that I will bring a beautiful hummingbird whose home is outside in trees and flowers into a dining hall." Just like God had spoken to the author of the book I read, He used a tiny bird to reveal His presence in my silent journey.

    The week was a restful and glorious week, enjoying sitting under big oak trees, walking in the woods, and meditating by the river. The peace that I experienced as I communed with the Father was a small taste of heaven's eternal union. I journaled throughout the week, recording all that God was doing in my heart. My waking hours were consumed with writing, praying, and enjoying the beauty of the Father's creation. The fountain of His presence flowed over me in ways human words can not communicate. Some of my first journal entries were simply sharing how I see and experience Him and the Father would use His Holy Word to reveal how He sees me and experiences me. As I was reading through Psalms one morning, part of a verse struck me so profoundly that it was like the Father Himself spoke it directly to me. The verse was Psalm 18:19, "He rescued me because He DELIGHTS in me." It had never occurred to me before this moment that God delights in me. The Father used His Word throughout the week to reveal His heart of delight for me. It was beautiful and humbling, an unspeakable gift.

    Each day I met with my spiritual director for 30 minutes, sharing about my time in silence. On Thursday morning, my last day at St. Ignatius, my director shared that she was going to ask the Father to give me something tangible to take back as reminder or "stone" of His delight for me. I embraced her words and left the session on the mission of finding this tangible stone of remembrance. I headed down the trail to the river looking all around for this symbol of His delight. I looked in the pine straw and leaves. I looked in dirt, trees, and bushes. I searched through pebbles and rocks amid streams. I was in constant thought and wonder of what this "stone" would be. I found some stones covered with a gold shimmer along a stream, and I considered this might be the gift. I even skipped lunch and stayed by the river looking for any sign from the Father. I watched butterflies flutter and geese fly but still did not discover this treasure. After five long hours of searching along hills, streams, and rivers, I walked back to the courtyard to await the daily communion hour. My time in silence would end in the morning. I sat in a wood chair next to a beautiful fountain and I journaled these words. . .

    "Father, before the sun sets today, will You bring me a symbol of your delight to take back home? Manifest Your glory. Glorify Yourself. Show me Your great Name. Your Word says that You pursue. You are the pursuer. I wait on You alone. Time is drawing nigh. . . (turned to next blank page in journal). . . Looked up and saw a lily. . .What is the significance of this red lily, Father? I have not seen this lily before this moment. . . ."

    After journaling those words, I looked back down to read Song of Solomon, the book of the Bible I was studying in a Bible study back home. I read this verse, "My beloved has gone down to His garden to the bed of spices, to graze in the gardens and to gather lilies. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. He grazes among the lilies." Song of Solomon 6:2-3  There are no words or expressions to adequately communicate what I experienced after reading these words from the Father. He had used His Holy Word to reveal that He is present amidst the lilies, that he dwells in the garden of lilies, and that He picks lilies for His beloved. I sat by this fountain staring at this one red lily and wept with deep groans of awe as I considered that my Father had given me, the bride of His heart, the most beautiful flower as a symbol of His delight. I had been searching in dirt, sticks, and rocks, but He patiently waited until the last moment to reveal His heart of delight for me. He did not desire for me to hold straw, tree bark, and dirty rocks, but instead He bloomed one beautifully perfect lily just for ME. He did not give me what I expected or even imagined, but my Father gave me far more than what I could have dreamed. He commanded one stem of lilies to blossom in the out-of-season month of September to reveal His heart of delight for His daughter. He wanted me to SEE that He SEES me as His beloved bride. I am my Beloved's and He is mine. I walked across the courtyard and picked this red lily as a symbol or "stone" of the Eternal Father's deep, deep love for me. I have SEEN, and I am forever changed.

                                                    


  • The Unfinished Cornice

    In July 2008, the Father lead us on a unexpected journey that we are still walking today.  Our fourth child, Margaret, was born profoundly deaf.  Margaret is now four years old, and I wouldn't trade a moment of this journey because the Father has lavished our family with the most amazing gifts along the way.  

    Margaret had bilateral cochlear implant surgery at 13 months.  The surgeries went remarkably well and the implant devices were activated or "turned on" a couple of weeks after the surgeries.  The birth of Margaret's hearing was very exciting and very emotional for all of us.  The implant audiologist asked that I speak the first words for Margaret to hear.  Margaret was terrified when she heard sound for the first time; she buried her head in my chest and cried and cried.  As you can imagine, we cried along with her.  The volume of her devices was slowly increased to a level that she could tolerate.  Over the last three years, we have experienced the joys of hearing our deaf child use her voice to speak sounds, words, sentences and now monologues.  Her speech is very clear and she LOVES to talk.     

    I recently read a story in Springs in the Valley devotional that profoundly impacted the perspective of my heart.  "Mr. Rothschild was the wealthiest man in the world, but he lived and died in an unfinished mansion.  He had power to frighten a nation by calling for gold.  Yet, one of the cornices of his house was purposely unfinished to bear testimony that he was a pilgrim in the land.  The unfinished cornice says:  Beautiful as this is, it is not my home; I am looking for a city."  You see, Margaret's deaf ears are enabled to hear only when the external devices magnetically attach to the internal devices.  I see this as her "unfinished cornice.".  It is a beautiful reminder that this is not our home; we are looking for a city.  Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.  Hebrews 13:14.  God has graciously given us this gift of brokenness as a loving reminder that we are not home yet.  He has also given us the incredible privilege of seeing His glory and experiencing His faithfulness.  We are on our pilgrimage to our eternal home where we will be made whole in Christ.  Our broken bodies will be made new and our unfinished stories will be completed.  May God give us the grace to embrace and find beauty in the painful and unfinished corners of our lives.  

    We are deeply loved by our Father! He is inviting us to open our eyes to see and our ears to hear the sights and sounds of Home!

  • Crown of Beauty

    Our sweet Margaret can only hear when her external device is magnetically attached to the internal device. As a result, she experiences the wonderful gift of optional silence. Margaret is so funny as she sometimes covers her ears with her hands and says, "no ears" because she has the choice to not hear the noisy chaos of our home. As the mother of four small children, I can relate to her desire to block out the noise of whining and arguing. :) Margaret also experiences the gift of perfectly quiet sleep. Aahh! Isn't that just like our Father. . . in the depth of sorrow and loss, He gives good gifts of His grace. He gives circumstances that we would never have asked for yet now would risk all to keep.

    As the days and years pass by so quickly, God is showing me that the life "here" is really about preparation for eternal life "there". "Here" is a temporary stay and "there" is Home. Charles Spurgeon said, "God personally hung out the light of mercy so that we might know the way home." I am convinced that the way that God prepares us and allows us to really KNOW His heart and character is through the fellowship of suffering. Through suffering loss and uncertainty, God has blessed our family with the immmeasurable riches of knowing Him more intimately. The Father is showing us that our own desires for comfort and peace are desires that He alone can satisfy. My wandering heart continusously runs to broken cisterns. but He gently and tenderly redirects my heart and quenches my thirst with the Living Water that perfectly and eternally satisfies. He is enough and we thank Him for calling us out of the shadows of comfort in order to give us glimpses of His glory.


  • Empty stalls and full cribs

                                                     

                                           

    Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to go to the heights. Habakkuk 3:18-19


    I love looking back through my old journals and recalling different seasons in my life story. I recently read the following entry and could remember these feelings of pain like it was yesterday but I marveled at the Father’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives since these words were recorded. He has redeemed the pain of infertility and the loss of our first three babies, and He has given us amazingly more than we could ever have hoped or imagined. He gave us four healthy babies born from my womb. We now have children ages 8,7,6, and 4. Wow. . . I am still amazed!!! Our Father is able to do the impossible! To Him be all glory and honor!!! 

    In February 2002 I wrote. . .

    The last two weeks have been painfully familiar. Mark and I are learning to surrender our plans, our hearts’ desire and the pain of our loss to our Heavenly Father. God is teaching us so much as we yield our hearts to Him. We know and believe that God’s plan for our lives is best and that we must trust Him even when His ways do not make sense. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? Job 2:10 God has truly carried us as we grieve the loss of our third baby. The brief life of this child had purpose and we celebrate this life as a glimpse of God’s glory and His faithfulness. God was faithful to open my womb and faithful to give us the strength and comfort to let go of our little miracle. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21 

    We thank God for the grace to trust Him and believe Him in the midst of our suffering. But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. Job 36:15 Mark and I are experiencing God’s love, tenderness, and compassion in unbelievable ways. Mrs. Charles E. Cowman wrote in, Streams in the Desert, “Whoso hath felt the Spirit of the Highest cannot confound Him, or doubt Him, or deny.” God is so faithful to pour out His love and to engulf us in His presence. There is no denying that we are being carried and strengthened by the Most High. His grace is sufficient, and His strength is powerful. Indeed, God is our life-support, and he breathes hope into our weary hearts. The world pities our circumstances, but we see the richness of where God has us. Our hearts are overflowing with the abundance of His presence. He is real, and He is good. I can truly say that NOTHING compares with knowing Him through the fellowship of suffering. He is holy, and His ways are perfect! 

    Now that I am on the other side of this season of suffering, I have the privilege of SEEING His glory revealed in my heart and in the sweet faces of our four gifts from the Father. I am humbled by His goodness and faithfulness and I will never stop thanking Him for bringing unspeakable beauty from the ashes of our pain and loss. To Him be the glory!

  • Symphony of my soul

    He doesn’t always stop the pain but He ALWAYS redeems.

    We have all been in a place, in a room, in a season, or in a moment of deep, deep gnawing pain. We have rolled around writhing in pain begging for a moment of relief, pleading for someone to stop the pain. But the pain of suffering remains, sometimes just a dull ache and sometimes intense knee-buckling pain. Depression extracts the air from my lungs and pushes me to a low, broken, fetal position. I lie there, wondering if I will ever make it past this moment alive . . . wondering if I will ever be able to open my eyes again, wondering if anyone knows or cares or if my cries are heard. It is those moments and those days that I am pushed to a resting position to a place of paralysis of heart, soul, and body. I can only be still and rest in the truth of whose I am. I am seen. I am known. I am not forgotten. I am lovely and my voice is heard. The strength of depression's mental blows is broken by the strength of the hands that formed the mountains and that dug out the depths of the deepest sea. It is in these moments that His hands are gentle and tender and His voice is a soft whisper. I can feel Him and I can hear Him because I am still. My body is broken and weary and my spirit is vulnerable and open to His hope of deliverance. I want to be rescued. I want to be free from the pain, the quick knock-out blows and the long never-ending aches. I want to be given a way of escape. I want to move again. To feel again. To hope again.

    It is these moments of unspeakable pain that compose a symphony of my soul. My soul arises from the ashes purified, cleansed, and new. I am different and I am free to sing a new song. I can hear the melody of His love. I am surrounded by the bells of beautiful and redeeming music and my heart will never be the same again.

     



  • Gifts of the Sea

    I am at the beach, the gracious shores of my Father's creation. The waves roll forward without pause obedient to His commands. The exact moment they break was determined by the holy hands of the Most High. Although the sun is just now rising, the rolling waters have not slept. They remind me of my Father. . . continuous, sure, certain, and present even in the darkness. Like Him, the seas are powerful, immeasurable, uncontainable, and mysteriously creating pearls deep within.

    A thick fog rolls in covering the deep waters and sandy shores. I can see less and less but I hear the whispers of the sea. Although I faintly see the shoreline, I know it has not moved. It is surely there despite my blindness from the fog. I hear the familiar calls of the birds that commune over the salty waters. I cannot see them but I hear their voices and I know they are flying above despite the fog that separates us.

    As the fog sits content to stay awhile, I am reminded of the painfully dense fog of suffering. It is heavy and unforgiving and seems to never lift. I can only see a few feet ahead of my path and it is frightening to keep moving forward yet I hear the whispers of my Father. I faintly see His footsteps beside me in the sand of suffering. The blind journey feels too uncertain and too painful to keep going yet I know that He is calling me upward to a place above the fog. When I get there, I am certain the air will be clear and I will have a greater visibility, but for now, I will place my weak and feeble hands in the mighty tender hand of the ONE who made the sea and ordained the thick clouds to descend. The air is damp and cold and the winds make me shiver but the Father covers me with the blankets of His Word. He is revealing His tender mercies and grace as I fix my eyes on His faithful promises and trust Him to lift the blinding fog. I move forward dependent on the eyes and strength of my Father who knows what lies ahead. The Father protects and sustains my weary heart through His loving whispers and divine gifts along the seashore.

    The fog is lifting a bit yet I still can't see very far ahead. I rest and give thanks for once again seeing the certainty of what was for a time unseen. I see the foamy crashing waves. I see there are friends around me on the same journey. The fog continues lifting and my heart leaps at what appears. There are surely breaking clouds on the horizon opening and dividing just enough for the sun to peak through. The skies are not bright yet but they are light enough to cause a reflection on the sea waters. I am thankful and content for the smallest amount of light to break through yet I know my Father. He will not stop until His light is as blinding as the heavy fog. The clouds will break, the fog will lift and the brightness of His glory will cause me to close my eyes in awe! I am humbled that God would use a fog covered seashore to reveal His heart of love toward me. The Father is stretching me and teaching me contentment as I live in both bright sun and impenetrable fog. I can rest in both conditions because I know that my Father's hands are holding mine and He will never let me go for all eternity.

  • My Awakening

      

    An amazing thought. . . I am here because He thought of me. He planned my life and intricately knit me together in my mother’s womb. Each and every part of me was carefully crafted by our Creator and He has given me an irreplaceable part to play in His big story. He is my Father and I am His forever child created to bring glory and honor to His great name.

    I had the blessing and rich heritage of being a daughter of believing parents. My parent’s greatest desire was that my brother and I would know the love of the God they serve. I walked through several years of rebellion, yet in my early 20’s surrendered my life to the Lordship of Christ.

    This began the incredible journey of my Christian walk. My greatest desire since I became a believer has been to know God and intimately walk with Him. I am very much like the character Much Afraid in the classic allegory Hinds Feet on High Places. I desperately want to go to the mountain top or High Places, but I am too weak and afraid to make the journey alone. I need the Father, my Good Shepherd, to lead and guide me there.

    I envisioned a life of mountain peak views with a story script of comfort, ease, and abundance. My naïve heart wanted the mountain peak views without the cost of the climb upward. I wanted the ski-lift approach . . . to get to the top and to experience the view without the effort or cost of the climb. But God wants our dependence. God wants to stretch and grow my faith so that I can develop spiritual muscles . . . so that I can know the power of the Resurrection . . . so that I can know the depth of His character. There is no way to the mountain top except by way of steep climbs, deep valleys, and seemingly never-ending wildernesses.

    God’s Word says in 2 Corinthians 4:7, But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

    When I was in college, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, and I have struggled with it ever since. I have gone through periods of intense darkness and fight through the fog often. Thus far, God has not healed me of this chemical imbalance. Instead, He has strengthened me and enabled me to endure the climb to the mountaintop while carrying this extra weight. He has provided enough light to make the journey and I am deeply grateful for the days of the brightest light. My Abba Father is the lifter of my head, and He has revealed to me the brightness of His glory. He shines His perfect light into my darkness.

    I had planned out my story and my script flowed smoothly with no periods of waiting, silence, or uncertainty. I had it mapped out and I knew how many miles it would be before each turn and which direction to turn when it was time. My map through my twenties failed me because the road through singleness was much farther than I had anticipated. God waited several years before He brought my dear Mark. God, in His wisdom, used those years in the wilderness of singleness to bless me with deep intimacy with Him and rich fellowship with believers. It was during those years that He gave me the gift of life-long friendships, friends that are still my best friends today. His plans are good and His timing is perfect.

    After marriage, I was ready for the turn up the mountain to parenting, but my Good Shepherd lead me the opposite way to the valley of the shadow of death and sorrow. I lost three babies through miscarriage and went through three and a half years of infertility treatments. These were some of the most painful and lonely years for us and especially for me. I had to die to the dream of having my own child when the infertility specialist told me that he had exhausted all treatments and that we should pursue adoption. I was a drug representative at the time, and I would walk in hospitals and see pregnant women all around. I would pray, God, this is an easy thing for you to do . . . why won’t you hear my cry? I had to surrender my life-long desire to have my own child. Mark and I decided after much prayer that our way out of the valley of barrenness would be adoption. We began the process and finished our home-study. At the point we were waiting to be matched with a birth mother, we discovered a miracle. I was pregnant. God gave us FOUR children in FOUR years. Gods’ word says in Ephesians 3:20, Now unto Him who is able to do far more than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. We are still amazed and thankful for His immeasurable gifts.

    At this point in our lives, it felt so good to have a scenic view. Mark and I relished this place of blessing, this place of having children that we never thought we would have.

    About the time that we were settling into our rocking chairs to enjoy the view, our Good Shepherd began leading us down a new trail into a different valley. When our fourth child was seven months old, I noticed that Margaret was not responding to sound. I took her to the doctor the next day and was told that she probably had fluid in her ears. The doctor referred us to an ENT to have her ears checked possibly for tubes. Two weeks later, the ENT and audiologist confirmed that our baby girl is profoundly deaf. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office that day thinking of how rare it is to hear of a child being deaf. The truth is that deafness is very uncommon but our loving Father in His sovereignty chose our sweet Margaret to be deaf. The Father had reached out His hand and again led us into the valley of death and sorrow.

    We found out that Margaret was a candidate for cochlear implants yet our insurance did not cover the $90,000 cost per ear. They considered it an elective surgery. In the meantime, we found out that Margaret’s doctor, Dr. Wooley and Mark’s boss happened to be on a campout together and committed to work this out on our behalf. These men lobbied to the people at the top of Aetna and God changed their heart. Aetna covered the cost almost one hundred percent.
    Margaret is now 4 years old and she is talking like crazy. She goes to the Alabama School for the Hearing where she is in community with other preschoolers who have cochlear implants. She LOVES school!
    As I have walked through these valleys with my Father, the Good Shepherd, I have experienced His deep, deep love and have come to know His character. I am convinced that the way that God prepares us for Home and allows us to really know His character is through the fellowship of suffering. Through suffering loss and uncertainty, God has blessed our family with the immeasurable riches of knowing Him more intimately. The Father is showing us that our own desires for comfort and peace are desires that He alone can satisfy. My wandering heart continuously runs to broken cisterns but He gently and tenderly redirects my heart and quenches my thirst with the Living Water that perfectly and eternally satisfies.

    I have climbed up the mountain by way of the valleys, and as I climb the view gets more beautiful. I am thankful when my Good Shepherd allows me to stop, rest, and enjoy the view but I KNOW that we have not yet reached the Top of the mountain. This is our temporary home, and we are on our journey to our Eternal Home. I do not want to stop here and God mercifully will not let me get too comfortable at each rest because He has more for me to know and more for me to SEE. He will not stop until we reach the Heights of Home. The longer the journey, the more I trust Him with the way He leads me. I always remember that though the valleys are dark, painful, and sometimes long, He eventually leads me out and upward. His love for me is the reason I keep climbing. He gives me gifts of His grace and glimpses of His glory. He gives me hope. He strengthens and protects me. He nourishes my soul and gives me unspeakable joy in the journey. Like Much Afraid, I KNOW that He is good and He is faithful. He will never leave me nor forsake me. My heart cries, “Lead on, Good Shepherd, lead on!”

     

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