We grieve on Friday… and Rejoice on Sunday!

“He is Risen…

He is RISEN indeed.”

What a glorious truth that is for us today.

When you experience firsthand the realities of death… the hope of the resurrection becomes all the more powerful.

And today, we have hope in the midst of our sadness and our longing that we’d be putting on Sophie’s first easter outfit, giving her her first easter basket and celebrating Easter with her.

I miss her terribly today.

Yet, in my sadness God led me to I Corinthians 15.

Paul talks about how if the resurrection didn’t happen, our faith is in vain.

The power of the gospel lies in the resurrection.

That Jesus DIDN’T stay dead!

He arose.

He conquered sin.

He conquered death.

And BECAUSE of that… I have hope.

“Behold! I tell you a mystery.  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:  ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 I Corinthians 15:52-57

Sometimes it feels like death stings, but as I was reading this I noticed a footnote of where “Death is swallowed up in victory” was referenced in the Old Testament.  Isaiah 25:8.   So, I went there and tears started to pour, because sitting on top of that verse in my Bible is Sophie’s footprint.   A sweet reminder today that because of Jesus, death doesn’t sting for her anymore.  She is alive and well and one day… one glorious day because of Jesus we will be reunited and take joy together in that day where “He will swallow up death forever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” Isaiah 25:8

photo (14)

So… we grieve on Friday and Rejoice on Sunday…

Here’s a little sweet taste of rejoicing that I found today (I put the english versions on here, though they do have them in their respective languages… just in case you’re wondering :) )

Rejoicing in America…

Rejoicing in Hungary…

Rejoicing in Switzerland…

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!  Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the Lord takes pleasure in his people.”  Psalm 149:3,4

Thoughts on Sophie’s TV debut…

First off, if you’re new here… welcome! I’m guessing you found me through Sophie’s sweet little TV debut and I’m so glad.   I’ve chronicled our journey with Sophie since finding out her diagnosis of Anencephaly (which was the brain disorder the piece is referring to).  You can find her whole story here:  Sophia Kyla’s Story   I have a blog entry entitled 10 precious hours where you can find more photos taken by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and those sweet 10 hours God gave us with Sophie.   You may wonder about the joy you see in our lives in the TV piece (and maybe you don’t) but either way we want you to know that Joy isn’t natural… It’s Jesus.  He’s the only one that can give the kind of joy we have in the midst of such sadness.  He’s everywhere in this blog, because He’s everywhere in Sophie’s life and our life.   And if you’re not that into him and that turns you off to reading Sophie’s story, that’s okay I think there still might be something sweet for you here!  I’d love for you to stick aound and get a taste of this crazy, broken and beautiful story that’s been written for our lives… whatever you believe I think you just may enjoy seeing how this story has unfolded!

So, now onto my thoughts about Sophie’s TV debut…

A month or so ago we were contacted by Scott Taylor, who helped to document Sophie’s birth and life as a volunteer for the amazing organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, to see if we’d be interested in allowing our story with Sophie to be told as part of a piece the local Wesh 2 News station was doing on Now I lay Me Down To Sleep.   Kevin and I have loved every chance we’ve had to tell Sophie’s story and we’re thrilled to be a part of creating greater awareness for an organization that God has used to bless our lives and give us priceless memories of our time with Sophie.   The piece was aired last night on our local news stations, and then found its way to the front page of Yahoo today…

Watch: Sophie’s story on Yahoo

1534788_10152187432269230_1047545910_o

It has been truly exciting to see God use our story, Sophie’s story… and ultimately HIS story, to bring hope to even more families and awareness of an amazing organization that helps families like ours have photos that forever keeps these memories alive for us.   But, I was reminded today as I spent time with the Lord that if no one’s life would have been impacted from our story except for ours, it still would have been worth it to carry our daughter, meet and hold her for those 10 precious hours God gave us with her.  It is simply an added gift that we get to watch the world get to know Sophie, and hopefully stumble upon the bigger story that is being written for their lives.

Since this piece is about the impact of Now I lay me down to sleep I would like to encourage any and all photographers to consider volunteering with this group.   Simply head to their website:  Volunteer Information for Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to find out more!

You can also give financially online to them as well.  There is a GREAT need for more volunteers, and as Scott said in the piece above it is one of the most rewarding things you could be a part of!

And finally

to my daughter Sophie,

Though you are not here and I know you are experiencing far more exciting things then I could even dream, I still am in awe of how God has allowed a simple decision of carrying you to term, celebrating your life and trusting Him with the journey He was asking us to take, to show the world the value of a precious life.  I never would have dreamed that He would write such a beautiful story for a little girl who would only live for 10 hours.  Your mommy and daddy have lived for 35 years and not until we had you have we seen just how much God can do with such a small and short life.  Yet, “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” I Corinthians 1:27.   You were small and weak and could barely breathe on your own, and yet the strength of your life has been profound.   We prayed before we even knew you existed that our children would have a greater impact on the world then we ever could on our own.  We didn’t ask for it to be this way, but we are amazed that even though God knew you would not live long, He still chose to overwhelm our hearts with a resounding YES as an answer to that prayer.  We would trade all of what we’ve seen to have you in our arms, yet we also know that there is a far bigger, grander, and God glorifying story that is being written here.  The “Glorious Unfolding”  of what God is doing is continuing to erupt our hearts with the joy of heaven and sharing with you all the wonders that God has done here.  My friend, and your friend, Bryn sent me the sweetest text earlier today… She said “That little girl (you) will never cease to make me stand in awe.  I can just imagine her giggling with the Lord as we marvel at all the lives she keeps touching.  Almost like they keep nudging each other knowingly saying, “wait till they see what’s next!!” and winking.”  I love that picture!  You’re story is so beautiful Sophie, and I’m so glad that God chose us to be your parents in this beautiful story He wrote and is continuing to write for our lives and your legacy. Today was just another reminder of how Death did not defeat us and LIFE just keeps on winning!  Oh how we love and miss you deeply and can’t wait to throw our arms around you in Heaven!  -Mommy

The day death came knocking

Last Thursday (March 27th) marked one year since our world was shaken to the core.  One year since we began a journey that has forever changed our lives.   A journey where unimaginable sorrow is turned to unexplainable joy, where our own broken pieces fed more than we could dream.  A journey where Jesus and life and eternity became more real than ever before.  A journey where death came knocking, seeking to destroy but LIFE… LIFE that can only be found in Jesus… WON.

We sat in eager anticipation to see our first child on the big, ultra techie ultrasound screen, only to be told that they couldn’t find a skull, it wasn’t good and we’re sending you to a high-risk doctor immediately.   We held each other, we cried, we prayed and then we drove the longest 30 minute drive of our lives to find out what was going on with our firstborn.

“Oh Lord, what are you going to ask us to walk through?” drew tears and fear as we drove on the highway that day.

And it was worse, so much worse than we could’ve imagined. “Your daughter has a rare, incurable condition that will not allow her to live once born.”  Tears and sorrow and then an overwhelming and unexpected sense of God’s peace and presence in that moment flooded our souls.  Death was creeping in in a way we had never experienced, and yet LIFE was peeking it’s head and then flooding it’s presence in the most unexpected of places.   “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10  And Jesus was bringing LIFE into that room shrouded with the sorrow of impending death.

He brought LIFE when we chose to carry our daughter to term and allow God to be the one who decided how long her life would be.

LIFE when our closest friends, Julie & DK enveloped us with love and tears and prayers as we quickly headed to their home afterwards, knowing we desperately needed people in that moment.

LIFE when family and friends heard the news and began to surround us with prayers, scripture and support.

LIFE when we began to celebrate Sophie’s life and LIFE when hundreds of others began to surround us and help us (no… force us) to make the time to celebrate her life in even more LIFE -giving ways

img_5643.jpg

LIFE when we watched our story and Sophie’s life bring LIFE and hope to hundreds… and then thousands… and then hundreds of thousands of people (wow. just. wow)

LIFE when our family experienced sweet community here in Orlando in the midst of the waiting… and waiting… and waiting for Sophie to arrive  (2 weeks and 2 days late!)

IMG_8695

LIFE when Sophie was born FULL OF LIFE and the majority of our family was there to meet her and hold her… ALIVE

View More: http://amandakern.pass.us/sophie

 

LIFE when there was utter peace in our hearts as we gave Sophie to Jesus and watched her take her last breath and knew she had just entered LIFE with Jesus

LIFE as our family surrounded Sophie’s little body and sang (really, just listed to the music because we were all crying) “How Great is our God”, picturing the wonders of what our daughter was experiencing with Jesus in the midst of our own sadness.

LIFE when that day, that day I dreaded from the moment we found out death was in our future and we would bury our daughter, came crashing in on the day of actually buried her.  The day no parent is ever EVER prepared or ready for was a day that began feeling so lifeless, yet was infused with hope and LIFE.   Hope that grew as our little service went on and our Pastor led us to Jesus and eternity and the hope of heaven that couldn’t help but make us think of the wonders of LIFE that Sophie was experiencing now and we would one day get to experience with her.  Oh there was so much sadness that day, but also so much LIFE

LIFE as we covered her not so attractive little casket (I’m so sorry Sophie, I’m sure you’re laughing about this now but it looked so much prettier in the pictures) with our handprints and butterfly stickers filled with little notes of love from family and friends.   And we even found ourselves laughing in the midst of our tears that day.

 LIFE as we released balloons in honor of Sophie, and in our hearts released her to Jesus just a little more.

LIFE as God continues to infuse His LIFE into our hearts as we journey through the grieving

and LIFE last Thursday as we visited Sophie’s gravesite and reflected on all the wonders God has done in this past year.

photo (20)

Yes, the sorrow has been deep, the grief so heavy at times it feels like death really is destroying, but there has been an ABUNDANCE of LIFE that has erupted where death sought to destroy.

Sophie’s life has been about LIFE and though death has been the cloud above us, LIFE has been the rain that has washed over us over and over and over again.  God has used the cloud of death to bring us a sweeter joy in LIFE.

So this past week, in the midst of the heaviness, I just keep thinking how one year ago death came knocking on our doorstep and threatened to destroy us… but LIFE won and just keeps defeating death.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE.” John 14:6

He has been our LIFE and has brought and continues to bring LIFE into the dark places in our life.

Death did not win. Death will not win.  And one day “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  1 Corinthians 15:26

I’ll say amen to that!

This beautiful and broken Surrender

I can remember back to high school, when I stood with arms stretched wide giving my life to Jesus,  singing “I surrender all” with reckless abandon and child-like trust.   My deep surrender at that time was my sour attitude towards anything that didn’t go my way, whether God wanted me to be on the swim team or in the show choir (as a side note, I wasn’t great at either), that boy that I had a crush on that didn’t seem to know my name, my stubbornness towards my parents and countless other things that were big deals at the time, but now seem so small. But, oh I sang that song with conviction and I surrendered all I knew to surrender at the time.

Can I tell you the sweet thing about the Lord?  He takes our child like surrender, when our hearts cry is Him and we don’t know anything of what counting the cost really looks like and He begins to show us.   Our child-like faith points to the deep longings of our hearts before they are marred with the questions that come out of the difficulties of this life.  He is faithful.  He hears our crys.  He knows our hearts even when we can’t even see our true heart’s desire through the weight of this world.

Fast forward to college, now it was my future, a husband, things that held more weight and there I sat at a conference for other college students my junior year of college, listening to a woman speak of what surrender looks like.   She told a story that has been imbedded in my mind of when she lived in Eastern Europe and the Lord prompted her to go around her home and surrender all her belongings to Him.  After some hesitation at the strangeness of the request… “Was that really Him prompting her?”  She began to surrender every item in her home to Him.  Not a difficult task at first, until she stood in front of a vase that held great value and significance to her.  Could she trust the Lord with this vase?  Would he take it?  Through tear stained eyes she gave it to the Lord and around the house she went.   Months later there was a fire in her home.  And as she went through the rubble, she came across the vase.  That vase, that she wondered if the Lord could be trusted with, sat in a pile of rubble marred by the fire in such a way that once cleaned it was even more beautiful then before.   That story was etched in my mind as I fought with the Lord in my seat that night, would I walk open handed with my life before Him?  I wanted to do what I wanted to do.   “Don’t send me somewhere I don’t want to go, don’t make me be single… “ those were the battle questions stirring in my heart.   It was as if the Lord took me back to those child like moments of junior high “Lindsey, do you remember surrendering your life to me?  This is what that means…to continue to give me the things you hold onto, to trust me with your deepest dreams believing that if some are not met, I will give you new ones that will be even greater” I sat there, tears streaming down my face, giving the Lord my future (while still politely reminding Him of where I did not want to go… in case He forgot).   As I walked open handed that year, God began to shape my heart to go to a place I did not want to go… move overseas.  And my time overseas became a season in my life where unspeakable joy and passion erupted in my heart.  As some say “I really did find myself in Europe”.   As dreams of where I had wanted to go seemed to break… new ones, better ones erupted from laying them down and letting the Lord pick up the pieces and make something even more beautiful.

 Elisabeth Elliot writes in her book, The Path of Loneliness, in response to becoming a widow: “That inexorable Love (of Christ) had allowed me to become a widow.  But ‘allowed me to become’ is not adequate.  It even seems feeble to me now, for the Lord of Hosts is absolutely sovereign.  He holds power over the universe; He holds authority over my life – not because He usurps the rights with which He endowed me in creation, but because I had specifically asked Him to be lord of my life.  I had prayed as earnestly as a child and a teenager and a woman can pray, Thy will be done. The coming of this transcendent authority into one’s life is bound to be an active thing, an immense disruption at times.  This was one of those times.”

 “An immense disruption”. Oh that phrase resonates with me as I think of the turn our story with Sophie took when we found out she would not live.   I faced what perhaps many fear in surrendering to the Lord, the fear of Him taking what you treasure so deeply.   We surrendered Sophie’s little life to Jesus long before we ever knew of her condition, giving her to the one who she belonged to in the first place and was just being entrusted to us for a season.  We had no idea that season would be so short.   And that has ravished my heart as I wrestle with surrender and hesitantly continue to surrender the things, people and dreams I hold so tightly.  Yet I know, that I know, that I know that living surrendered is the only true way to find your life.   “For whoever would save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) In giving my life to Jesus and everything I hold dear I am saying “I trust you, I trust your plan though I don’t understand it, and I trust that true life is found in living surrendered to you, Lord.”  Surrendering Sophie to the Lord, our dreams for her and with her enabled us to more fully embrace the gift of her life given to us by God for His appointed season, and trust Him in the questions and the hardness of it all.  And over and over there is evidence in my life that when I have walked surrendered I have found life in Christ more full, more meaningful, more rich and I have to be honest I am discovering new, sweeter treasures in this season of loss than I could have ever imagined.  He is taking a broken story and making something so beautiful, that even I am shocked at some of the beauty that is coming out of this journey with Sophie.   But that is what He does, He makes beautiful the broken, He gives new dreams, and He restores what is lost.  He takes this lump of clay and He molds it into something beautiful, allowing the pain of this life to not mar our beauty but enhance it.

 “With what misgivings we turn over our lives to God, imagining somehow that we are about to lose everything that matters, our hesitancy is like that of a tiny shell on the seashore, afraid to give up the teaspoonful of water it holds let there not be enough in the ocean to fill it again.  Lose your life, said Jesus, and you will find it.  Give up, and I will give you all.  Can the shell imagine the depth and plenitude of the ocean? Can you and I fathom the riches, the fullness, of God’s love?”  -Elisabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness

Rays of Sun on Sundays… new photo book, new parade and balloons

Last week I didn’t get a chance to post my rays of sun for the week as we were traveling back from Savannah, Ga after a quick trip visiting with my sister and brother in law, my crazy cute nephews and my parents and youngest brother who had come in for the week.   These Savannah visits are becoming a sweet ray of sun having my sister, brother-in-law and nephews so close, not to mention that Savannah is a a pretty sweet little city.  Last Saturday was the 1st of March and every 1st of the month to celebrate Sophie’s birthday we launch balloons to celebrate her… writing notes on each of the balloons and launching as many as months old she would be.   Over the past several months, without even planning it, God has allowed us to spend this little tradition with close family and friends.  This month was no exception and as we reached the 6 month mark since Sophie’s birth it was especially sweet to get to spend it with family and watch even Isaac and Jordan (my little nephews) write sweet messages to Sophie.  Somehow, celebrating Sophie on these monthly markers feels a little lighter, a little less heavy, and a lot more celebratory when we do it with friends and family.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished the first of several photo albums we’re making of Sophie’s life (who knew 42 weeks, 2 days and 10 hours of life would fit into so many albums?!).  I found a fabulous photo book site… Artifact Uprising and I am very impressed with the outcome.   We have been counting down the days to get her first photo book and it finally came this week.  I was religiously tracking the whereabouts of this package and the day it was supposed to arrive, somehow I checked it and it said the package couldn’t be delivered because there was no one home… what??  I quickly looked out my window, spotted the FedEx truck and ran.. ran hard to get my package.   Apparently, I didn’t need to run because it would have been dropped off at the office, however, I was taking no chances.   So here are some of my favorite spreads of this 166 page (yes, I did say 166 page) book of every photo, every facial expression, every little angle of Sophie’s body and every moment of our “10 precious hours” with her.  I cannot stop looking through it! And I continue to be so grateful that so much of those 10 hours were documented…

photo (18)

And last but certainly not least, to cap off a sweet week of rays of sun peeking in Kevin and I got to head to Magic Kingdom today to watch the premiere of the new parade, the Festival of Fantasy at Magic Kingdom!  Now, truth be told I don’t get super excited to head to Disney very often, but today I was slightly giddy with excitement over this new parade.  We ended up watching it with many cast members that we know who work there and if there’s any group that could boost the magic of an already magical moment it would be friends who work there… we were not disappointed!  Hope you find your way to Disney sometime soon and can catch this new parade!

He didn’t heal my daughter, God is so good.

“He didn’t heal my daughter, God is so good, even in this.”

I’m sure you’ve not heard that phrase posted on many a facebook status.  No, we are great  (I am great) at declaring God’s goodness when He does something for us, when he shows up in the way we had prayed and hoped.  When He provides, when He heals.  I heard a story of a man who was reading his Bible on a train when it crashed and killed many.  He told a reporter “ I don’t know why I didn’t die, why I’m still alive… God is so good.”  While I do not disagree with his statement, nor do I think we shouldn’t declare God’s goodness when He spares our life, heals, provides.   I just couldn’t help but think of the questions that may appear on the hearts of all the families who did lose someone on that train, the families who know God and those who didn’t  “Was God then not being good to them, to us?”  I felt this question stirring in my heart as I listened to a story of a family whose son was all but declared dead and as they prayed over his lifeless body… he began to breath, his life had been restored.   And they sat and spoke with deep power and conviction of God’s healing power, His goodness.   Part of me wished they would have added “But He is our healer, He is powerful, He is good regardless of whether He had given life to our son.”  Observing their faith as they spoke, I’m confident they would have said that, though through tear stained eyes if the outcome would’ve been different.

But these stories, and many others over the months since Sophie’s death and as I’ve wrestled with all the prayers we prayed in faith for her healing, have stirred in me a deeper passion for when and how we speak of God’s goodness.  My heart has become more sensitive to when people declare God’s goodness and when they don’t.  Do we do the watching world a disservice, giving them an unintentional brazenly inaccurate view of who our God is when we plaster all over social media, in conversation, His goodness only when life has gone the way we had prayed, the way we had hoped?  Even if we believe He is good in the good AND in the pain, do people see that?  Somehow are we defining God’s goodness as what He does, not by who He is in the way we speak?  I don’t know about you, but the stories of faith I am drawn to are the ones where a person declares their trust in God, their belief in His goodness apart from their circumstances.  Something about those stories are compelling, are transformational, they remind me there is a bigger story being written by a God who is more worthy of my praise than I could even dream.  And ultimately, that’s the God I’m drawn to know more of.  It reminds me of what a woman wrote to me as she read our story with Sophie… “Your God is astounding”.   Yes! He is, do you see it in my life, in the way I speak?   Can people see it in your life, in the way you speak?  Yes, His “Astoundingness” is seen in the outwardly miraculous, but it is also seen when His power shows up IN THE MIDST of heartache, of sorrow… when there is no explanation for your response to life’s trial except to ask  “Who is your God, that you can respond like this?”  Now, don’t for a second think that I wouldn’t be plastering and declaring all over if God had healed Sophie “God is so good, He healed my daughter!”.  I would.  “We have this hope as an anchor for our soul.” Hebrews 6:19  An anchor when he heals and an anchor when He doesn’t.   A God who is good when His miraculous power shows up in mighty ways on the mountaintop, a God who is good when His power shows up in the storm, and a God who is good when His power shows up in the stillness and you simply know He is there in the midst of your pain.    Though we may say it through a whisper, instead of a shout, through tear stained eyes instead of overflowing joy… Let us not stop declaring His goodness even when life looks anything but good…

“I’m still looking for a job, and don’t know how I’m going to pay my next bill.  Still God is so good.”

“The cancer came back. Still God is so good.”

“I buried my firstborn. God is so good”

“I prayed He would physically heal my daughter, He did not.  Still God is so good.”

 As I wrestle with God’s goodness and even feel an uncomfortable twinge in my soul  of “how dare I write of God’s goodness next to such painful realities for many”, the thing God continues to take me back to is the cross.

 Jesus, God in the form of man came down to this earth

To pay the penalty for my sin

The penalty I could not pay

DEATH

To give me the LIFE

I didn’t deserve

This is His love.  This is His goodness to me.

His GOODNESS.

The question of His goodness is settled on the cross.  When I say “God where are you, are you good?” What answer am I wanting that could be greater than “I am here, I came down to you, I paid the price for the ultimate pain and devastation that sin left on your heart so that you could be free, so that you could have life, so that you could experience the kind of healing and restoration that is more than just physical, but spiritual, a restoration of relationship with me, the King of Kings and a redemption of ALL things broken”  It is enough. Or is it?

There is a song that is sung during the Passover meal coming up in just over a month, “Dayenu”.  It means “It would have been enough”.  It is line upon line of the Jewish people declaring the things God has done for them followed by the line “It would have been enough” after each one of them.  Declaring “God if you had just shown your goodness in this one thing, it would have been enough” Instead they go on and on because God in His divine goodness and grace showed up over and over to them.  Is it enough?  God is the definition of good.  Even if He never once did what we deemed good in our lives it would not change His character, His goodness.  Paige Benton writes in one of my favorite articles “Singled out for Good” (google it!):

“Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than He was on that monumental Friday afternoon when He hung on a cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me tomorrow either, because God cannot be less good to me. His goodness is not the effect of his disposition but the essence of his person—not an attitude but an attribute.”

I was just reading in Exodus 19 where Moses says to God “Please show me your glory” and God responds saying “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’.”   “All my goodness”  literally, all my abundance, all my splendor, all my riches, all my reputation… and what did God do to show him this?  He did not then proceed to give Moses anything, but Himself. He allowed Moses to see HIM.  All His goodness… was HIMSELF.  And yet, He still promises goodness TO us…. goodness in the sending of Himself  in the form of Jesus to pay for our sins, and goodness in countless other ways that He shows up in our lives.

“Paul said he rejoiced in his afflictions.  Why? Because he understood the gospel, the good news that eclipses all else – Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem it, to extend his transforming grace and accomplish, without failure, his sovereign and loving purposes in the lives of his beloved children, for his eternal glory and our eternal good.” -Randy Alcorn in 90 Days of God’s Goodness

It is my prayer that everytime I question His goodness, I would look to the cross and say “It is enough” and declare more boldly in whatever comes my way “God is so good”, not ignoring my reality but recognizing the truth of who God is IN my reality.  Because His goodness is not defined or even enhanced by my circumstances.  He is simply good.  I’m a mother without a child to hold because God is so good to me.   Today, this is His goodness to me though I don’t understand it and I don’t “feel” that it is good, but my definition of goodness does not have the eternal wisdom of God attached to it.  I do not know the ways He is working out for good “all things” including this in my life in the eternal story He is writing, I just know He is. (Romans 8:28) What if, as believers, we showed the world that we believe His ultimate goodness is just so incredibly good that come joy or pain we will declare “My God is so good”.   That people would wonder “Who is this God they serve? What goodness could He bring into their lives that their circumstance doesn’t change their declaration of His power, His goodness, His grace?”

 “This side of heaven God didn’t heal my daughter.  God is so good.”

6 months today.

“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”  Isaiah 25:8,9

photo (14)

Sophie’s footprint sits atop this verse in my Bible, and today, March 1, I sit reading this chapter in Isaiah and longing for the day that Jesus will restore everything while thinking about all the ways He’s been restoring things in our lives now, in the waiting.

Today marks 6 months since we heard Sophie’s sweet cries, held her in our arms and released her into the arms of Jesus. 6 months of unimaginable grief, tears that I often thought would never stop flowing. 6 months of watching friends, family and strangers support us, pray for us, continue to celebrate Sophie with us.  6 months of filling our home with our moments with Sophie.

6 months of God walking us through what we never would have dreamed we could have walked through and survived.  6 months of God at work restoring, redeeming, building hope, awakening joy in our lives.  6 months of simply sitting in God’s presence and letting Him meet us in our fears, our shattered dreams, our unanswered questions.  6 months of seeing the Lord continue to write a beautiful and unimaginable story for our lives and Sophie’s legacy.  6 months of watching “me” slowly begin to discover the new “me”.  The me that a Sophie sized shape hole has left in my heart.  6 months of realizing that this new me will not always be sad and heartbroken, but is discovering new joys, new passions that carrying Sophie and being her mom has awakened.  6 months of beginning to learn how to embrace that Sophie sized shape hole as a part of me and all the joys and grief that will forever come with it.

6 months.

Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and sometimes it feels world’s away.  I don’t watch Sophie’s videos, look at her photos everyday as I used to.  That makes me sad at times, but perhaps it’s because those images, those videos are so etched in my brain that I now play them in my head throughout the day.   My heart feels more alive today than it did 6 months ago, the weight of grief not quite as heavy and the moments of joy more frequent.   Even in that, the joy and grief still co-exsist.  I haven’t just wept in a while, today I did, and still will.  It’s a day for celebrating our little girl and crying, just crying.   And I’m strangely looking forward to it, to a day of just celebrating and remembering Sophie and embracing all of the emotions that come with it.

So, Happy 6 months Sophia Kyla Dennis!

I’m thinking of the line in Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “Glorious Unfolding”…

“So let us remember that this life we’re living is just the beginning of the beginning”

And I’m looking forward to hearing of all the wonder’s you’re experiencing of your new beginning with Jesus that I’ll one day get to join you in!  I miss you and love you to the moon and back my sweet Sophie!

photo (12)

“See you in a little while”