A Thousand Flowers

And instead of the briar the myrtle blooms with a thousand flowers

And it will make a name

Make a name for our God

A sign everlasting that will never be cut off

As the earth brings forth sprouts from the seed

What is sown in the garden grows into a mighty tree

So the Lord plants justice, justice and praise

To rise before the nations till the end of days”

            – The Sower’s Song by Andrew Peterson (taken from Isaiah 55)

Dasah’s name comes from the Hebrew name “Hadassah” which means myrtle tree. Isaiah 55 speaks of the myrtle tree blossoming where a briar has been and making a name for our God, a memorial to Him. This has been one of my prayers for Dasah, that her life would make a name for our God. That God would turn what has been broken and full of thorns into something sweet. For her birthday we have asked people to help us make a memorial to the Lord, that we would be a people who remember what God has done, who He has been in the valley of the shadow of death. On her birthday yesterday, these words flowed out of my heart and onto the pages of my journal…

How Great is our God

Worthy of Praise

My King

My Comforter in times of sorrow

My sustainer in times of breathlessness

My hope. My only hope, the one true hope.

The One whose ways are higher

The One whose power is stronger

The One who makes what is dead come alive, who brings beauty in ashes

King of Kings

Lord of Lords

My Savior

The One who paid the ultimate price that I may live, that my daughters may live

The One who is God

Sovereign over all



Safety IN the pain, not from it

My friend and King and Lord


Good in ALL your ways


Forever faithful

Near to the brokenhearted

The One whose peace transcends my circumstances

Lord, as I listen to “How Great is Our God” I remember. I remember how I declared as I walked down the aisle to Kevin on our wedding day and we sang “ How great is our God… and ALL will see how Great is our God”. I remember how I prayed people would see your goodness, your greatness through our lives, our marriage. The adventure before us, the unknowns seemed sweet, exciting and hopeful.

And I remember as I held Sophie’s lifeless body in my arms, the church steeple where we were married just over a year before peeking through the trees outside the hospital window, our family and friends surrounding us as we said goodbye to Sophie and sang through whispers, tear stained eyes and wrenching sobs “And age to age He stands, and time is in His hands, beginning and the end… How great is our God, sing with me how Great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God.” And I looked at the shell, the beautiful shell of my firstborn daughter and mouthed the words as my heart cried “Yes Lord, let all see how Great you are still in this pain and sorrow.”

I remember how 14 months later, there we were again, with those same family and friends surrounding us, holding the shell, the beautiful shell of my 2nd daughter and again we sang through tear stained eyes, this time a far deeper groan in my heart “Oh Lord, let ME see it, let ME believe with deeper conviction “How great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God, and all will see how Great, how great is our God.”   I clung to those words as a lifeline to my soul and begged that God would help me believe that those words were still true. When we thought it could not get darker and we found ourselves further in the depths then we even knew was possible, was He still great?   Did I even care who saw how great our God is? Yes, in the deepest recesses of my soul its what I longed for, but deeper still (a place I had yet to discover) I needed to know His greatness, I needed to see it in a way I never had before.

And today as I listen to the words of those songs, as Kevin and I sang them at the girls’ gravesite, and the sun shone on our faces as it set… I’m realizing it is I who have seen how Great my God is over these last 3 years. Yes, so many around us have seen His greatness, His worthiness of our lives, but no one more so then her daddy and I. As I listened to The Sower’s Song this week, spent time in Isaiah 55, I prayed “Oh Lord I anticipated that this week would be one of pain… but could it be one of ‘a thousand flowers’ too?” So this is the way, “that instead of a briar, shall come up a myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord. An everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Dasah has been my myrtle. And her life has made a name for our Lord. And the thousand flowers are the ones whose seeds were planted years ago in the midst of the pain, now beginning ever so slowly to bloom. And the flowers of the myrtle blossoming in my heart are the ever-increasing joy and wonder at the greatness of my King. His greatness discovered IN the valley of the shadow of death. For truly in two and a half years of walking through the valley of the shadow of death, feeling as if this would be the place we were permanently exiled to live, God has revealed more of Himself then I have ever known, ever seen.   I’ve never wrestled so deeply and found Him so present in my pain. I’ve never cried out to Him with such brutal rawness and found Him so faithful. I’ve never experienced such physical, emotional and spiritual weakness and seen His great strength. A thousand flowers wouldn’t be enough to declare and describe the greatness of who God has been to us, of who He has revealed Himself to be.

As I prayed that this week would be a week of not just pain but perhaps “a thousand flowers”… I’m only now realizing that the thousand flowers of His great name are the seeds that were planted in my heart long ago.  And are now beginning to bloom.

So Happy Birthday Dasah Brielle Dennis, you have given me the greatest gift you could give a mother. A deeper love, a deeper knowledge, a deeper reverence for our Savior and King.

Oh how Great is our God, and I have seen How Great, How Great is our God.

isaiah 55

“You don’t have to speak a word, to be a world changer”

It’s been awhile and I hope to write more in the coming days and weeks ahead.  This season has been one that has been much heavier as we sit between Sophie’s 2nd birthday and Dasah’s first birthday coming up in just a  few weeks.  It’s hard to imagine how it has been a year already.  In fact, I can’t even fully comprehend that.   The Lord has been sweet as He has met me in the freshness of grief that significant dates seem to bring, and continues to bring healing to our hearts.  I look forward to letting you more into what this journey has been like but to be honest I am enjoying simply sitting in the presence of the Lord and learning a fresh what it means to wrestle with Him, to cry out to Him and to find Him meet me in the most raw and intimate moments.  For truly, there have been few words I’ve been able to even lift pen to page.  And in that I’m finding I’m learning more what it means to simply listen to His still small voice.   Words to come.  Until then, here is a short video our hospital did on our time with Dasah.  Many of you have probably already seen it through my Facebook, but if not, I pray you are encouraged and find yourself reminded of the intrinsic value of life and the impact that one seemingly small life can have on the world.  As our friend, Brandon says “You don’t have to speak a word, to be a world changer”.  What a gift to get to watch this just a few weeks before Dasah’s birthday and be reminded of how God was present in our time with her!

Imagining Sophie’s Joy



2 years.  Where has the time gone?  Oh my sweet firstborn daughter, held in my arms for such a short amount of time, yet the joy and pain of those moments feel so real today.  My heart aches for Sophie, Lord.  Does she know?  Do you tell her how much I love her, how much I miss her?  What would she say to me today, on this her earthly birthday and heavenly entrance to glory.  I imagine our conversation might go something like this;

“Hi Mommy, do you know what today is!?  To which I would reply “It’s your birthday!  The day I met you face to face!”  She smiles in agreement but spreads her arms wide and throws back her head declaring with exuberance “But mommy, it was so much better than that… It was the day I met JESUS face to face! I mean, the party you threw me was awesome, but the party in heaven… you wouldn’t believe it if I told you!!!”  And tears fill my eyes because I want to believe it, I want to hold on to the hope that heaven holds, being in the presence of Jesus. But still it seems heaven is so far away, seeing Jesus face to face such a mystery, and such an ache and longing in my heart to know the fullness that Heaven brings.  For the fullness I know is grief.  Yet even in that I’m sure I don’t know grief’s fullness because I have yet to see the fullness of when even grief is redeemed.  

Somehow, Sophie knows I am conflicted as she shares her joy with me, watches my eyes well up with tears, a longing smile on my face to know what she knows.  So Sophie runs back to Jesus, wondering what to do.  And He gently tells her “Remind her sweet girl.  Remind your mommy of the things she knows, the things I’ve told her.  There is much she cannot understand or even begin to comprehend of the wonders of heaven, of being with me, but there is much I have taught her.  Remind your mommy, Sophia Kyla… that I’m coming, that I’m making ALL things new.”  

She runs back, a tender joy in her face and grabs my hand and says with a sense of earnest in her voice “Mommy, Jesus has some things to say to you.  And guess what!!?? He brought me here to tell you!  Did you know He’s coming back, do you know He’s making ALL things new!?  Listen, Mommy.  I know you’re sad, though I don’t really know what that means, but Jesus says its part of what people on earth experience.  I know you miss me and wish you could be with me and Dasah.  But Mommy, I need you to know that we’re doing awesome!  That we get to walk and talk with Jesus, we even sit on his lap sometimes and get the best hugs and kisses from him.  We meet the coolest people here, people that you read about in God’s book, we hear their stories from their mouths mom!  You know, Jesus told me that I was sick on earth and didn’t have much of a brain and that’s why I couldn’t stay very long, and I know you got to see a little of my personality on earth, but Jesus jokes about how I have lots of thoughts and smartness and personality now!  I’m not sick anymore mom, I’m totally whole and one day, Jesus said I’m going to get a whole new body with nothing missing!!!  I can’t imagine it getting better than heaven but all of us up here are waiting too.  You’re waiting to be redeemed from all that sadness of life on earth and we’re all waiting for that too.   We’re waiting for Jesus to come down and be king of everyone and everything and for everyone to know that He is king.  Mom, we’re going to get to see Him do that together!!  We hear the stories of all the broken things on earth and we know Jesus is going to fix them and is fixing them even now.  Dasah and I talk a lot of about how proud we are that our mommy and daddy love Jesus so much and are letting him fix their broken hearts while on earth.  Mom, you can be sad but please don’t forget there is so much more coming! Remember that song that was playing when I was being born?  The best IS yet to come!  

Keep looking up Mommy, keep looking up to Jesus.  He’ll help you, he’ll help you look up.  I promise.  I wish I could tell you so much more about everything Dasah and I are experiencing in Heaven but Jesus said you wouldn’t understand it all and lots of it is part of the surprise.  Like one big SURPRISE PARTY!  Surprise, there’s no more pain!  Surprise, this is how your story was painting something beautiful.  Surprise…this is how much Jesus REALLY loves you!  So many things we only taste on earth and you KNOW will be so much better in Heaven with Jesus… but then SURPRISE, it’s even better then that!  

I love you mommy.  Thanks for being the best earthly mommy and pointing me and my little sister to Jesus.  Everyone thinks its so cool that people on earth were singing to Jesus like the choir in heaven when we both went to be with Jesus.  It’s like you were all singing together!  And ALL will see how Great is OUR God.  Mom, people are seeing how great He is through your life, daddy’s life, my life and Dasah’s life.   That’s the BEST birthday gift you could’ve ever given me!  I know you sang with tears but just remember… one day.. He wipes them all away!  Okay, I gotta go!  See you soon.  I know it feels like forever mom till you’ll see me again, but He’s coming soon!  We’re all getting ready up here, you better get ready down there!”

How is it that our children point us to the wonders of Jesus in such profound ways?  Imagining Sophie’s joy is like getting a glimpse of childlike faith from the perspective of heaven.  I don’t know how she would really speak, what she would really say, what kind of glimpse she gets on earth.  But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt today, on this her 2nd earthly birthday, her life is filled with joy and childlike wonder.  So as I celebrate her life today and miss her with an ache in my heart too deep for words, I can also reflect on the joy that became hers because of her death.  That moment surely was not joy for us, and death was not how it was supposed to be, but oh it was the moment that brought life and wholeness to our precious firstborn daughter.   Happy birthday sweet Sophie, thank you for continuing to point your mom and dad to things eternal in ways that we can’t wait to tell you!  Today we celebrate the joy of meeting you and welcoming you into our arms and the joy of Jesus welcoming you into his arms.

“A good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.  It is better to go to a house of mourning, than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.”

Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore.  For the former things have passed away.’  And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’  And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.'”  Revelation 21:1-6

HAPPY 2nd BIRTHDAY SOPHIE!!! Your 10 sweet hours of life were full of joy and celebration!

From the inside out… when saving babies transformed an empire, could it happen here?

The history books tell a story of Christians who valued life in ancient Rome and transformed a culture,

will they say the same of us?

First, this post is for professing Christians, for those who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior. I, like you have been appalled as I have watched the videos exposing the selling of baby parts by Planned Parenthood and the nonchalant way these little lives are spoken of. I have been convicted as I have read article after article calling us, as believers to rise up and truly be people who will be voices for the unborn, thought about calling my Senator (just being honest.. but have yet to do that, just figuring out what I want to say… you can find your senator information here), and wondered of the “how’s”. How do I engage in this cultural battle? Perhaps that is you as well.

If you are new here, let me tell you briefly my story. I have a loving husband, dog, and 2 little girls who died shortly after birth. Over the past two years I have carried to term those two precious girls, diagnosed in utero with fatal defects that 95% of women typically abort.  I chose a different way, not because of my own courage and strength but because a different way, a different worldview had been built into my heart because of what Jesus did for me on the cross. It’s a worldview that reflects the centrality of the gospel as the giving of one life so that another could live. That I die for others not the other way around. In a culture that says “it’s about me, my wants and desires”, the gospel calls us to live not for ourselves but for the sake of another. My husband and I did not walk this journey alone, we had a community of people that rallied around us and chose to live out the same worldview, to lay down their lives to lift us up and be the arms of feet of Christ in the most painful season of our lives.  And can I tell you, when people laid down their lives.. unimaginable beauty rose.

Both times, as we received the diagnosis my heart felt overwhelmed. The second time, we decided to get a 2nd opinion.  As the doctor confirmed the diagnosis, she said “Can I share with you your options?”, to which my husband said “no, thank you”. She proceeded to say “I’m concerned about your fertility future in continuing this pregnancy”.   In the midst of my own grief that we would be carrying to term another baby that would not live, I had not the words at the time but thought in my heart… “But this is what Jesus did, he laid down his life for me, so that I can live. He knew what it would cost Him and determined it was worth the cost… that my chance at life was worth laying down his life.” I simply responded “we know that it may affect the future and we will still carry our daughter to term.”   At the heart of her question was a worldview that says “Look out for what you want, it’s about you, it’s about your future.” Yet, at the heart of ours was “It’s about honoring God, it’s about obeying Him, it’s about being a picture of the gospel to the watching world, its about valuing life at the cost of my own.”

Aborting babies is not a new thing in our culture, but has been rampant in even cultures past.

“Cicero (106-43 BC), writing in the period before Christ, cited the Twelve Tables of Roman Law when he wrote, “deformed infants should be killed” (De Ligibus 3.8). Similarly, Seneca (4 BC-AD 39) wrote, “We drown children who are at birth weakly and abnormal” (De Ira 1.15). The ancient writer Plutarch (c. AD 46-120), discussing the casual acceptance of child sacrifice, mentions the Carthaginians, who, he says, “offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds while the mother stood by without tear or moan” (Moralia 2.171D). Polybius (ca. 200-118 BC) blamed infanticide for the population decline in Greece (Histories 6).” – Michael Craven

The early Christians lived in a society where infanticide and even child sacrifice was legal. But Christians, transformed by the life of Christ, began to live out something different.  When the Romans left their unwanted babies in the forest, the Christians went into the forests and rescued those babies. They cared for THE people, not just THEIR people. They sacrificed their own comfort, their own security; they laid down their rights for the sake of those in need of rescue. When you see someone drowning, you don’t wait for a comfortable boat to come along and slowly row out to get them, you don’t write a blog post on how to swim, you don’t stand at the edge of the water and shout this is how you survive. You GO. You run into the water with all your might and then you swim with all your might, with no thought to anything but I must rescue this person, risking your own life so that another may live. This is the way of the cross.  This is the way of the people of the cross.

Planned Parenthood may be defunded by the government for abortions because of this, they may not.  But we will only change a culture, change a nation as the Christians did in the Roman empire if we go. Will we step outside the safety of our home, our comfort and step into the lives of those who have never seen the transforming power of Christ at work?  Will we become a safe place to catch the woman who feels she has no other option but to abort?  Do we know that woman?  Will we become a safe place for the ones who do choose abortion, to catch them in a sea of life transforming grace and love and tell them of the One who has paid the penalty for our sins so that we can know Him?  Do we know those women?  Do we live our lives in such a way that we have gone into the broken homes and places and built relationships with those that have a different worldview than our own, those that are our enemies, the very ones that we may be tempted to cry “foul” at?  Will we be a people known as the ones who adopt the countless babies and young children who are waiting in a system that consistently fails them? A people known as the ones who give of our time and finances to help the ones that will adopt these children?  Will we go beyond that and becoming a vehicle of God’s grace to the women that carry those very children we will adopt and care for them as well?  Going is saying, “I will sacrifice my time, my comfort, my money, my vacations to care for those that are in need”.  Will we be a people known for laying down our lives or taking up our lives?  Will we be a people that live out a different worldview, one based on a better more secure authority, one that says my life is not my own?  One that calls us to be different. From Genesis to Revelation He is ALWAYS calling His people to be different, not for the sake of being different but different because the Kingdom of God is different than the Kingdoms of this world.

Jesus came for those in need of a physician; he stepped into their lives with such grace, love and TRUTH that they were drawn OUT of their sin.  Do we live in such a way that people are drawn out of their sin?  One where people are so compelled by the love of Jesus that they can’t stand to live another way other than his way. Do we live that way? I fear that many of us look just like the world, myself included. We like being liked, we like our stuff, our vacations, our comfortable lives and will only get uncomfortable enough that it doesn’t cost us what we really love. Going costs us something, and we often like the idea of going but not the cost of going.  This was not the way of the believers in Rome. They sacrificed it all, they lived radically different, they took in children when they could hardly afford their own, they provided for the sick and the hurting when it cost them providing for themselves. And the Roman empire took notice…

“Julian the Apostate, the last pagan emperor of Rome, clearly understood the power of these Christians when he wrote the following: These impious Galileans (Christians) not only feed their own, but ours also; welcoming them with their agape, they attract them, as children are attracted with cakes… Whilst the pagan priests neglect the poor, the hated Galileans devote themselves to works of charity, and by a display of false compassion have established and given effect to their pernicious errors. Such practice is common among them, and causes contempt for our gods (Epistle to Pagan High Priests).

Emperor Julian clearly saw the writing on the wall. The Roman Empire would not succumb to political upheaval or force but to love, the love of Christ. Julian’s dying words in AD 363 were “vicisti Galilaee” (You Galileans [Christians] have conquered!).” –Michael Craven

They humbled themselves and called on the Lord to change them, to change their nation and he heard from heaven and HEALED their land and an entire EMPIRE was transformed from the inside out, and the way of the cross became the way of the people.   Hundreds of years from now, people will look back on our culture in shock at the barbaric ways we exterminated the lives of children under the guise of sophistication and medical progress, just as we look back at the ways of the Romans and other cultures who practiced infanticide. But, will the history books also tell of the ways the Christians rose up and lived radically different, sacrificing their own comforts for the sake of others, bringing the hope of Christ to the watching world and thus transforming a culture?   Or will the Christians in our society be indistinguishable from the rest of the world? History tells the story that those societies transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ were also transformed in their value of human life.  Will that be our story? If our hearts as believers don’t change, if it doesn’t begin with a transformation in us that extends in the way we give of our lives for the sake of another, there will be no transformation in our culture. Laws, while good and right upholding truth, NEVER change hearts, relationships do.

Oh my brothers and sisters, let us show this country the way of the cross. Let us be the ones whose knees are worn from praying that God would heal our land,  that take in the unwanted, that care for the needy, that speak the words of Jesus in TRUTH and ACTION.  That we would truly show the world what it means that Jesus is Lord of our life, that he came to heal the broken hearted and restore the places long devastated. That He has called us to be ministers of reconciliation. Will we love and pray and move towards the very ones to whom many of us have called “barbaric”? Do you know that Jesus came for them too?  Many will hate us for living this way, but many will be drawn to the hope of Jesus Christ for they will see us living a different way, compelled by the love of Christ. And hundreds of years from now, perhaps it will be written in the history books, “There was something about Jesus in the lives of those Christians that transformed that culture and saved the lives of millions”. But let’s be honest, we’re all hoping Jesus comes back long before that!

 “For the LOVE of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer life for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… THEREFORE, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5: 14-15, 17-18 (emphasis mine)


Why I would not trade my story for another

On July 7, 2015 I was surprised at the words I found myself writing in my journal.  The past 8 months have been a season of wrestling with God in the darkness.  It is why I haven’t written much over these last several months, and yet in the darkness God has been doing a work in my heart that I have only begun to see.  He has moved my posture towards Him and shown me that even in the burning questions in my heart, He is a safe place to bring my pain, anger, sadness and grief.  I studied Job many months ago and was struck by the fact that it was out of Job’s deep lament before God that God revealed Himself to Job  in a way that he had never seen before.  I longed for that, to know God in such a profoundly deep way.  And I sense that this journey God is taking me on in teaching me to lament, in teaching me to wrestle towards Him is giving me a taste of what Job says in Job 42; “I spoke of things I did not understand, things to wonderful for me… I had heard of you by the hearing of my ears, but now my eyes have seen You; Therefore I repent.”   So, I share with you a taste of the fruit of what God is doing in my heart through this season of lament, a picture of beauty in ashes, of hope in the midst of pain, of a young momma learning to embrace the story God has given her.


If I could have more of you and lose my daughters or less of you and keep them.  If I knew the tastes of glory I would see through the short lives they would receive.  Oh, I want them back so much.  I want a different story so badly.  But, a different story would be two different little girls and less of you.  And I want the more of you part and the two little girls you gave me.  I do not wish that death invaded my life so abruptly, so painfully, but if this is the way to you, if this is the way to know, to taste your glory, your majesty, then I receive it.  With arms wide open and tears of joy mixed with pain running down my cheeks and breathes of hope mingled with often suffocating loss.  So be it.  No, not only so be it… but a resounding YES LORD.  Yes to the story you have chosen for our lives.  For my life. For Sophie’s life.  For Dasah’s life.  I do not understand it.  I do not claim to know the depth of your ways or the greatness of your love in this story but I know it is intertwined throughout.  I would not trade my story for another for in doing so I would lose so much.  Perhaps it would seem I have already lost so much.  But whatever was loss I consider as gain.  In fact, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”   

This I know, that today, I love you more then I did two years ago.  But more than that, today your greatness, your glory, your profound worthiness of my life is both more a mystery and more clear at the same time.  Your holiness has been revealed to me in ways I never knew.  Your greatness at the cross is clearer because the reality of the tomb being empty is more profound.  Life has won.  Death is defeated.  And you Lord have become my greatest hope.  Yes.  Yes to your ways, for your ways are good and right and even in death your ways lead to life.”**

“I spoke of things I did not understand things to wonderful for me.  Although I had no right to ask, my God knelt and answered me.”  -Ghost Ship, Where were you

**I first shared this journal entry at a recent conference where my husband and I were asked to share our story.  You can watch that interview here.

Sharing our story at our Cru National Staff Conference

On July 20, 2015 Kevin and I had the honor of introducing our daughters and sharing our story with around 4,000 other Cru staff members.  It was a privilege to share a taste of what God has been doing in our lives through our daughters and I wanted to welcome you into that as well.  Enjoy!


You can read the journal entry I share here.

You can watch the full 3 minute video of Sophie and Dasah here:

When all is not as it should be

A little over a month ago I wrote this as I was processing attending the burial of a 19 year old young man, the first burial Kevin and I had been to since burying our own children… in the same cemetery.  The cemetery was a holy and sacred place that day.

Where to begin? What to say? Today I stood before the casket of a 19 year old young man and watched as his parents, brother and sisters, countless family and friends shed tears of longing, sadness and hope. We grieved and looked to the Lord for hope only He could bring.  I had only met him a few times a few years ago, but I knew his parents. And I shed tears for them, and have shed tears since because in a small way I knew the pain of sitting before the casket of your child, barely able to breathe and comprehend this moment that never would you have fathomed would be written into your story. I would not have written this moment, twice into our story and I would not have written this moment into their story.   A son, a brother, a friend should not have been buried today. Too young.  Too soon.  And yet he was.  I should not have had to bury two daughters, having only experienced their life for mere moments and yet I did.  What should not have been was, what should not be is.  And yet today, two things I recalled to mind, or perhaps better said… Jesus recalled to my mind.

His grace IS sufficient.  All I could think of as my heart filled with pain for this family was a recollection that in the darkest moments of my own experience, His grace was sufficient, is sufficient, is ENOUGH.  This free, undeserved gift of His grace.   What we get because of simply who He is, is enough.  And somehow, it has become enough for me.  A tender, merciful grace that has continued to bring freedom to my broken heart.  Freedom to bring my broken self to the foot of the cross and see the pain etched on His face meet the pain etched on my face.  Freedom to bring my broken self to the tomb, the empty tomb and see His resurrection power and hope resurrect my hope.  Freedom to bring my tears, laughter, groan, joy, heartache and experience to a Savior who meets us in the moments we are aware, brutally aware of the nothing we have to give and the everything we have to receive.  And this is where his grace meets us, where we know the beauty of his grace.  Today, I saw that beauty.  I saw it in my own life as I reflected on the moments I stood before my own daughters’ caskets and tears rolled as I watched another mother stand before her son’s casket.  And though I only know my pain and can’t begin to know her pain… the grace in that moment was a thankful heart that I could weep with this family because of the pain of this moment I had tasted as well.   Thankful that this story, I would have never written for my life, now enables me to step into the pages of another’s unwelcome chapter in their story, with greater empathy, greater grace and enter in the groan of all creation with another.

And this is the second thing He recalled to mind. That this grief, this recognizing with fists in the air that death, though a part of life, was not supposed to be a part of life is a part of the groan of all creation.  This grief, a reflection of Paul’s words in Romans 8;   “The whole earth is groaning as in the pains of childbirth… and we also, longing, waiting, anticipating, the redemption not just of our souls, but of our bodies.” No, it shouldn’t be this way.  A mother, a father, shouldn’t stand before the casket of their baby girls… twice.   A family shouldn’t sit before the casket of a brother, a son, a friend and know that this box carrying his body would be soon lowered into the ground.  From dust to dust, ashes to ashes was not what we were created for.  And yet, what shouldn’t be is.  But thanks be to God, death doesn’t have the final say, but ushers us into not what shouldn’t be, but what was always supposed to be for those who know Him.

Today I felt the groan.  I felt the groan as I watched a family say good-bye to a 19 year old young man.  And I felt the groan as my husband and I walked a short distance from his burial site to our daughter’s burial sites.  I was reminded that the breath that cries “this should not be” is the groan that points to the day when all that was meant to be, IS.  It will not always be this way.  One day, the aches of this life will give way to a glory like we have never seen.  And as we embrace the groan, and what it points to we will be in even greater awe at the redemption Jesus brings in the here and the not yet.  And as a mother sits in the euphoria of a new life in her arms, forgetting the pain that was just hers, so we will sit in the euphoria of new life restored and the groans of the life will pale in comparison to the glories that will be revealed to us.

This plot of land was sacred and holy ground today. For the same breath that accentuated the ache of our hearts, accentuated the unfathomable hope of Christ.   It shouldn’t be this way. And one day, it won’t be.