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keeping awake

Updated: 2018-03-06T17:53:58.236-06:00


dare to hope


""We call Abraham 'father' not because he got God's attention living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. ...Abraham was first named father - and then became a father, because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing." (Romans 17-18, The Message)It's a new year. And with that comes a lot of resolutions, a lot of promises, a lot of determined grimaces to do something different, to be something different, and to make more out of ourselves. Funny, when you read that verse and realize: we are powerless. The only One who can make any changes in us is the Father, and He had those changes in mind long before we even came to be. He knows what's best - and He is the only one who will equip us to become something we're not. Something we resolved to be ten, fifteen, twenty years ago... and still haven't gotten right. Over the holidays i took my six year-old daughter to see "Tangled". I was skeptical at first because lately, it seems most movies made for kids are, well, not. They're irreverent and chock-full of sexual innuendoes that I'll be crossing my fingers she doesn't repeat in, say, the checkout line at Target. So we pretty much avoid them. But we weren't able to get in to see "Secretariat" one day, and "Tangled" happened to be showing across the hall... so.... there we sat. I prepared myself for an overly "girl-powered" princess and a metrosexual prince who cared more about his perfectly preened coif than doing anything with integrity. What I got was something entirely different. Though we all know the story well, the depiction had a depth and a dimension to it that I'd never seen before. Rapunzel is a girl whose entire heritage has been kept from her, and whose "mother" - ultimately the deciever - has a deep, codependent need for Rapunzel to be kept in the dark. As long as Rapunzel believes she's the child of this awful woman, she sticks around and allows that woman to use her long, long hair as a tool for procuring eternal youth. And even though that woman is cruel, manipulative, degrading, and controlling, the fact that Rapunzel believes she's her mother keeps Rapunzel trapped. Then, entering onto the scene is Flynn Rider. Dashing, brave, noble... no. A thief who's running from the law - but who can see as plain as day that Rapunzel is a little off her rocker. After the two work out a 'deal' in which she will leave her captive tower for a day with him as her guide (and he will in turn get back the royal jewels he's just stolen), we get to watch Rapunzel experience freedom for the first time in her life. She runs through the meadows, she splashes in creek beds, she chases birds and lets the summer breeze send her hair flying. She's overjoyed. And then, she's not. She's wrecked with guilt. It feels so good to be free - but then again, it's awful.... if being free means rebellion and disobedience. And in her mind, she's called to be loyal to this 'mother' who's raised her all these years. As I sat next to my daughter and watched, it struck me that I was catching a glimpse of myself. I've often - mostly - allowed a great deceiver to convince me that my inheritance is exactly what I'm looking at. My circumstances. What I can see, what I can get out of my life today. And strangely, I forget - forgive me for the extraordinary cliche about to hit here - that I'm actually royalty. That my inheritance was bought and paid at an extremely high price, and now, I'm a daughter of the King. My captor isn't a human being, but rather a way of living: following the rules, doing the right thing... "living like a saint". Maybe, just maybe, if I stick to that plan, I'll finally experience what i so long for: freedom. What Rapunzel didn't understand, and what I so often seem to miss, is that the heart of deception is captivity. Her deceiver never meant to free her... and neither will mine. But Someone has. Someone did a long, long time ago. And it's up to me to walk in that freedom. T[...]



It has been a little over one year, to the day, since I last wrote on this blog. At the time, I thought I would venture out and begin something new... which I tried. And which became like a bad taste in my mouth and basically waned into nothingness. Writing for me is integral, but something I often have to work very hard at - and I know those two facts are contradictions. They swat at each other all day long. I hate to write... I love to write. I must write... I will never write again. I am temperamental, a flux of emotion and frustration and passion and, therefore, sometimes good for nothing whatsoever. But, the compulsion to write came upon me today, and while I have this other new blog set up, it annoys me and feels stupid and silly. When I came back here, just to browse, I found that it no longer bore the weight for me as it once had; it didn't feel like the black mourning band around my arm that a year ago it seemed to be. "I read the words/ Well - those sound right/ I see a face/ It's me!/ Why did I leave this lovely place?/ Where else but should I be?"

And so I am back.

Now, it is an impetus for me to write - not as much for you to read. So, if you are reading this, and find it very dull, don't feel the obligation to stick around and read anymore. I cannot promise it won't get duller. Sometimes, my fear of being dull has kept me from this place. And I fear that my monotony in life - or, if I'm honest, my peace - will make me a drudgery. Happiness has its numbing effects. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "I can wade grief/ Whole pools of it - /I'm used to that./ But the least push of joy/ Breaks up my feet,/ And I tip - drunken." It's in trial that so often we become sharply aware of everything - awakened to the richness and poverty around us, able to articulate with greater clarity what we feel and need and hope and grieve and pine for. But with happiness - in simple stillness - there sometimes grows stagnation. Perhaps I have grown stagnant. I hope not. But if I have, well - I suppose few will linger on to see much of it.

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and thus, until we meet again...


If you are reading this, you ought to be handed some sort of medal. Upon it would be inscribed: 'faithful reader of a not-so-faithful writer' or something to that effect. While for months my thoughts and hopes and fears were traceable here, on this blog, I find that now, in a new season, with so much more on my mind than what once was, it seems fitting to depart from this place and to embark on a new journey. As a member of a group of people who have committed hours of their lives to walking through the last couple of years with me, I hope that somehow the fondness that swells my heart for you will permeate that glowing computer screen and you will know what your prayers, words of encouragement and consistent companionship - even if alongside me via my incessant online ramblings - have meant to me. Were it not for you, I am confident I would not be where I am today.

As I consider what might have brought you here for the first time, I'm aware that many have their own seeds of sorrow to sow. Many have yet to sow them. And it would be naive on my part to believe my own grief is entirely gone; indeed, though the wound has healed, a scar remains, and sometimes, in the most unexpected moments, it will seem to spring back to life with a pain so acute I cannot do anything but pray it away. But I want to encourage those of you who are walking a road similar to my own: fear not. You will smile again. You will feel again, in the way you once did, without the struggle to breathe mixed in. You will laugh and sing and know victory, if you will ask for those things. Ask for them, and receive them, for surely if you will only ask, you will find your cup filled over. Don't compare your story with anyone else's, for in the comparing there is the promise of bitterness or guilt. Stand perfectly still if you must, looking neither backward or forward, and simply believe that you can make it through the day - or the next five minutes.

I pray if you do look at me, or where I am, or rather, where God has brought me, you can be filled with hope because I have been given "bouquets of roses instead of ashes, [a message] of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit" (Isaiah 61:3, The Message). God has exchanged my sorrow for elation, my weeping for dancing, my agony for peace. Though I hold in my arms a new baby, and what would seem a redemption for the life I lost with Copeland, in truth this peace came before she did, and I recognize that God often first gives us what we do not know we need before He gives us the things we long for. For we "do not know the thoughts of the Lord; we do not understand His plan" (Micah 4:12).

From now on, let this blog remain a tribute to God's faithfulness to me in the darkest days of my life. Let all who read it be blessed and encouraged, and let those who doubt the might of the Holy God be astounded at His goodness to me, a woman redeemed by the blood of the One who sees more in me than I see in myself.

I will continue blogging elsewhere, and would love for those of you who are interested to please come alongside me again. The Lord has given me a distinct passion for His Word and uncovering truth for the generations to come, particularly for my precious children who will fight a battle perhaps even fiercer than my own. It's on these topics that I hope to put down my thoughts on the next blog. I am having a sweet friend do some "maintenance" for me, and will shortly give you the web address.

Be blessed today, and everyday, as you open your hands to receive what the Father will lavish upon you. And may He grant us a thousand lifetimes in eternity with which to know one another and to rejoice in His goodness to us.

With deep love and affection,

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emerette - spring 2009



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a perpetual hallelujah


I have tried to find words to articulate what these images make me feel. Conor and I first saw them when the Discovery Channel premiered the BBC documentary series, "Planet Earth", in 2007. It took up many hours of our life when we were anticipating Copeland's arrival, and even when we knew of her condition, there was something calming about seeing the natural world in motion. It's difficult, in the face of grief, to watch humanity continue to twirl - people going to lunch, taking taxis, visiting the park, renting movies - but somehow, nature, in its finest display of continuity, routine and discipline reflected something more of a God who is not only creative in His storytelling, but also intentional. Sellers has taken to great bouts of weeping whenever she sees this trailer; we weren't totally sure why at first, but as time has passed, and we've watched it over and over, we suspect it's because she, as a child, has a greater access to that part of her spirit that needs to connect with nature, a part that, without the dregs of time, is still sensitive to the beauty she sees and the impulse to be near it. I read, recently, a fantastic post on a friend's blog that discussed a possible correlation between our decreased interest in God and our decreased interest in the natural world. We say we aren't ones for camping, or hiking, that we don't like getting wet or dirty or that bugs or snakes or spiders or whatever else bother us - and perhaps this is true. But we are now a generation of people who see getting wet or dirty or dealing with natural elements as negotiable, a generation who could, effectively, almost avoid such events entirely by mildly calculated efforts. I don't know what God wants for the rest of my life. Sometimes I find myself feeling suppressed, or depressed, or just anxious, as though my spirit knows there's more but my mind can't fathom what the 'more' is. I don't mean Heaven. I'm trained, as a believer, to understand that Heaven is great, Heaven is where we should want to be. But when I have absolutely zero framework for what Heaven might possibly be like, I find it difficult to imagine, much less look forward to. Isn't it odd that most of our musings on eternity focus on something more like a grandiose church service, white robes and Southern Gospel included? If the God who created the place I'm going to spend eternity also happened to create the place I'm currently residing in, wouldn't it benefit me to get a better glimpse of it than through my tinted windows as I drive 45 miles an hour to get groceries? Would it change your relationship with Jesus if you knew the place He was preparing for you was just like where you happen to live now - only redeemed, whole, new, fresh, more alive and vibrant? That when we look on these images of animals and plants and water and earth brimming with possibility, we can honestly know that, without voices like our own, each is singing a song of praise and anticipation and hope - a song that cries out for rebirth? What if you started a walk with God that began simply based on the acknowledgement of His creativity, the majesty and wonder of His works, instead of choosing to walk away from God because of a human effort to convert you? What if His message is stronger than anyone else's? What if this is all for you? If you are a believer, it is your responsibility to honor this masterpiece. Satan has used the political dialogues we've taken to engaging in when it comes to caring for this planet to turn our eyes and ears away from what is true, and right. God has said that He has created this wonderland, this place of majesty and might, so that "everyone will see [it, and so that] no one can miss it— unavoidable, indisputable evidence that I, God, personally did this. It's created and signed by The Holy of Israel" (Isaiah 41:20). Who are we to question our duty to treasure and cherish this gift? We would never refute a Christian's calling t[...]

winds of change


I don't remember a time in my own personal history - nor the history of the world as I've known it - that everything felt so perilously out of order. Everywhere we turn, homes are being lost, businesses are shutting down, people are living in a much less free-and-easy sort of way. Perhaps this is good, perhaps this will be a blessing in disguise; in fact, I'm inclined to think that's exactly what it will be. But blessings in disguise rarely feel like blessings as they are being experienced. Mostly they feel like fear and uncertainty and pain.As I drove to the park today (marveling at how our weather patterns can be, well, so patterned, back and forth like the zigging and zagging of the stitching in a dress), I noticed some daffodils growing beside a mailbox on a back road. And though a carefully examined patch of yard might not testify to its imminent arrival, spring is coming, and splashes of green pushing up in pastures and fields declare it over and over again. Spring is God's anthem of redemption. Every gentle breeze, each proud new blade of grass, the dizzying scent of a hyacinth bloom - all of it singing a song of promise. And today, as I drove, I realized: if my God does not forget to orchestrate all these things, in fact purposefully sets them into motion again and again, year after year, then who am I to worry? Who am I to question?I must borrow from my pastor now. Two days ago, I listened to him speak about sanctification. His definition of it seemed rather clumsy to me at first; almost too much to digest. To paraphrase: "Gradually becoming what we already are and what we're meant to be." What? It felt word-heavy, as though it would topple under its own verbosity. But in essence, what he was saying about sanctification was that it's both a one-time thing and an ongoing process. We have a maple tree in our yard that wears each season boldly on its branches. In the summer, it's vibrant and lush. In the fall, its leaves begin to crumple and crisp, turning bright shades of reds and golds. Winter strips it of any and all signs of life. But spring. Spring comes and never has that tree looked so glorious. Green, yes, and on its way to vibrance and fullness. But still new, still young. still just dappled with color. Spring is that first, early morning yawn of summer. Spring is pristine restraint to summer's tawdry decadence. My tree seems to stretch its weary limbs up against the bluing sky and reach out for life again. Always the same tree - never the same tree. It, like me, is in a continual state of transition. If you believe in Jesus, you are like that tree. You, too, are changing. Perhaps not in drastic leaps and bounds, not all at once, but the change is inevitable. It is not by choice but by His spirit. Sanctification is a difficult word. Maybe it's easier to digest when you think of it as this: being the you He intended you to be. Not in a you kind of way. But in a Jesus kind of way. After all, you were made in His image. Sin has stripped us of that, has made us prisoners to something other than what we were called to. But salvation sets in motion a metamorphosis, a hearkening back to what was the original design. First we are set free from the penalty of sin - hallelujah! I, like the church at Corinth, have been "called to be holy" (I Cor. 1:2). My sanctification is immediate. But it's also ongoing. With each day that I remain on earth, a battle will be waged to keep me free from sin's power. I must keep awake so that I can resist the temptation to drift off into apathy. I will feel the transformation, slowly but surely, as I become more like Him, "from one degree of glory to another" (II Cor. 3:18). Always the same girl - never the same girl. If I am a believer, if I am walking with Jesus, walking in true relationship with Him, my growth will never stop. Just as my maple tree is constantly changing, even if not to the naked ey[...]



Hey Everyone- This is Conor. Thought I would upload a couple of my favorite new photos...I cannot tell you enough how much we are blessed by your prayers and words. Thanks!


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a word of life


"God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who've been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
(Psalm 113:4-9, The Message)

How great is the God who does not dismiss our pain, who validates and acknowledges our suffering and gives voice to our sorrows in such a way that even poverty or friendlessness are not too mournful to be excluded from the list of agonies that includes infertility.

I feel compelled to speak a word of life to you tonight. I don't know who among you is struggling with the longing for children but I know that you must be there... I felt the Father urging me last night to share these words that I wrote a little over a year ago as a prayer of anguish lifted up to Him. I never intended to do so, but I will follow His lead. I pray you will feel encouraged in knowing that He does hear you and that so much can change in just a few months' time. I learned I was pregnant with Emerette only a month and a half after writing the following:

"The heaviness of my present sorrow is so much that i often cannot face it. In ten days, my daughter will be four - and still, she has no living sibling. Sellers has an amazing imagination, lots of 'friends' she chats with, and I often find myself experiencing a mixture of delight at her incredible ability to create and guilt over my inability to provide for her the reality of a sibling with whom she can actually play.

Father God, if prayers on paper - prayers spoken by footsteps and heartbeats and each and every breath - are enough, why? How much longer? I beg You, I beseech You, I cast myself and my anguish before You - Lord, please, grant me this request. Fill my womb with life as You once did. As David said, 'Bless me for as long as You have afflicted me'. Where are You, Lord? Why is what i pray so earnestly for so seemingly off Your radar? Hear me. Please, God. Please. Show Yourself as real and loving and gracious and just. Quench my thirst and satisfy my soul. Lift my weary hear and annoint me with Your favor."

I pray you will read these words and, no matter what your heart is uneasy over, no matter what the desires stirring underneath, You will know that I lift these up for you tonight. He is faithful. He is good. And He delights to reveal the greatness of His might and the tenderness of His compassion. Be blessed.

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i feel a springtime in my soul


i have stumbled over how to open this particular post a thousand times. Not because there's something major that needs saying but, rather, because there's so little to say. Life has taken on that sweetness you feel in a quiet breeze; calm, still, thoroughly refreshing. I once heard that happiness makes for dull artistry, which, if you look at the greatest works of art throughout history, seems quite true. Literature and art and music and dance and poetry and everything seem to be the result of seasons of depression, sorrow, loneliness, heartache. I find I struggle to feel my own voice emerge amidst the joy I'm experiencing. Not that it's gone. But that, for now, it's buried beneath something with a weight I actually enjoy carrying. Like the weight of a child against your chest. It's a pleasant sensation, one that says being quiet isn't such a bad thing.And yet there's that feeling that I'm not supposed to remain quiet forever. I actually have known for a few weeks now that I'm supposed to be writing, I'm supposed to be sharing what's going on. In my mind I pressure myself, wondering what compelling thoughts I can possibly have to share now, now that all is well - now that so much has been redeemed and transformed. Aside from a few pictures, does anyone really want to know what I'm thinking about? Even if they do, can I possibly deliver whatever it is they want to read? If it is, in fact, true that happiness makes for dull artistry, then you're about to get one heavy dose of humdrum, because I'm deliriously happy. Emerette is everything I could've hoped she'd be and even more. It sounds so silly, but even her toes are a marvel to me. I find there's nothing I really dread in mothering now, not the diapers or the sleepless nights. Everything with her took on a feel of splendid opportunity when she was born. Each strand of hair waiting to be swept back, each little finger waiting to be held, everything was a symbol of hope and possibility. As I wrote the night before she was born, to go from years spent agonizing, wondering when the Lord would fulfill the desires of our hearts, wondering if He was even listening, to seeing, in flesh, the manifestation of so many prayers and supplications, was perhaps beyond my ability to express. I can only try to liken it to the sensation you get when plunging into a tub of warm water after standing outside on a very cold day. Every limb, every digit, seems to reel - and suddenly you realize you can feel your toes and your fingers and your cheeks are gaining their color again. It's like being reborn. It's like being alive in a new way. As Proverbs 13:12 says, "unrelenting disappointment makes the heart sick"; indeed, it seems to deaden a part of the spirit. "But a desire fulfilled is like a tree of life" - life. The kind of life you might have convinced yourself you'd never know again. It's particularly cold tonight. We took Sellers to a park the other day to ride the scooter Santa brought her for Christmas. The park looked massive, and i realized it was because I could see farther than usual, with all the trees barren and the foliage that normally lines the ground dead and swept away by winter winds. I saw myself in those trees. I understand that lifelessness. Or, rather, the look of it. Do they know what is coming? Do they realize what gifts have been stored up within their very limbs, waiting to spring forth in just a few months' time? No matter how dead on the outside, there is potential and possibility and hope buried within every naked branch. Such is the God we serve, weaving redemption throughout all of creation, even knowing we might never notice. Despite the cold, I feel a springtime in my soul. And it is worth all the years of winter's chill.[...]

psalm 126:3


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

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

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

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

More to come...

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Emerette McClure Farley


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


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the big day


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

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

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

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three weeks, 2 days


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

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

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

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

More to come...

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one year


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

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

With deepest gratitude and sincerest affection,

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sweet Joseph


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

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

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

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Please come.

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what did she mean by that?


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

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

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

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I have heard the Gospel - and it was foreign to me. I have heard the Gospel and it was the gospel - good news. The Lord has been giving me a word lately, over and over: simplify. I have believed these words were directly related to my materialism. I do love a good shopping spree. Not something the good Christian should admit to, I suppose. What I have realized is that He wasn't talking about those things at all. He was talking about my definition of my own salvation.He sent a man to my family - my parents, my brother, Conor and I - this last week. A South African man who, along with his wife, has resided in the United States long enough to lose his lovely accent but, I suspect because the Lord appreciates a thing of beauty, still pronounces every syllable with the merry, lilting sound of someone entrenched in a world seas away. This is who brought me the Gospel. And it is on those terms that I hand it back to you. They aren't his terms, but rather the Father's, and so I am suprised after twenty-nine years alive to not have heard it before. There are two stories here - both true. One involves me and a friend in a Starbuck's about a year ago. She is looking at me, knowing that I know she is seeing another woman, and tells me, plainly, as though stating a fact, "I know I could marry her. I know it would be all right. But something in me knows that if I were to marry a man, it'd be better." That is the beginning of one story. It is not over. But the second happened thousands of years ago and has long since been given its share of dust. Just like all other stories in Scripture, it holds truths that, were we to glimpse it clearly, would blow our minds.This second story involves, ironically, two friends, as well. Two young men - one, the son of the king, Jonathan. The other, an aid to the king, and Jonathan's best friend: David. The king, a man named Saul, a man tormented by his own avarice and ambition, knows what many others are beginning to know: God has anointed this young man, this David, and is preparing him to rise in power. Power that leads directly to the throne. Saul determines to kill David. And so, in a field outside the palace walls, David and Jonathan weep together, knowing one will remain with a vengeful father while another must flee for his life. Jonathan reminds David of something that would bind their households together forever: a covenant made between them in friendship that said that the Lord was a witness between them in their commitment to each other, between not only David and Jonathan, but also their descendants - forever. Later, when Jonathan, along with his father, is killed in battle, David is in anguish. He cries out for his friend, calling him a "dear brother" for whom he is "crushed" (2 Samuel 1:25). There is a great love between them that cannot be fully understood in words. A love that was entrenched in sacrifice and honor. And David is true to his word, true to the covenant he made with Jonathan. Because of his love for his friend, David asks, after years have passed, after he is the crowned king, whom in the house of Saul - whom in Jonathan's line - is still living that he may honor the covenant he made with kindness? There is someone. He's not a hero. His name is Mephibosheth. He is living in a land far from David, a land marked with barrenness and of no consequence. What's more, he's a man who has lost use of both of his feet. We can imagine how he approached the king when summoned, with great pain and tremendous humiliation: "Shuffling and stammering, not looking at David in the eye, Mephibosheth said, 'Who am I that you p[...]

psalm 126:3


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

Our girl is perfect!

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

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

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


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help me with my unbelief...


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

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

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

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

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

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

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no eye has seen


"Because even if He killed me... I'd keep on hoping..."Job 13:15First there was the couple who hoped their twin boys would just get along. Then there was the guy who hoped the giant boat he was building really would end up needing use in the end. There was an old man who hoped God would make good on His promise to bless him with descendants that outnumbered the stars. There was a mother who hoped her infant son would be spared when she placed him amid the swaying waters of the Nile. And there was an entire nation of people who hoped that someday, someday, they'd be looking at the soil they were meant to inherit - not foreign ground they were forced to work. Hope is woven through every story and life in the books of the Old Testament. But not so much in word as in - something else. No one has to say they're hoping for a child or a spouse or their father's blessing or deliverance or purpose or rescue. It's just there, in the lines that sculpt their faces in our minds as we read, that make them as real today as they were all those years ago. We know they hoped because we do, too, and we know that we would had we been in their shoes.But the Bible doesn't think of hope as we do. The Bible-kind of hoping is different. If you look for the word 'hope' in the back of my Bible, for instance, the verb hope, the first mention of it isn't anywhere near any of these stories. Not that hope didn't exist. It just seems hope, in its purest, most God-given form, was meant to make an entrance on a stage a little more bizarre. A stage where it would seem totally inappropriate, in fact. God chooses to first place this verb - 'hope' - before us in the book of Job. A book I have hardly ever read and do not particularly enjoy reading. A book I read a few days in a row about a year ago and now am happy to pass over. But a book that, strangely, the Father seemed to feel was absolutely perfect for the introduction of the idea of Biblical hope. And He ties it to these words that come out of Job's mouth: "Because even if He killed me" - lovely - "I'd keep on hoping." God loves us. And He cares deeply about every detail of our lives. But He also wants us to grow up. There are things in us that we don't have to mature into; they're just a basic part of our DNA. It's not that these things are always wrong, but they aren't the best. The best was what we were created for, but we're now a part of a human race that will always be flawed until God sets us right again. And part of our journey, if we decide to follow Christ, is to figure out what the "best" things are - what we were created for. Interestingly we aren't alone in the figuring out - God longs to show us. But it does require some action on our part. Some reaching for the best. Here's an example: we are all born as dreamers. But it would seem that sometimes, God doesn't care about our dreams. We don't often get the job we've always dreamed of, or the spouse or the kids or the paycheck or even the things we'd label, on our own, as more worthy than others. Some of us dream of going into ministry only to find our efforts thwarted at every turn in the road. It's far easier to swallow God's blatant rejection of your dream to own a BMW than to see Him dispel your dreams of adopting internationally. It doesn't make sense. If what we dream of is good, dignified, holy even, then why does He say no? Because we can dream without Him. There is something harder to do than dream, something deeper and grittier and much more costly. Hope. It is the better of the tw[...]

blessings abound


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

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

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

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update - 16 weeks


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

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

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

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

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

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

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12 weeks, 10 inches square


I have officially reached my twelfth week of pregnancy. What is normally a celebrated milestone is, for me, somewhat like crossing the point of no return. Most babies are not miscarried after 12 weeks. Or so they say. Of course there are always exceptions, but I have found that I tend to think of myself as the exception to the rule. Not something I'm fond of; in fact, this thinking is the voice that fuels whatever cynicism and pessimism I happen to hold onto. The voice that says, "Good things come to those who... aren't you." So, every day thus far has been about deciding not to listen to that voice. Sometimes I am weary and it takes too much out of me. But what I've found is that in listening, the weariness becomes absolute terror and fear. I'd rather be tired and trying to believe than without a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Hope, our pastor said, is a gamble. I don't like this idea. When I was in college, there was a man who stood on a box outside the main building on campus and shouted at the students and faculty walking by, screaming that the end was near and that they should repent of their sins. I was always curious: why did he think that approach would work? What made him feel like evangelizing in such an annoying manner would ever have any positive impact? Now, I didn't do any follow-up on that guy, so I don't know for sure if, indeed, he was without a single convert. But it still begged the question: wasn't he uncomfortable up on that box, yelling at the top of his lungs? Even just a little embarrassed?The truth is, maybe he wasn't uncomfortable. Maybe he stood up on that box and felt quite right in what he was doing. Maybe he believed that because he'd been baptized or said the Sinner's Prayer or went to church or whatever, he had something on the rest of us. Not in a malevolent or self-righteous way. Just in a way that's misguided. It occurred to me one day that if the box this man was standing on was a good six or so inches bigger than his feet, each way, then he might've actually had a pretty comfortable perch. The more room one has to shift and manuever, the more one feels a little less compelled to think about how they're going to remain atop. There's no reason not to start yelling. What more do you have to do? Perhaps this can be said about our ideologies. The more room to wiggle we give ourselves, the safer we feel - the more we can decide what feels good to believe. What I have learned recently about God is that the box we get to stand on - and we have to stand on a box, we're called to - isn't comfy. It's not twenty inches square. We're lucky if it's 10. Someone - another pastor, Louie Giglio - recently said in a video I watched on YouTube (and to be frank, I don't know who Louie Giglio is, but I have to say, the man can speak) that no matter what I go through - no matter what you go through - God promises to carry me. What? That's the promise? Wait. I want the promise to go like this: "Remember all that crap you just endured? Well, you passed the test. No more. Now, sit back and enjoy the ride." See what I mean about 10 inches? There's not a lot of wiggle room here. If all I'm really promised when it comes to life is that God will see me through any and every situation that arises, then guess what? I have, by way of accepting this God and asking Him to be in my life, a built-in capability to go through just about anything and actually make it. It's like being one of [...]

a fine line


In the fall of 2005, Conor and I sat in a doctor's office and looked with wild eyes at a new, frightening chapter of life: we had miscarried our second child and were now facing a trial greater than one we'd ever expected. The pregnancy had actually caused something pre-cancerous to grow within me and I began chemotherapy shortly before Halloween. A year later, after receiving permission to begin thinking about having another child, we were thrilled to learn I was pregnant again. Ten weeks in, at a routine ultrasound, we saw the baby on the screen - without a heartbeat. A few months after that, we learned we were pregnant again. This was early 2007. That sweet baby was Copeland.I don't write any of this to say that my story is unique, special. I write it for two reasons. One, because I want to remember. There's a loss in the forgetting. And, two, because instead of being unique, it's universal. And it's not just the idea of suffering. Suffering is a part of life, and we hear its refrain from the time we are young. But it is repeat suffering - loss after loss, sorrow after sorrow - that takes us by the scruff of the neck and demands we decide: will we fall on our knees or rise to our feet? Will we bow before a God who allows us to come to blows - again and again and again - or will we stand and walk away, convinced that it's impossible for such a god to exist?I learned, tonight, of parents who recently lost their second child to a genetic disease that robbed their first of life only a year before. A disease that didn't show up in their eldest until she was nearing two and wouldn't appear in their youngest until after his older sister had been buried. Another mother lost a set of twin girls last summer at 20-odd weeks of pregnancy; just a few weeks ago, she and her husband learned they were pregnant again. "Redemption! Here's the plan God had all along!" This is the common Christian cry. Why shouldn't it be? But just a few days ago, that same young mother faced yet another heartbreak: miscarriage. Again. We are such wonderful, beautiful creations. We look for redemption in everything around us. We can't help it. We look for the reason, the purpose, the story. The turning point. Every good writer knows that each story has to have two things to make it "work" - a climactic point where everything suddenly becomes something different, often something better, and a character who changes and becomes something different, often someone better. We like better. In fact, sometimes we don't mind trading in our present mediocrity for future elation, even if suffering is often strewn along the path. But we want the future elation to come soon. Now. Because the mediocrity doesn't look like mediocrity until it's eclipsed by elation. Until then, mediocrity looks like happiness. Let's be honest: it is happiness! We just begin, in the hour of suffering, to convince ourselves that what we believed would make us happy - the thing suffering took away - was really a trick, or a trap, or something we'd begun to make into an idol. That, eventually - soon, now - we'll see how that happy wasn't happy at all. What's really happiness is to come. It's better. But what if better doesn't come? What if better just keeps taking its time or never even shows up? What if what everyone says is going to be the "blessing around the bend" keeps evading me? Why did I have to let go of my past joy to stand i[...]

all is well


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

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