Yes. And Amen.

“What sort of man is this that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matthew 8:27)

The disciples marveled. You had just previously called the disciples to follow you, despite the cost. You were honest that following you would not be easy. Then they followed you onto a boat. Then the boat got hit by a huge storm.

They freaked out and you slept.

Ultimately they freaked because they had little faith that you were in control; whereas you slept because you were fully confident that your Father was in control. “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)

Where there is mature (maturing) faith, there is no fear (quicker repentance from fear). What can be done to me that my Father has not seen and allowed and ordained as a part of His perfect will for me?

Nothing!

The God that neither slumbers nor sleeps will never be caught off guard by my circumstances. I never have any cause for fear.

Never.

Because I trust in you I will never be put to shame. You will never forsake me or abandon me. Whether you allow the waves or rebuke the waves…

Yes. And Amen.

Increase my faith, Lord.

Happy 1 Year Due Date Day!

Yesterday we celebrated what would have been Liam’s One Year Birthday, or his “due date day.” He actually turned one on March 2nd, but it was really fun to celebrate yesterday with some of our friends and family that prayed us through!

I know so many of you are included in that category but are far away, so I wanted to send you pictures and “invite” you into the party to celebrate with us. With each milestone in Liam’s life we are reminded just how blessed we are that he is here with us, that he is doing so well, and that we have a son!

Liam is an amazing little guy. He LOVES laughing and making us laugh. He loves our doggies and food and lights. He’s on the move—not quite walking but cruising along furniture to beat the band. He loves his Daddy and shrieks when he gets home. He’s traveled with us to New York to meet our family and friends back there that prayed for us and he’s seen his uncle graduate from College in California and has road tripped it to Portland and is about to road trip it to Colorado!

He’s the light of our life and we are really enjoying him and being his parents.

I also wanted to tell you about something we did yesterday to give back. While we were in the hospital on bed rest, we were blessed to work with a high risk OB clinic here in town. We are still in touch with that clinic and decided that in lieu of birthday gifts for Liam, we would donate lockets (pictured below) in Liam’s name to this clinic. The lockets will be given to parents dealing with pregnancy complications and/or loss.

This is near and dear to our hearts, as you know. I’m able to get the lockets at my cost (with my new business), so each one is only $25. If you are interested in donating a locket in Liam’s name, please email me at mckenziek37@yahoo.com. I can take a credit card over the phone. I plan on placing the order by Friday so Thursday is the cutoff to pay.

Thanks again everyone for all your support and prayers and love this past year and a half. It really takes a village and we have the best village! ;)

Love you all!

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My New Biz-Origami Owl

So this is where I’ve been the last 3.5 months, friends. I’ve launched a new business and I’ve been crazy busy. I’ve had 24 “Jewelry Bars” since I signed up in mid-November and I’ve gotten to meet wonderful new people. I’ve had the privilege of building my team to four new {and amazing} designers and I’ve been able to make extra money that has been such a blessing to our family.

I thought I’d share some fun videos and pictures to give you a better idea of what I’ve been up to. Some of you don’t follow me on Facebook so you’ve had no idea what I’ve been up to!

This is an amazing video sneak peek of our new bold, colorful Spring line. We are adding over 150 brand new products including EARRINGS and twistable, interchangeable colored enamel lockets in pink, white, black and Origami Owl blue. If you have about 8 minutes to spare, it’s totally worth your time to check out our new line.

And here is a fun gallery of photos.

So beautiful, huh? If you’re interested in shopping my site, you can click here. If you want to learn more about the business opportunity, you can click here. And if you’d love to hostess a party {in person if you’re local or online if you’re not}, click here and then send me a message so we can get to planning!

Happy First Birthday, Liam!

Dear Liam,

It’s crazy that a YEAR AGO today I woke up at 2 am seeing stars with an undeniable pressure headache. I remember laying there and fighting the conviction I was feeling. I knew that my symptoms were indicative of a serious spike in blood pressure, but I also knew that pushing my nurse call button would most likely result in your immanent delivery—something we had been praying would be delayed for the past 43 days.

As much as we knew God was with us, {and as much as He had proven Himself again and again}, it was still terrifying to not know what was on the other side of that operating room. I pushed that button. And the nurses and doctors came and confirmed what I thought to be true—my body was done being the safest place for you. I could carry you no longer. As they prepped me for my emergency surgery, the tears rolled down my cheeks onto the sterile floor. The lights were bright. The hustle and bustle was robotic and chaotic and yet, organized.

As they held the mask up to my face to put me to sleep, I closed my eyes and said, “Okay Jesus…” I had no idea what was on the other side of that operating room. We didn’t know how you would arrive. If you would be able to breathe. If you would have any serious brain bleeds or complications. We had no idea what to expect…

And today we are celebrating your one year birthday. That is UNREAL. Not only was your birth story incredible, but the back story as well. There were so many days that we were certain that we’d never meet you, be your parents, kiss you or hug you.

But those days are gone. And you are here. And you are ours. And we have gotten to spend the last year living life with you, watching you grow, meet new milestones, and become the little man that you are becoming. It has been such a joy.

The joy is sweeter for us because of the heartache. I’ve been reading through old blog posts as we faced some of the challenges in the hospital a year ago when you came early…I found this quote I had blogged that so perfectly describes your whole story!

“The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God.”

Your conception and birth were so LUDICROUSLY impossible, son. Told we would never conceive. Failed transfer. Successful second transfer, but tragic miscarriage of your twin at 6 weeks with heavy bleeding. Broken water at 23 weeks. Early delivery at 29 weeks. COME ON! You can’t make that up. How are you here?

I found this other excerpt from a post that I wrote two weeks in to being admitted to the hospital. I was having a particularly difficult day.

“…we have had to have some incredibly difficult conversations.

Like the one where the intake nurse said, “I’m sorry. Viability is 24 weeks. You are 23 weeks, 4 days. I’m not sure what they will be able to do.”

Like the one where the doctor told us that our chances of our son surviving birth were less than 10% and chances of serious disability 100%.

Like the one where the neonatologist had to honestly walk us through what it would look like to swaddle our baby and spend his last moments alive holding him and saying goodbye.

Like the one Jason and I had a few days ago as we waited for the doctors to come and get me for an emergency c-section.

Me: {with tears streaming down my face} “Babe, he could die today.”

Jason: “I know.”

Long pause. Silence as we look into each other’s eyes and let the gravity and weight of it hit us. It’s too much. He squeezes my hand. We are terrified.

Me: “But if he makes it, I will be recovering from surgery so I want you to go be with him.”

Jason: “I don’t want to see him without you being there, but I will go if that’s what you want.”

Me: “It is. But I want you to be prepared for what he will look like. He will be hooked up to all sorts of machines and have cords and wires all over him. He will look scary.”

Jason: “He will look like my son.”

Raw.

These are the conversations we have had to have and the circumstances we have had to deal with and the emotions we have had to address. Facing the possibility of your son’s death is impossible. Impossible, friend. It’s too much. It chokes the air out of you. It turns the world black. And upside down. Everything feels broken. And hopeless. And like you are losing control.

Enter Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27 ESV)

And, miracle of miracles. Our hearts are not troubled and our hearts are not afraid. We have a peace that passes understanding. Because of Jesus. The Restorer. The Redeemer. The Healer. The Comforter. He is good. He is good. He is good. He is good. Our promise is in Him. He loves Liam more than we ever could. He walks with us.

That holds true today. You didn’t die. You lived. And we praise God and give Him all the glory and all the thanks and all the praise. He has been good to us, we and we celebrate Him and you and the gift of being a family today.

Happy First Birthday, Lilo Man. We love you.

Mama and Dad

Here are some fun throwback pics from the last year!

One Year

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A year ago today, I was in the in-between. I had just turned 30 the day before {I still stare at this picture and look into my own eyes and want to tell myself to buckle up—there is something about my smile that is just so NAIVE!}. We had had a normal, quiet celebration at home. It would be a normal, mundane day. The details of which I cannot remember {other than eating ice cream cake for breakfast}. I remember being really tired that night {more than normal for a pregnancy, I guess} and going to bed at 8:30 or 9.

Four hours later I would wake up with really bad heartburn. I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, grabbed a few Tums and chewed them on my way back into bed. I laid down, and as I was pulling the covers back up I felt a huge gush! I lowered the covers to see what it was and SAW the second huge gush and that it was clear fluid.

I shook Jason awake, calm but simultaneously FRANTIC {I knew it was my water}. He helped me back into the bathroom where I continued to gush fluid. I said, “We have to go in right now.” I tried calling my parents. It was 4am in NY. No answer. I called again. No answer. I called my mother-in-law. She picked up, concern in her voice. “My water just broke. We’re going in.” She said she would meet us there. I got changed. Black yoga pants. My black fleece. My gray slippers. A blue three-quarter sleeve stretchy shirt. {Side note: I wouldn’t let anyone take the outfit home. The entire time I was in the hospital it hung in my closet. I wanted it to be the outfit I wore OUT of the hospital. It was—NOT my fav pic, but it illustrates my point}.

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The drive to the hospital was a short 5 minutes. Jason dropped me at the door so that he could go and park. I walked up to the desk {it all seems so surreal now—like I should have been running and yelling or something} and calmly said, “I think my water just broke. I’m 23 weeks pregnant.”

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I remember the young girl’s expression going from somewhat uninterested {after all I looked like any other schlep walking in to the ER in the middle of the night—not bleeding, crying, or yelling} to on high alert. She picked up the phone immediately and said, “I’m going to need someone immediately from L&D.” Before she finished taking my information, a young twenty-somethings nurse dude came out from the automatic doors pushing a wheel chair.

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It was for me.

“Oh, okay.” I thought. I see what you’re doing here. You’re taking this seriously. So this is serious. Okay. I mean. I knew it. But when they knew it {and they were the professional checker-inners}, it made it seem more serious. And then it just got more serious from there.

Side note: I remember starting to cry as they wheeled me down the hall into Labor and Delivery. I had toured that hospital only a few months before and had pictured “this day” as something different entirely. More jolly. And exciting. And less terrifying. And more timely? Or something.

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The first nurse came in and started asking questions. She was NO NONSENSE, ALL BUSINESS and somewhat intimidating. I remember her saying, “I’m so sorry that this has happened.” And something about “24 weeks being viability.” I didn’t know what that meant as far as what they would do for Liam if he tried to come that night. I wanted her to tell me he would be okay. That they would save him. I thought he was coming. I thought for sure he was coming. Babies come when your water breaks, right?

The doctor tested the fluid and confirmed that it was, in fact, amniotic fluid. {While I continued to gush on the exam table}. She was a resident that they had awoken from some sort of deep slumber. She looked very sorry too. She told me so.

While the doctor and nurses were in and out we got a hold of my childhood friend from NY who kindly offered to go over to my parents’ house in the middle of the night in the middle of winter to give them the news that my water had broken in the middle of my pregnancy.

No one wants to hear a knock on their door at 4 am. No one wants to be the one knocking. It was very kind of her and that’s how we got in touch with my parents to let them know what had happened.

After the medical team had concluded that my water had broken and that I was neither contracting nor dilated, they brought me to my very own room on the L&D hall. Little did I know I would return to that hall {after “living” in one other one for 44 days} to recover from delivery at 29 weeks and 5 days. I met Jan, my very first nurse, and she prepared me for what was to come with all of the antibiotics {to prevent infection} and steroids {to help Liam’s lungs}. My mother in law arrived. She sat with us and brought some calm and comfort to the situation. We were quiet a lot. I was cold and shivery a lot. I had to pee a lot {which was difficult since I was now hooked up to all sorts of wires and machines}.

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After a few hours they said they had to move me over to PCSU {my “real” home}. My mother in law headed home. Jason went to move the car to a more “permanent” location. I cried as they wheeled me there. The halls were empty and quiet. A few staff members passed me and looked down at me with obligatory/awkward half-smiles. When Jan left, I was scared. I wanted her to stay with me. I cried and said, “I wish you could stay as my nurse.” She looked back and said, “Oh, you will be just fine.” I could tell she wanted to say more—and that she was concerned for me. But she left it at that.

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It was somewhere around 5 or 6 am on January 18th.

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That was the beginning of the craziest 100 days of our lives. And this…THIS GUY…{my real life Superman} is the amazing result. Such a miracle and such a blessing. It’s pretty cool to be on the other side of this story now that we know how it ended.

I am reminded that God is always good. That God is always in control. And that He always knows what He is doing. Never once does He slumber. Never once does He “sleep on the job.” He has been exceedingly gracious and kind to me and to my family and I worship Him alone and give Him glory alone.

8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. 11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. 14 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. {Psalm 145:8-21}

Here is my first post that I wrote after being admitted to the Hospital. It was entitled, “Moving into the Hospital.” Little did I know…

{Side note: I am going to TRY and reblog each day’s post from last year on the date that I wrote it so I can remember the journey now that I’m on this side of it. This is mostly for my own interest because I want to remember all that God did, but feel free to join me if you’d like!}

Well, I figured it was time to update our blog family as well, since I’m not connected to you all through Facebook and you wouldn’t otherwise know what’s going on. We post to petition your prayers…

Yesterday morning, January 18th at 1am, my water completely, and unexpectedly broke. We rushed to the hospital to have this confirmed. During testing I continued to gush fluids. Doctors immediately began running tests on fluids, doing an ultrasound, monitoring fetal heartbeat and pumping in antibiotics and steroids. I was 23 weeks, 4 days. “Viability” is 24 weeks. For me, that will be Monday, January 21st.

I have now made it 34 hours with no signs of labor. My cervix is completely closed, no contractions, and no indications of infection. I’ve also had no more gushing since yesterday early morning. Jesus is answering our prayers.

Statistically, the situation is very serious. 50% of women go into labor within 48 hours of water breaking, and 90% go into labor within a week. If I were to deliver Liam before Monday, his chance of survival is as low as 10% with 100% chance of serious birth defects. If I make it past Monday, his survival chance goes up to 60% and risk of defect down to 30%. The main concern is pulmonary and whether his little lungs would be able to respond to intubation. Next concern would be hemorrhaging of the brain during labor.

That being said, my doctors {who have been hand selected by God and so unbelievably amazing, knowledgable, honest and yet encouraging}, are cautiously optimistic. It is FANTASTIC that I’m not presenting any signs of labor. It’s wonderful that Liam is continuing to have strong vitals and movement. I’m feeling him all the time and his little heartbeat is staying in the 150′s. I thought I had for sure lost all of my fluid, but the ultrasound indicated I still have a small amount-which is wonderful news. Additionally, I’ve not had any more gushing, which means that the fluids that were lost are being replenished. There have been no signs of infection, which is very important. Liam’s cranium actually measured yesterday at 24w3d. And most importantly, he weighed in at 590 grams or 1lb5oz, which exceeds the ideal minimum of 500 grams for the intubation tube. His size is a little bit advanced for his gestational age. Go, Liam, go!

Here is how you can specifically pray for our situation. We are overwhelmed by the prayer support and thank you for bringing Liam’s life and health before our Father in heaven!

Please pray that:

*I would not begin contracting especially before Monday, and for many weeks to come

*I would not develop any infection

*My membranes would reseal and completely replenish the amniotic fluid and sterile, safe environment for Liam

*Liam’s vitals would remain strong and there would be no fetal distress or sudden death

*Steroids and antibiotics would do exactly what they are supposed to do

*Doctors and nurses would be
given wisdom and would be agents of God in both mine and Liam’s care

*God would miraculously grow Liam more quickly than normal

*I would be in this hospital room for months to come, making it to at least 34 weeks

*Liam, Jason and I are able to rest

*God would provide financial favor through insurance and remainder of costs

*God would grant grace and peace for Jason as he sits by my side and for us both as we face the long journey ahead

*Many people would see Jesus through Liam’s story, including those we meet here at the hospital

Thank you.

Been singing this to my sweet boy this morning:

“No guilt in life
No fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry
To final breath
JESUS COMMANDS YOUR DESTINY.”

We are at peace knowing that our Father loves Liam more than we ever can and that every day for Liam is numbered by the King of kings and Lord of lords. The one who IS love. The one who IS faithfulness. The one who IS goodness. To Jesus be all the glory.

Happy 2014!

Hi, friends!

It sure has been a while. We had an amazing holiday season—and that’s where I’ve been. For the very first time we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years as a family of three. It was pretty incredible. I remember the holidays being particularly difficult during all of our infertile years of wondering and so to actually share mashed potatoes and squash with him, to hold Liam and decorate our snowflake Christmas tree, to watch him rip open presents, and to say “Goodnight, I’ll see you next year…” all very cool. Very, very cool. Very special, indeed.

My folks have been with us since December 11th. We have had such a wonderful time together. They are naturals. Nana and Poppy BRING IT and little Liam is so loved. He lights up every time they walk in the door.

He is 30″ long now {born at 15 3/4″} and 20 lbs {born at 3 lbs}. Today he turned 10 months old. How is that possible, friends? He is CRAWLING! He crawled for the very first time on Christmas Eve {that will be easy to remember-thanks, kiddo}, and is talking gibberish, flashing his big {still toothless} cheese ball grin, and pretty much able to sit up now on his own. He’s developing a little personality and has a few tricks in his wheelhouse that he things are funny {including blowing bubbles on my neck}, and has also started CRYING when I take something away that he wants. :)

Jason has applied for a new job. He rocked his pre-interview testing and should be hearing very soon about his interview dates. I’ve also started a new job—I launched my own Origami Owl custom jewelry business {closed down coaching} on November 19th. I mentioned it last time I blogged, but I had no idea how quickly it would take off. I’ve been slammed and super blessed by the new people I’ve met, the extra income I’ve been able to make, and the fun I’ve had as I’ve worked on building my very own business from the bottom up. You can check out what I’ve been up to here or just go shopping right here! And you can follow me on twitter for fun pics, offers and updates @origamikate.

The best part has been working with people to tell their personal stories. I’ve never been huge on jewelry {in fact, when I launched the business I realized I had hardly worn any since Liam was born}, but I loved the personal touch and the fact that you could choose charms and plates and dangles to customize the lockets for you or the ones you loved. Since I’ve started I’ve gotten to work with a customer who made a locket as a tribute to her mother who passed away from breast cancer, a young mother whose doctor tried to convince her to abort her son diagnosed with Down-Syndrome and chose life instead, a friend who had a sister that beat endometrial cancer, a woman who had a horrific bike accident and is just starting to walk again. I’ve gotten to make lockets with pet owners, new mama’s, brides-to-be, and sweet husbands planning surprises for their special ladies. One customer even received her locket and loved it so much, she ordered one that very night for her mom. Every response has been so positive. People have CRIED, and I have too. This is about so much more than jewelry. Jewelry is just STUFF. But people’s stories matter.

Additionally, I’m starting to acknowledge that I was postpartum after Liam. There was a long period of time where the thought of being around people, going anywhere, or even showering EXHAUSTED me to the point of tears. I was not myself for a long period of time. I’m almost done nursing {just drying up} and I think my hormones have really started regulating. Having this business has really challenged me, it’s allowed me opportunities to get out of the house and meet new people {I had 3 craft fairs and 5 Jewelry Bars in 5 weeks AND made $500+ more than my personal goal}. I feel like this opportunity has enabled me to bring together a lot of my skills, talents, experiences, and gifts into one arena—and I feel awesome about it. I love working, I go to bed excited, and I wake up excited! It’s been really good for me, you guys. Being a Mama is my DREAM JOB. And it challenges me mentally and physically and emotionally in ways I never knew it would. AND at the same time, this new business uses different skills and it challenges parts of my brain that haven’t been challenged in a while. Like.

God had to do some convicting when I first started considering doing direct sales. To be honest, I was embarrassed to even consider it. I felt “above it” and didn’t want to be that person/friend/family member that everyone avoided. But as we prayed about it, I got more and more excited and felt like that was where God was calling me. We decided I could do it without being obnoxious, and it’s actually turned out that way. People have really approached me for the most part. This stuff has sold itself {but I’ve also worked really hard too}. Overall, I really feel like this is an opportunity that He has given me to be a blessing to others and to have some extra income for my son, his future, our family and my community. And I’m very thankful.

So that’s that.

Welp. 2014 is here. It’s pretty surreal. I’m about to turn thirty-one. So far 30 has been my favorite year ever. Our marriage is such a blessing to me—we bought a new house—and God gave us Liam. Man. I really am humbled by God’s grace. Last year when I turned 30, I had no idea that my water would break 2 days later. Can you believe that that entire journey we all went on last year started on January 18th? And it’s almost January 18th, 2014? What a difference a year can make.

That’s all for now, my friends. It has been a long while and I have genuinely missed you. I would love to hear from you and know how you are all doing if you get a chance.

XOXO,

Kate

End of November Check-In

Howdy friends! 

Well, if you’ve visited the blog at all lately, you’ve noticed that I have not been able to keep up with the initial “Amazing Grace” schedule that I set. As much as I love to spend the time writing the posts, I’m just unable to keep that schedule right now with the holidays coming and with some exciting new adventures that I’ve got going. This doesn’t mean it’s not ever going to happen. Just that it’s gonna be on hold until at least after the New Year. I’m still really excited to explore each of the aspects of the Works-Based and Grace-Based wheels as well as share the Real Life Evidences of Graces stories that I’ve got in the vault. But until then, I’ll probably just be posting shorter things like updates on our little Warrior {like he’s 5.3 seconds away from crawling and is almost 9 months old!!!}, fun things going on during the holidays AND my new business adventure with Origami Owl.

Hope you all have had a wonderful weekend. Thanks for grace and for understanding. I’m sorry for not following through on my proposed schedule! 

Please Excuse My Absence

Hello Bloggofriendos.

Please excuse my absence this past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday on the blog. We had some exciting things going on…Liam’s first Halloween {Clark Kent}, his 8 month birthday {Holy Crapola}, and my parents arriving from NY after driving for four days.

I wanted to let you know that all of the posts will be updated by tonight {Sunday, 11/3}. In fact, I’ve already posted Week 2′s Memory Verse as well as Real Life Evidence of Grace #3: Illness. I’m finishing up last Wednesday’s post and hope to have it up by tonight.

Then this week, Week 3: Unbelief, will resume as scheduled starting tomorrow, Monday, November 4.

Hope you’ve had a great weekend. And happy November! Enjoy these fun pics:

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Real Life Evidence of Grace #3: Illness

We are in the “Amazing Grace?” series.
For more posts, click on “
Blog Series” > “Amazing Grace?”
in the menu bar above.

Every Friday I will be sharing a “Real Life Evidence of Grace” Story with you. {Please forgive my delay in getting this one to you. I explained where was was last week here}. My heart behind these posts is to address the question that so many of us {believers and non} seem to have. “How could a good God let something so horrible happen?” Here’s a chance for you to read the stories of people who actually have had to personally wrestle with that question in the midst of their heartache, grief, disappointments, and loss or in dealing with the consequences of sin {their own sin or the sin of someone else}.

Because of the intensely personal nature of these Friday posts, I have chosen to disable comments. Out of respect to my friends who have chosen to share, I wanted to provide a place for them to do so without opening it up to potentially difficult or offensive responses. While that has NEVER happened on this blog because my readers are rad, I don’t even want to leave that open as a possibility. If this post strikes a cord with you and you would like to share some thoughts, ask some questions, or just contact me you can reach me at contactmcmiracle@gmail.com.

This is the sweet story of a sweet, encouraging, faithful sister in Christ who faced a very serious, life-threatening illness several years ago. I am very thankful to her for being willing to share her story with you.

1. Please briefly share your story.

Several years ago I suffered an unexpected ruptured brain aneurysm and as a result faced 11 hours of brain surgery.

2. What did your relationship with Jesus look like when this happened?

Up until I faced a health crisis that almost took me off of the earth, I barely gave God a second thought because I was too busy with career and selfish ambition. In an instant, my corner of the world suffered an apocalyptic moment.

3. What were some of the emotions/doubts you felt toward God and some of the questions/thoughts you had?

I had one of those “shaking the fist toward heaven” moments after I felt my world was shattered and I recall asking Him, “If You are really there, God, then why did you allow me to live?” I never wanted to be a burden to anyone and I felt like a tremendous burden to everyone I loved. My husband was a faithful believer and I guess I was sort of a one-day-a-week Christian, where you worshipped God in the pew of the church but didn’t give Him a second thought the rest of the week.

4. What lies did God expose that you were believing about Him, you, your future, etc? {i.e.: How did God work you through your natural emotions/response to this situation?}

At almost the exact moment of my “shaking the fist” moment, the telephone began to ring and it was my mother. I told her that I had shattered the bedroom light, that I was totally useless and she began to praise God. She said, “You are not useless, you are an answer to our prayers. Yesterday, you didn’t have the strength to get off of the bed and today you are breaking things! Praise God, He has answered this mom’s prayers.”

My mother went on to explain that literally hundreds of people {even strangers} had been praying for my recovery and she told me to focus on “one step at a time.”

5. What truth did God replace the lies with?

The Truth is that God believes I am worth it. Worth sending His One and Only so that I may truly live.

When my eyes were opened to “see” that, how could I quit before I reached the finish line? It took nearly 9 months to recover to the point of being able to take care of myself again.

6. What has God’s grace looked like for you walking out of this? {i.e.: How would you summarize what God did/is doing to have Himself/His grace be sufficient for you?}

I’d like to say that every day His Grace is sufficient but because I am only human, there are still some days that are so much harder than others. When family members fall ill or sudden death slips someone from my reach, it’s harder to just let His Grace soften those blows. Especially if there is a nagging question mark when someone asks me if they knew Jesus and if they were saved. God Grace has opened my eyes to see that I should evangelize to others, but if their heart isn’t ripe to receive the Holy Spirit, then I need to leave it up to Him and just shake the dust from my high heels.

7. What does your relationship with Jesus look like now? {How is it different/stronger than before?}

I believe when we accept Jesus as Lord over our lives, we are given gifts from the Holy Spirit. It took me awhile to “open” my gift of encouragement. I pray for others, daily. I have found as I use my gift, I receive more than I could ever give in return. I would encourage all believers to focus on their gifts and use them for God’s glory.

Week 2 Memory Verse

We are in the “Amazing Grace?” series.
For more posts, click on “
Blog Series” > “Amazing Grace?”
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Here are the previous verses for review:

Overall Series Verse:

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things. {Romans 8:32}

Intro Week:

By the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. {Romans 5:19b}

Week 1: {IGNORANCE}

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. {1 Peter 1:13-14}

Week 2: {KNOWLEDGE} ***Today’s Verse***

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” {Proverbs 1:7a}

Post Coming

Today’s post is coming, but will be delayed. Hope you’ll check back this afternoon. :)

Sorry for the confusion today…I think my draft posted several times before I was finished. I was in and out today and was unable to finish the post. It will be posted tomorrow. Thanks for your patience! :)

AG: Week 2 Questions

We are in the “Amazing Grace?” series.
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Blog Series” > “Amazing Grace?”
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Yesterday we talked about “Knowledge.” I proposed to you that the most important thing you need to know in your life is that God loves you. If you missed the post, you can check it out here. I also proposed that NOT knowing that God loves us stems from ignorance, which I blogged about last week. Being uncertain about God’s love for you struck a cord with many of you in our interactive survey that we did at the beginning of the series, so we will address those specific statements tomorrow. For today, I wanted to present you with some questions to journal through. I’m praying for you.

1. Why do you believe that God doesn’t love you? Where has this feeling originated?

2. In light of my comment yesterday that the evidence of God’s love for you is the cross, what changes about your understanding of His love?

3. If the cross of Christ was not sufficient for God to prove His love for you, what would He need to do to “play by your rules” and prove it to you?

4. Does your answer to #4 reveal any idols or distortions in your identity {ie: things that you worship or seek out more than Jesus}? Does it reveal a desire in your heart to be a little “g” god and control your life or others’ lives?

5. Is there anything that you need to repent of to the Lord?

Knowledge

We are in the “Amazing Grace?” series.
For more posts, click on “
Blog Series” > “Amazing Grace?”
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Knowledge is the first spoke in the “Grace Wheel.”

Grace Wheel

Grace Wheel

There is one thing that I think you need to know today that is the foundation of everything else in your entire life.

God loves you.

Please take some time in prayer before you listen to this:

That’s all. God loves you. That’s it.
And yet it’s EVERYTHING.

Don’t gloss over it because you’ve heard it a thousand times.
Don’t doubt it because you “feel” like he doesn’t.

Don’t miss it.

Dive back into the truth of God’s love and remind yourself of it. Every day. Knowing that God loves you is the beginning of EVERYTHING. If you believe it, you will respond in faith, love, obedience and abiding. But, my friends…if you doubt it, that is the beginning of unbelief, apathy, disobedience and hiding.

So we start here. If you don’t know that He loves you, this might be a good week to start addressing why. And if you remember last week we talked about “Ignorance“—not knowing what God says in His Word. If you don’t see the Bible as God’s love story of redemption for you that led from the garden to the cross—if you don’t know the story of Jesus written in that book from cover to cover, well then I pray that you will. I pray that you will open your Bible and find out.

This week I pray that you will know that God loves you.

He gave you evidence of His love, you know? Romans says that God demonstrated his love for you in this, that Christ died for you, while you were yet a sinner. {Romans 5:8} His offer of salvation whispered from the bloody cross wasn’t for you AFTER you cleaned yourself up or AFTER you got your life “on track.” No, it was right in the midst of the mess.

Knowing this is EVERYTHING. This is the gospel. Don’t overlook it. This is what Paul talks about as being “of first importance: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” {1 Corinthians 15:3-4}

The evidence of God’s love for you is the cross.

If knowing that is not “enough,” then nothing else will be.

I will close with the final chapter of the book I have been working through this last month, “Comforts from Romans” by Elyse Fitzpatrick {and the inspiration for this blog series. This is a long excerpt from “Day 32: pp.141-4″, but a powerful one so I hope you will take the time to carefully read each word of truth.

“‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ {Romans 8:38-39}

From the very beginning of time, God determined to love us. He knew all about our sin—our unbelief, our pride, our idolatry, our fear, and our selfishness. Still, he determined to love us and make us his own. He knew about our sin before it existed, and yet it pleased him to create a world like ours and rule sovereignly over Adam’s fall so that his mercy and the love and perfection of his Son would be celebrated. God was not the author of that dreadful sin, but he ruled sovereignly over it in order to accomplish all his good will and gain glory for himself.

Our sin will not separate us from God’s love, because his love was predetermined before we sinned, and even our sin functions to make his love look more glorious.

We are completely, thoroughly, fully, and freely known and loved and completely free to rest in that love. Suspend your unbelief. Silence your inner slave driver. Allow yourself one minute of ecstasy. He will love you. He will have you for his own. He will draw you near to himself. He will bless you. Enjoy his love. Receive it. Relish it. Delight in it. Dance!

Listen to all the negatives that Paul uses to make his point about the never-ending-ness of the Father’s love: neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from God’s love. If I were Paul’s editor, I would have insisted that he clump all those ‘nors’ into a more concise list, but that’s not what the Spirit had in mind. The Spirit wants to blow your mind, to shake you up, to move you out of your apathetic complacency and cringing fear and self-absorption. He wants to overwhelm you, because otherwise you’ll continue to naval-gaze and list-make and try to pull the wagon of your self-improvement on down the glory road to the nirvana of self-approval. So he piles it on, redundantly, over and over again, trying to shake you free and loose you from all that you think you know about how love works.

Niether, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ten times ‘nor’—ten times. The Spirit finishes this list with “…and in case you try and cram something else onto the list that you think I missed, not that either.’ Perhaps you will read this aloud with me now, praying that the Spirit will grant you grace to believe {FAITH—WE WILL READDRESS THIS IN WEEK 4}.

‘When I die, while I am here dying daily, I will not be separated from him. No matter what happens when I face death, no matter how my faith may waver, I will not be separated from him as I walk through that dark river, and his loving hand will draw me up from those waters and his arms will embrace me.’

‘While I live, nothing can separate me from his love. On the days that I forget him, on the days when I doubt, on the days when I rejoice and believe, nothing will separate me from his love and nothing will affect his love for me in any way.’

‘There is no angel—not Lucifer, not any seen or unseen spiritual being—who has more power than the power of God’s love. Satan cannot tempt me to sin in such a way that I will be cut off from God’s love, nor can he accuse me or point out my sin in such a way that it will make God stop loving me.’

‘There is no ruler—political or spiritual or otherwise—that has the authority to cut me off from God’s love. They can all make all the pronouncements they want. They can say that God is dead and that I cannot worship him. They can assign me to the depth of the earth’s dungeons, and there I will find the sweetest of wines from the hands of the Savior, who loves me and suffers with me.’

There is nothing in existence now in this entire universe that is able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Not cell phones, oak trees, oceans, stock markets, microbes, bacteria, political movements, faithless churches, powerful cults, or sin—mine or others’—that can separate me from his love.’

‘Nothing that exists in this entire universe will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. There is no sin, no temptation, no trial, no disaster, no election, no bank failure, no sickness, no treachery, no debauchery, no darkness, and no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.’

‘There is no political, military, monetary, or ecclesiastical power and, most importantly, no willpower {not mine or others’} that will ever be powerful enough to overcome and defeat God’s commitment to love me forever.’

‘There is no ruler over or above this earth that is able to separate me from God’s love. There is nothing invisible, nothing in the heavens, and nothing on any planet or star or nebula that is more powerful than God’s love.’

‘There is nothing beneath this earth, not all the power of hell itself, that will ever be able to defeat God’s love for me. Hell’s gates crumble when assaulted by a fierce love like this.’

‘And just in case anything has been missed, just in case I can think of something or have a suspicion that I’ve missed something, there is nothing else in all creation–nothing else—that will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

Have you heard the good news? Do you know that you are loved? Has he made you sure? If not, then pray now that you would be.

In all our trials—in tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, and martyrdom—we are more than conquerors because we are beloved sons and daughters with whom he is well pleased, and because he loves us he turns everything—even suffering and death—into good. We are not at the mercy of anything in the universe. And even in our death we have victory, because death itself has been swallowed up in the life of the love of the Father.

‘This is great news. This is the best news you’ve ever heard. You can bank on this news. It is the sure word of God to you. “I love you. I always have. I always will.” Believe and rejoice in that love!’” 

Real Life Evidence of Grace: Loss of a Loved One

We are in the “Amazing Grace?” series.
For more posts, click on
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Every Friday I will be sharing a “Real Life Evidence of Grace” Story with you. My heart behind these posts is to address the question that so many of us {believers and non} seem to have. “How could a good God let something so horrible happen?” Here’s a chance for you to read the stories of people who actually have had to personally wrestle with that question in the midst of their heartache, grief, disappointments, and loss or in dealing with the consequences of sin {their own sin or the sin of someone else}.

Because of the intensely personal nature of these Friday posts, I have chosen to disable comments. Out of respect to my friends who have chosen to share, I wanted to provide a place for them to do so without opening it up to potentially difficult or offensive responses. While that has NEVER happened on this blog because my readers are rad, I don’t even want to leave that open as a possibility. If this post strikes a cord with you and you would like to share some thoughts, ask some questions, or just contact me you can reach me at contactmcmiracle@gmail.com.

Five years ago today my friend received the news that her father had been tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. They were the best of friends. She loved her dad so very much. I’ll let her tell you the story below, but this was a devistating blow to my friend and her family. The very first thought I had the night I received the news was, “He’s not going to be there to walk her down the aisle.” Watching her seek Jesus in the midst of her grief has been such a testimony to His faithfulness and grace in her life. Watching her walk down the aisle a little over a year ago, it was amazing to see the peace and joy in her face, despite the fact that an amazing man was missing on her arm. God has been faithful to her, and I am so thankful she knows Him.

1. Please share your story.

My father had always been one of my best friends. He was a wonderful parent, and taught me so much each and every day. I could go on and on about the type of man he was- but suffice it to say, he was pretty special. Needless to say, when he passed away, I felt like my whole world came crashing down around me.

It was a Friday night when I got the call. My parents had been driving back home to Washington from Arizona. My friend Stefanie called and said I needed to come over right away. I knew something was wrong. When I arrived, she sat me down and told me my dad had been killed in a tragic accident. He was helping some people on the side of the road, the car was hit, which pushed him into the road, and he was killed from being hit by multiple vehicles.

The exact details of what occurred are still confusing to this day. Even after many testimonies, news stories and police reports, we still get different stories. I have come to realize I will never really know what happened. What I do know is my dad was doing what he did best- helping others- and he was tragically killed due to negligent drivers on the road.

2. What did your relationship with Jesus look like when this happened?

My relationship with the Lord was very weak at this time. I was saved in late elementary school and grew up in the church. After a few years at Bible college my relationship with God began to suffer due to my own sin and dissolution with modern Christianity. Because of my weak relationship with Christ, I didn’t know how to go to Him for comfort. Instead I just sort of sat in my sadness and ran from God.

3. What were some of the emotions/doubts you felt toward God and some of the questions/thoughts you had?

I never doubted His existence or questioned His power. I was just confused. I knew He had allowed it to happen, and this perplexed me. I didn’t know how to come to terms with the loss, and it was easier for me to just avoid thinking about it. So that is what I did. I just avoided God and ran from Him so that I didn’t have to come to terms with His sovereignty in the loss of my dad.

4. What lies did God expose that you were believing about Him, you, your future, etc? (i.e.: How did God work you through your natural emotions/response to this situation?)

God never left me during the time that I avoided Him, but it took me over a year to finally stop running. He showed me that was what I was doing- running. I was believing that I could not go to Him for comfort, and that I was fatherless. I believed that I needed to avoid Him in order to keep going and function in life.

5. What truth did God replace the lies with?

God grabbed a hold of my heart and showed me that even though my earthly father was gone, He is my Heavenly Father. He is the Father to the fatherless {Psalm 68:5}. He also reminded me that even though my dad was not physically here anymore, I was so blessed to have him for 25 years.  He will always be with me in my memories.

The Lord also reminded me that my thoughts are not His thoughts, and my ways are not His ways {Isaiah 55:8}. Sometimes it is not possible for us to understand the things God allows to occur on this earth because we have a limited earthly understanding {Job 11:7}. I can have trust in His goodness and love, even if it doesn’t fully make sense to me {Psalm 143:8}.  And that is OKAY.

6. What has God’s grace looked like for you walking out of this? (i.e.: How would you summarize what God did/is doing to have Himself/His grace be sufficient for you?)

God has poured out grace upon grace on my life. He has allowed me to be more empathetic towards others in their time of need and loss. He has allowed me to have great conversations with so many who are suffering during the time of loss of a loved one, and given me the words to say. He has given me comfort as my Heavenly Father, and showed me that I am never alone. Even though the pain has not gone away, and I still miss my dad every day, I know that I can go to Jesus with my hurts and He will comfort me. One day in heaven, He will wipe all my tears and there will be no more sadness.

7. What does your relationship with Jesus look like now? (How is it different/stronger than before?)

My relationship with Jesus is much stronger that before. He used this trial to bring me back to Him and has grown me so much since the loss of my dad.

————

My friend has given me permission to share a song that really ministered to her in the midst of her grief. It’s Jars of Clay, “The Valley Song.”