Awareness in Light of an All-Loving God.

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When I used to see people wearing “awareness” bands, I always became curious and would try and see what or who they were supporting. It was almost like a tattoo to me in that it seemed trendy and cool. Truthfully, I had never had anyone close to me have anything worthy of getting those bands for, so it never really hit home.

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Meet Jarred and Hannah. They are a young couple, who, like many couples their age, decided they were going to have a baby approximately a year and a half ago. Hannah became pregnant, and, like many other couples, they went ahead with visions for what their family was going to look like. We all do it. Whether we realize it or not, we have somewhat of a picture of what we think our lives are going to hold. As the future becomes the present, however, at some point reality and our dreams meet.


Jace McCoy Williford. Their beautiful, loved baby boy. While Hannah and I’s hearts will be connected forever, the only in-person memories I have of Hannah are as my friend Nick’s little sister. When the girls were around 7 months or so, Hannah sent me a facebook message after reading one of my recent blogs on the girls. Her son, Jace, had also been diagnosed with hypotonia. As I have said before, hypotonia tends to not be a diagnosis in itself, as there is almost always a lingering cause. The therapies and doctor’s appointments began for Hannah and Jace, and as someone who had been walking a similar road, I attempted to help them navigate the challenging road of finding a diagnosis. I remember the first time they drew blood from Jace. Hannah and I had been messaging about how sad she was that they were going to have to stick Jace. Just like any parent, no one ever wants to see their child in pain. It is a helpless, horrible feeling.

On April 14th, I received a message from Hannah asking for prayer for Jace. He had a bad respiratory infection and had been admitted for dehydration. The days going forward were nothing s of a nightmare. Jace was diagnosed with SMA type 1, and through a chain of heartbreaking events and the unimaginable, he went to be with Jesus 5 short days later. Now, many of you either know pieces of their story already, or you hear this story or others, and feel sad for the family but never put yourself in their shoes. Believe me, I have been there. I have watched the commercial of the starving children in Africa, and my heart hurt for a second before I was distracted by the next thing in front of me. I have read the blog of the women suffering from cancer, or the family that lost a child to disease or car wreck, and read until it made me uncomfortable; only to find something “happy” to focus on after. I get it. When you go to Africa, however, and that starving child is close enough to touch, you can’t pretend it isn’t real. Once your family has walked through tragedy or suffering, you can no longer look the other way because you know it exists. As we have walked through this undiagnosed journey with the girls, I have had to put myself in the shoes of numerous diagnoses, and have played the stories out over and over again in my head. The girls were also tested for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and I spent two long weeks picturing what that would mean for our family. While I encourage you to go to in order to learn more about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the main purpose behind this post is to talk to you about watching our Father walk people through the hards, while also bringing up some reasons on why I think awareness matters.

Back to Hannah. Remember when I told you about the mom who didn’t want to watch her son be stuck by a needle? That same mother looked down into the crib of her baby boy, held his hand, and trusted God to take him back into His loving arms. That same mom continues to walk, some days stumbling, to the cross; knowing that God all too well knows what it is like to sacrifice His Son for a kingdom cause. I have watched Hannah be nothing but brave and faithful during a time that is unfathomable. More importantly, I have watched our God give her strength for whatever the day holds. Do I think she feels excited about this part of His plan? No. Do I think that every day is filled with gratitude and thankfulness toward God for this unexpected story He is writing? Absolutely not. But this I know: God has a hold of her and He is not letting go. He has a hold of you, and He wants to walk with you through all your moments. The ones that make you smile, the ones that make you cry, the ones that you anticipate and the moments you never could have imagined. He is here, friends, in it all.

Those of you who have children that participate in sports teams spend many days at practice or at games. You watch your children excel on the courts, and you watch them mess up. You wear their team colors proudly, and when your children are mentioned, you talk about those accolades. While I know the Willifords would love to say this is what their future holds with Jace, raising awareness for him has become their new banner. You would do the same. You see, raising awareness is sometimes just as much loving those affected and reminding others about their loved ones as it is finding a cure. Yes, if God chooses to present a cure to SMA or other diseases, I know many would be ecstatic. But if He doesn’t, I know they will continue to make others aware of what has now become a part of their family’s 2

The PRAY bracelet is something Hannah sent me a couple months into our friendship, not knowing anything about where either of our journeys were headed. The blue bracelet (that could in no way ever compare to the gorgeous blue eyes baby Jace was given!) also has the verses from Psalms 139 that read,

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works, my soul knows it very well.” (verses 13-14).

When I wear this bracelet, it is no longer something I do to be “trendy”. No, it is much, much more. It reminds me to pray for the Willifords, and to pray for the families, too many to count, that walk through the hard, unexpected journeys this side of heaven holds. I have committed to raising awareness for SMA and a couple other diseases, even after we receive a diagnosis for our girls. You see, when you have to imagine what life would look like with a certain diagnosis, your eyes are opened and you cannot look away any longer.

If it has not happened already, someone you love or yourself will be hit with the hard. You will watch family or friends battle the unfathomable, and suddenly, that cause will become worthy. You will want to make others aware, not only to find a cure, but also out of pure honor and affection. I hope to one day (soon!) be able to proudly sport my bracelet for Ally and Bailey Grace as well; to be able to cheer them on and love them through making their challenges known to others. Friends, we do not know what tomorrow holds, but we do know who holds it. His ways are mysterious, but He is always good. And, here is our hope: one day, He promises us this:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelations 21:4).

Furthermore, the incredible thing is this: Yes, He brings the unexpected hards. But, He brings a million good surprises along the way, too. For as many tragedies as their are, both on the news and in our own lives, they are all trumped by the grace and eternal hope we are offered in His Son. His plans for us are more than we could possibly dream up or imagine, and only He can bring beauty from the ashes of brokenness. Beyond that, because of Christ, we can shout triumphantly, “Where, death, is your sting? Where, death is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). For those of you that wonder why God allows all that He does, there is something to find comfort in. He has overcome it all, and is working it all together for good. He also brings us tinges of this heaven right here on earth: the unexpected friendships, the devotional you needed to read right at that moment, the call or text with just the right words. All is grace.

Praise God! Until then, let’s choose to serve Him and love others well by rejoicing what they rejoice in and grieving what they grieve in. We do not know why He has chosen to write our stories the way He has, but we do know He is wise in it all. Let’s start today. August is SMA awareness month. Won’t you head over to and learn more about the disease that affects so many families around you?


Our little family is currently on a house hunt in different areas of town. While we absolutely love where we live, the girls will start Special Education preschool meetings at 27 months, and the current school system we are in does not provide for the girls’ needs in the ways they deserve. This makes me sad on a whole lot of levels; one of them being that other human beings who we are no more deserving than are having to send their children to less than adequate school zones because they can’t afford elsewhere. All others areas of Birmingham are more expensive than the city limits, and so we are having to be very creative in our house search. I hate it for Hugh because he works harder than anyone I know, but residency is tough on families, both because of the time they require of him, and also the lack of money we are given back. The name doctor is certainly not all it’s stereotyped to be. They work incredibly hard to gain the knowledge they have to help the people that need it most. Anyway.

So here we are, on this creative home search (that hasn’t been going on long might I add). In the beginning (so last week), I fully trusted God to provide His best for our family, and was ready to land wherever He had us. A couple days ago, we discovered a gorgeous home in our top school district choice that was within our price range. We knew there had to be a catch, but when our realtor mentioned a “huge electric power supply” and “impossible to resell”, I honestly brushed past it because I was determined that this was the house God had for us. Why was I so determined? Because it was what I wanted. My desires. And, God wants to give us the desires of our heart, right?

Yesterday, we pulled up to the house and I saw it: the tower. This huge electric power supply was in fact a massive tower right in the front of my dream home’s yard. Determined, I attempted to look past it and walked up to the gorgeous place I was now going to call home; God’s respite for the Cheeks. I walked inside and each and every room was redone and absolutely gorgeous. It looked like a home straight out of a magazine. I decided right then and there I wasn’t going to let some silly tower stop me from getting God’s best for us. It was in our price range, in the right school district, and gorgeous. It had to be ours, right?

Our realtor, being the authentic person that she is, firmly told me she did not think it was a good idea, for numerous reasons really. I sat inside this beautiful oasis, and attempted to tell myself that the tower didn’t exist. It was too perfect of a deal, it had to be it. It’s what I wanted. I found myself getting more and more bothered by the whole thing. As I drove home, trying to talk myself into why this was a good choice for us, I realized something: no matter how much I wanted to pretend the tower wasn’t there, I couldn’t change the fact that it was. It got me thinking about our hearts. You see, initially, I was trusting God with what His plans were for us, emptying my desires for His in order to step out in faith in the direction He led us. A couple of granite countertops and double-headed showers later, I was in a completely different place. Why? Because I had allowed my flesh to rationalize a lie, a lie I believe we all struggle to run from. I told myself I deserved what I wanted, and that what I wanted was in fact God’s best. Friends, this is not truth. Truth is this: as we look to God, as we ask Him to point us in the direction He wants us to go, He makes our paths straight and we begin to see things through His eyes, therefore His desires become our desires. Where in His Word does it say that this means material comforts and getting exactly what we want? It doesn’t. In fact, I have often found that because His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8), usually what He has planned is way different than what I would have written. But, you know what? It is always better. Furthermore, when we set up towers in our hearts instead of looking to Him as our strong Tower, we are missing out. We are missing out on the satisfaction and peace that comes from leaving the plan in His hands and stepping away from anything that may seem right but in the end will fail us. Many times, we try to continue on in our walk with Him, in a “have my cake and eat it too” kind of way. (By the way, I have never understood this. If you have cake, isn’t the point to eat it? Anyway.) Not only is this lukewarm, but just because we act like the idols, those towers, aren’t there, doesn’t make them any less consequential. We can ignore them for a while, but they always end up making themselves known, often in ways that lead to more sin and more despair.

So, as I sat there in the car, fuming, I said aloud, “Why does the stupid tower have to be there? God, why do all these stupid towers have to be a part of my life?” Heart pounding, blood pressure rising. I realized right then and there that it wasn’t really about the tower in the yard; it was about all the towers I feel like are building up around me. I try to stay in a place of struggle, find truth, struggle find truth, but if I’m honest, right now I just need the grace to be mad at all the things seem to be being thrown at our family right now. Not trusting, yes. You see, I know in the deepest parts of me that if He allows it, He ordains it and it is good. But today, I just want the towers to disappear. I don’t want to have to paddle. I’m ready to float, if even for a minute. Honesty.

As I began to let go of the idea of this house being our dream house, or even the concept of “getting what I wanted when I wanted it”, I realized something else. You see, while this tower seemed big, while all the towers surrounding us seem so big, my God is much, much bigger. When I fix my eyes on Him, all else fades away and I am able to see things as they truly are, not as my flesh wishes them to be. His best. All the towers are like grains of sand in light of His abundance.

I know that He is going to provide us a new home. I also know that it may not necessarily have all the temporary things I set up as important, but you know, that’s okay. It might even be better actually. For as we are stripped of our comforts and our petty wants, we are able to see more of Him and receive more of His fullness. More of Him, less of me. True satisfaction. When it is the right house, I won’t have to pretend a giant tower isn’t in the driveway. I will look to my gracious, loving Tower and bow in gratitude at His best for our life. Am I there right now? Not really. But, I’m persevering because deep down inside, I know He’s worth it. And even in the midst of my temper tantrums, where I stomp at the Holy One’s feet and beg for a new normal, He stays the same. His arms, always open wide, as open as they were that day on Calvary in which He shed His life for me. Constant Love.

What towers are in your heart right now? What are the things that you would like to pretend aren’t there that are trying to eat up who God has called you to be? Are you looking past all the seemingly large obstacles in this world and looking to God as your All-Knowing, All-Loving Tower? Today, let’s be real with ourselves. Let’s not get caught up in the things we think we want. Instead, let’s look to Him to lead us to the things we need, namely Him. He is faithful, friends.


“Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”- 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Abundant Life.

The past few days, outside of a quick trip to visit family, which was wonderful, have been nothing short of hard. Challenging emotionally, physically, and more. While we don’t have a specific diagnosis for our girls yet, we were given a handful of painful news last week that I’m not sure I know how to swallow. It had been something Hugh and I had feared for a while now, so in a sense, it was relieving to be told our worst suspicion. Yet, in spite of our wondering, there are some things in life you cannot be prepared for no matter how much you have thought about it before. Whatever is going on with the girls stems from their brain. One of my favorite physicians I have met thus far gently explained to me why, anatomically, this was starting to look true. I don’t talk about the delays outside of the gross motor one because frankly, I don’t like thinking about it. For whatever reason, there is something about this being solely muscular that sounds much more appealing. I have said to many people over the past months that the hardest thing to face would be if somehow we found out that there is something going on with the girls’ brains, and Thursday, my worst fear was pretty much affirmed. What lies ahead will be continued waiting, more doctor’s appointments with new specialists, more MRI’s, more hard. I have had the past few days to attempt to process it all, and the Lord was starting to bring me to a place of gratitude. A place that I realize, no matter what, this is His best for our family, for His kingdom, for Ally and Bailey Grace. That last part stings, and there are still questions I have concerning that truth, but I know it is just that: truth. In spite of what I feel, He is writing this story and the details come from His merciful pen. His story is always something to be excited about; for I know that He is bringing glory and good out of all things, even the ones that don’t make sense to me. On the way to dinner with a friend Thursday night, I heard a song that I would normally skim past. (I love praise and worship. Some music on the Christian channel borders cheesy, kid singy songy to me and I have a hard time focusing on the truths I know are there. Honesty.) The words cut through to my core this time, however, and it felt like the Lord was singing it to my heart, the whole thing. Stephen Curtis Chapman sings, “Glorious Unfolding”, and he talks about just that: the glories that God is unfolding in the middle of all this life holds. The way that He is going to bring good from even the hardest moments. Right then and there, I thanked God for all that He was unfolding in our family; and I truly began to get excited about what’s to come, even in light of new challenges. That was until Bailey Grace got sick yesterday afternoon…followed by Ally…followed by me. And now, here sit, all three of us fighting fevers and my attitude gone from hopeful to crummy.

If you have kept up with our family happenings, you know that our girls do not handle illness well, and that a seemingly simple cold could mean a hospital trip for us. This has only happened once, but I have prayed against illness since and hoped that we could be wise enough about staying away from sickness as much as humanely possible. Bailey Grace’s sickness turned to Ally’s sickness turned to Hugh and I up in the middle of the night, trying to console two screaming babies. I was mad. I couldn’t understand why things had to hit all at once. Gut-wrenching news and now more sickness? It didn’t seem fair. As I meditated on some verses, this one came to mind,

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”- John 10:10

Ha. Abundant life? Is this really Your version of abundant life? These are real questions I brought to the Lord. The thing is, when you know what you know what you know, that God is a good God and that you are going to follow Him no matter what, but your current reality is so challenging, you begin to bring these bold questions to Him out of desperation. And this, my friend, is one of the mysteries of our God. He is big. He is worthy. He should never tolerate such questions from a grain of sand like me. Yet, in His love, He gently leads me to the truths I need to remember in these tough moments.

I realized right then and there that it was obvious what the thief was trying to steal: my joy. My faith. My hope in Christ and His plans for me. That which doesn’t fade. The enemy came to kill my spirit. To deaden that within me which God has already made alive… or to at least get me thinking it’s dead. He came to destroy our relationships, our families, our outlook on eternity. But Christ? Christ came to do the opposite. While circumstances and current realities seem to fade and bring brokenness and suffering, He promises to bring true life abundant. This abundancy is not reliant on situations or on anything on this earth, however. It relies on God and His unchanging, always-giving, always-trustworthy, never-ending grace. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). You see, the vastness God offers in Christ far outweighs the suffering we are walking through now. In fact, He promises us any suffering we are walking through now doesn’t even compare to the glory that will be revealed later (Romans 8:18). Furthermore, today, we can have abundancy of spirit when we allow Him to reign in our lives. The word says that,

“…those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6, emphasis mine)

See that last part? This is what I was missing. My mind was focused on the fading, perishing things of the flesh; not the all-knowing, perfect, never fading things of the Spirit. No matter what, in Christ, we have hope. We know that whatever we are going through on this side of heaven has a purpose for all eternity, and that He is working in all things. Many of us have read the verse in Philippians that says that our God will supply all our needs (4:19), but I think we skim past the last part: according to the riches in Christ Jesus. The riches in Christ Jesus are not based on flesh and blood, but on the joys and promises found in heaven. Not material wealth. Not comfort. Not even success. No. The riches we are guaranteed go much, much deeper and are much more reliable. He promises to give us the ability to hear that your children have something wrong with their brain and not crumble, knowing whatever it is comes from His hand. He gives us the strength to walk through each day, unsure of what tomorrow will look like. It goes on and on, but there is NOTHING, no power, no illness, no person, not even death itself, that can separate us from Him (Romans 8:35-38). So, I can look whatever is ahead dead on, with confidence that He is walking us through it and that it is good. Abundant life. There is no one else that can promise us this. Romantic comedies often imply that when you meet your soulmate, they will have the ability to protect you and care for you perfectly. I love Hugh with all my heart and am positive there isn’t a better man for me out there, but here’s the thing: he can’t take away the pain of what is going on with our girls. He cannot love me perfectly in this. Deuteronomy 32:12 says, “The Lord alone led him”. In our wilderness, in those moments where the pain goes deeper than any fix this world has to offer, He is our Hope. He truly can walk us through all the valleys of life while giving us His peace and comfort along the way. Only Him. Friends, we must fix our eyes on Him and Him alone. Whether you are on a mountain or a valley, He is the only One that can give us the riches that come from His unfading Spirit. All others things will pass away, but He remains. This is where our eyes must be. Him.

My flesh is bruised and hurting, both physically and emotionally. I am sad. I am scared at times. But, I know the One who goes before me and I trust Him to fill me up in ways that only He can. He is so very good. Let Him love you today and give you the abundant life that only He can promise.


“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way by conversation sweet, climbing with the thought that it might be so till the height was reached; but suddenly a narrow winding path appeared, and then the Master said, “My child, here you will walk safest with Me alone. I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied, “So be it, Lord”. He took my feeble hand in His, accepting thus my will to yield to Him. All, and to find all in Him. One long, dark, moment, and no friend I saw, save Jesus only. But oh! So tenderly He led me on and up, and spoke to me such words of cheer, such secret whisperings of His wondrous love, that soon I told Him all my grief and fear, and leaned on His strong arm confidingly. And then I found my footsteps quickened, and light unspeakable, the rugged way illumined, such light as only can be seen in close companionship with God. A little while, and we will meet again-the loved and lost- but in the rapturous joy of greetings, such as here we cannot know, and happy song, and heavenly embraces, and tender recollections rushing back of life now passed, I think one memory more dear and sacred than the rest, will rise, and we who gather in the golden streets, will oft be stirred to speak with grateful love of that dark day Jesus called us to climb some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.”- Daniel Crawford


Yesterday we came home from the beach; from a week full of sunshine, delicious food, family, friends, and relaxation. Extra hands and help all around me, and lots of time to slip away to the beach and spend time alone with my Savior. This morning, I am back to the day to day. Dishwasher emptied, Bible opened in hands, getting ready to get the girls fed and ready for physical therapy; the noises in the background being less ocean, more neighborhood Monday scuffling.

Halfway across the world, the unthinkable occurs. Men, women, and children being tortured, raped, and killed out of the depths of evil of the human heart. It’s not that this doesn’t occur on a day to day basis; but the magnitude of it, the genocide of it all, is unimaginable. Toss your child off the mountain so they do not have to walk through such horror. A quick death is better than an ending full of such horrendous suffering. I truly cannot fathom having to make this choice for myself, much less my child. It is easy to skirt it all under the rug when it isn’t in front of our faces. We must never forget this is not a movie; this is the reality of our fellow human beings lives right now.

There is an unbelievable amount of suffering that occurs on a daily basis. Between the news and our own circle of family and friends, each of us has tragedy placed all around us. Some of us, brokenness and hurting right in our own homes. How do we find joy in light of it all? How do we spend time laughing with those we love on vacation when brokenness abounds? We can’t ignore it. We can’t shut our eyes to it all. So, what do we do? Does God call us to happiness on this side of heaven, or mere existence?

This is something I have contemplated often the past few months. To many of you, this concept of joy in suffering is extremely foreign. To some, this blog may be “too much” in the sense that my emotions and hurts are displayed sentence after sentence. There is a culture in our world that wants to encourage us to pacify our pain with the temporary things around us. Had a hard day? Get some ice cream or a glass of wine. Tired on a Monday morning? Drink a little extra coffee. Feeling sad? Find a pill to take the sorrow away. Need to feel wanted? Give yourself to anyone and everyone around you. Whatever you do, do anything to not process or focus on the reality of the hard around and within you. I am as guilty as the next at wanting to run away from suffering and hold on to the easy. To jump from one exciting thing on the calendar to the next. Here’s the problem: it doesn’t take away the hard; it just ignores it. It doesn’t take much looking back on history to see that while some things have changed, some things have remained the same. Suffering has existed from the moment that Eve took that first bite of the fruit. From that moment on, sin rooted its ugly head in all our lives and while we can pretend it isn’t there, it doesn’t change its reality.

The other day, someone asked me if I was happy. I tried to find the words to attempt to explain where I was at with happiness, but could not seem to do so. The truth is, I am somewhat over the word “happy”. To me, happy expresses an emotion void of all hurts. A smile on your face at all times. Carefree living. This, I am definitely not. But joy. What I am, is joyful. In fact, I believe that in light of this suffering God has allowed in our life, I experience more joy than I ever have before.

A few years ago, I would have placed a good bit of hope in a fun week at the beach. I would have built it up in my head, and when it was over, I would have come home feeling pretty empty. Sure, I would have said that my hope was in God alone, but sometimes it takes affliction to truly bring us to a place where this is truth in our lives. These days, the reality of our life is not changing. We have twins with special needs, and I am faced with the questions and hardships that go along with this at all times. I know that, with good intentions, many people think that “getting a break” from it all could fix things. But the truth is, just because I am not there or on “mommy duty”, doesn’t mean it isn’t still going to be there when I get home. Beyond that, while I enjoy spending time alone with Hugh or friends, and while time away occasionally is healthy for everyone, the thing I really want to portray is that even in the midst of all the pain, I love being their mommy. I love mommy duty! Just because pain and hurt is a piece of the puzzle, doesn’t mean that it isn’t joyful. So goes all of our lives on this side of heaven.

Here’s the thing: we are all going to experience pain and suffering. We are all going to walk through hard things, some seasons being tougher than others. Those of us who experience the unexpected might have a layer of this that never goes away. We do not have to deny the reality of it when our hope goes beyond today. If our hope was in something here on earth, it would be depressing to constantly be aware of the hards. If we didn’t have the knowledge that one day, there will be no more tears and no more pain, than the smart thing would be to spend our lives trying to avoid it all. But, because of Christ, because of the hope we have in Him, we are never in despair. Joy in suffering. The truth is this: I have found the deeper my suffering is, the stronger my joy is. You see, joy isn’t based on anything around us. Joy is based on the knowledge of Him, and He and His promises have always been the same and always will be. Walking through this season, God has taught me to long for heaven like never before. I long for Him. I crave the day that He takes away all the brokenness both in my life and the lives of those around me. And you know what? I don’t think I would have really wanted Him to come back if things had gone easy peasy. I think I would have desired to live the comfortable, long life that the American dream falsely promises… and then, would have wanted to meet up with Jesus after it was all over. But now? Now, God has opened my eyes to the innumerable amount of pain that so many walk through. I have realized the magnitude that He went through on the cross when He took all the sin of the world onto Himself. I want to be face to face with the One who did this out of love; to finally be able to comprehend what it means to know Him fully. But in light of this, how do we enjoy the here and now? The moments that pass before that day comes? I believe it is through walking each moment always aware that we will one day be with Him that causes us to live fully right now. This is true joy. Being able to take each and every second as a gift from God, whatever the moment holds, knowing that He is making all things new. This is where I am today. I know that the reality of our earth is not going anywhere. I also know that bigger than that, more powerful than that, is a God who has taken it all and nailed it to a cross for all eternity. That someday, all of our hurt and all of our pain is going away. These hardships are truly temporary. It’s like seeing a movie for the second time and knowing the ending. Instead of grieving the middle, you can relax and smile at what’s to come. Way better than happiness that is based on circumstances and fleeting moments. True joy. And you know what? Having this mindset causes each day to be that much more beautiful. It causes you to seek out the true, never fading beauty in all people and all things. It helps you to navigate the struggles gracefully, knowing that they truly are passing.

Yes, we have been hit with a truth for our lives that prevents me from viewing this world with all rainbows and giggles; but wow, what training it has given me for all eternity. While I may not wear rose-colored glasses on earth; I have heavenly lenses that carry far more riches than anything more comfortable circumstances could ever offer. When I write or speak about our girls, not a single word is said or typed in anything but pure joy. Much more satisfying than false hopes of anything this side of heaven has to offer. Don’t let the presence of pain overshadow the glory and magnitude of the God behind it all.

Friends, the choice is ours. We can seek out the happy that is based on situations and comfort, or we can seek out the eternal joy that comes from the knowledge of Him. Every moment is full of His riches that never fade if yet we would just have eyes to see. I can promise you this: it will not be easy. It will stretch you beyond your emotions, beyond what you think you desire. But you know what? It will be worth it. He will be worth it. And on that day when He chooses to walk us into His courts, we will be able to bow down before Him, arms open wide, and confidently whisper the same name we have desperately desired to lean on: Only Jesus. Let’s seek true joy, albeit Him, today.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.”- Psalm 90:12-16

The Groans of Creation.

I love the beach. There is nothing better to me than sitting in the sand, Bible in hand, heart wide open, looking at the beauty around me and contemplating my smallness in light of His big, gorgeous world. I find myself being drawn to the Psalms in these moments, and it seems easy for me to say along with David, “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!” (Psalm 113:3). I have not been to the beach since we have known that there is something going on with our girls, and as I breathed in His goodness around me the first morning, I couldn’t help but also contemplate the mysteries of His creation. It’s interesting how much I enjoy relaxing by the ocean, because as far as the waves go, I have never been a fan. Of course, I love looking at them and hearing their glories as they are preached to all within reach, but I am somewhat afraid of going out in them. It isn’t what is underneath (I grew in jumping into the muddy, far from clear waters of the Hiwassee River, and had no problem touching ankles with a fish or two). What scares me is the unpredictable tossing to and fro of the waves themselves; the lack of control I have with the size of the wave that hits me. And here I am, being thrown into an ocean of His mysteries in our life, not having any say-so in whether I wanted a wave as tall and mysterious as the one I am now swimming in.

Of all the things I am grateful for in this life, my family is at the very top of the list. This beach trip is a perfect depiction of how they have handled this new season of our little family’s life. They have not treated the girls’ condition like an elephant in the room; but they have also not made it any sort of focus. They do not talk about ways that they see the girls “getting better”; they just love them where they are without reservation. They are also well aware that while it has been challenging for everyone involved; no one hurts or struggles more deeply than Hugh and myself. They do not ask us any medical questions unless we bring them up ourselves, which in ways that have been unbelievably refreshing, Hugh and I have chosen not to do so much this trip. It is not that we want to deny a second of it, nor is it that it isn’t on my mind at almost every waking moment. It’s just that sometimes, it is nice to just live life with people and rejoice in the here and now. Slash that, it is always nice to just live life with people and rejoice in the here and now. Tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.

My sister and I sat on the beach yesterday, waves crashing around and within me, and I tore through a layer of my heart that I don’t tend to get near. The anger and bitterness that creep up in the midst of our somewhat unusual circumstances. I don’t write about these emotions often, not because I want to cover them up, but because I simply cannot find the words for them. I believe and celebrate God’s sovereignty, authority, and overall goodness in all of our lives. Hand and hand with that, I grieve and I hurt in ways that take my breath away if I think about them too much. As tears stung my eyes, my sister patiently and sympathetically waited as I tried to flesh these gut-wrenching feelings out. The truth is, I don’t know how to process the fact that I trust God and mourn reality all at the same time. How can you explain the paradox of knowing that if you could do it all over, you wouldn’t change something in light of the glory God has been given; while also knowing good and well if you had a magic wand today and your flesh was weak, you might bail out? It’s hard. It’s messy. It’s God’s plan for humanity wrapped up in our small piece of the puzzle.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”- Romans 8:18-24 (emphasis mine)

Ann Voskamp in her book, “One Thousand Gifts”, talks about a moment she had with her brother-in-law when he was about to lose another child (his second) to the same genetic disease that killed his first. She says it this way,

“If it were up to me…” and then the words pound, desperate and hard, “I’d write this story differently.” I regret the words as soon as they leave me. They seem so un-Christian, so unaccepting- so, No, God! I wish I could take them back, comb out their tangled madness, dress them in their calm Sunday best. But there they are, released and naked, raw and real, stripped of any theological cliché, my exposed, serated howl to the throne room.”

There they were. The same words I have uttered to God in moments of weakness, exposed in Ann’s writing and already written on my heart. As I thought about them this morning, I was brought to these verses in Romans and my soul felt relieved and understood yet again. Paul said it himself! The Lord knows that we would not have been subjected to suffering willingly. That’s why, in His wisdom, He suffered for us. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and just because we are choosing to trust Him and accept His plans for us today, doesn’t mean we aren’t stumbling through it in our flesh. My soul cries out, “Yes!” to God while my flesh writhes in the frustration.

I see little pieces of the anger and bitterness in my interaction with others, sometimes more often in those I love most. At times, it is subtle and not noticeable. Other times, it appears blatant. I shamefully talked to my sister about this, telling her how I hated it but felt like it was inevitable at times, and she freed me up to give myself grace in the midst of my humanity. There is pride in fear in the fact that I do not want to go there.The prideful part of me wants sin to be dead and gone in all this, and is ashamed that I can’t seem to be sanctified in all things at all times. The fearful part of me is afraid if I stare some of these hard emotions in the eye, I will be consumed by them and unable to see truth. Here’s the reality: until I meet Jesus face to face, until we who believe meet Jesus face to face, there are going to be bits of sin mixed in with loads of His limitless grace. That’s the thing about Jesus. He is most aware of the continued rebellion of our hearts; but His love compels Him to toss it as far as the east is from the west. So goes the cross. He died so that we could day to day choose to live for Him. He was slayed on the cross so that in moments when we feel slayed, we can look to Him and see it nailed and finished. A glorious paradox: suffering and brokenness around and within, but righteousness constantly making all these new. Beyond that, because of this love we are not consumed. Nothing can separate us from Him, not even ourselves and our own messiness.

This vacation will be over in a few days, and we will all go back to the day to day routine. This upcoming week has pieces in it that take my breath away, and hards that I would like to pretend aren’t coming. But you know what? In all of it, He will meet me there. In the anger and bitterness. In the happy and easy. In the questions and what-ifs. He meets us in all of our moments.

So where does that leave you? What are the parts of your heart that you wish didn’t exist? What are the things that you are afraid of approaching out of fear of where they might lead you? Friends, God’s word promises us that nothing can separate us from Him. Not ourselves. Not the opinions of others. Not those awful emotions we try to keep locked deep inside. All is exposed to Him, and instead of turning away, He looks on us with compassion and asks us to give it to Him. As we do, He takes it, puts it back up at the cross where it belongs, and continues to clothe us in the things that only He can produce in us. He is working in all things, dear reader. All is grace. Let’s allow Him to love us in the midst of it all today.

Despicable Me.



There was a time in my life where I talked myself into being a runner. I actually ran a half-marathon, and began training for a full marathon in college with a friend who legitimately enjoys running. (This always boggles my mind). We ran 19 miles one day, and I was miserable for two days after. I woke up one morning, had a come to Jesus moment where I admitted to myself I hated running, and I don’t think I have run more than a couple miles at a time ever since. I never ran the full marathon (sorry, Cassie!).

This week, I decided I was going to go on a run to try and sort through some things. Do you ever just have those weeks where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed every single day? I go through days, sometimes a week at a time, where I rise in a funk and can’t seem to really get out of it. Different reasons bring it on, but God being God always helps me to do a heart check on why. The thing is, there is always a reason. Often during these days, I find myself fighting being just plain short, sometimes mean, to those I am closest with, whenever I feel this way. I hate this about myself. As Paul says in Romans, however,

“I do not understand what I do. For what I wan to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (7:15).

Anyone relate? Anyone have those moments that if they were video taped and shown to those on the outside, you would cringe?

I may or may not have the song, “Despicable Me”, by Pharrell Williams, from the Disney movie, on a playlist I have. Since I was attempting to run (let’s call it more of a jog), I happily left it playing when it came on. And then, it hit me. Here are the words from the beginning:

“I’m havin’ a bad, bad day/It’s about time that I get my way/Steam rollin’ whatever I see/Huh, despicable me/I’m havin’ a bad, bad day/If you take it personal that’s okay/Watch, this is so fun to see/Huh, despicable me.”

It goes on and the lead of the song keeps asking, “Why” about everything. One negative thought about having a bad day changed his thoughts on his whole day altogether. Sound familiar? Sure does to me.

Honesty time: I’m over it. I’m over being stretched to the limit in every area of our life, so it seems. This new season has challenged our faith, our marriage, our family relationships, our friendships, our finances, and our expectations and plans as a whole. I told Hugh yesterday morning that I was ready to have a break in just one area of our life. This feeling of being “over it” has slipped in to my interactions with those around me, often through the seemingly small negative thoughts that I have allowed to pass in my mind. I have told God how “over it” I am, and it seems He has responded in silence. He has not given us anymore of an idea of prognosis or expectations for the girls, has pushed us even more financially, and our expectations still stand in the gap wanting. These things are His choice, but I’m realizing the way I think about it all is absolutely in my own hands. What I choose to do with His plans for my life, how I choose to react, is up to me. Every day, we wake up with a choice. We can choose to trust God, to allow Him to reign and rule, to let His Spirit control our thoughts and our interactions. Or, we can give into the mindset that says, “It’s about time that I get my way”. Let’s think about that for a moment. Is it about time for you to get your way? Is it? I believe if we took a strong look at the grace around us, we would be filled with gratitude instead of frustration of the glory around us. So, this is what I attempted to do on my run.


It is hard to see in these pictures, but the entire time I was running, there were birds in the field. I probably saw a hundred robins, all trusting that the Lord was going to provide, just as He always has. They were not looking around to the other birds afraid that their food was being taken; they trusted there was enough for all. Limitless provision. Limitless grace. As the Word says,

“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”-Matthew 6:26

Well…aren’t you? The birds are not complaining about the fact they have to eat worms all day; they are just thankful He has brought them their fill.

“You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing”.- Psalm 145:16

Not one promise of the Lord’s has returned void. If we are not aware of His provisions it is not because He is not giving; it is because we are too worried about getting what we think we need and not trusting His gifts.

Not two minutes after this revelation did I begin thinking about how gloomy of a day it was. Negative thinking. A pattern that has so infiltrated my thoughts that I sometimes don’t even recognize how much it is affecting my spirit; or rather His Spirit’s ability to live through me.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”- Romans 12:2

This world is full of excuses to make the focus “self”. Me, me, me, is the cry of all that is around us. Magazines and media all seem to say, “What are YOU getting out of this?” God’s word completely opposes this, telling us that we should forget about self all together; that we should pick up Christ’s cross and trust the lot He has given us. The truth is, the quickest way to misery is to make the focus of our life on what we are getting out of it. In marriage, the moments I spend keeping count of who is getting more or giving more are the moments I am the most annoying to live with, and the most discontent. The times where I choose to love Hugh with a love outside of myself, namely Christ, and not worry about what I’m getting in return are the times I am the most full of joy. Counter-cultural, yes. Biblical and true, absolutely.

The truth is, we have to constantly keep ourselves in check with what we allow to dwell in our mind. What we think matters, and we must never believe the lie that thoughts are less real than action. The heart behind them is the same. Matthew 5:28 says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. What we think matters. We must fight the tendency to let our minds just wonder aimlessly. Our flesh’s desire is always going to head toward the things of this world rather than the things of God. We must make the choice to allow God to take over the very passing of thoughts in our minds. If that sounds intense to you, or impossible, I want to gently remind you that it is through the Spirit of God that we have the ability to do any and all things He puts us up to; and furthermore, Scripture makes it clear that what we store up treasure in is where our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). Even when my emotions don’t connect with it, how I desire my treasure to be in the eternal things and not my temporary frustrations. And, this starts in the mind. IMG_0832So, in the midst of my casual thoughts about the gloominess of the day, the Lord had me catch a few glimpses of blue in the sky. Yes, I had to look closely to see it. But, my lack of being aware of it at first glance didn’t make it any less there. Suddenly, I saw a beautiful bluebird in the midst of all the robins. I began thinking about all the things in our life that are not challenging. The fact that Hugh and I both woke up healthy that morning. That our girls were no longer ill. That I could take in deep breaths. That the clouds in the sky were actually causing the heat to be less intense. That we have an amazing church family. Food on the table. Shelter. That Hugh has a job that pays the bills. That we even had the opportunity to attempt to find a diagnosis. That our girls were going to be able to be a part of an education system that will have special classrooms for them. That I was able to run. Nevermind the things I felt I lacked. I was rich. Beyond that, I had been given true riches:

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus”.-Philippians 4:19

My true needs go far beyond material things or even temporal health. Our true needs were met once and for all at the cross, and Christ has given us the riches of heaven, limitless for each of our days.

It began to rain, and between the raindrops, I marveled at how wonderful it felt. Perspective.

Friends, I don’t know if this is all foreign to you. I don’t know if you wake up joyful each and every day, and if all the relationships in your life are free and easy. For some reason, I highly doubt this is true for anyone. I believe that because we live on this side of heaven, challenges abound within and around. This weekend, however, the choice is yours. If you are in Christ, you have the choice to let Him live out all your days. To focus on the beautiful around rather than the seemingly negative, albeit temporary things, that cross your mind. He has promised that He is making all things new, and, “For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”- Romans 11:36

I am not sure if I will run again anytime soon, but I’m thankful for the lessons He teaches me in each and every moment. Despicable me, yes. Without Christ, I am rotten through and through. But God in His wisdom took these rags and made me new, and He will continue to build His beautiful tapestry that I am eternally grateful to be sewn into. No matter what, that is always something to celebrate. He has eternally provided that which we truly so desperately needed; and the only thing that really matters. He is always with us, dear friends. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow abound with His riches.

                                                                       Happy Friday!