Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beauty From Ashes

Sweet Kate,

Your Daddy texted me Monday afternoon saying he was going to try to take Tuesday afternoon off so we could run up to Crater Lake for the afternoon.  The weather was beautiful here Tuesday and we surprised all of you by Daddy arriving home right after lunch, us directing everyone to grab shoes, pants and a sweatshirt, then we loaded the car with snacks and off we went.   It wasn't until about 15 minutes before we got to Crater Lake that your big brother finally guessed where we were going.  We're nothing if not always surprising the kids with various outings :).  So fun.  Well, as your Dad predicted, the weather was so, so beautiful!  It was clear, sunny, warm, and there were only a handful of people at Rim Village.  Perfect!  We spent a few hours surveying the scene that is Crater Lake.  We read signs, watched videos, took pictures, ran around, climbed rocks, and enjoyed each other's company.  It wasn't until we got home that night and the house was quiet that the Lord reminded me of how much beauty comes from ashes.  We got to see it at Crater Lake.  It was such a perfect reminder of what exquisite beauty can come from complete destruction.  I'm sure if we had been able to view the scene after the series of volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago it would have looked hopeless.  Destruction, fire, ash and mess everywhere.  But just as a forest rejuvenates over time after a fire, Crater Lake was born in beauty from fire and ashes.

Kate, the Lord has given you what many would call "ashes."  You have a disease scary and unpredictable.  And yet, my dear daughter, your life is BEAUTY.  Your life has brought and so many people have poured into our lives encouragement, prayers, and love of every kind because of what the Lord has allowed for you.  That is beauty of the most real kind.  That love is genuine and so beautiful.  It is the kind that sacrifices, gives, and works for the good of another.  We have been the recipient of more beauty than we could imagine.  It is breathtaking in the images of so many dear people who play like a reminder through my head of Christ's love for us.  I have printed email after email of encouragement that has come to us since August 17.  I want you to see the beauty.  I have saved every card, every encouraging note, every verse sent to us.  I want you to see the beauty from what the world would call ashes.  Kate, as you get older there is so much I will share with you about what real beauty is.  It is not self-absorbed.  It is not consumed with self.  It is not sitting back while others give.  Love gives.  Love serves.  Love encourages.  Love sacrifices.  A sweet friend made a schedule for us of your daily routine, and at the bottom is John 15:13:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

That, my dear, is beauty.  We have experienced that beauty! That is made more beautiful when circumstances look like ashes.  All of us experience ash in our lives.  Life can be painful, finances can be tight, relationships can be broken, people hurt us.  But the Lord wants to exchange our ashes for beauty, a garment of praise for our spirit of heaviness.

To provide for them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3

God is always working for our good but supremely for his glory.  If we allow ourselves to wallow in the ashes, the beauty will be so much more difficult to reveal.  However, if we submit to his plan, as painful as it seems, he is making it beautiful.  If you ever need a reminder of exchanging beauty for ashes we'll take a drive up to that beautiful lake that emerged from destruction.  I can only imagine how beautiful your life will continue to be, Kate Elisabeth.  Through the pain, through the inconvenience, through any earthly discomfort HE IS WITH YOU.  He already laid down his life for us, his friends, and there is no greater love than that.  He has taken our ashes already.  He has given us the oil of joy.  He has given us the garment of praise.  Why?  That we might be rooted in the Lord so he can be glorified.  Let it always be said of us that we have laid down our pain and instead focused on making deep roots in Christ!  I love you, my beautiful daughter.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Little love,
I stare into your beautiful blue eyes all through the day, and I memorize your dainty features each moment.  You are always close to me or in the arms of a sibling who loves you so much.  It's a precious gift to have you here.  It's so nice to see the perfection in how you were created.  God was so kind to give you to us.  Your little life has brought so much to our family!  With CF looming closely in nearly every thought I have, it can get a little busy in our house and in my mind.  There are vitamins to take, vitamins to crush, Albuterol treatments morning and night through an inhaler and chamber, TOBI for an hour in the morning and an hour at night, enzymes at every feeding by can get exhausting.  The gift, though, is that it's YOU.  I see you, Kate, I recognize the beautiful gift you are, and I am incredibly thankful.  It doesn't make things easier, necessarily, but you make it worthwhile. 

Doesn't God see us like that?  We are sinful, prideful creatures bent on doing things our own way in our own time.  We want ease and tranquility.  We are time-consuming people whose wills need pruning and shaping at all times.  But, Kate, HE sees us!  He knows every detail of us.  He sees our sin.  He sees the good in us.  He sees Himself in us because we are made in His image. He recognizes us as His children.  There's so much comfort in that!  Even if no one else sees the sacrifices we make for each other, for our children, for families and friends, He recognizes it.  Here is His promise to us:

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him...
Psalm 37:3-7

Lord, I commit my way to you.  I trust you, Lord!  Thank you for my precious daughter and all she is teaching us; all you're allowing for her to teach us.  Kate, we had an appointment with the CF docs who come from Portland on Friday.  I was so thankful to not have to drive north this month.  You were 10 pounds 12 ounces!  Yay!!  The doctor was so happy with your continued good growth, and I see it in your legs getting rolls, in your chubby belly and cute double chin.  We praise the Lord for his sovereignty over all things concerning you!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


My dear daughter,

This past week was a flurry of activity including school, science class, a fun surprise to see Stomp for your big brother's 11th birthday, a fun, busy day on his actual birthday with friends and family, visits with friends, and plain old life in between. In the last week and a half all your brothers and sister have been tested for Cystic Fibrosis and all their results were negative!  It wasn't a surprise, but assuming they didn't have it was not something I could do given your circumstances. The remote possibility of CF lurking in their bodies caused me to wonder and worry. I do not take it for granted that they are free from this disease!

We had our first service at our new church plant here in town last Sunday.  It was wonderful to drive five minutes to church instead of forty!   Our good friends led worship and taught us a new song (to us) by Matt Redman called 10000 Reasons.  It resonated with me that day, and I found it online so I could learn it and listen to it this past week.  The words hit close to home as I have struggled with many emotions lately.  The lyrics:

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

My Kate, you are such a beautiful picture of God's complete love for us.  You are perfect.  You are an undeserved gift. You teach me so much everyday about patience, contentment, and persevering in all circumstances. Who knew a sweet baby could do that?  Kate, "...whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me let me be singing when the evening comes..."  Yes, yes, yes!  Let me be singing when the evening comes!  It has been the cry coming from my heart this past week. I am failing every day to show that I'm still "singing," but the desire is there.  Whatever has come before and whatever comes tomorrow, Lord help me still sing to you, help me to worship your holy name, help me to bless you, Lord!  Kate, life hurts.  A lot sometimes.  It hurts so much right now.  Not because of you, my sweet girl!  You and your siblings and your most amazing Daddy are so much joy to me.  Our little home, our little life, our little conversations, our big love for each other carry me through each day.  Sometimes things one is most certain of in life get stripped away, and sometimes it is just painful to the core of one's heart.

Lord, fill me to overflowing with your love so I can show your love to everyone I come in contact with because of my great joy in my circumstances OR despite my circumstances!  "Bless the Lord, O my soul!"  It's a command. It demands response. When there is hurt of any kind in our lives it doesn't come naturally to us to worship.  It doesn't always come easily to bless the Lord or anyone else.  I want to guard.  I want to shut off the part of my heart that just hurts so much right now.  There's a dichotomy between the rest of my life that is full of joy and normal frustrations and the other part that is deeply wounded.  Again, like everything else (!!!!) I have to make a choice. I have been failing to truly surrender this hurt and instead have let it fester.  I let myself get affected by anything I hear regarding the situation and then my stomach is weighted and sick again.  My thoughts wander unproductively. But, my dear Kate, such is life.  Whether it's finances, relationships, or marriages, sometimes we just have to acknowledge the hurt before the Lord and say to ourselves and to our souls that we will bless the Lord!  Why?  "For all your goodness, I will keep on singing, ten thousand reasons for my heart to find!"

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

And now, it is evening.  It is quiet.  The day has passed. You are sleeping peacefully on my chest with your sweet angel breath ebbing and flowing from the very lungs that are harboring a nasty bacteria.  I pray every time I give you the TOBI medication through your nebulizer (two times a day for almost an hour each time) that you will be healed of this Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and that you will always know your security and healing is in the One who made you.  Do you know how loved you are, sweet Kate Elisabeth?  You have no idea. So many people are praying for you, asking about you, checking in with us to see how you're doing! And, my amazing, loving Savior sings the same song over all of us of his great love!

The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

I encourage you, sweet daughter, to always worship his holy name, to see his goodness, to acknowledge his great name, and when the evening of your day or your life is upon you, that you will still be singing "...bless the Lord, O my soul, worship his holy name!"  Even when life hurts, Kate, as I know it will for you, I believe God will pour out the biggest blessings and his truth to you when you bless him with your faithfulness!  I love you, my precious girl.