The Hope That Never Disappoints

The Hope That Never Disappoints

Have you ever sat there and won­dered what on earth God is doing?

I mean, some things just don’t make sense.

Like long-necked giraffes and mos­qui­toes. At least the giraffes are cute, right?

Some days I just can’t make heads or tails of things.

Last week we got word from our friends from back when we were first hav­ing babies and liv­ing in Oki­nawa. Their 18 year old son died in a hor­ri­ble roll over acci­dent last week­end. His mom and brother were in the car with him, and they are fine. This young man was a fresh­man in col­lege, with great hopes for his future. And now he’s gone so sud­denly. We grieve with them, and just can’t seem to fig­ure out why. Other than the fact that we know that God is sov­er­eign and that He pre­or­dained the num­ber of his days before there was one of them, like He has done with all the rest of us, too.

And then, my mother called this week­end. To tell me that she has breast can­cer. They are going to be aggres­sive with her treat­ment. The words all ran together for me as she was shar­ing her med­ical terms and sit­u­a­tion. It was hard to digest every­thing that she was say­ing. But I did hear that it has spread to her lymph nodes. They are doing more tests, more scans, and plan to start chemo soon.

I know can­cer strikes so many peo­ple. It is an evil, wicked, curse from the fall. But, we have been mostly unscathed by can­cer in our fam­ily his­tory. And this seems to be a diag­no­sis that has come out of nowhere. We never saw this com­ing. But I sup­pose that nobody ever really sees it coming.

So we sit. And pray. And wait. And hope.

What else can we do? It’s at times like this that we real­ize how puny we are. How unable we are to ordain our days. How pow­er­less we are in the grand scheme of things. Life and death are not in our hands. Thank­fully, they are held care­fully by the One who cre­ated life.

I’m thank­ful that the Lord has opened our eyes and hearts to His truths and His love. We are able to cling to Him because we have the assur­ance that He hears us and loves us. It’s not an empty grasp­ing for some­thing, any­thing. I pic­ture Faith, in her sweet con­fi­dence run­ning to her daddy with open arms and a pucker on her lips for his cheek. That con­fi­dence she has that he loves her and will receive her with joy and com­plete accep­tance. That’s how we need to be with God. Hon­or­ing, yes. Respect­ful, yes. And com­pletely con­fi­dent of His ten­der care and love for us. He’s not some fig­ment of our imag­i­na­tion. He isn’t some great imper­sonal “intel­li­gent designer.” He is a liv­ing, per­sonal God.

Who is sov­er­eign over what­so­ever comes to pass.

We may never under­stand why God is allow­ing things to hap­pen as they are. We do know that tri­als pro­duce per­se­ver­ance; and per­se­ver­ance, char­ac­ter; and char­ac­ter, hope.

Now hope does not dis­ap­point, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3–5

And that’s just the thing. The love of God. Poured out in our hearts.

That grief, that sor­row of the tri­als and death and can­cer. It pro­duces hope, which doesn’t disappoint.

Sure, it’s a process. We won’t nec­es­sar­ily be there at the begin­ning of a trial. But, we can choose to cling to the promise, can’t we? We can choose to trust that the One who formed us so care­fully in our moth­ers’ wombs will be true to His Word, as He always has been. We can hold on with those white knuck­les, refus­ing to let go, let­ting the fear slip from our hands in favor of the hope that is ours. Remem­ber­ing that tears are not a sign of dis­be­lief, but rather, are an out­let that the Lord designed for our good. They are cleans­ing, refresh­ing, safe. We can cry and hope in the same breath.

I love my dear, beau­ti­ful mother. I’m not ready for her to go just yet. I don’t know that I will ever be ready. I know my friend wasn’t ready for her son to go. The thing is, we don’t know the num­ber of our days. We don’t know that we have tomor­row. Death sneaks up on most of us. That hor­ri­ble, wicked thief.

Remem­ber to love your chil­dren, love your hus­band, love your mother and father. Love those whom God has put in your life. Today. I think we all need these reminders because we take too much for granted.

But, much more impor­tantly, love God. Rest in Him. Stop striv­ing against Him if you are. He is faith­ful and true. And oh, so forgiving.

We may never quite under­stand why God allows can­cer, gave giraffes long necks, or made mos­qui­toes. But, I trust He has a pur­pose in it all. I pray that this trial will pro­duce such a beau­ti­ful hope in our fam­ily. For my mom, my dad, my broth­ers, and my chil­dren. I pray that we won’t waste this one. If you think of it, please pray for us. That we will per­se­vere in love. That I will know how to min­is­ter to my mom. She lives so far away. And that her hope will never waiver.

I’ve linked up here: Joy­ous Notions, Cor­ner­stone Con­fes­sions, Sim­ply Help­ing Him. Be sure to visit these sites for more blog posts that might inter­est you!

Beauty For Ashes

Beauty For Ashes

To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourn­ing, The gar­ment of praise for the spirit of heav­i­ness; That they may be called trees of right­eous­ness, The plant­ing of the LORD, that He may be glo­ri­fied. Isa­iah 61:3


The dif­fer­ence is so shock­ing. Sobering.

We drove through the Black For­est this week­end, tak­ing in the dras­tic change to our beau­ti­ful trees.

Most of the time we were speech­less. The rest of the time we were in awe at how the fire worked its way through the for­est. It seemed as though it selected which homes to burn and which to leave untouched. In the pic­ture above, can you see the two pic­nic benches? They were made of wood. They were vir­tu­ally untouched, stand­ing out in all their fresh tan glory. Sit­ting alone in acres of destruc­tion. Why were they spared?

fire bikes


We came upon this house, and I thought, “Oh, look, the fam­ily is here. They brought the bikes for their chil­dren to keep them enter­tained while the par­ents could work.”  Nobody was there. The bikes were mostly spared. The one closer to the house looks untouched. The house, not so much.

fire birdhouse

As we drove around, I got out of the car to look at this house. Sev­eral things about the house intrigued me. First, a bright green caught my eye. I walked over and saw this per­fectly untouched bird­house… behind the com­pletely burned out house. And can you see that old wooden wagon just behind the house? Again, untouched. Why couldn’t it have been the other way around?

As I saw these images, my mind tried to com­pre­hend how this could be. How could we have destruc­tion and loss, so ram­pant, and then a pop of color right in the midst of it? Untouched, not even sooty, but fresh looking?

And I thought of God. How He has plucks His chil­dren from the flames of destruc­tion. How very close we are to the path of the rag­ing fire, yet He spares us. Not one of us deserves the fire or the sal­va­tion more than another. Yet God pre­serves some for His glory. For the awe and won­der­ment of all to behold His mercy. For it is all mercy.

For­est fires burn between 1000 and 1500 degrees F. That’s hot. Under­stand­ing that sim­ple fact makes the whole real­ity that some things sur­vived all the more astonishing.

fire fence melted


This fence just melted.

fire tree sky


Even in the destruc­tion you can see beauty.

fire road


fire house angle


We saw a lot of fire­places stand­ing in heaps of rub­ble. And yet the peo­ple are hope­ful. We saw so many signs thank­ing the first respon­ders and the fire­fight­ers. We even saw this one:

fire thanks

Thank you for try­ing.
Thank­ful in the midst of loss.

Good reminder.

I’m strug­gling to write this post. My thoughts are inter­min­gling, crash­ing, fight­ing with each other to make their way to my key­board. Hope, loss, destruc­tion, sov­er­eignty. In my face. And yours. Com­pas­sion, heartache, and thank­ful­ness. What wins? Real peo­ple have suf­fered immense loss. Real peo­ple were spared.

Some­one told me that some peo­ple who sur­vived loss may have a sense of guilt when they see the rub­ble of their neighbor’s home. Why him and not me? Why ever? Why do we rage against God’s sov­er­eignty? Why can’t we just accept the bad as we accept and often expect the good?

I am reminded of Job. He suf­fered immense loss: his chil­dren, his livestock-sheep and camels (and he had sub­stan­tial live­stock, was the great­est of men in all the east), his ser­vants all in one day. –Job chap­ter 1.  His body was cov­ered with boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. His not-so-helpful wife told him to curse God and die. Yet, Job said:

What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.

Wow. I would dare say that nobody has ever suf­fered as Job did. And he was faith­ful. He trusted God. Can’t we? Even if we are spared and oth­ers are hurt­ing? Even if we are hurt­ing and our neigh­bor is spared?

What do we do with our utter help­less­ness? Many men fought the flames for many days. God granted mercy by send­ing rain, by turn­ing winds, by stop­ping the fire in only a few days.

I’m thank­ful.

I won­der if I will for­get to be thank­ful by mid-week next week. It’s how we are.

And yet, back to the verse from Isa­iah 61. To give them beauty for ashes…that they may be called trees of righteousness…

We have ashes and burned out trees. I pray that the Lord will bring out His beauty in the peo­ple of the Black For­est. That they will be called trees of right­eous­ness, prais­ing Him, trust­ing Him, hold­ing fast to a faith that is unshak­able, unmove­able. That new life will grow in them.

I have hope.

**Note: I took all of these pho­tos. They are untouched and unedited. I’m an ama­teur. I used my iPhone. Per­haps one day I will fig­ure out more about photo edit­ing. In my spare time.

I’ve linked up here: Cor­ner­stone Con­fes­sions and Sim­ply Help­ing Him

Ups and downs

Ups and downs

It’s been one of those weeks. We have cel­e­brated a birth­day, an anniver­sary, the birth of a friend’s baby, preg­nancy announcements.

And we have  been sad­dened by the news of two mis­car­riages and the pass­ing of a dear man in our church.

Rejoic­ing and griev­ing intermingled.

It’s so hard for this finite woman to com­pre­hend an infi­nite God who is the author of life. And the num­berer of days.

Yet, with­out my lim­ited knowl­edge of Who He is, I would be a com­plete mess, wal­low­ing in sor­row with­out hope. How do peo­ple do that?

Why do peo­ple pre­fer to have a facade of auton­omy rather than grip the hand of God, cling­ing to His Gift?

And it’s just a facade, you know. For each breath we take, believer and unbe­liever alike, comes from the very gen­er­ous hand of God. And that last heart­beat that beats in our chest was timed to the nanosec­ond by this same Cre­ator of life. Ordained before the foun­da­tions of the earth. It is mind-boggling.

Today, we will mourn with our friends at the ser­vice of their hus­band and father. We will remem­ber that our days are a vapor. And a gift.

I pray that we will not waste this oppor­tu­nity to see our mor­tal­ity and thank God for His gift of life. And Life that is in Jesus Christ alone.

And we will cel­e­brate the babies. And birth­days, anniver­saries, and other land­marks of time that we pass with lit­tle thought of the swift­ness of the years.

Scrip­ture tells us that it is bet­ter to be in a house of mourn­ing than in a house of feast­ing. That seems so con­trary to the way we want to spend our days. The feast­ing is enjoy­able and we can see God’s rich mercy to us when we look for it.

But the house of mourn­ing brings real­ity to our door. We can’t move past it with­out con­sid­er­ing that we are mor­tal, and have a lim­ited num­ber of days before us. It can bring fear to the man who refuses to sub­mit to the God of the uni­verse. But it renews the hope of the future for the Chris­t­ian. And we praise God for His rich mercy that He gives us today. May we walk in peace in sor­row and in joy. May we see His hand guid­ing and pro­tect­ing us, bring­ing us safely Home in our appointed hour.

Rest in Jesus. For there is no rest elsewhere.

Peace in the midst of miscarriage

Peace in the midst of miscarriage

I was lay­ing on the exam­i­na­tion table in shock. I was at my first mid­wife appoint­ment, and because of my symp­toms, the mid­wife wanted to do an ultra­sound. There, on the screen, as plain as day, life and death were co-existing. I saw Faith’s tiny lit­tle 7 week old heart beat­ing furi­ously and strong. And next to her was the evi­dence that was left from her twin.

I was rejoic­ing and griev­ing in the same breath. I had been bleed­ing. I was incred­i­bly nau­seous. And now I knew why.

I stum­bled to the park­ing lot, still unsure about how I was sup­posed to feel. I always rejoice at see­ing my babies in their ultra­sounds. But, I also found out in that one moment that I had been car­ry­ing twins, and that one had died. This was my first miscarriage.

Fast for­ward a few years, and we rejoiced at the dis­cov­ery that after 4 years unable to con­ceive, we were once again preg­nant. A few days later we were dev­as­tated to learn that this new life, with all our hopes and dreams for his life, was dying. Oh how I grieved.

And then the fol­low­ing year, it hap­pened again. This time, I car­ried the baby to 7 weeks. Mike was out of town on a busi­ness trip when I mis­car­ried. That was hard. But, God sus­tained me through it. Late one night, I went into the bath­room, and prayed that the Lord would allow me to see the baby and not inad­ver­tently flush it with­out know­ing. Right then, He plopped my per­fectly formed baby onto a clean tis­sue. I could see the spinal cord, the spots where the brain and heart and eyes were, the arms and fin­ger buds. The baby was about the size of a grape. I was only 7 weeks preg­nant, which means the baby was only about 5 weeks old. I was so amazed at how formed this lit­tle life was already. I called my old­est son upstairs to share this moment with me, to see his lit­tle sib­ling. We buried the baby in a hand­made paper box under the crooked tree in our back yard. I put a piece of flan­nel in the box beneath and over the baby. We read some scrip­ture, sang a hymn, and prayed together as a fam­ily, thank­ing God for the time we had had with this baby, and ask­ing for peace and comfort.

I have strug­gled with the whys of mis­car­riage. Why would God allow me to get preg­nant after pray­ing for all these years only to take away this bless­ing from me? I really can’t grasp it. But, I do know that my life has been made richer and fuller by going through this heartache. I have learned to lean more on God for com­fort and care. I have felt His hand sus­tain me through these deaths.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. –Romans 12:15

Also, it has allowed me to have greater sym­pa­thy and com­pas­sion for other moth­ers who are suf­fer­ing such loss. Had I not expe­ri­enced this grief, I would not quite be able to under­stand what a body goes through phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally dur­ing a mis­car­riage. I am thank­ful for these things in my life. I wouldn’t sign up for them, but obvi­ously God felt I needed it for my sanctification.

I know that God is sov­er­eign. I know that He ordains what­so­ever comes to pass. He has num­bered our days before there was one of them. This is true for you. It is true for me. It is true for our chil­dren. Even the ones in our wombs. We can­not add or take away a sin­gle day that has been ordained for us. And it is so hard to wrap our heads around that one. I believe God uses means to work out His sov­er­eign plan, but we can­not orches­trate it or force our will upon Him. We must always sub­mit to His will, if we like it or not.

Another thing that I hold onto is that each one of these babies are eter­nal beings. My few weeks of preg­nancy wasn’t for noth­ing. God ordained that their souls should be ush­ered into eter­nity from the womb. And I was hon­ored to be the ves­sel He chose to bring them into eter­nal exis­tence. How hum­bling. And how glo­ri­ous. My heart aches with the desire to hold them and watch them grow up. But, God had some­thing bet­ter in mind for them. I believe that they are at the feet of Jesus, wor­ship­ing and glo­ri­fy­ing Him. How thank­ful I am for that hope.

If you have suf­fered a mis­car­riage, I am so sorry. I under­stand your heartache. I want to encour­age you to name your babies, even if they passed years ago. They are eter­nal, and they deserve a name. They are real. Even if nobody else knew about them.

The other night, as we sat at the table for din­ner, my heart remem­bered my babies. I noticed that we have three chil­dren miss­ing from our table. I thought for a moment how sweet it would be to have Faith’s twin along with two more lit­tle ones sit­ting there with us. The baby would be turn­ing one this week.  Delight. But, I quickly remem­bered that we do have delight with those the Lord has allowed us to raise, and that I can have delight in the knowl­edge that I am a priv­i­leged mother to have ush­ered three souls into eter­nity through the ves­sel of my body, by the Lord’s choos­ing. Thank you, Lord, for this honor. I pray that I will never dis­dain the gifts that He has given me. Nine chil­dren, six on earth; the under­stand­ing of being com­forted by His hand through the heartache and pain; the hope of being able to com­fort other women in their sor­row; and a knowl­edge of His per­fect sov­er­eignty in our lives.

I pray my words give you hope. May the Lord bless you in your strug­gles. And may He give you peace.


I’ve linked up over at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home,  Deep Roots at Home, Cor­ner­stone Con­fes­sions, We are That Fam­ily, and Sim­ply Help­ing Him. Head on over for more encour­age­ment today.


Photo credit: kudaker / / CC BY-NC-ND

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