Better than a miracle


It seems that everywhere I've looked recently, I find stories of people who faced serious medical challenges that doctors did not expect them to survive, yet they did. It's perfectly logical to me to label situations like these as miracles, because I know that with God, all things are possible. I have no doubt in my mind that He heals people. And hearing of such situations brings joy and smiles and praise. For me, though, it also stings a little.

In my humanness, I saw a perfect set-up for a miracle last August. I found myself in a situation where a miracle would have been been the perfect ending to a long and bumpy road that began with a routine sonogram. I prayed fervently for that miracle, as did so many others. Yet, the miracle in my mind, the one that I so desperately longed for, was not what I got. That perfect ending turned into an ache in my heart like I have never known.

Still, God is God. He is the same now as He was when Kristen was born. He is the same as He was when she went in for her surgery. He is the same as He was when we had to say good-bye to her. He is the same, and He is good.

For years now, Emily, Grace and I have listened to "Adventures in Odyssey" on the internet during lunch. The girls have always loved the radio show, and we've all enjoyed the lessons learned in each episode. It's fun to imagine what each character might look like, and we've all voiced a wish that there really was a place like "Whit's End" right here in Great Bend. A couple of days ago, we listened to an episode about miracles.

A little girl remained unconscious in the hospital following exposure to carbon monoxide. Her brother was searching for proof of miracles and traveled in the imagination station to find answers. The very wise ice cream shop owner, John Avery Whitaker, told little Grady a couple of things that I needed to hear. First, sometimes we pray for someone to be healed, and God doesn't answer our prayers the way we hoped. In cases where our loved ones AREN'T healed, maybe God has in store for us "something better than a miracle." Second, after facing the death of a loved one and seemingly unanswered prayers, it can help you to pray differently. His thoughts are not my thoughts...His ways are not my ways. God's will has certainly become a more prevalent part of my own prayers.

Part of what makes hearing stories of people in dire situations so difficult is that they bring back my own memories of being in the hospital, feeling helpless to do anything to change the outcome. Another part, the part that really pinches my soul, is hearing all the praises to God when miracles do happen and wondering if those praises would still be there if God had something better than a miracle in store.

Distance will change the perspective, and I look forward to the day when I have enough distance to see what God has in store for me.



It's been a little over a week since we "celebrated" Kristen's birthday. That just doesn't seem to be quite the right word for it.  It certainly wasn't the celebration I envisioned a year ago.  We did, however, spend the day remembering our sweet baby with a few loved ones. We released pink balloons and had cake and ice cream and looked at pictures of Kristen.  We smiled as we wondered whether Kristen would have daintily picked at her cake like her sister, Emily.  Or if she would have worn most of it like her sister, Grace (who ended up with frosting in her ears!)  From the beginning, Kristen seemed the perfect mix of her two sisters. In looking back at some of her pictures (which I put into the Smilebox scrapbook below), I definitely saw a hint of orneriness!

Celebrations bring to my mind pictures of all that is happy.  I think of smiles and laughter and gathering with loved ones.  While we had all those on May 7, there was a sadness over not having our guest of honor with us.  She got to celebrate in heaven, and as a friend wrote to me, birthday cake there has to be delicious!

To celebrate is to remember, to honor, to glorify.  I celebrate Kristen's life and in turn honor and glorify God when I remember who I am and whose I am.  God chose me to be Kristen's mom, and I will always be a mother of three.  More importantly, I belong to Him who was, who is and who will be.  I can't even begin to wrap my human mind around all that God is, but it does bring a peace to my heart to know that my youngest daughter is in His care.  She may not be home with me, but she is home with Him.  And that in itself is cause to celebrate.
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Kristen

Our "Magic" Front Porch


We've joked that either we have the best friends ever, or we have a "magic" front porch.  Before I headed to bed last Thursday night, I looked out the window next to the front door like I always do.  I have a perfect view of Kristen's tree from that window, and it's part of my one last check on my girls before I head to bed.  That night, however, something caught my eye on the front porch.  Lined up on the steps were four pots of pink geraniums!  I stepped out in my jammies and found cards of encouragement that were signed by "Your friends in Christ."  I promptly sat down right there on the the my jammies...and cried tears of gratitude.  Only the next morning as I rolled the trash can out to the curb did I discover that our anonymous gift-givers had also left a beautiful solar light next to Kristen's tree.  Those gifts and the thoughtfulness of those who would go to such lengths touch my heart in a place and in a way that is difficult to put into words.

I mentioned the possibility that our front porch has some sort of "magic" quality.  I don't base that only on the pink geraniums that appeared last week.  Over the last year or so we've had some amazing things "appear" out there.  The night before one of our visits to the specialist in Wichita, we found a car seat and stroller out there.  This wasn't just any car seat and stroller, but the very ones we had planned to pick up at Target in Wichita the next day.  They were pink and a purple-y wine color, and I absolutely loved them!

Not long after Kristen's funeral, we found an anonymous package in the mailbox (on the front porch).  In that package were several restaurant gift cards, tickets to see Michael W. Smith in Wichita, and a confirmation number for a room at the Hyatt!  Easter Sunday we found two Build-a-Bear Blossom Bunnies in baskets on the front porch and candy-filled eggs scattered in the front yard.

It's fun to talk about our "magic" front porch, but I know that we simply have the best friends ever.  I may not know exactly who was behind the sweet sneakiness, but I am so grateful to those dear souls.  While we've certainly had our suspicions as to the identity of our anonymous gift-givers, no one has 'fessed up.  We do want to respect their desire to remain anonymous, but we also want them to know how very much their creative thoughtfulness means to us.  What an amazing testimony to the love of Christ!

We love you, dear friends.  Each night as I look out at Kristen's tree before heading to bed, I see the beautiful glow of that light, and I think of you and thank God for your friendship.

I thank my God every time I remember you.
-Philippians 1:3

A Glimpse Through Tears


I've prayed to see Kristen in my dreams.  I've longed to see her and what she might have looked like as she grew.  Fact is, I was just re-reading some early entries in my journal last night and came across a prayer that I had written down asking God to let me see her in my dreams.  I'm still waiting on that dream, but I did experience a flash of an image in my mind this morning as I dried my hair.

Until now, only a couple of people knew of my perhaps not altogether irrational fear of being electrocuted while blow drying my hair.  I don't blow dry my hair near the sink or the tub, so it really shouldn't be an issue, right?  For anyone else, it probably would never even be a fleeting thought, but since that part of my morning routine seems to consistently include free-flowing tears, I do get a tiny bit concerned.

This morning was not unlike many other mornings when I've sobbed through a blow-drying.  Then it came.  A flash of an image in my of a little girl who looked so much like my Grace, only with very blond hair (like my Emily).  It wasn't like a daydream or a movie...I didn't hear audible words, but I did feel like she was telling me, "Mama, don't cry."

I wish that I could say that the experience gave me a sense of peace, but I can't.  It did startle me a little though.  Given the fact that I'm consumed right now with memories of the days before Kristen's arrival, it actually made me cry a little harder.  I know my emotions won't always be so raw, so for now I just let the tears fall.  God knows my heart.  He knows the ache that resides there.  He knows the piece that was carved out of it.  That piece now lives with Him.

I don't feel guilty for the tears.  They aren't for Kristen...she certainly doesn't need them.  They're for me.  I will be in a place one day where I won't need them, but until then I'll keep using waterproof mascara.

"God washes the eyes by tears until they can behold the invisible land where tears shall come no more."
-Henry Ward Beecher

Pink Geraniums


Last Sunday afternoon, a friend (who knows much more than I ever will about all things growing and flowery) helped me pick out some lovely pink geraniums to plant around Kristen's tree.  I want her tree to look beautiful on her birthday.  I've kept the geraniums in their pots outside to "harden them off" (don't I sound like I know what I'm talking about?!).  They've handled their move from the greenhouse well.  During the day they sit in their pots around the tree.  At night, they rest in the safety of the front porch.  I've had moments when thinking about this little project has made me feel better and others where I've been reduced to tears over it.  Nothing seems to avoid the grips of my grief.

I feel a little like those geraniums.  Those pink blooms have to withstand the wind and the rain of a wild springtime in Kansas just as I have to endure the unintentional sting of someone's ill-chosen words, the eyes that look at me as though they don't understand why I'm still sad, and the purposeful silence that makes me feel like people don't care.  I suppose these plants gain strength from the sheltering they've received thus far, just as I have been strengthened by the gentle kindness of a silent hug, a knowing look, or the spoken words of genuine care and concern.  And the very few who are courageous enough to step into my grief and walk with me a while, those who don't mind crying with me, they are what God provides to sustain me.  One day I will bloom, too.  It's just going to take some time.