Ohhhhhhh…THAT! I knew I forgot something…

Judah: “praise”

Ebenezer: A memorial to the Lord

November 8th, 2010

6lbs, 15oz

As you can see by the following photos, he’s pretty darn ugly. And grumpy..












































Here I raise my ebenezer

Here by Thy great help I’ve come

And I hope, by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at Home.

(Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson, 1735-1790)

Everything That Happened


Let me just start by saying that no, it wasn’t just you, my blog really and truly did disappear.

I took the blog away (or rather, My Beloved took it away, since I couldn’t find the right buttons) shortly after my last post, for the simple reason that I didn’t want to be tempted to say things that would be less than edifying for others, injurious to my own testimony, or Just Plain Ugly.

I was in the throes of the worst week of my life, for reasons varied and complex. I had started spotting. The sonogram showed no growth, and no heartbeat. It was to be a repeat of the last four pregnancies after all.

I wrestled with God. I punched, kicked, hit, screamed, cried, called Him names, and basically threw the biggest temper tantrum you can imagine. And then I walked away. I told Him we were through.

I don’t expect everyone to understand. I don’t entirely understand it myself. Why should a ninth miscarriage send me over the edge when the eighth had me clinging to Him in trust? I don’t know. It just did.

I hated the expectation that I would be all right. The way people would say you have such a strong faith. I know you’ll come through this all right. Oh how angry I was at that. I didn’t want to be all right with this. This was not all right with me.

But here’s the thing. He never gave up on me, though I had given up on Him. He continued to woo me through the whole week. I could hear His voice. I plugged my ears and sat in the corner, rocking and banging my head on the wall, but I could still hear Him. He said


I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t believe it. He was supposed to know how much I could take, yet He obviously didn’t.


Who can resist Him?

On the seventh day I woke up in the early dawn of the morning. The breeze through my bedroom window was intensely sweet with springtime.

It seems crueller somehow, to miscarry in the spring when all the world is bursting into life.

The trees were rustling their branches. The birds were tweetering busily. I had seen them lose their babies over and over to storms and crows and squirrels and yet there they were, at it again, building their nests and planning for the future.

Stupid birds. I didn’t want to be that stupid anymore.

But then I thought of all the people I knew who had lost babies and children at all stages of their lives and yet clung to the Hope that He offers. People in WWII who had lost all their sons to the conflict and yet proclaimed His goodness. People who held onto their joy, who were still letting Him use them. I didn’t call them stupid. I called them inspirational.

I decided I was tired of being shaken by trauma and tragedy. I wanted to get to the place where hard times didn’t make me question and doubt. God’s own word tells me to expect tribulation. Yet I never do. I want that to change. I want to say with the apostles that these are light and momentary troubles when compared to the glory that is in Jesus Christ.

I didn’t understand. I don’t understand.  There is a lot I don’t understand. My eyes do not see far enough, and my heart does not have the capacity to fathom what His love is doing behind the scenes that play out on this terrestrial plane.

But I can still trust Him.

Who can resist Him?

Not me.

I will proclaim His mercy as long as I live. He truly holds us in the palm of His hand…gripping us so tightly that we leave an imprint there. When we are His, we cannot leave, this I firmly believe. We can lose our testimony and our ministry. We can walk through life in defeat and cynicism, but we are His. He has laid claim to us.

He is faithful when we are faithless, for He cannot deny Himself.

All this shifted into my heart with a soft plunk that morning.

And then I went to the OB for my follow-up.

Off to the OB for my weekly dose of humility and despair I said as I left.

How are you feeling? He asked me, like a moron.

Terrible. I said. I feel horrible.  (I have bile reflux and let me just tell you, mine was not a happy stomach that week)

He gave me a strange look.

Your hormone levels were high. He said. Any more bleeding?

Not yet.

I was contemplating a D & C for the first time, ever. I firmly believe in letting the body do its thing; I know it’s best hormonally and physically, but I had some plans coming up that could have been seriously derailed by my body deciding that that weekend was the best time to eject the remains of my baby.  Plans that had been in the works for six months at least. It didn’t seem fair to the children counting on me for these plans to hope for better timing.

Let’s take one more look. He suggested. Sometimes…

NO. I cut my brain off before it listened to anymore. I was not getting one of those “sometimes”. Not even going to go there.

Room dark, gooey belly, wand placed, and boom. A baby. With a beating heart. Waving at me.

Oh. my OB said dumbly. We’re all right after all.

But I was not all right. Far from it. I was bawling. What a week! I said.

I…I’m so sorry…he stammered. 

I contemplated kicking him in the gonads. But only for a minute.

The baby’s growth was perfectly on target, yet again. I went home with a print out that looks like a foggy peanut and no small bit of awe  in my heart.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if she was hiding, or if the Lord simply started her heart again. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what I learned.

He is full of surprises.

He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we could ever ask or think.

And sometimes He does.

And when He doesn’t, He is still good. He is still God. And He is always, and forever, mine.


There are times when I feel like such a fraud.


I smile, I laugh, I joke, I write, I maintain…and yet inside I feel like some of the trees I see on our nature walks, criss-crossed with worm holes, eaten through to sheer crumbliness beneath the facade of bark that appears, upon close inspection, to be the only thing holding them in place. One strong wind would reduce them to dust.


I told the Lord what I could not, under any circumstances, handle. And then it happened. And I lived. So I told Him the next thing that I could not, under any circumstances, handle. And then it happened. And I lived. And then something happened that I never even worried about happening…something so low and dirty that my mind never even conceived of it, and I realized that what could happen had no limits in its ability to rend a heart to bloody, spent exhaustion.


Let someone else get on his face before You, I spoke the words aloud.  Let someone else pray his heart out and ask You to come do whatever it takes. Let someone else get closer to You than he ever has before. Then let someone else be punched in the gut, to have the will to live sucked out unceremoniously, to feel the world he understands fall into pieces and be rearranged into something he never wanted. Let someone else do it because I’m not doing it anymore.


I didn’t mean it. But I said it. I said it through more tears than I thought I could produce, and I said it with more anger than I knew I contained.


It felt like I had offered Him my heart and He had used it as a spittoon.


Let him sit alone and keep silent,
      Because God has laid it on him; 
      Let him put his mouth in the dust—
      There may yet be hope


Ecclesiastes is an excellent companion to the distraught soul. The advice above is the advice I took. I stopped praying. I stopped trying. I just stopped. And waited.


And though I stopped, I could not help but hear. I heard Him in the silence, in the dust, in the stillness. Like a spent child after a temper tantrum, I did not acknowledge His presence, but I heard just the same. He came and sat next to me in the dust. He didn’t prod me to speak. But one day I wanted to. I had one question. I only wanted to know one thing.




Why did You do that to me, Lord? Why that?


And He answered me, in a voice gently severe, He took my shoulders and lifted me from the ashes to hear Him.


I didn’t do that.


I wouldn’t do that to you.


And I cried again. I cried because I had forgotten about sin. I cried because I had forgotten all about the devil. I had forgotten that he goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That he knows my weakness and my history and what would hurt me most. That he knew what would cause me to quake and falter better even than I did, and he didn’t hesitate to use it when the time was right. He set me up. He gutted me. And then he gloated.


But mostly, I cried because I had assumed it was God.

Just a little Truth

“For the Lord will not cast off forever,

Though He causes grief,

Yet He will show compassion

According to the multitudes of His mercies.

For He does not afflict, nor grieve willingly,

the children of men.”

Lam. 3: 31-33


This scripture bears the indentations of my fingernails. It has teethmarks where I have bitten down upon it in the middle of more pain than I thought I could bear.


He does not afflict nor grieve willingly.


I know I’ve said it before, but oh how I need to hear it again. He does not delight in our pain. Though it is sometimes (even often!) rendered by His own hand, He does not gloat, He does not relish, He does not glory in pain for pain’s sake.


Here’s the truth: sometimes the shrapnel of past wars is lodged so deeply in our hearts that they must be broken open again in order to repair the damage.  The probing pierces, the scalpel digs deeply, He is searching our hearts, He is purifying, He is cleansing…He is at work to bring healing.


And I gasp and struggle and scream and kick and sob for Him to stop…just stop…I didn’t mean it, I don’t want the healing if it comes at such a price. Don’t touch those areas; don’t mess with my mess…I had it all swept neatly into a box and buried it deep, oh how deeply I dug to bury those hurts.


But He knows I did mean it. I do mean it. I want to be whole. I want to be healed. And so I lay in the palm of His hand: spent, exhausted, and drained. He works swiftly. So much easier when I am still. When I am still and quiet I can hear the song He is singing. Through His own tears that wash the infection away, He sings a love song. A joyful song. A song of reparation and redemption and promise.


The pain has purpose.  So He promises. And so I trust.

A Friendly Reminder

…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… (Philippians 2:12)


The wording in this verse smacks me upside the head each time I read it.


Not the part about “working out”, although it’s excellent to be reminded that it’s not easy stuff here, this living on planet earth and striving against our flesh daily.


Not the “with fear and trembling” part, although it’s great to know that we need to be sober minded, remembering always that we are accountable before God for our action and inaction.


No, it’s the little word there, betwixt “your” and “salvation”.




My own salvation. Not my children’s. Not my friends’. Not my pastor’s. Not my husband’s. 


My own.


Hands off the others. He says. They’re not your business, they’re Mine. You mind your own walk. You focus on your own heart. Believe me, there’s plenty there to occupy you until I come back.




And just for good measure…


Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4


Cowboy X has been branded.


Four and a half weeks ago he reached up with chubby hand towards a mug of tea, just poured from the singing kettle, and learned what “hot” meant.


The liquid poured down his 18 month old arm, destroying everything in its path instantly, soaking into pajama sleeve, shockingly ruthless.


The shrieking was severe.


The clothes were torn off posthaste but the damage was done. Emergency room patched him up and the next morning we headed to Hillcrest Burn Center in Tulsa to see the experts.


How a mother’s heart breaks to watch a child in pain. My eyes brim over with memory and grief. How do you explain to a baby that all will eventually come right? How many times can you say I’m so sorry for an instant’s unwatchfulness?


When words do not suffice, it is enough to be held, and to hear the murmured prayers of someone who loves you, someone who cares more than words can say.


The verdict was deep tissue 2nd degree burn. The flesh peeled away in horrifying thicknesses, later turning white when underlying cells decided the damage was too severe to recover and gave up their battle as well. Twice daily we bathed the arm and slathered on the ointment thick for healing, wrapping and bandaging to protect the raw and vulnerable from infection.


Several times I had to sit with head between knees until the spinning world decided to come back into focus. I am The Fainter, The Squeamish One, The One Who Does Not Deal Well With Blood or Gore.


It felt so cruel, this bathing and washing. To unwrap his dressings caused him pain. To expose the damage to water and soap, to pop the blisters and gently help the dead skin release its hold did not feel kind.


He cried.


I cried.


Yet it was not cruelty, it was kindness. Cruelty would have been to leave him as he was. Left to itself, the dead flesh would damage further, spreading infection and disease. 


Neglect is never kindness. 


Xavier, with hitherto untapped wells of courage, submitted to the actions without struggle. Clinging to his sister, tiny feet wiggling continually in an effort to distract, he would bury his face in her shoulder until it was over and done.


And the Lord spoke. Oh, how He spoke.


This is what I do for you He whispered to my heart. See the dead, clinging flesh? You don’t need it. It’s a danger to you. Let Me strip it off. Let Me bathe the hurt with healing water. Let Me bind up Your wounds.


This world wounds. We are every one of us burned by the daily heat of life on planet earth. Some is self-inflicted, and some is poured out by others and we are simply bystanders, injured by default.


All of it hurts.


We can guard it. We can resist His ministrations, kicking and pushing Him away, telling Him we are fine.


We are not fine.


But it’s our flesh. It’s a part of us. We love it. We don’t want to see it go, no matter how damaged and dangerous it may be. I loved Xavier’s chubby little wrist. To see the flesh wash down the drain broke my heart. But holding onto it would not have saved it.


See what a blessing it is that he submits The Lord whispered again. See how much easier it is to get done quickly…how much less painful it is to him when he does not struggle. My heart does not delight in your pain. My heart delights in your healing.


As sure as I wept over Xavier, the Lord weeps over us. He is distraught over the damage of sin in our lives. He is only waiting for us to be still, to hold the battered pieces out to Him and let Him do His work of stripping and cleaning, anointing and binding. It feels like cruelty,  but it is the sweetest form of love we will ever experience.


Cling to Him as He works. It is enough to be held, and to hear the murmured prayers of Someone who loves you, Someone who cares more than words can say.



(This is the injury:)










(And this is the cleaning:)




(This is the trust:)






(And this is the healing:)


P1010004 (3)


Is it just me, or does anybody else out there ever have trouble with knowing God’s Word sometimes?


I don’t mean with the really tricky stuff, like “if you have faith as a mustard seed, say to this mountain *be removed* and it shall be thrown into the sea” or anything of that ilk. I mean the easy stuff. Stuff like:


Do you know He died for you?


Do you know He hears your prayers?


Do you know He intercedes for you?


Do you know He sent His Holy Spirit to help you?


Do you know He is coming back to earth someday?


I can almost hear the “Well, DUH!” in your mind right now. And I understand. As Christians, we “know” these things. I thought I knew them, too.  I had filed them away in my mind under “faith” a long, long time ago. But did I know these things…or did I KNOW these things? Uh oh. There’s a difference?


Here’s a quick check to see if you are knowing things or KNOWING things:


Does what you “know” change the way you live? Change the way you feel? Change the way you respond to situations? Change…you? In those secret, dark and damp places in your heart where the door is tightly shut and barred and closely guarded…does any of that truth ever get in?


Let me be frank here…I have known lots of stuff in my life. I’ve believed in Jesus since I was four years old. I knew the lingo. I could preach it with the best of them. Jesus loves me. Jesus died for me. Jesus forgives me.


And then I got alone with the Lord, really alone and quiet before Him, and He very kindly informed me that I didn’t KNOW much of anything at all. Here’s a little illustration of what He showed me has to happen before we can turn knowing into KNOWING:




When we read His word and when we pray, when we listen to solid preaching and when we read truthful books, all that truth goes into our heads. Obviously, it has to go there first. It gets processed there. But it’s not supposed to stay there. If it stays there, it never changes us, not For Real. For it to change us, it must percolate down into our hearts, where it can flow out  to the world around us in daily life.


The biggest thing, the crux of my difficulty, and, I suspect, the crux of most folks’ difficulty, is in KNOWING God’s love for us. The magnitude of it. Such a thing could not help but change us fundamentally. I used to think I simply couldn’t know it, that it was beyond my capability. But that’s not what His own words tell me.


For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:14-19


You see right there? Right. There. He says KNOW the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge.


What? Know something that surpasses knowledge? Yes. The difference is right there, between heart and head.


I wanted to KNOW it. I knew I needed to KNOW it. What was wrong with me that I could hold such a thing in my brain for so many decades with only tiny bits of it sporadically getting through to my heart? I asked the Lord. He showed me again.



(highly scientific cross-section view) 


Ouch. Here’s the problem. Pride. Anger. Unforgiveness. Fear. These are my own clogs. Your results may vary. They block the funnel, clog it up. Make it downright impossible for those seeds of truth to settle down into the soil of the heart, where they can grow and bear fruit.


What to do? How to remove it?


What else to do but pray?


I prayed for Holy Spirit Draino. Roto-Rooter, even. No matter how it was going to scorch and burn, I wanted it. I stopped caring if it would hurt. I knew it would. And it did. But He is SO GOOD, friends. SO. GOOD. Suddenly (and yes, it seemed just that sudden; I am not overstating the case) He blew my mind with the revelation of all He has done for me. It had never seemed so real. It had never been so close, so fresh, and so precious.


So I’m starting with this advice: get some Draino. Get some now. Because anything else will seem like just so much blahblahblah without it. Turn off the computer. Shut out the voices. Get on your face before Him (and no, I don’t mean metaphorically or in your heart, I mean literally, face to carpet) and mean what you say.


He will come. And He will pour you clean.


Jesus. You are awesome, so faithful and so immediate with help. Please keep me free from the buildup of pride, fear, unforgiveness, and  anger. Let the pipeline be so open that the truth dropped into my mind goes straight into my heart, where it can yield a harvest of Your righteousness in my life. Oh You are so beautiful to me! Thank You. Thank You that You are not disgusted with the magnitude of filth in my life, but eager and delighted to blast it away.

Hey Lovely Folks

This is a very short post to tell you that I am alive. I am doing all right. I am sure that something worth posting is near, nay, even at the door, as I write this.


Any minute now…


Or maybe not.


At any rate, I’m emerging from the limbo I referred to in this post, and I want to convey how very deeply I appreciate all the sympathies and empathies and emails and prayers (especially the prayers) to which I owe a great deal of comfort, not to mention the grace to endure the aforementioned gruesome goings-on.


It hasn’t been fun, or delightful, or happy, or small.  But it has been full of mercy. And I praise God for that!


My mind is mush and so I’m not going to tempt fate by trying to come up with any profundities… I’ll just borrow a few lines from Zephaniah instead…


“The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:17)



Lord, may that truth sink down into the marrow of our bones and change us from the inside out…

What God will Use…(exhibit E)…

to remind you that there is a purpose, a plan, and a Perfect Planner.


Good Company


It goes right along with that great cloud of witnesses thing I referenced in the post below. The realization that we are not alone. I am fully convinced that one of wormtongue’s most pervasive and most sadly-effective lies is that we are each of us islands. Alone in our misery. Unique in our sufferings. Outside the realm of human experience.


And while it is true that no one save God Himself can really, truly know precisely how you are affected by something, it is an unequivocable fallacy to think that one is beyond the reach of a compassionate and understanding soul who Has Been There And Lived To Tell The Tale.


We are to comfort one another with the comfort with which we have been comforted.


(Say that three times fast.)


Which necessarily implies that we are not alone. It would not be putting too fine a point on it, I believe, to say that it is a form of pride to think that you are. Don’t bother looking for help; you’re hopeless. You’re the One In All Creation Who Can’t Be Reached. What an honor!


Those that struggle with depression and find any measure of victory and comfort in the Holy Spirit are expressly urged to bolster those in the pit. Which made reading this man’s story in the midst of my own floundering yet another way that God reached out to me.


I’ve read Shaun Groves’ blog over the years, and he’s not just a brilliant musician and one of my favorites, but he’s also one of those deeply convinced types (like me) who is very, very certain of Things, and The Way Things Should Be. So reading the story of his own plummet into the pit and subsequent lifting-from was very comforting.


There is a truth about depression that cannot be overstated: it is humbling. Once you reach the point where you stop believing that you are beyond help and reach out for the help that is offered, you naturally wind up with a greater appreciation of others’ weaknesses. Less quick to judge just how such-and-such should do this-or-that to solve their problem.


There is a new humility to Shaun’s blog that I have not seen there before. There’s a new humility at work in me that I know could only happen through being broken–repeatedly–and being utterly incapable of putting myself back together each time. When someone comes along, picks up a piece of your fragmented soul and pats it back in place, gratitude is the proper response. And gratitude necessitates humility.


I find it really interesting that Shaun received a harsh word concerning his witness right before his descent began. Often a criticism has been the trigger to my plummets as well. There seems to be an inability in me to simply receive a criticism without spiralling downward. I’m trying to submit to the Holy Spirit in this area.


I don’t believe that depression is God’s will. I believe, however, that He can use it for His glory; turn it into something beautiful. Redeem it. And what greater victory can be had than to find humility waiting on the other side?


    O for a thousand tongues to sing
    My great Redeemer’s praise,
    The glories of my God and King,
    The triumphs of His grace!
    My gracious Master and my God,
    Assist me to proclaim,
    To spread through all the earth abroad
    The honors of Thy name.
    Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
    That bids our sorrows cease;
    ’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
    ’Tis life, and health, and peace.
    He breaks the power of canceled sin,
    He sets the prisoner free;
    His blood can make the foulest clean,
    His blood availed for me.
    Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
    Your loosened tongues employ;
    Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
    And leap, ye lame, for joy.

~Charles Wesley

What God Will Use…(exhibit D)…

to remind you that there is a purpose, a plan, and a Perfect Planner.


You Guys


If I didn’t already make it abundantly clear, your comments, every one of them, those that sympathised, empathised, offered advice, hugs, and prayers…they were rays of light shining the way to the stairs that led out of the pit.


So great a cloud of witnesses, indeed. With so many voices cheering one on, one finds new strength. Your words led me to His word, which is where wormtongue gets an ass-kickin’ every single time.


As I have been reading through your words again, I wish you could see me, tears running down my face again in gratitude to Him for not leaving us as orphans…sending His sweet Spirit to inhabit the the body of Christ and reach out to those who are floundering. I want to share some of these words with you, so you may take them to heart also; they are truth for every one of us.


So thank you again, my friends; although we’ve never met, we are His Bride, and I believe that when we encourage one another, we are most beautiful to Him. Be encouraged today. His banner over us IS Love.


We’re here for you, holding on to you by the ankles, keeping the devil from gulping you down



fortunately for us, Christ’s specialty seems to be in those who are broken. There is no one he cannot reach and there is no way he will allow that lion to swallow you



The thing I love about recognizing our own darkness is when He shows us that He sees us as beautiful even in the midst of our crap…



It is just as inspiring, thought-provoking, and, yes, even encouraging to hear about the bad times as the good. If people never tell the truth about being depressed, then all the rest of us who are depressed feel even more alone and crazy!


while you can admire someone up on a pedestal, you can’t really know them very well



You are not alone in your struggles. Ever.



Praise God for the hope we find in Jesus Christ that we cling to daily.



May you soon FEEL enveloped by a very different Lion. Because He will never release you to that other one. I know you know He’s there, I’ll just pray that you’ll FEEL it soon.



I have been so lifted up to read that you come out of the dark times, even if momentarily, to praise him and trust him. It encourages me to have hope too. There is also no room for pride when we know we rely so heavily on his hand for provision. If we were perfect we would not need him.



I love history, my history with HIM. It is good to remember my history with HIM. My Rock, My Beloved, My Provider, My Protector, My Rescuer, The Truth, My Unconditional Father, My Healer, My Faith giver, Gift giver. It is unbelievable what he has done and will continue to do. I know it is HIM who gives freely.



I also struggle with depression and my own dark place and I used to get so frustrated and desperate every time it resurfaced because I thought it was an indicator that I was somehow losing the battle despite all my best efforts and God’s intervention. I’ve learned that it is not the absence of my struggle that means progress. It still comes around all the time, but has less and less power over my life. What used to paralyze me for months, even years now may only take hold for a few hours or a couple of days. And God continues to be faithful to teach and refine me so none of it is wasted.



Depression is a dark, lonely place. Your words allude to feeling all but smothered by that black blanket and that you feel unworthy of the words of “praise” from others about your faith. But, dear Jenni, although your faith may seem as small or smaller than a mustard seed to you, that’s okay. You may not see the growing branches of the mustard plant, but they’re there. We can see them through your writings. Your words are so often that beacon of hope to us that you want them to be. You may not feel that way, but they are.


I just wanted you to know that even in the depths He has often allowed you to be in as of late, He is using you mightily… perhaps even more mightily than you would have otherwise been used.



You are not alone.