Praise and Purpose

I’ve been reading Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence for over a year now. In case you’ve never heard of this little book, it’s a daily devotional written by Sarah Young. She writes from the perspective of Jesus Christ, as if He were speaking directly to the reader. I can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts that must have gone through her head as she wrote this book, the daily struggles she must have had in thinking of how unworthy she or any human is to take on the voice of Christ. But that is a topic for another time.

I started reading this book in April 2013, after hearing about it from my Uncle Kevin. See, he and his wife were reading this together early that year. Not that either of them bragged about it. Uncle Kevin and Aunt Janet would never brag about their relationship with Christ. They just lived it, every day. It was at Uncle Kevin’s funeral on April 5, 2013 that I first heard about this devotional book, though I had probably seen it in stores before then. One of the last daily readings my uncle had enjoyed was shared during the service.

At the time, I was going through a difficult patch in my relationship with Christ. I was so mad at Him. I was angry about my own health issues. There were things that I should have been able to do that I couldn’t. Chronic pain, a heart condition, nerve damage, and life walking on a cane—all at age 37—were hard for me to deal with, and I was so angry that God was allowing this issues into my life. And then He allowed cancer to take away my uncle. Uncle Kevin, who was always smiling and full of life, died a few months short of his 20th wedding anniversary, leaving behind a wife, two adult children, and three beautiful young grandchildren. He believed in God, lived his life for Christ, asked Him for healing, and yet on Easter Sunday left his family to join Heaven’s choir. One more thing for me to be bitter about.

And I was bitter. For a long time. I’m not proud of it. Uncle Kevin and I were not particularly close. But I was already mad at God, and his death gave me one more reason to be mad. So I used it as an excuse to fuel my anger.

At the same time, I was intrigued by his reading choice. The particular cancer my uncle had was very aggressive. It progressed rapidly. Some say that was a blessing, as Uncle Kevin would not have wanted to be a burden to anyone. I don’t know. I know only that even as he grew more and more physically ill, Uncle Kevin stayed focused on Christ. His spirit never wavered. In the days before his death, he continued with his daily devotions, reading from Jesus Calling with Aunt Janet. Shortly before he passed away, he found the strength to sing the hymn “Have Thine Own Way” with his wife and daughter. Even though I was angry at God about my situation, on some level I craved the clarity, the deep level of faith that Uncle Kevin had.

I’ll admit, I am not always as dedicated in my daily devotional reading as my uncle. But I am trying. And I think that God is trying to talk to me through it.

Yesterday, in the reading for October 20, I read the line, “Do not be anxious about the weakness of your body.” I hadn’t marked that line, but it sure grabbed my attention again this morning. As soon as I opened the book for today’s reading, my eyes fell on it. My body is weak. Some days it is much more so than others. They say you are only as old as you feel, and I feel old, oh so very old some days because of the pain and weakness in my body. The past few days have been like that. And it worries me. I try to give it over to God, but when nothing changes, I wonder if He is listening to me. Holding on to the worry doesn’t change anything. There isn’t much that I can do to strengthen it or bring back what has been lost. It seems like all I have is the worry. And when that is all I have, it’s hard to let it go. Does that make any sense?

This morning, I read something else that felt like God talking directly to me. “Remember that all good things—your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time—are gifts from Me. Instead of feeling entitled to these blessings, respond to them with gratitude.” Wow. And if that was not enough of a punch, the verse to go along with the reading was Job 1:21—“He said, ‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!’”

Not only have I not praised the Lord for what He was taken away from me, I have not praised Him for the things He has given me to replace those things. I don’t think I have fully praised Him or thanked Him for the things He has allowed me to keep. And I am quite certain that I never bothered to praise Him for the things that are gone when I had them. I just sort of took them for granted. I can’t promise never to do that again, but at least for today, I am praising God for the things He has given me, thanking Him for taking away the things I don’t need, and trusting Him to use the things I have left for His glory.

Uncle Kevin was fond of saying, “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” His pulse may have stopped, but so long as his life is still touching others, his purpose goes on.

It Could Have Been Me


Robin Williams played Genie in my favorite ever Disney film, Aladdin

Robin Williams played Genie in my favorite ever Disney film, Aladdin

Robin Williams died yesterday.

When I heard the news, I was at a wedding reception. My immediate reaction was to make light of it. Not because I found even a shred of humor in his death, but because of where I was. I did not want anything to dim the newlyweds’ joy. Yet the happiness of the young couple was not the only reason I tried to shrug off the sadness of Mr. Williams’ death. I just did not want to admit, even to myself right then, how deeply the news was affecting me. I did not want to make room for the thought pushing to the front of my mind.

“That could have been me.”

Every newscast talks about the addictions he battled throughout his life. Most talk about the deep, consuming depression that marked the final months of his life. Some even suggested that Robin Williams was able to use the humor that entertained fans for decades to hide the depth of his family and friends.

I’ve been there. I don’t have the acting chops or comedic timing of Mr. Williams. But I have faced depression and addiction, even suicidal thoughts. I’ve hidden these things from my family and friends. Sometimes I’ve been very successful at hiding, sometimes I haven’t. For years I have lived with the fear that these demons would be the end of me. Even now, when it may appear to others that I have my life together and my issues under control, I am scared that one of those monsters might jump out and grab hold of me.

My addiction is what concerns me most. I don’t do any illegal drugs and I very rarely drink. My drug of choice is food. I am an emotional eater, using food to celebrate victories or mourn losses. Sometimes I crave sweet and creamy; sometimes I crave salty and crunchy. The problem with food addiction is that I can’t stop eating. God designed my body to require food in order to survive. The types and amounts that I shovel into my mouth, though, are not a requirement. Even knowing that, I can’t make myself stop. And that depresses me more. Which makes me reach for more food I should not eat. Which adds to depression. Which….

You get the picture.

I am relatively sure that depression won’t “get me.” Difficult as it has been, I have accepted that this depression is a part of who I am and the treatment for it will always be a part of my life. Those closet to me have learned the signs of an untreated me- because I have made the choices in the past to stop treatment. They know what to look for and for the most part they know what to say to make me choose to get back to treatment. At this point, in time, I feel confident that depression will not bring an end to my life.

I can’t say the same about food.

Robin WIlliams as Peter Pan in Hook in my second favorite of his films.

Robin WIlliams as Peter Pan in Hook in my second favorite of his films.

My sons like the movie Spaceballs. There is a scene where a newscaster says Pizza the Hut got locked in a car and ate himself to death. Now, I don’t think I will literally eat myself to death, but I worry about y food choices could be doing to my body. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. I am not hurting only me, I am hurting God when I allow my addiction to control me.


Yesterday, the dual demons of addiction and depression ended the life of Robin Williams. His legacy of laughter will live on through films and internet clips, though the laughter might be a little bittersweet as the world mourns his loss. Today, I vow to fight those same demons in my life. I don’t know yet what my legacy will be or how many lives I may touch. But with God’s help, I won’t let mental issues keep me from finding out.

Rest in peace, Robin. Enjoy Neverland.

Mary’s Memories

It’s Good Friday.  My sons, husband and I are watching The Passion of the Christ.  As I watch Mary follow her son on his way to Golgotha, I wonder what was in her mind.  Surely she knew that her son was The Son of God, that He was fulfilling the purpose for which He had been born.  (In the film, as Jesus is being beaten by Pilate’s men, Mary says, “My son, when, where, how will you deliver yourself from this?”  I may have the words slightly wrong, but that is close.)  Still, how horrible it must have been for her to watch that.  It had to have broken her heart to not only see each lash He was given but to hear the hatred and disgust those in the crowd–the same people who had welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem a few days before, were not hurling at Him.  Did she ever question her part in God’s plan? As her son was tortured and her heart was breaking, did Mary ever regret having agreed to become the mother of Jesus?

This is not the first time I’ve wondered about that.  A few years back, I wrote a little something from Mary’s perspective, examining just those questions.  I’d like to share that with you tonight.  Here is how I think Mary would have looked on her life after the death and resurrection of Jesus.



I didn’t know what I was agreeing to. That’s how it often works with God. He asks you to do something and you choose to say yes or no. He always gives you that option—that’s the wonderful part. He’s not going to force you to do something you are really not comfortable with. Of course, if you say no, there’s no guarantee He will ask you to do something else. The bad part is that He doesn’t always explain exactly what is going to happen.

That’s how it happened with me. I had a general idea of how this was going to work. Scripture told us what to expect.

But I didn’t have a clue just what would be involved. All I knew is that God was asking me to do something special. He could have chosen someone prettier or smarter or older. But He chose me. I didn’t understand why at the time and I can’t say I fully understand why now. But He asked.

All my life, I had wanted to do something for God. I hoped that He would find some way to use me. I just never dreamed it would be in such a big way.

I still remember that day so clearly. Or should I say that night. I had prayed before bed as usual. My friends thought I was too old to keep praying like that. They reminded me that my father had found a good husband for me. So what if we still needed to wait a while before the wedding? My friends said I should “stop bothering God and just be happy as Joseph’s wife.”

I wasn’t unhappy at the thought of being his wife. Joseph was a good man, a godly man. And he was always such a hard worker. He was a carpenter, which meant we would probably never be rich. I didn’t mind. He would be a good husband and I would work hard to be a good wife. Together, we would be good parents. Truly, I could be content with that. But if God wanted me for something more, I wanted Him to know that I was willing.

I can’t tell you how many times my friends said I was wasting my time. “God never uses women,” they said. I reminded them of Deborah, of Ruth, and of Queen Esther. Maybe there were more stories about the men, but God could use a woman, too. If she was willing to be used.

It was an ordinary night. I kissed my father, helped my mother put the younger children down, and then headed to bed.   But the light that woke me was anything but ordinary.

It was so bright. I had to shield my eyes. I was able to make out the outline of a tall man standing there. How had he gotten into my home? I was scared.

And then he spoke. “Greetings!” he said. “The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”

He said that I shouldn’t be scared, and for some reason I wasn’t anymore. Instead, I was excited. My prayers had been heard. God had a place for me in His plan.

And what a plan! For years we had looked forward to God’s promised Messiah. This man—this angel—was telling me that God wanted me to give birth to that Messiah.

For a moment, I did consider saying no. I wasn’t much more than a child myself. I wasn’t married and could only imagine what Joseph’s reaction to this would be.

Yet, I didn’t know how to say no. I’d prayed for years to be used by God. Now that He was showing me how He wanted to use me, it seemed unfair to tell Him no. If I did say no, would He ask me anything again? There was nothing more to say than, “May it be as you say.”

Joseph was very supportive—which in a lot of ways surprised me. He was so good about it. I wonder if he ever regretted it. Jesus was one of the best tempered children. Still, being his parent was not always easy. Joseph never complained but it must have been even harder on him than on me.

We did have to spend some time hiding while Jesus was very young. The only real trouble He gave us, though, was when He was 12. Though I can’t really fault Him for that. What kind of parents take a full day to notice their child is missing?

Missing isn’t exactly the right word for it. We didn’t know where Jesus was, but He was right where He needed to be. I remember Him telling me not to worry, that He was in His Father’s house. I didn’t know what He meant at the time. I only knew that I was relieved to see Him safe and sound.

Maybe it was foolish of me to be so concerned. I just had a small part to play in God’s plan. My son WAS the plan. He wasn’t going to be hurt, not until the time came for the Plan to fully go into action.

I was in Jerusalem the day he entered the city for the last time. I remember the crowds and oh how glad they were to see Him! For a moment, I thought the time for God’s plan was still years in the future. And to be honest, that is what I was hoping. I knew why my son was born—and to keep Him with me was selfish. But as His mother, I wanted to be selfish. I wanted my son to live—on Earth, where I could see Him and hug Him—for a few more years.

I knew the prophecies. Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be wounded and bruised. Knowing that would happen to some random person and seeing it happen to my son were two completely different things. I wanted to protect Him. Each time they hit Him, I felt it. Every drop of blood He lost felt like it came from my own heart. I wanted to turn away, to run off and hide. And yet I couldn’t. He was the Messiah, the King of Kings. But He was still my son, my little baby boy.

When they led Him to that cross, I could see the little boy who used to follow Joseph around while he worked. As He hung on that cross, I saw Him as the sweet little baby I had rocked to sleep. I cried as He suffered. I wanted to stop His pain. Even though I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t turn away. I couldn’t miss a moment of His life.

At the same time, I couldn’t help feeling so proud. He was so strong. He cried out in pain, but he didn’t resist, didn’t fight back. And at the end, He had the strength to ask for forgiveness, not for himself but for those hurting Him. I’ll never forget the sound of His voice—the pain and anguish in it—as he gasped, “Father God, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

One of His last thoughts before He died was of me. He saw me there, weeping, and told His good friend John to look after me. As my son hung there, in pain and utterly humiliated, He was concerned about me being alone.

When He breathed His last breath, my heart stopped. There was an earthquake and the sky turned black. I’m told that there was no light at all. But all I remember was seeing His head drop to His chest and I knew my first born son was gone.

I was able to smile then, even through my tears. I know it sounds strange to some. Most mothers aren’t going to smile after watching her child die. Then again, most mothers didn’t raise the Son of God. At the moment He died, His pain was over. In that same moment, He was with the Father. With my eyes closed and face turned toward Heaven I could almost hear the angels welcoming Him back. There was no reason for me to be sad. His death was not the end. His death meant life for so many others. It meant that I would be able to spend eternity with Him.

No, I did not know what I was getting into. I did not know how much joy His life would bring and I did not know how much the end of His earthly life would hurt me. If I had known, if I had understood just what He would go through, would I have still said yes? Would I do it all over again? Knowing what I know now, if God were to send an angel to me in the night, would my answer still be the same?


“May it be as you say, Lord.”

New Year, New Heart


Create in me a clean hear, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

It’s a new year.  Resolutions are flying all over, with people taking this opportunity to try to better themselves. 

I’ve made resolutions in the past.  I’ve not been good at keeping them.  Usually by the middle of January the good intentions of my resolution have flown out the window.  I think the longest I’ve ever stuck with one is through my birthday, in mid-February. 

That is why I have decided to not start of 2014 with a resolution.  I want a better life.  I want to be thinner, to make better choices, to be calmer, to be healthier, to be more content than I was in 2013.  But resolving to be isn’t going to helping.  Even taking action toward those things won’t change them.  Not unless I understand the motivations behind them.  So I have decided to start of this beautiful New Year with a prayer.

My prayer for this year comes right from the Bible, from the heart of King David.  Funny how a man who lived thousands of years ago could write the words that so accurately describe my heart today….  The words are recorded in Psalm chapter 51.

Verse 3: “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.”  I am far from perfect.  I make mistakes on a daily basis, mistakes I cannot hide from.  Mistakes I no longer want to hide from.  Lord, I know my anger and my attitudes are wrong.  I see it, and I give it to You.  Take this from me and turn it into something You can use for Your good.

Verse 10-12: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  Cleanse my heart, Lord.  I want it to be filled only with love—love for You and for all of the wonderful things You have created.  I know I have messed up, but please don’t give up on me.  Don’t push me away.  I ask Your forgiveness for the times I have pushed You away.  Being with You is the sweetest joy, and I want more of that joy in my life.  I can feel You here now, in this moment.  I pray that I feel this sweetness and joy every moment, only a little stronger each day.

I love You, Lord.  I love You so much that the thought of hurting You, of disappointing You saddens me.  This New Year, 2014, Lord, I am dedicating it to YOU.  Everything I do is for You, for Your glory. 

Embracing Issues

Something occurred to me this morning.  While I was sitting here writing, I began to feel like satan is really trying to attack me.

Back in December, I had back surgery.  There are issues from the back problem that necessitated the surgery that have not gone away yet.  Some days, these issues are a bigger problem than on other days.  Today is one of the days when the issues seem huge.  They almost seem big enough that there is not much point in fighting them.  A part of me just wants to curl up in bed, hide under my covers, and just hide from everything.  Let the problems take over or fade away, whatever.  I’m sick of dealing with them and I don’t want to deal anymore.

I took a mini break in my writing to refill my drink bottle.  That’s when it hit me—the issues that bother me are more of a problem when I am working on my relationship with Christ!

They were a huge deal at family camp in July, when I looked forward to sitting in chapel services every day.  They were a huge deal in the days after camp, when I could still feel God right beside me, flowing through me, and working in my life.  And they have been a huge deal today as I have been working on a preteen devotional book that I feel God is really pushing me to write.

I wrote two devotional pieces, and while I wrote them the issue grew to the point that I had to walk away from the computer to deal with it.  Twice it happened.  The last week, when I was working on other projects, the issue didn’t act up like this.  But today, when I have praise music playing and I am focusing on what God is leading me to do, the issue pops up in a glaring, jarring fashion.

Once I realized the connection between my writing and the issue, I wasn’t quite as annoyed with it.  In fact, I felt almost proud of it.  I must be doing something right.  Otherwise, satan wouldn’t be trying so hard to discourage me and stop what I am doing.

But guess what, satan?  YOU DON’T WIN!!!!  I’ve read the end of The Book.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what is going to happen.  No matter what you throw at me, your future is written.  And it’s not a future I want to be a part of!!

So I am giving myself over to God today.  My life and my writing are in His hands.  That matters more to me than any health issue that might stand in my way.  My God is bigger than all that!!  I am so grateful to be in His care.


Family friendly.

This morning, I am wondering just what that phrase means.  I thought that I knew, but after hearing something on the radio this morning I am suddenly not so sure.

After I dropped my sons off at school this morning, I turned on my favorite non-Christian radio station.  Yes, I freely admit that I listen to music at times that is not worship music.  I am careful about what I listen to, whether the boys are with me or not.  Why? Because as much as I adore love songs, I don’t want to listen to something with dirty lyrics.  “Garbage in, garbage out.”  When I am writing, I like to listen to music that matches the tone of what I am writing.  So when I am in the middle of a romance, I like to listen to love songs.  It just puts me in the right mindset to write about it.  This particular radio station is a light rock station.  I know when I turn it on I am not going to get any hardcore, head banging music.  It might not all be sappy love songs, but much of it is.

Anyway, this morning the DJ said something about this being a family-friendly radio station, playing music that parents and kids can enjoy together.  Then he introduced a Boys II Men song.  The title of the song?  “I’ll Make Love to You.”

Sure, I knew all the words to the song and I found myself singing along.  At the same time, the idea of listening to this song with my 5-, 8-, and 11-year-old sons had my head spinning.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with the song, but are those lyrics seriously appropriate for children?  Even as I sang along, I kept thinking how glad I was that the boys were not in the car with me.  Especially the part of the song that says, “Throw your clothes on the floor, I’m gonna take my clothes off too.”  That is so NOT something that I would like to explain to my kids.  We are already in the place with my 5-year-old where we have to convince him daily that wearing clothing is a good thing.  If he heard those lines, oh, I can just imagine seeing him fling his clothes all over the house.  “The song said to, Mommy, so I know it’s gotta be ok.”

Yeah.  NOT.

To me, family-friendly is something that is appropriate for all ages.  It doesn’t involve alcohol, vulgarity, nudity, foul language, or sex.  Yes, my personal definition of family-friendly also involves a focus on living for Christ.  That part of my definition doesn’t apply to everyone, and I am ok with that.  Not every family centers on Christ as mine does.  I don’t turn away from something just because it doesn’t involve Christ, and I don’t make my sons turn off TV shows and movies that are not Bible based.  For example, the boys like to watch Disney shows like Lab Rats and Pair of Kings.   These are shows that are made for kids, programs that I would consider to be family-friendly, even though they don’t talk about God.  Those I will allow the boys to watch.  But The Big Bang Theory, while funny, is not something I will let them watch.  It might be just fine for an adult, but the sexually infused comedy is not appropriate for elementary aged children.  It is not something that I would consider family-friendly.

So, am I being over protective?  Am I over reacting about the radio station this morning?  I don’t know.  But I don’t understand how a song about an adult activity like love making can follow a family-friendly announcement.

Respect Dare

   So again I say each man must love his wife the way he loves himself and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:33.

Interesting how that was written by a man- Paul- who was never married. Normally, I would not take this kind of advice. What can someone who has not been there possibly know about having a strong, healthy, happy marriage? But since it is in the Bible, I suppose it is advice worth taking.

Bit it leads to a question- just what does it mean to be a husband?

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines respect as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”

That fits how I feel about my husband. He has some pretty awesome qualities that I admire. But how do I show him that?

I really want to have a strong marriage one that’s based on Biblical principles. As part of that, I wont to learn how to show my husband the respect the Bible says he deserves. I found a book that I really hope will help me to do that.

The book is called “Respect Dare.” It is very similar to “The Love Dare” that was used in the movie Fireproof. There are 40 “dares” that was used in the book, 40 exercise’s to help a wife put into practice the teachings in the book. Each dare it leads to a deeper meaning of respect.

My hope is that working through this book will help me to strengthen my marriage and show my husband just what he means to me. I want to share what I have been learning and how I’m able to apply the dares to my own life. Some I’m sure will be highly personal. I won’t share anything here that will make my husband uncomfortable. That doesn’t seem very respectful! But I will try to share things that I think will benefit others.

B is for Believe

You believe that there is one God.  Good!  Even the demons believe that–and shudder.  James 2:19, NIV

I believe there is one God.  I believe that He sent His one and only Son to earth, to be born in a manger, to be raised by a poor carpenter and his wife, and to be brutally murdered in my place.

But belief is not enough.

Even the demons believe the things that I do.  The trick–if you want to call it a trick–is to act on what I believe.  What good do beliefs of any kind do if those beliefs are not put into practice?

Good Bye Games

Earlier this week, I posted the following as my Facebook status: Ever felt like God was leading you to do something you were not sure you could do, not even sure you were WILLING to do? Please pray that I remain open to what God wants, even if it is not what I want.

I asked others to pray for me, but I didn’t do much praying for myself. I clearly heard what God was asking me to do, and I didn’t want to do it. He was asking me to give up something I have convinced myself that I need in my life. I’ve convinced myself that this is something I cannot possibly live without. One of my cousins even responded to my status with, “He WILL equip the called!” Still, I ignored the voice in my heart.

This morning, a song came to mind as I was showering. The song was I Will Follow Christ, sung by BeBe Winans, Bob Carlisle, and Clay Crosse. Only one line kept repeating itself in my head. Over and over and over, I was singing, “As for me no matter what the sacrifice, I will follow Christ.” By the time my shower was over, I was convinced of two things—God was asking me to make a sacrifice and I could no longer ignore His voice. After all, He sacrificed His only son for me. The least I can do is give up a few modern treats for Him.

So, as of today, I am blocking all of the games on Facebook. No more farming. No more cooking. No more monsters. No more matching marble colors. I am done. With all of it. As soon as I post this blog entry, I will be blocking each of those games. I can’t say that I am in a place where I am doing so with a cheerful heart. But I am doing it with a willing heart. And I know that I will be blessed for this sacrifice.

Even if the blessing is just in more time to listen to my children fighting with each other!

My Testimony

As far back as I can remember I have wanted to be a Mom. As the fourth of six girls, I dreamed of having a houseful of daughters, with maybe one son thrown in there. At the age of 16, that dream began to fade.

After months of horrible, intense pains, my doctor diagnosed polycystic ovarian syndrome. He told me that meant it would be difficult for me to even get pregnant. When he factored in my weight, he said, “While a baby would be able to survive, the chances of you ever getting pregnant are very slim.”

I tried to act like it was no big deal. After all, I was still in high school and I didn’t have a boyfriend. Being a mother was a dream that I was not really working toward right then.

But it was a big deal. One particular friend in school held me as I cried over it. She told me, “Give it to God. If He wants you to have children, what the doctors say won’t matter. You will have them.”

The problem was, I didn’t really care too much about God at the time. I went to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night, but only because I had to. I didn’t want to be there. Mom and Dad had a rule about it, though, and unless I was working, I had to be there. Sometimes, I even had to go on Sunday nights. To be honest, I didn’t see the point. My parents didn’t seem to be any better off than people who didn’t go to church. In fact, they seemed to be a lot a worse off at times. They went to church all the time, but God wasn’t helping them. What would make me think that He would help me with something?

My wedding was about two weeks before my 24th birthday. It was all I had ever dreamed of. I don’t think I will ever forget the look on my husband’s face when he saw me walking toward him in my wedding dress. That was real love. Not that I doubted it. Before I could marry him, I had to tell him what the doctors had said. Especially considering that two years earlier I’d been told I was in the beginning stages of endometriosis, yet another condition that would make pregnancy nearly impossible. My husband didn’t care, though. He said he wanted to have children, but as long as he had me as his wife he would be happy. “Besides, we can adopt if things don’t work out. But just think of all the fun we can have trying to prove the doctors wrong.”

Because of the cysts, my monthly cycles had always been a bit off. When I missed one period, I was concerned. When I missed a second, I started to think, “Could it be…?” A friend who’d been trying for a couple of years to get pregnant had just found out she was expecting her first. She told me, “Go get a home test. If it is positive, call a doctor. If it is negative, get in the bedroom and try again.” My husband wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. He was afraid that I would be too upset with a negative test. But once the idea was in my head, I just had to know. So when we got our groceries, we also picked up a home test. I took it right away, setting a timer to go check after I put the groceries away. There were two little pink lines on the stick. We had been married for only five months, and already I was pregnant!

I felt like a dream was coming true. I began to read every baby book and parenting magazine I could find. We picked out names for our little one—Robyn Dayle for a girl and Andru John for a boy—and a theme for the nursery—Baby Looney Tunes. I was careful about what I ate, and even gave up coffee and Mountain Dew when my doctor said caffeine was bad for a developing baby. I was determined to do everything right for this little blessing of mine.

The dream came to a screeching halt on Tuesday, September 19, 2000. That was when a phone call from my OB’s office came. The nurse on the other end of the line told me that there were some “abnormalities” in a routine blood test. My unborn baby, it appeared, had Down’s syndrome. “We need you to go see a specialist to have this confirmed before it is too late to terminate the pregnancy.” She told me the name of the specialist and what time the appointment was they had already made for me. Somehow, I called my husband at work. He took the afternoon off and the next day off so he could be with me for the testing. We sat on the couch for a while, just crying. When the mailman came that day, he delivered a Baby Looney Tunes lamp that I had purchased on eBay. I remember asking John if we would even be able to use it. He told me, “God will take care of us.” I agreed. I told him, “I want to see this specialist so that I can be prepared to care for our baby’s needs. But I will NOT terminate the pregnancy. God put the baby in there, and He alone will decide when the pregnancy ends.”

Two weeks later, I was still waiting for the test results to be back. After dropping my niece off at preschool, I drove home with only her 2-year-old brother in the car. I had an old Carman cassette in, and the song Lazarus, Come Forth began to play. I sang along, and at the end I said, “Wow. You know, it would have been so cool to have been there and see Lazarus come out of his grave.”

“I raised Lazarus from the grave, and I will heal your baby.”

I pulled off to the side of the road and looked around. Only baby Jake was in the back, and he was nearly asleep. But the voice was loud and clear and real. I had no reason to believe it was anyone other than God talking to me. Tears streamed down my face. All I could say was, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you.” John and I had been faithful to God, and He was honoring that.

When I got home, the doctor’s office called again. They said, “We have the test results here. It appears you are carrying a healthy baby boy.”

A few months later, on February 2, 2001, my son, Andru John McMonigal came into this world. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in all my life! At my six week post-partum check up, my doctor confirmed what I knew all along. God HAD healed Andru. There are certain markers that are normally found in the placenta of a child with Down’s syndrome that are not present in the placenta of a healthy child. Those markers were found in Andru’s placenta.