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.

Dear Tori

Dear Tori,

I heard a song this morning that reminded me of you. After I woke up singing Strong Enough, I thought Matthew West would be the perfect soundtrack to my writing. After selecting his playlist on my iPod, I settled into my chair to get to work. It’s not new music to me. I don’t know how many times I have heard it before. But today, the words meant something different. One song in particular, a song called To Me, caught my attention. The moment I heard him sing the words, “Well it breaks my heart every time I see the world break yours in two,” the story I wanted to write flew out of my head. All I could think about was my beautiful niece and how rough life has been on you lately.

I kept listening to the song, paying very close attention to each word. Maybe all of it isn’t about you. OK, so I suppose it is fair to say Mr. West probably didn’t have you in mind at all when he wrote the lyrics to this song. But there is so much in it that is just so YOU. If I were to write something about just how special you are (which I suppose I am doing with this letter) I couldn’t do much better than he did.

Your laughter really is one of my favorite sounds. You were the first baby I got to live with and see every day. I used to love coming home from work or school to hear you laughing as you played with your parents or grandparents. No matter how bad my day was, it was hard to be sad or upset with such a happy little girl in the house.

Ever since you were tiny, you have had a beautiful smile. Your smile fills up your whole face. It adds a special sparkle to your eyes. It has always shown the joy in your heart, the joy you find in life. Do you remember when my Rylee went to Heaven? I didn’t think I would smile ever again. But you kept smiling when you said, “Aunt Lynn, don’t be sad. Your baby is with Jesus. And you will always have me to play with.” Your smile helped to bring my smile back.

Now you are 17. Playing with your crazy aunt isn’t nearly as important as hanging out with your friends or boyfriend. And that’s OK. I know you had to grow up sooner or later. (Later would have been better for me….) You have grown into an absolutely beautiful young lady, both inside and out. How can I not be proud of that?

I know you have had your heart broken recently. More than once. I’ve cried right along with you. You probably want to hear that it will never happen again, that the next time you give your heart away it will be to the boy who will protect and treasure it the way your heart deserves to be protected and treasured. Oh how I wish I could promise you that. But I can’t see the future. And I can’t protect you from the pain and heartbreak that it might bring. If I could, I would. I’d happily take all of those bumps and bruises for you—without complaint—if that would keep the smile on your face and the laughter in your heart.

Some day you will find the right special someone for you. I don’t know when or where it will happen, or who that someone might be. But I have faith that it will happen.

Until then, I hope you realize how wonderful and very special you are. The world is a much more beautiful place because you are in it. I can’t say it any better than Matthew West did, so I will close this letter with the words from his song:

            To me you are

Heaven’s finest invention by far

So much brighter

Than the brightest star

What I’d give to make you see

Who you are to me

I love you, Miss Tori.

All my love forever,

Aunt Lynn


So much sadness


Have you ever had a week that seemed to be defined by the emotions around you? That’s what this past week was.

Last Sunday morning, I awoke thinking it would be a week full of bittersweet moments. The week was to start off with an impromptu picnic with some church friends. Our town has an annual parade celebrating the beginning of summer, and my house is only a few blocks from the parade route. In fact, the street right outside our house, including the space where my husband normally parks his truck, is part of the parade staging area. A family from church was planning to attend the parade, so we invited them to join us for lunch before walking to view the Rose Parade. It was a great afternoon, and something that I thought would be a good way of bracing myself for what was coming. After all, in the coming days I would have to attend two functions at the elementary school that would be “lasts” for my 5th grader—his last student of the month celebration and his last music concert. I was prepared for those emotions, for the pride of seeing the wonderful, intelligent young man he has become, mixed with the sadness of knowing the little preschooler I sent off to Hunt in the fall of 2007 would be entering middle school in just a few short months. Oh, where has that time gone?

And what mother would not be choked up at hearing her son introduce his classmates rendition of Disney’s A Whole New World by saying something along the lines of, “We are looking forward to the whole new world that is opening up to us as we prepare to enter middle school in the fall”?

Those bittersweet emotions associated with celebrating my middle son’s last moments of elementary school, as well as all of the other “normal” end of the year emotions and celebrations with his brothers…those are what I expected this last week to be filled with. What I didn’t expect was the deep sadness of loss that washed over me in waves.

Lost hope, lost life, lost love. It hit me more than once during the past seven days. I can’t be more specific than that, because in no case was the loss specifically mine. Not my loss means it’s not my news to share. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect me at all. It’s left my head spinning and my heart broken. There’s an old Carman song from the late 1980’s or early 1990’s that contained the line, “It’s as if you’re sitting there in that stunned moment while your faith gets violated and all you feel is weak, powerless and lame.” That is kind of how I have felt. Not so much that my faith has been violated, though I will admit that one of these sad events did have me turning to God and asking, “Why is this happening? Why are You allowing this?” I questioned not really God’s goodness or His existence this week; rather I questioned His methods.

But “weak, powerless and lame.” That is a pretty apt description. As I have felt sadness sweep over me, I’ve thought about those more directly affected by these events. I’ve wanted—more than once—to gather my hurting friends and family in arms, to shelter them from the pain, to put all the pieces back together for them, to make the things that feel so wrong right again.

But I can’t.

I can’t fix this. Some of this can’t be fixed, not by me. Some can’t be fixed by human means at all. Even the parts that can be fixed by human hands require God’s intervention first.

God, You the situations and the people who are on my heart. Be with them all. Give them Your strength and peace. Even those who are acting strong now are hurting. Show them that You understand, that You are there, and that You love them all, even—maybe especially—in the midst of this storm. Don’t let them lose sight of You. If they have already been blown off course, Lord, help them find a beacon back to You. It is only in Your arms, in Your presence that they will find true healing and peace, no matter how their situations play out.

The Birthday

Jillian woke up early that Friday morning, earlier than she meant to. No matter what she tried, she couldn’t get back to sleep. Maybe that was for the best. The dream she was having were not exactly pleasant.

She climbed out of bed and headed for the kitchen. After starting a pot of coffee for her husband, she poured herself a glass of orange juice. Then Jillian made her way to the window in the dining room.

This was her favorite spot in the whole house. Rick had fallen in love with the basketball net and the patio with built in BBQ grill. But all Jillian needed was one look at the cushioned bench and the lakeside view beyond the window to know that she wanted to live here.

She spent countless moments at this spot. Jillian’s Bible and notebook were kept on the window ledge. Looking over the lake as the sun rose over the trees, she felt close to God. She couldn’t begin to count the times she’d come here to pray for her sons of thank God for his protection over her family.

Not this morning, though. The only thing on her mind was the date-October 14- and how she would ever get through it.

She didn’t know how long she had been sitting there. The sitars had slowly disappeared as the sky beyond the lake changed from midnight blue to indigo to varying shades of pink. Subtle noise from the kitchen told her that Rick was awake. Jillian sipped her juice. She figured she should see if he needed help with breakfast, but she couldn’t tear herself away from the view outside her window. More than ever before, she needed to feel God, needed to see that he was real.

Rick slipped quietly behind Jillian and kissed her cheek. “Good morning,” he said softly.

“Hmmmm,” Jillian said. Her gazed never moved from the sunrise.

“Beautiful morning.”


“You ok?” rick asked after a few silent moments.

Jillian turned to face her husband. “Am I ok?” she asked, hoping she heard the words wrong. How could she be ok this morning? For that matter, how could he?

“Mom, where’s my soccer short’s?”

“I can’t find my chemistry book.”

The voices were followed by two sets of footsteps pounding down the hall. With Cameron and Reese awake, Jillian’s quiet time was over for the day. With one final glare at her husband, who looked as if he didn’t know what he possibly could have done wrong, she headed for the kitchen. She picked up the chemistry book from beside the telephone book, and then headed to the laundry room to pull the shorts from the dryer. She handed them to the boys and headed back to her bedroom. In a way she was glad to get moving. The sooner the day started, the sooner it could end.

Jillian pulled on an old faded pair of jeans and a comfy old sweatshirt, and then rejoined her family in the kitchen. She picked a blueberry bran muffin, only half listening to the conversation around her. At that moment, she wasn’t concerned with soccer playoffs of chemistry exams. She didn’t feel like talking about her errands or adding items to the grocery list. All she wanted was to spend the day in bed, alone with her tears.

Or maybe sharing her tears with Rick, who still seemed to not know the significance of the date.

Curling up was not option. Jillian had too many responsibilities. She didn’t have the luxury of hiding. Not that she could hide from the pain.

There were reminders of that pain everywhere she went. A teller at the bank was celebrating a birthday. Baby week at the supermarket meant infant pictures in every aisle. She passed a mother and daughter walking hand-in-hand as she made her way to the dry cleaners. Jillian couldn’t help feeling that she should have been celebrating a special birthday. One of those infant faces should have belonged to her daughter. She could have been holding her little girls hand as she learned to walk.

Through it all, she wondered if Rick was having the same thoughts. Did he know what today was? Did he think about her at all?

Was he so wrapped up in the boys that he had forgotten about their daughter?

Jillian pulled into the driveway late that afternoon, mentally exhausted. She managed to keep the tears at bay, and now that she was home, she was ready to stop fighting them. Yet she couldn’t rest. She still needed to cook dinner, wash laundry, bake peanut butter brownies for Reese and head out to Cameron’s game.

As if on autopilot, she carried Rick’s suits to their closet, and picked up laundry from Cameron and Rees’s rooms. It wasn’t until she had filed and started the washing machine and began to look for brownie ingredients that she looked toward the dining room table.

In the center of the table was a crystal vase, filled with pink flowers.

They reminded Jillian of the wildflowers Reese used to pick for her when he was younger. She noticed a card on them, and reached for it. The name “Mackenzie” was printed across the front. Jillian’s hands trembled as she slipped the card out of the envelope. Tears blurred her vision, but she was able to make out the words.

“Happy first birthday, My Mackenzie. I will always love you. Love Daddy.”

Jillian felt a hand on her shoulder. She hadn’t heard anyone, but she knew it was Rick behind her. He gentle rested his chin on her shoulder. “I haven’t forgotten,” he whispered. With arms around her, Jillian couldn’t fight the tears any longer. She turned around and buried her face against his chest and let the tears come.

F is for Family

I love my family.  Good thing, I suppose, since God has blessed me with a rather large one.  I have three sons and one husband at home (and as much as I love him, I am so glad it is not one son and three husbands!)  My husband has 4 younger siblings, and through them I have six nieces and nephews.  He also has three older siblings, and I honestly do not know how many nieces and nephews are there.  I have three older sisters and two younger sisters–combined, they have given me 15 nieces and nephews.  My Dad has one brother, so there are two cousins on that side, plus their children.  Mom is the youngest of six (I think it is more like 10, but only six survived until adulthood) and I can’t even count the cousins on that side of the family.  Sixteen first cousins, I believe, and then all of their children.

God has blessed me with a huge family!

Today, I get to see a lot of my extended family.  I only wish it was for a happy occasion.  Instead, we are gathering to say good-bye to Tina, my 52-year-old cousin who lost her battle with cancer this week.

That’s the problem with a large family….  We are all so busy with our own daily lives that we only get together for weddings and funerals.  Now that most of the cousins are already married, that leaves funerals.  NOT a happy time to get together.



An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker’s world.  Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent like as a young widow and single mom.  But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

To be totally honest, when I first heard that Christa Allan had a new book out, I didn’t care what the book was about.  She could have written 500 pages about watching paint dry or grass grow, and I would have wanted to read it.  OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration.  But I enjoyed her first book so much that I would have read The Edge of Grace no matter what topic it covered or how the plot twisted.  The first book was written in such a fluid, conversational style.  I had great hopes for the second.

And I was not disappointed.

The story really hit home for me (check out what I posted about it yesterday if you want to know why.)  Dealing with a gay family member can be very confusing, to say the least.  Caryn’s reaction to her brother’s was very real—“he’s doing something that I don’t approve of and can’t relate to, so I am just going to ignore him.”  Her attitude didn’t make the “problem” go away or turn back the clock to a time when she didn’t know that David was not happily in love with the woman he was planning to marry, but it did help Caryn to cope with the shock.  At least in the very beginning.  It was interesting to watch Caryn move from denial to acceptance, even though the metamorphosis meant changes in her own life and in her way of thinking.

The Edge of Grace was a very well-written story about a topic many Christians struggle with.  This book earns my highest recommendation.  I can’t say that I agree with all of the opinions expressed in this book, but that is OK.  At least reading it forced me to consider positions other than my own.

I think Caryn said it best herself in this speech to her brother near the end of the book: “And God is reaching me, maybe in very small steps, that He is the final judge, not me.  And that my job, for as long as I am here, is to reach out and love.”

That is something I think we all should keep in mind before we start hurling insults and accusations at one another.

Christa Allan is the author of Walking on Broken Glass and the mother of five.  Christa teaches high school English.  She and her husband, Ken, live in Abita Springs, Louisiana.  Visit Christa on the web at

For Grandpa

One of the most influential people in my life is a man I barely remember. When he passed away suddenly, 31 years ago today, I was not quite four years old. The one “memory” I have of sharing vanilla ice cream with him is, well, it’s a memory I am not even sure is my own. I don’t know if I really remember it or if I have just heard my sisters and cousins talk about it so much that I think I remember.

I’ve heard the stories they have shared about spending time with Grandpa Avery. To be totally honest, I am kind of jealous of that. From the stories I’ve heard about riding the church bus and playing with grandpa and his dogs, I feel like I really missed out on something special.

I’ve heard Mom mention that Grandpa (Daddy, as she always refers to him; there is something touching about a 60-year-old woman who still thinks of her father as Daddy) really liked the song “How Great Thou Art.” Every time I hear that song, I think of him. I can see that smile on his face and just imagine that little bald man singing his heart out in Heaven’s choir.

My dad has often said that Grandpa Avery was one of the greatest men he ever knew. How many men say that about their father-in-law? He has never said one bad thing about Grandpa. Which must mean he has never had one bad thought about him. After all, my Daddy isn’t one to keep his opinions to himself!

Even though I didn’t get to have Grandpa Avery physically in my life for very long, his influence has been there all along. Grandpa was a good man, a kind man, a man who loved God and his family with all his heart. He passed that love on to my mother and her siblings; they passed it on to their children; and we are passing it along to ours. Sometimes I like to think that he is sitting with Grandma on the front porch swing of their Heavenly mansion, watching what we are doing. I hope they are both pleased with what they see.


Welcome Donna McDine


Author Donna McDine


Children’s author Donna McDine is familiar with the “downside” of being a work-from-home writer.  Today, she takes a few moments to share her thoughts on this unique employment environment.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for a review of her latest book The Golden Pathway.  And there just might be something special in store for that as well….





Donna M. McDine


You dream of the days of no commute to a 9-5 job and you finally give your writing aspirations the chance that they deserve.  You have stocked your office or any small writing space that you designate in your home with all the essentials; computer, paper, pens, pencils, books and research resources, etc.  However, the responsibilities of mother seem to intrude every moment of the day. 

Now that you are home, everyone thinks that you are accessible all day long.  The kids feel that since you are home that you aren’t “really working”.  You’re not sure when it happened, but responsibilities that were normally delegated, somehow have become all your responsibility.  A writer’s life can easily become frustrated when the creative juices are without fail interrupted by the most mundane questions or needs.  You know how that goes.  Cleaning the sticky keyboard.  Mom where are my soccer cleats? What is there to eat?  Can you put the movie in for me?  The list is endless.  When did my family become so helpless? 

We all love our families, but how does one carve out that special and much desired writing time without the feeling of neglect on the family?  It is important to reset boundaries as quickly as they disappear.  Let your family know that writing is indeed work, but also a passion that you want to achieve.  Teach your children the importance of uninterrupted writing time and that they will get your undivided attention once your writing session is completed.  Hopefully they will come to understand that what is important to you should be respected.  Just as you respect what is important to them.

            Although there will be times and sometimes it will feel like many, where interruptions are a necessity.  Such as, when the school nurse calls to say that you need to pick up your child that has a fever.  Like any mother, we quickly grab our car keys and head to the school.  If you attempt to balance your writing and the care of your sick little one it will tend to leave you both feeling frustrated and neglected.  At this point, you are much better accepting the fact that your child needs you and that your writing can wait for another time.  Even if that deadline is on the horizon, you will not do your best work, just leave it. 

            Grab any time thrown your way, especially when the little ones are asleep.  When the house and telephone are quiet it tends to be a great time for creativity.  These little pockets of time may not feel like much, but the time over a week to a month will accumulate and you can get quite a bit accomplished.

            Keep a handy pocket notebook with you at all times, you never know when your next inspiration will come to mind.  It could happen anywhere, such as that crowded doctors office you just brought your sick child to.  Like anything in this life, this too shall pass, but we hope not too fast, since they do grow up quickly.

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications and her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Her second book, The Hockey Agony is under contract and will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. She writes, moms and is the Publicist Intern for The National Writing for Children Center and Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Musing Our Children.

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.