To Harlynn, With Love

Harlynn love

A week ago would have been Harlynn’s fifth birthday. For months, the weight of the number five loomed above my head, and I felt burdened with an awkward responsibility of having been a bereaved parent for that amount of time.

Five years ago, our lives were forever changed. Five years ago, we said goodbye before we ever had the opportunity to say hello. Five. Years. Continue reading “To Harlynn, With Love”

“Daddy, we’re farmers, right?”

Little Man peeked over the edge of the brooder, while wearing his Paw Patrol gardening gloves and  in his sweet little voice, asked his Daddy, “Daddy, we’re farmers, right?”

We went shopping this past weekend for gardening stuff – items we needed in order to start our seeds for this year’s garden.

I ordered way. too. many. seeds. and this is going to pose a slight problem once it’s planting time. But I know I want to grow my own salsa, so peppers are required, and they need a little inside encouragement to start growing prior to our planting season. Continue reading ““Daddy, we’re farmers, right?””

And Life As We Knew It Was Never The Same

pexels-photo

Last night, Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, I wasn’t feeling well.

I’m not being metaphorical. I had a sore throat, major headache, and lots of drainage. I wasn’t feeling well.

I went to bed embarrassingly early and was fast asleep by 7:45 pm. Yes, there was an election going on that would make history one way or another, but I was sick, and went to bed.

And the strangest thing happened. I woke up (at 4:15 am) and my neighborhood was quiet. Everyone was sleeping. Everything seemed normal That’s not the strange part, hang with me.

I checked my phone to see who won the election. I knew the person I voted for wouldn’t win nationally, but I still stand behind my vote and am proud to have cast it. And I hope you voted and stand behind your vote, and your responsibility to do so.

I saw the projected winner. The new president.

No way.

Granted, “No way” would have been my response no matter the victor.

Just as I suspected, people I respect, admire, and consider friends, were freaking out. On all sides of party lines. Had the tables been turned, the rhetoric and outright spewing would have been the same, just coming out of opposing mouths. Or fingertips, as it is in our social media day and age.

There are no winners in this post-election fallout. There wouldn’t have been if the numbers were flipped. You guys. It’s the strangest thing…

Every day I wake up, get my family taken care of for their day, tell them to have a great day and send them on their ways. Every day I make my amazing coffee, I decide what I’m going to do, and then I make stuff happen. Every day I do what I love and build and expand on my gifts and abilities and I make a difference for at least one other person. That seemingly insignificant difference starts a ripple effect and leads to a movement, no matter how big or small.

Every day I improve upon life as I knew it the day before.

Life shouldn’t be the same. Ever. We were made for more. We’re smart, creative, innovative, driven people. Yet we spend our time and energies degrading one another, ignoring common courtesy, letting entitlement rear its ugly head (and y’all, it is so, so ugly) to tout our pride or our disappointment.

It’s seriously the strangest thing.

Election years exacerbate this. Without question. Every cycle, millions of people falsely put their faith in one person. A PERSON. When that person wins the ticket, out come all the “in-your-face” comments and criticisms, name calling, mock hallelujahs, etc. And when that person doesn’t win the ticket, the lives of their supporters are ruined. Our futures are destroyed. There’s no hope for us. We’re doomed. It’s like watching a grade school playground at recess, except the people on the playground are in grown adult bodies.

Still, somehow today, even though I’m still not feeling well, I woke up, spent the morning playing with my sniffling son (we share germs around here), took a little nap, did all the work I wanted to do (note I didn’t say “had” to do…), moved ahead with planning my future, put the all too convenient mobile deposit feature to use, ordered groceries and had them delivered to my door, took a stroll in the amazing weather we’ve been having to try to get some sunshine and fresh air into this ailing body of mine, and made today better than yesterday in every way I could.

No one else could have done any of that for me.

My hope does not, nor will it, rest in a single person.

Life as we knew it will never be the same. Nor should it. Every day you wake up, no matter who bears what title, you do and be the absolute best you can.

Now we’ll see how many of you read this to the end before I get the fallout responses.  Elections are critically important. Issues at stake can make or break society. I don’t dispute this. I absolutely condone being educated and voicing your causes and concerns by voting. Please hear me on this.

When it’s all said and done, however, the only future we can be dependent on is the one we build for ourselves. The only legacy we have total control over is the one we leave behind.

Don’t lose hope. Don’t berate each other. Don’t display the very behavior you’re preaching or hashtagging against.

Don’t let life ever be the same as we knew it. Make it better. Make it different. Be the difference. Every day.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.  ~ 2 Thess 2:16, 17

Stop Breaking Your Neck

break neck

There’s a reason it’s called a “break-neck pace”.

You’ll break your neck. Or your stride. Or your spirit.

We’ve been doing it all wrong, folks. Doing more and more, stretching ourselves too thin, involving ourselves in any and every possible facet. More, more, more, faster, faster, faster, go, go, go.

We weren’t created to break our necks.

Yet we put ourselves out there with insane, unmaintainable schedules, ridiculous expectations, and sacrificing personal care and, dare I suggest, sanity.

I know better than this. I know I don’t function well on little sleep, too much on my to-do list, and no downtime. Yet…

“Next week will be better.” until it isn’t.

“Next month, things will slow down.” except they won’t.

“Next year….” stop. Let’s get control of our time again.

Ask yourself some questions, and save your neck (and your mind.)

  1. What are you doing now/how are you spending your time?
  2. What do you want to be doing in order to feel your purpose is being fulfilled?
  3. What do you need to stop doing in order to be free to pursue your purpose?

What are you doing now and how are you spending your time?

What’s going on in your world that fills your calendar? It’s been said, “if you don’t have time to fish, you’re too busy.” Write out how you’re spending your time. Don’t take this time to plan how you want or should be spending your time, just write out – right now – how your time is actually being spent. Where are your hours going during the day (or night)? Get it out in front of you to give yourself a visual.

What do you want to be doing in order to feel your purpose is being fulfilled?

I have so many dreams. So many plans. In all reality, though, there are only a handful of things (that all work cohesively together) I want to be doing and know I can do, in order to feel like I am doing exactly what I was created to do. Do you know? Have you thought about it? Have you ever wondered if there’s more to who you are than what you’re doing every day? Let yourself dream here. What do you really want to be doing? What drives you to get up in the morning?

What do you need to stop doing in order to be free to pursue your purpose?

It’s not always easy, but sometimes you have to say “no”. To good ideas, to good people, to good times. In order to save your neck, you have to say “no”. What are some of these things you need to say “no” to? You’ve made two lists of how you’re spending your time and how you want to be spending your time. Now make the appropriate cuts so you’re spending your time how you want to, or how it benefits your ultimate purpose and goal.

If you can’t, or if you really struggle to say “no”, schedule “no” time on your calendar. If someone asks you, “Hey, wanna go grab a bite to eat Thursday night?” and you’ve already got “no” time blocked on your calendar (time scheduled to pursue your dreams and goals), you can honestly answer them, “Oh gosh, I’m sorry, I’ve already got plans then.”

It’s time to stop the crazy train, folks. If you continue to move at a break-neck pace, eventually, you’ll break your neck. When that happens, one of two results will take place:

  • You’ll become so impaired, it will take weeks, months, maybe even years, to recover. You’ll be less productive and more restrained. The payoff is recovery, and the best possible outcome is getting back to where you were before. Free yourself from the cycle and start advancing now, rather than preparing yourself to end up exactly where you already are.
  • You’ll die. I’m using this metaphorically, but when you’re unable to keep up with the pace you’ve set for yourself, you’ll stop moving, and stop living. Everything will come crashing down around you, and you’ll be crushed – whether that’s figuratively or literally, who can say?

Slow down. Don’t do everything all the time. Do what you were created to do.

People are depending on you. Your future is waiting for you. Stop breaking your neck.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
~Psalm 62:1-2

Making Moments Count: A Manifesto

MakingMomentsCount-A Manifesto

Prior to 2013, I thought I had life figured out. My marriage had overcome some serious obstacles, our oldest daughter had overcome her dramatic entrance into the world two months prematurely, I was (slowly) climbing the corporate ladder, building skills and leadership capabilities, and knew our life was headed toward a picture-perfect happy ending.

Then in April of 2013, our second daughter was stillborn.

No warning. No idea. No explanation. No realization it was possible.

Everything I thought I knew became obsolete and our priorities, dreams, and desires took a dramatic shift.

I quickly realized I didn’t have much of anything figured out and in reality, was barely getting by. I thought I was successful, but I had only fit into the corporate mold others had created for me. I believed my marriage had overcome obstacles, but in hindsight, we had simply dismissed resolving them. I thought I had been working toward the life of my dreams, but instead, I had been working toward the fruition of someone else’s dreams for me.

It took the death of our daughter to make me realize my marriage, my relationship with Little Miss, and any relationship or successful venture I was working on building and maintaining, was a façade. I was ill-equipped to leave any lasting legacy because I believed I had reached my ceiling in my life’s potential.

And still, after my entire world had been turned upsidedown, I was expected to fit into the mold that had been created for me. Life was not certain or guaranteed, and what was supposed to be a celebratory season in our lives was wrought with tragedy and despair. When my world came crashing down, it exposed the weakest points of the foundation I had built my life upon. It also revealed, however, the ways I could strengthen and rebuild.

Life and its precious moments were too important. I realized – after intense mourning, continual grieving, and whole-hearted seeking – I hadn’t been living. None of us had been living. Our family was surviving. One grueling day at a time.

Some things got worse before they got better. I had to learn to fight for a better marriage, rather than accept fighting as the way to be married. I understood my husband and our relationship was the foundation of our family, and of our future. If our relationship was broken, so were the lives of our kids, the legacy of our stillborn daughter, and the promises we vowed to one another when we said, “I do.”

I realized if I claimed to believe God is the giver of life, I needed to start living as such. If I wanted to get anything out of the life He could make possible for me, I had to start investing in it. I might not have the chance to do what made me happy later on – as “later on” may never come.

It became my mission and passion, then, to guide others in seeking and finding the life they were designed to live, embracing the freedom that comes from fulfilling our calling, and making each moment count. I want to equip others to make moments count in the ways I never realized they could. I want to help pave the way for strong marriages, strong families, and stronger faith.

This is what I write. This is how I teach. This is why I’m making moments count.

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“Don’t Judge Me…”

DON'T JUDGE ME...

I was on my third day of being sick. She wanted to bring me coffee anyway.

I’m not one to turn down a piping hot beverage someone else volunteers to bring my way. It’s just not in my nature. So I let her come.

Even though I didn’t feel up to it, I showered. Brushed my teeth. Put on my nicest (coincidentally my newest) pair of sweatpants. I even dabbed on some eyeliner in an attempt to look more like a real person. She came over, we sat and chatted, and she treated me to a piping hot cup of vanilla latte. Not even a small. She got me a medium.

This is friendship, folks.

And as good of friends we are, when she went to throw her used kleenex away, I wouldn’t let her.

I didn’t want her to go into the laundry room where the trash can is, because it was a little smelly in there. Ew. She offered up an alternative and said, “Okay, bathroom trash then.”

My eyes got wide. I laughed that “oh-no” nervous laugh. As she walked down the hallway to throw away her tissue and headed to open the bathroom door I uttered, “Don’t judge me….”

I’d been sick for three days. I’m not sure what I thought she’d expect. Sparkling floors? No signs of laundry? No trace of anyone actually living here, let alone living here while being sick, or being under 2 years old, or sleeping here after a long day of work, or living out the imaginative stories that have to wait until after your day of Kindergarten to come to life?

“Don’t judge me….”

Even as I said the words, I cringed. On the inside. I didn’t want her to see me cringe. Because….well because I didn’t want her judge me for judging my own words.

Ugh.

THIS IS OUT OF CONTROL.

Here I have a friend, trying to be a friend, and I’m immediately putting myself on the defensive, not trusting her friendship. I’m in SWEATPANTS and had to force myself to brush my teeth, and I let her come over. But I’m worried what she’ll think about our bathroom because I haven’t been able to clean it to white-glove standard?

She wasn’t judging me. Nor would she.

My friends say it to me, though. Often. Because they didn’t feel like getting dressed. Or cleaning. Or cooking. Or leaving the house. Or eating a real dinner before devouring dessert. “Don’t judge me…”

We need to stop saying this. Seriously, we need to.

If you come to my home and I’m sick, or in sweatpants, or haven’t brushed my teeth, I’m going to assume you still love me. I’m going to assume you’re not my friend because of my wardrobe (because, heaven help you, you would be the first) or because of my level of cleanliness or because of how often I run the battery low on my rechargeable toothbrush. I’m going to believe you love me. As a friend. A real deal, true blue friend.

And if I go to your house and you forgot to flush the toilet, or you haven’t taken the garbage out in a while, or your socks don’t match or it’s the third time I’ve seen you in that shirt – this week – I’m not going to judge you. I’m going to your house because I love you. As a friend. In a nonjudgmental way.

You would think if I had my wits about enough to realize this friend knew I was sick, brought me a coffee of my favorite variety in a size that completely spoils me, and stuck around without wearing a mask or being afraid to be a part of my life that day, I would be pretty clear on the fact she wasn’t wearing a black robe of authority under her gavel-hiding sweatshirt.

Chances are, if you’re judging me, you have no desire to come over to see me on a good day. Let alone when I’m a bit down in the mouth.

So don’t judge me for saying this, but let’s stop saying “don’t judge me” for things that don’t even qualify as a trivial offense. My house is littered with toys and laundry and the trash bag is stinky. Big deal. I wear sweatpants every day sometimes. Big deal. I left evidence in the bathroom of the kids being bathed the night before. Big deal.

So, to my coffee-bearing-errand-running dear friend, I’m sorry I ever uttered those words. I’m not sure why I said them, since I’m entirely confident judging me would have been the last thing you’d do as a result of trying to throw a kleenex away.

I don’t have hard-hearted friends who want to boost their own egos by coming over to observe my shortcomings. I don’t have to qualify someone wanting to throw their kleenex away with a dissertation on why my home is in disarray and perhaps if they come back when I’ve had a chance to catch up on life and homemaking, they can use the trashcan of their choice. I don’t have to worry I’m going to be judged for something not at all judge-worthy.

Let’s stop turning the trivial into critical. Live life, especially with those who can do life with you in all kinds of stages and phases, and whatever happens…is going to be awesome.

I was sick for three days, and my home fell apart but you know what? I got to nap. And write. And wear sweatpants.

And nobody judged me for any of it.

Plant Yourself Where You Can Bloom

Once trees in our area started to bud and bloom, I noticed the one directly in front of our patio remained bare. Sticks and twigs where leaves should have been were all we could see as we gazed out our sliding glass door. I commented to my husband about it with a hint of concern in my voice, but he was not at all interested in the fate of the tree. He married a tree hugging hippie. He deals.

Within weeks, there were men in bright orange and yellow vests outside, uprooting the tree and replacing it with another. Brent commented, “I guess you were right.” (And we all say, “Duh….”)

The replacement tree, however, hasn’t been faring much better. The leaves are dry, curled, and withered. They’re still mostly green, but they’re limp. My resident horticulturist (hubs) reminded me that it can take trees a while to recover from being replanted. There’s a term for this, called “Transplant Shock.” When a tree is taken from one spot and planted in another, the root system goes into shock – and if the tree is not properly cared for, it will die.

What a stupid tree. Weakling. Don’t you know you’re supposed to bloom where you’re planted? Get over yourself. You were planted here, so bloom already. Psh.

BLOOM

I’ve never favored that phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” Sometimes the soil sucks. Sometimes the very foundation we’re living on is worthless. Crumbling all around us. Unsustainable. It can sap us of everything we have. Sometimes, the soil is fine, but it dries up because there’s no water. There’s no life. There’s just a bunch of dirt. Sometimes, there are weeds. Rocks. Parasites. Flooding. Drought. Poison. Too much…..fertilizer. (Parable of the Sower)

Sometimes you can’t bloom where you’re planted, because the conditions absolutely won’t allow it. And if you don’t get up and plant yourself somewhere more favorable to your mission, you’ll die.

Sometimes, you’ll simply be in a season of transplant shock. You won’t bloom and you’ll look pitiful, while everything else around you seems to be growing as it should, and as you want to. You’ll be uncertain. You’ll second guess your decisions, your purpose. You’ll have to retreat really deep within yourself to find life again, but it’s there. And once you find it, you’ll thrive. But it might take a while.

Sometimes you’ll stay in the same spot you’ve always been, not even realizing you’re not doing anything. You thought it was normal to be a giant stick and twig show all day, every day, never producing proof of life. You’ll never see it coming when one day you’re completely uprooted and tossed aside for not being what you were created to be, because you didn’t realize you had potential beyond being a bump on a log.

Sometimes plants get too big for their britches and they need a new pot. They bloomed where they were planted, but if they stay there, they’ll choke themselves to death. They have to move – no matter how successful they’ve been in their current little flowerpot home. It’s not that anything or anyone is at fault – the pot is just a vessel, fulfilling its purpose for a season. It’s not a bad thing for a plant to be re-potted. It’s healthy, and helps keep the plant alive.

Friends – don’t hold yourself to faulty expectations. Don’t conform to something because there’s a cutesie little cliche telling you to do what everyone else thinks is easiest. Don’t take the easy way. Take the way you were meant to take.

You don’t have to bloom where you’re planted. You might not be a good fit for it.  You might be doing yourself more harm than good. You might be created to be a completely different plant in completely different soil producing completely different fruit. The important thing is, you’d better be producing fruit.

So plant yourself where you can bloom. Care for yourself the way you were created to be cared for, and bear your unique fruit. If you always do what others have always done, you’ll always be what others have always been.

It won’t always be easy. It might not take off right away. You might have a little transplant shock. But by golly, plant yourself where you can bloom.

The Letter That Changed My Life

The Letter That Changed My Life

I spent the first 12 years of my life as a valley girl. I lived only a few blocks from the beach in central California. I had naturally bronze skin, naturally bleach-blonde hair, and – like – totally talked – like – I was – like – a valley girl. Watching home videos is painful for me.

The summer before I turned 13, we moved from our home on in Grover Beach (though it was Grover City when I lived there. Random fact.) to a tiny apartment in Powell, Wyoming.

It was the worst summer of my life.

It hailed. I had never seen hail before. And it would hail while the sun was still shining. It was the craziest weather I ever witnessed. I made two friends. My sister and I shared a room with bunk beds, and I grew pretty sick of hanging out with her. Both parents were gone to work every day. And when they were home, they argued. That summer was tough on everybody.

I missed my own room, I missed the beach, and I missed my friends. Especially my best friend.

Thankfully, we kept in touch through letters and phone calls. “Rose” as I’ll call her, was my saving grace. When I knew it was her on the other end of the line, nothing else mattered. She got me. She’d always get me.

Until the day she wouldn’t.

I’ll never forget getting her letter. I tore it open to read the latest goings on. What I read instead was a break up letter.

I never got a definitive answer as to why, but I distinctly remember the phrase, “I will always look back on our friendship with nostalgia.” Just like that, for the cost of a 29 cent postage stamp, my best friend became “someone I used to know.” The longest relationship I ever had was nothing more than memory. A vapor. Poof.

I was devastated. Crushed. Rose, my best friend, had now become a painful thorn in my memory bank. Not only was I struggling to make new friends, but my old ones didn’t want anything to do with me. For 13 year old Val, that was brutal. I’ve never liked the word “nostalgia”.

Thrust into the pits of loneliness, I had to make my new friendships really count, and I had to find more friends. Eighth grade was tough. I hated being the new kid in town. With gigantic glasses and an even bigger fro, it wasn’t easy.

I built a wall few people found their way over. Born a social butterfly, I suddenly tried to make a bigger, stronger, impenetrable cocoon.

In one of my most vulnerable, confidence-lacking moments, I gained a new best friend: Tiff (or Tigger, as I affectionately called her). She even had (has) huge hair like me.

Not only did I have a new best friend, but I began to develop several meaningful and long-lasting relationships. My 20 year reunion (in three years….is that right? It can’t have been that long…) will be full of hugs and high fives from some of the dearest people on the planet.

Tiff & Val

I tend to be a hoarder of relationships – I don’t want to let any of them go. Even if I have to keep them at the furthest arm’s-length distance possible, I can’t ever quite cut ties. I never understood how people could be so comfortable parting ways with other people. “Rose” was the first of many painful breakups for me. After Rose left my life, and after others bypassed the door that continued to my future, it stung.

As intense a sting any of them may have been, the pain hasn’t lasted forever.

I came into better relationships. I found my husband after my heart had been trampled on by a few former suitors. Tiff and I have a friendship that spans over 20 years, and 700 miles. I’m a lousy friend, but she loves me anyway.

Here in North Dakota, it took a long (l-o-n-g) time to connect with anyone on a real meaningful level. Now, especially after everything we’ve been through, I know we are genuinely loved and supported no matter what. At any given time, I could call a long list of people and know these midwesterners would give me everything they had to make sure I was taken care of.

I have the best people.

I’m glad Rose was brave enough to let me go. Maybe she looks back on our elementary friendship with nostalgia, or maybe she never thinks about me another day in her life. More importantly, I’m glad for the deep, nurturing relationships I have today.

Whatever you’re up against in relationships – know it’s a struggle for everyone. Life changes. People change. Some of us are revolving doors, and some of us use revolving doors. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. It’s life. Be encouraged.

But just know if any of you break up with me, I’ll have to blog about you.

When God Speaks: Olive’s Story

It’s the most vile of circumstances, to bury your baby. Yet there are so many parents who walk that road. So many.

Since losing Harlynn, I’ve met and befriended several fellow bereaved parents. There’s a solidarity among bereaved parents. An unspoken bond that separates us from the rest of the world, and joins us together in a new one.

Nate and Lindsay are two of our dearest friends. We wouldn’t have crossed paths were it not for our similar situations. We both lost our daughters.

At Lindsay’s 20 week ultrasound, it was discovered their baby girl, Dayton Elizabeth, was “incompatible with life”. Dayton had Limb Body Wall Complex (LBWC). After Dayton’s diagnosis, Lindsay and I began communicating. November 14, 2013, she was born, living only briefly before passing to heaven. It wasn’t until Dayton’s funeral Lindsay and I met in person.

Since then, their family has become an invaluable part of ours. Their son, Noah, is a few months younger than Little Miss. Their difference in age is no obstacle in their friendship, however. Those two are ridiculously excited to spend time with one another, and it’s adorable and precious watching them play. They both have a younger sister in heaven. And now, they both have a younger sibling who’s here – healthy and alive. They, too, have an unspeakable bond.

Olive

Baby Olive is Noah’s little sister who was born just this February. When I got the message baby Olive had been named, I was just drifting off to snooze. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the name Olive, but I wasn’t going to spend time figuring it out, because I was tired and wanted to fall asleep. I wasn’t supposed to nap just then, however.

As I closed my eyes and tried to get comfortable, I felt like God was sitting down in front of my face, asking me not to go to sleep yet. He had something to tell me, and I needed to hear it. He gave me a stirring in my heart, and I was very much awake. Through communicating in a way only God can, He impressed the importance of this baby’s name upon me. I was stunned. I had to tell Nate and Lindsay. I had to tell them what God had revealed to me about their baby girl’s name.

Val & Baby Olive, and Lindsay & Little Man.
Val & Baby Olive, and Lindsay & Little Man.

Their son, Noah, has a significant name. Noah was one of God’s favored, and God had big plans for him. He built an ark and saved creation for heaven’s sake. He’s kind of a big deal in the old testament. He was obedient to God, following His will, and a man after the very heart of serving his Lord. God saved him from the savagest of storms. He still had to endure the storm – absolutely – but he lived through it.

When the ark finally settled and the rain had stopped, Noah sent a dove out of the ark. It came back empty-beaked. The next time Noah sent the dove, it brought back an olive branch. The third time, the dove found a place to nest and didn’t return.

An olive branch. Brought by a dove. Do you see the significance here? A dove – the universal sign of peace. An olive branch. A sign of hope. New life. Promise. That branch was the significant beginning of a new season of the Lord’s promise of renewal and restoration of life. Baby Olive is that branch extended to the hearts of Nate, Lindsay, and Noah.

10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. (Genesis 8)

Noah is an incredible kid, and I know he will grow up very attuned to the voice of God. I know he has big shoes to fill. And Olive – she is a beautiful baby who brings beautiful promise to her family.

When I told Nate and Lindsay what God had laid on my heart, they couldn’t believe it. They had agonized over what to name her, and the story of Noah and the ark never crossed their mind. It’s more than just a story, though. It’s a fulfilled purpose. There is no accident in the names of their children. God knew. He knew Olive’s name before her parents did. He knew Dayton’s name. He knew Noah’s.

I hate how I know Nate and Lindsay. I hate the reason they were brought into our lives. I hate we share that thread. But I love them dearly, as my own brother and sister, and I can’t imagine my life without them. The fact that God would speak so prophetically through me – as I was about to take a Sunday snooze – blows me away. But the fact that the message was for and because of a family so very dear to me, makes it all the more special.

There is no detail that does not pass through His hands first. He is the God of miracles. He is the God of life. Even when death leaves us with its intense sting, God is still the God of life.

I, for one, am thrilled to be able to watch the lives of Noah and Olive unfold. Their story is just beginning. I can tell it’s going to be a good one.