Should We Pray Louder Mom?

My daughter and I were saying prayers at bedtime. She wasn’t feeling well so we asked God to help her feel better. Seconds later she informed me her belly still hurt followed by, “Maybe He didn’t hear us. Should we pray louder mom?”

I assured her we did not need to pray louder. Whether it’s, a shout, song, or whisper, God hears us every time we pray.

A few years ago I wouldn’t have said this. We had prayed nonstop for daddy to be healed. For the cancer to leave and stay gone. The weeks following his burial I felt more than sadness. I was angry. I was disappointed in God and told him on a regular basis. My feelings were hurt because I had seen Him answer the prayers of others, but didn’t answer mine.

My son Lincoln was born four months after my father died. So in addition to the normal sleep deprivation and exhaustion new mothers face, I found myself trying to sort through the blender of emotions grief brings. Those 3 a.m. feedings were beyond difficult. I would rock him, his head resting under my chin, and my tears would fall on his cheeks. I would talk to him about PawPaw and the great man he was. Then I would pray and ask for one thing:

I asked God to make Lincoln like my daddy.

Lincoln is witty and charming without even trying. His favorite place is anywhere outside and he loves creating. He steals the screwdriver out of the junk drawer on a weekly basis and is always trying to figure out how things work. Lincoln likes everybody, and everybody likes him. 

If you knew my father, you know this means God heard my prayer.

It’s easy to only see unanswered prayers. This never ends well. Discouragement starts to take root, my attitude heads south and I turn into a rotten person. When this happens I try to remember all the times God has answered. I have to be intentional and consistent.

There are days I miss my daddy and my grief tries to turn into bitterness. Days I pray for big needs and things get worse. On those days, I grab Lincoln up in my arms. His deep brown eyes, full of curiosity and mischief. A gentle reminder…God heard me.



Dear Emerson and Jackson,

It was a Monday in October. I went to the doctor expecting a normal ultrasound.
But when I looked at the screen, normal went out the window.
“There’s TWO?!”, I screamed.
The ultrasound tech tried to calm me down, but it was too late.  Crocodile tears shot out of my eyes and I felt my heart beating faster and faster.

The tech stepped out to get my nurse. My thoughts were swirling and I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. Lincoln was only five months old. We had just moved to a smaller house so I could work part time. How on earth could there be two? The pregnancy was unexpected, but a twin pregnancy was definitely not in our plans.

The nurse tried her best to calm me down, but the tears wouldn’t stop. To say I felt overwhelmed is an understatement.

When my doctor came in, we talked about due dates and risk factors that accompany twin pregnancies and women at advanced maternal age (aka: old ladies). The tech had to go get another box of tissues because I had emptied hers.

Then my doctor said something and the atmosphere changed.
She said, “Baby B’s sack looks fine, but Baby A looks irregular. I want you to come back in two weeks to make sure Baby A is still viable.”
(Viable- capable of surviving or living successfully, especially under particular environmental conditions.)

In three seconds, my attitude and emotions flipped. Instead of thinking, “Two babies are not part of my plan.”, I began hoping and praying for those two babies to make it.

The next two weeks were a blur.
I worried. Then I tried not to worry.
I prayed I would accept God’s will. Then I begged God to let Baby A survive.
I made a secret Pinterest board  with adorable twin pictures. Then I cried because I wasn’t certain I would need this board.

The ultrasound two weeks later showed Baby A strong and growing. We would find out later Baby A was a girl.  Emmy, you gave mama quite a scare on Day 1!

Today is just another day to you. But today holds great significance for us.
Today you turn one. Today marks 365 days of survival. Not for you two, but for daddy and I. We survived hospital bedrest, an emergency c-section, and NICU.
Throw in total sleep deprivation, reflux, hand-foot-mouth and moving again. All this was just the first three months. We are tired all the time but we love our big, crazy family.

Emmy, you are still making mama nervous. You climb on anything and fear nothing. Spunky and brave, you learn quickly and always want to be in the mix. You have no problems stepping on Jack to get somewhere, and feel no remorse when you grab food off his tray. Patience is not yet in your vocabulary, but when you fake cough or crinkle your nose daddy and I forget how upset we are.

Jack, you are a gentle giant. Relaxed and patient nearly all the time, I can tell already you are a thinker. Cuddling and eating are your favorite things. You prefer to be with people over things and instantly win favor with anyone near. When you smile, sweetness oozes out and for a brief second my heart forgets how much work twins are.

I love you sweet babies. You weren’t in my plan. But I’m so glad you were in God’s.




With Us

Dear Neala,

A few nights ago you and I were reading about creation in your storybook Bible. In the middle of the story you pointed to Adam and asked if he was God. After I told you no, you began pointing to other things on the page asking if they were God.
“No, sweetie, that’s not God either.”

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With frustration in your voice you asked, “Where is God in this picture?”

Your question instantly struck a chord in me.

How many times have I asked, “Where is God in this picture?”

I frequently look at the pictures of my life and wonder where He is.
When I’m overwhelmed at the responsibilities four children brings.
When I think of my mother, alone, wondering why death had to come so soon for Pawpaw.

As if my life’s pictures weren’t enough, the snapshots of others further begs the question.
When friends spend money, time, energy and emotions trying to conceive. Only to reach another month of disappointment.
When neighbors battle sickness and disease.
When people I love struggle through depression and anxiety because life has not been kind to them lately.

It is so tempting to scream up at the heavens and tell God a few things. Really give him a piece of my mind.

But there is no need to shout. You see, our God is not high up in the heavens looking down on us with pity.
He is Emmanuel. God with us.

He is the strength we need to wrestle through disappointment and hurt. He is the loving whisper we hear when we feel alone or misunderstood. He is the peace we feel when the words and prayers of others fall short.

As you grow up I am certain there will be times you will question God.
Like me, you may question his sovereignty, his timing, and even his goodness.
I will be the first to tell you this is acceptable and normal.

You might point to a circumstance or event in your life and ask, “Where is God in this picture?”

I will be the first to tell you, He is Emmanuel. He is God with us.