Tag Archives: jeremiah 29:11

Into Every Life…The Good (A Hannah Update)


Mother’s Day is one of those mixed emotion days for so many. A day where broken hearts are too often unacknowledged, struggles silenced and ignored. A celebrated day, agonized over by many. As we are talking about blessings this month on Run and Be Still, I wanted to offer you an encouraging story today, one filled with rivers of tears and desperate prayers, but also filled with blessings.

I wanted to share one mother’s journey to this, her very first Mother’s Day as a mom. And what a special day it was…

For this child we prayed and The Lord heard our prayer.

Five months ago, in the wee hours of the morning, when so many people were recovering from their Black Friday Shopping experiences, a young father and mother, my brother and sister-in-law, were being rushed by ambulance to Rainbow Babies Hospital. Only 25 1/2 short weeks into their pregnancy the unthinkable happened and their baby was preparing to make a very grand entrance into this world. After years spent praying for a child, this dream pregnancy had been anything but. Complications included Amniotic Band Syndrome and unrelenting sickness that wasn’t just relegated to the morning. When the doctor announced just days before Thanksgiving that my sister-in-law was already two centimeters dilated and beginning to efface the natural questions you begin begging God for the answers to are “Why?” and “How much more of this can they take?” At this point you think you understand desperate prayer. You pray that God will still redeem this. You pray that the pregnancy can be extended. You pray that the doctors can stop the inevitable. You pray for a miracle…and God didn’t disappoint. He didn’t answer in the way that we necessarily prayed but He did answer! Three days later Hannah arrived, 13 inches long and just 2 lbs 6 oz, she magnified the miracle of life and the mighty and merciful God that we serve. The doctors soon nicknamed her “Little Tiger” for her very evident strength of spirit.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Plans for good. Not just for Hannah but for her parents, for her mother. But how can phone calls that jolt you from bed at night beckoning you back to the hospital be good? How can watching your child suffer helplessly be good? How can starting everyday knowing the odds are stacked against you be good? How can a breaking mother’s heart be good?

In the last five months, Hannah’s parents have learned medical jargon and terminology that is both technical and confusing. They held their breath every time a machine beeped or an alarm went off, but have learned what to do when it happens. Their lives have been shaken up, tossed around, and then pieced back together to look like something they would never have planned. I am in awe of the strength and grace that they have displayed through every step of this journey. They have been doing the dance of two steps forward and one step back, all the while being pulled ever closer towards God’s promise of rest and protection.

As a parent, as a mother, I understand the fears, and worries that can worm their way into your heart so that you feel at times like your chest is in a vice. And I also understand how it feels when you feel like God hasn’t answered but has instead left you hanging out to dry. I know how it feels when you think God isn’t listening anymore. But God promises plans for good and this is where we find the blessings in the midst of the storm.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them”. (Romans 8:28)

Romans 8:28 isn’t a promise that the bad will go away, or even that you will be protected from the bad. Instead it is a promise that everything in our lives, the good and yes, the bad, will come together for good. You may be asking, how can God take what I am going through and make it good, there is no way that this can end well. You don’t understand the depth of my loss, the magnitude of my hurt. I have been there and I would tell you that when you find yourself at that threshold of helplessness and hopelessness, if you choose to turn to God as your source of comfort and strength, your source of help and hope, you have found the good. If, in your losses you can learn to trust God for everything, you have found the good. The situation may not end immediately but in the very act of turning to God, you have found the good. In leaning on God and allowing His grace to carry you through you have found the good. This is a choice we must make, it is an all-in attitude. We have to understand God’s definition of good…

In Hannah’s short five months she has affected thousands of people. God is working through her story, through her parents, through your prayers. God is showing Himself in unbelievable, unmistakable ways, helping us understand “the good” even in the bad of life.

Today, Hannah is home with her parents. She is completely off of oxygen. She continues to exceed the expectations that the doctors set, making her parents so very thankful and proud. She has the most beautiful dimple and isn’t afraid to use it, her smile will absolutely melt your heart. Every time I hold this sweet little baby in my arms I cannot help but marvel at God’s goodness and mercy and grace. Hannah is a living breathing answer to many, many prayers.

I will never forget walking into the hospital after Hannah’s mom was finally able to hold her, days after she was born, and what her words to me were. “I finally feel like a mom.” I thought my heart would break. The journey to this first Mother’s Day, that began so very long ago, has not been an easy one. It was celebrated today with Hannah’s dedication to the Lord. Her first public outing, her formal debut, a celebration of life, a testament to God. I can’t think of anything more fitting and on behalf of Hannah’s entire family let me just say thank you for your prayers. They have carried all of us here.

If you are looking for the good today I hope that this story will encourage you and I hope that you would begin to see some of God’s goodness even in the bad. I will leave you with Max Lucado’s words.

“You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless, it won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive, but don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.”

I Will Be A Subway Preacher

start where you are


If you gotta start somewhere why not here
If you gotta start sometime why not now
(TobyMac, City On Our Knees)

Start something…do something…be something.  It’s a pressure I feel on a daily basis.  One that I quite admittedly make much larger by my obsessing on questions like…Am I living up to my potential?  Am I following God’s leading and teaching? What is God’s will for my life?  Start something…do something…be something.  My self-talk mantra.

In trying to answer those questions I continually fall short in the answer department.  I have had this image in my mind, the way I have felt lately and I haven’t been able to  reconcile what it, until just recently.

I find myself standing in the middle of the subway station platform during the early morning rush.  Frenzied chaos with people swarming, rushing, getting on trains and headed out.  Confident people who know where they are going and how to get there.  But not me…I am standing, jostled, stuck, and confused, not sure which train to get on because I don’t know where I am supposed to be going, but I really feel like I should be moving,  going somewhere, anywhere.  I start towards one train and stop, second-guessing.  I am feeling helpless, another face in the sea of people.  This was me, inside…

If you know me at all you will know that I am a fan of big gestures.  Go big or go home.  So part of what I was looking for in my subway destination was influenced by this.  I was ready to embrace Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” To infinity and beyond…God definitely knows how to accomplish the “big gesture.”  This is the pressure I was putting on myself…Start something (big)…do something (big)…be something (big.)  Instead I have felt like I was languishing, particularly in regard to my book and this nebulous idea of a “ministry.”  But recently the sand under my feet has begun to shift and I am seeing things in a different light.

Have you ever heard the phrase “grow where you are planted?” That is where this change began.

If standing in the middle of a subway is where I find myself then I will become a “subway preacher.” I say that in jest, however, the “ministry” that I am so desperately searching for has been right in front of me.  It just doesn’t look like what I had pictured in my head so I overlooked it.  I have also realized I need to release myself from the burden of “greatness” (that is founded in my own definition) and just be who God has created me to be at this moment, with these circumstances, in this place.

There is a Part B to that as well.  Not one that is particularly pleasant to admit.  That is releasing God of the expectations that I have for Him, the quiet undercurrent in the self-talk.  You have big plans for me God, right?  We are going places, right?  Surely we haven’t come this far to just hang out here, right? It is putting my agenda on God’s plate and I know that isn’t how it works.  Chalk it up to being a slow learner…

So I have begun pouring myself into the here and now instead of looking ahead to the future and waiting for it to happen.  I need to throw out the idea of “ministry” by my definition and walk in faith.  Maybe I will walk in place for a little while.  Maybe I will feel like I am walking in circles but God is in control.  He has me exactly where I am supposed to be right now.  I can’t second guess that.  Maybe someday we will jump on another train and head out, but for today I am going to grow where I am planted.  And suddenly, I have found myself at peace in the subway.

Today, I challenge you.  Are you growing or are you spending your time wishing you were being re-planted somewhere else? Are you giving God your best in the here and now, wherever that may be?  Have you placed expectations on God that He isn’t meeting and you find yourself frustrated?   A lot of questions that dig a little deeper than we are sometimes comfortable looking.  I have one last one…do you believe the words of Jeremiah 29:11?  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God has plans for us, sometimes they line up with ours, sometimes they don’t.  But He knows what is best, His plans are for our good, even when we can’t see it and we don’t understand it.  I challenge you to trust God to do what is best for you and to use you for His purpose and for His glory.  And if you do, look out.  You may get to experience “more than you could ask or imagine” and never have seen it coming!

If you gotta start somewhere why not here.  If you gotta start sometime why not now…even if it’s in the subway!