Friday, July 12, 2013


Life is not at all how I imagined it. It’s not the way I planned it. And I am a planner. A pretty good one, I think. And for much of my younger life, things seemed to have fallen into place just how I planned them. Looking back, I suppose I felt sort of like the conductor of an orchestra. 

A successful and beautiful harmony of events produced in me a self-confident, independent, leader mentality. And it has often served me quite well. But it has also produced this ugly, proud streak. After all, who needs God when I am so competent? 

And it stings bitterly to consider that perhaps a predominant purpose of my sufferings of the last several years was to bring me to the very end of myself. Surely not the only reason for them—God is kind and gentle in His dealings. His ways are numerous and past finding out. And I know He speaks through His sufferers to manifest Himself to this dark world. Chris was one of His sufferers. And how he manifested his Savior! But perhaps the only way to make me wholly and completely His mouthpiece was to plunge me into the deepest depths.     

So in 2002, I marry my best friend. And three months into our adventure, the road gets really steep. Cancer. First Christmas together—our last too? I hear a whisper:

Emily, you can’t control this.

Surgery. Treatment. Two years of reprieve. Health? No. Devastation. Recurrence. Metastasis. He’s 33! I’m 24…

Emily, trust me.

Life plans become survival plans. More treatment. No jobs. No house. No future? And then! Four beautiful remission years! Hope restored.

We want a baby. For seven years, we pray for a baby. No. No baby.

Emily, you cannot accomplish this.

Loss after painful loss. And then… adoption! Ah yes, our baby girl. Our great gift. Hope restored—yet again.

Oh, Emily! Look!  I have done this!

Baby girl is seven months old. Daddy is 39. Mommy is 29. Daddy has cancer. Again.

Emily, run to Me!

Deep, dark fears surround treatment. The news gets worse. And even worse. And then a wife watches while her beloved—her girl’s Daddy—suffers more profoundly than she could ever imagine. His body is eaten alive in front of her very eyes. She cannot stand. She cannot move—or even talk.

Emily, lean into Me! I will be you’re your Strength and your Song. 

And then there were two. Family is severed. And where is hope? It’s dark, but hope burns still. 

Sanctification has no arrival point here. Yet, somewhere in the baby-less-ness, I was taught surrender. I learned how to throw myself onto a God who not only controlled all of my life’s events, but onto One who loved me with an everlasting love. This I know: sovereignty without love is a fearful thing. Ah, but sovereignty and love… that is supreme comfort!

And daily, I re-learn surrender. Humility. A re-discovering of this Almighty God who pulls me close to Him when I can do nothing but reach desperately for Him. 

I look at my two-person family, my life that is so very different than my friends’ lives (and I often think—in my darker moments—of the many people who must surely say, “I’m so glad I don’t have her life!”), my changed life course. I throw plans out the window. I take the next step.

And those next steps look so glaringly different than my old plans. So different than my friends’ plans and lives. But somehow, they hold hope. They hold promise of beauty from ashes. Joy in the morning. Sweetness. How can this possibly be? Can life go on? Can hope be restored? Again and again…yes.

Emily, I will hold you up. You are My very own.


  1. Emily. As your Dad it is difficult to hear and rehearse the painful history that your family endured and continues to endure but those whispers of hope and trust are so good to hear you express. It helps us all to bring an eternal perspective to life. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words so beautifully and sharing them with us. Great job!

    Love Dad