Passion and Pain on Mother’s Day

This past Sunday, around 9:15 a.m., I was sitting in the front row at Woodland Hills Church. I was wearing a microphone and sermon notes were in my hand. I had been preparing for months. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

Several children came forward to help lead worship. I had known they would join us to celebrate Mother’s Day. That wasn’t a surprise. And yet as they began to sing, my throat started to close. My eyes began to burn with the sharp sting of grief. The little boy standing in front of me was about the same age as Henry would be now. Like Henry, this child was also kind of shy and silly and super adorable. And the agonizing reality that I was facing another Mother’s Day without my son was barreling towards me – regardless of the fact that I was about to take the stage.

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God is Love

candy hearts

Last night my daughter and I prepared the valentines that she’ll pass out today to classmates. As we stuffed little envelops, I remembered how much I loved Valentine’s Day parties during my elementary school years. I loved the red and pink balloons, the streamers, and the construction paper hearts. I loved watching my desk disappear under a collection of Strawberry Shortcake and Superman perforated cards, lollipops, and pencils twisted into a heart. I still remember the giddy chatter and the giggling and the joy of taking a break from school work.

As an adult, I still love Valentine’s Day. Now it means I can look forward to a date, a thoughtful gift, or simply the guarantee that my husband and I will pause in the crazy haze of another busy day and say, “You’re so special to me. I love you.”

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of love. And now, when I think of God, I think of love.

But that hasn’t always been the case. For most of my life when I thought about the characteristics of God, I cringed. I didn’t feel the excitement of going to a red and pink party. I felt like I was going to the principal’s office. I didn’t feel like a cherished lover, but like someone who was on the verge of getting dumped.

I knew that God loved me. But I thought God’s love was somewhere under the lists of rules and piles of requirements. It was somewhere under the stern stare or exasperated expression.

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Available for Pre-order!

Hello readers! I’m excited to let you know that Lord Willing?: Wrestling with God’s Role in My Child’s Death is now available for pre-order! The book will be released in April, 2016. 

I created page specifically for this book that includes its description, links for pre-ordering, and the latest endorsements. Please feel free to check it out and share. 

Thanks all!

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Book Cover Options

Will you help us select the cover for my forthcoming book?

This little dream of mine is close to becoming a published reality! At this stage, I’d be really thankful for your help. We’ve settled on a new title, “Lord Willing? Wrestling with God’s Role in My Son’s Death.” Now we’re trying to select a cover and we’d love your input!  Will you please “like” your favorite cover from the options below? Feel free to comment on what you do and don’t like about any of the selections.

Also, will you consider sharing MennoMedia’s status update on your Facebook page? We’d love to collect as much feedback as possible before Thursday, August 20th.

I hope you all have had a great summer. Our familiy was able to make it to the Virginia Beach area for a week of visiting family and friends. Otherwise I’ve been pretty busy with edits. This book is on-target for an April 2016 release date and should be available for pre-order on Amazon in December.

I hope to blog a bit more in the fall when the edits are complete and look forward to connecting with you then. In the meantime, thanks so much for your support and prayers!

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Exciting News!

I have wonderful news!!  My book is going to be published!  It’s tentatively titled “God in Pain: Challenging God’s Role in My Son’s Death” and is scheduled for release by Herald Press in May 2016.

I’m honored to work with the dynamic group at Herald Press.  And I am thankful to Greg Daniel, the most wonderful literary agent, who has done amazing work throughout this process.  I’m also so grateful to Greg Boyd for writing a beautiful Foreword and for believing in this project from Day 1.  Thanks also to everyone who’s offered feedback so far on the manuscript and to all of this blog’s readers and subscribers!  Your thoughtful interactions have helped shape this book and make it a reality!

There’s a couple reasons why I’m just over the moon about this book being published.  First, this project embodies beauty emerging from the ashes of loss.  My little boy’s life is woven through these pages.  His laughter, bravery, tender heart, and giant blue eyes light up the narrative as only Henry could.  Through writing about his journey, I believe I’ve found a way to honor his memory and share him more fully with you.

I’m also thrilled because this book presents a picture of a loving God who doesn’t send radical suffering for mysterious, higher purposes.  It poses the question that every Christian must face, If God is loving and all-powerful, why is there so much suffering?  Through a raw look at my own faith journey and the surreal moments that compromised Henry’s final months, this book poses that question in an intensely personal way: Did God lack the power or the desire to spare my 4-year-old son? 

I examine the fact that most Christians believe that everything unfolds according to God’s mysterious, divine blueprint. Yet while we’ve all heard this notion expressed in countless clichés, I note that no one whispered them to Henry as he struggled painfully and was eventually killed by a malignant brain tumor.  No one ruffled the dirty-blonde hair on his scarred skull and said, “Everything happens for a reason” or “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  No one reminded him in his final weeks, “The Lord gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”  And as his strong, healthy body fought against the disease-ravaged circuit-breaker that was his brain, no one told him, “Sometimes we just can’t see what God’s doing when our eyes are blurry with tears.”

Readers will be asked to consider why no one shared these words with my dying child.  After all, these are the phrases we proclaim from pulpits, sing in worship, tout in grief literature, and affirm over coffee with friends.  If we truly believe these blueprint-clichés represent the heart of God, why would we hesitate to share God’s heart with dying children?

I offer that perhaps it’s because we see the ugliness in this picture of God.  We sense that mentioning God’s will and character would be inappropriate during these delicate times.  So we remain quiet.  We offer no explanations.  But one question echoes through the silence: If we can’t share the heart of God in life’s darkest moments, when is the appropriate time?

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