Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Hurt and the Healer

My heart is heavy and my soul aches.  Oh, Caroline Grace, how I love you!  I wish I could hold you right now.  I would gladly lose sleep to hear your cry in the night.  You are my inspiration.  And I long to see your precious face once again.

Heavenly Father.  My King and Savior.  Great Healer.  Holy, anointed one.  Yahweh Elohim.  Sweet Jesus, my Lord.  Ruler of the Universe.  Caretaker of my Caroline Grace.  I long to see your face.  And I wish to be in your court more than I wish to be on this earth.  I am tired.  I hurt.  It hurts so bad.  Please, Lord, give me peace.  Hold me now.  Ease my mind.  Bless my soul.  Carry me.

Lord, this is my song tonight (as borrowed from Mercy Me):
"Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

"To be, or not to be"

"To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more...."

Hamlet begs this age old question in Ac 3, Scene 1.  You may ask, "What does this have to do with the price of tea in China?" 

In terms of life, we do not have a choice to be brought into this world.  Our parents, with miraculous help from our Creator God, decided to give us this blessed opportunity.  Therefore, as long as we are living on this earth, we do have a choice -- we actually have a few options:  flourish in our blessed existence, dread every day of our miserable lives, or some hybridization of both.  Our lives here on earth can be beautiful, if only we consciously seize this opportunity.

I miss my daughter.  Caroline Grace would be 5 months old next week!  5 months!!  I can't believe it's been that long.  She never got the chance to live a day in this world.  In many ways, I am thankful for this because our world can be a cruel, wicked place to live.  But in other ways, I naturally wish that she was here.

Since she is not here and I am, I have a choice to make:  to be blessed or not to be blessed.  The expected reaction is for me to be depressed, down, and out.  Let's be, I'm not jumping for joy that she is gone.  But I am not depressed she is gone either.  In fact, I choose to perceive her loss as a blessing.  I know it probably seems crazy for me to say that "losing her is the best thing that has ever happened to me."  However, I can honestly say this.  When we lost her, I could have chosen not to be blessed.  It would have been easy to remain miserable, dwelling on what is not here.  I could have become a member of "anencephaly parent groups," talking about my loss on a daily or weekly basis.  I could carry her photograph around in my wallet, constantly reminding me that she is not here with me.  There are many other ways I could choose to dwell on the negative.

However, these choices are not a blessing.  In fact, I see them as obstacles that stand in my way of reaping the benefits of a blessed life.  Losing my daughter brought a very sincere, realistic perspective to my life.  God revealed to me that Caroline was a gift.  And He took her from me to teach me that life is so much more precious than I realize.  Losing Caroline forced me to appreciate life as a miracle.  He gave her and took her so that I could learn to love Him more.  And to love my wife more.  And to love LIFE more!  How refreshing it is to wake up everyday! smell the aromas of spring, to actually stop and smell the roses.  We say this all the time.  But have you ever actually stopped walking, driving, running, etc. and walked up to a rose bush to smell the flowers?  Try it!!  I wonder we say it all the time!!  Slow down in this rat race!  Figure out what really matters in your day to day these things and do not fill your day with things that rob you of a blessing.  Nothing in this life is more important than those things that are eternal -- our relationship with Jesus Christ is the ONLY thing that we will take with us when we leave this world.  And Jesus wants us to appreciate the life He gave us!  Smell the flowers.  Star gaze at night.  Take a long walk on the beach.  Drive the speed limit and enjoy the scenery.  Put down your iPhone for a few seconds and read your wife's face as intently as you were just reading your Facebook page.  Love her!  Take a few moments this weekend and hug your kids.  Tell them that they are a special miracle from God -- because they are!!  Tell them how special they are!  Especially this weekend, as Mother's Day approaches.  We are all children of the King!  We are all blessed to be living each day.

Life is what we make of it.  When we are faced with troubled times, we can let it get us down and beat us up.  Or we can push through, persevere, and gain character.  We can move mountains.  And have a positive influence in this world.  Or we can continue racing through this life...but what does this do for us?  More money, more time, more what?  More stress?  More deadlines?  Less friends?  Less time with family?  Less time with God?  I have learned to live my life with more purpose than ever before.  I have stripped away some of the garbage in my life so that I can take the time to appreciate life more.  We gave up cable TV.  I gave up Coke and sweet tea (I tried to give up coffee...22 days later, this proved to be an epic failure, as I am now convinced coffee is almost as necessary as the air I breathe! :-)  I think my wife would agree that I am a happier person WITH coffee than without!).  I drink more water.  I have read a few books.  We have donated money to provide clean water to children in Africa.  I sat down and hand wrote a letter to my mom.  I planted new flowers and removed all of the weeds.   

I have chosen to view my loss as a blessing.  My life is so much more enjoyable now.  I thank God for waking me up to realize how much I took for granted.  And I know I will see Caroline Grace in Heaven when I leave this earth.  Then, I will be REALLY blessed! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Revisiting December 14th, 2011...

If you have ever doubted the power of faith, this blog entry is for you.
If you have ever doubted the presence of God, then you need to read this.
If you have ever wondered if the Holy Spirit really has an influence in our daily lives, check this out!!

December 14, 2011....easily the Worst Day of My Life. 

For those of you that are not familiar with this day, let me explain.  Emily was 28 weeks pregnant.  And our little Caroline was diagnosed with a fatal neural tube defect by the name of anencephaly (I highly recommend that you do NOT search for anencephaly images on google, yahoo, or any other search engine.  The images are gory and are not a true representation of what most anencephalic babies look like).  December 14th was the day Emily went into labor, 12 weeks before we expected.  We were prepared, or so we thought, for the worst.  The pain, suffering, loss, grief, anger, denial, are never prepared for having your child's life ripped from you, never to have again on this earth.  At 1:58 a.m. on December 15th, after 18 hours of labor, Emily gave birth to our Caroline.  She was immediately with the Lord.  We held her for several hours to say our goodbyes and to have closure.  But the reality is that she was already in Heaven.

I do not mean for this blog entry to be dark and dismal...there have been plenty of those already :-)

What I want to do today is share with you how awesome God is!!  And how important it is to have a daily quiet time with Him, pray to Him, and have the faith to know He is in control every day, every moment.  Just talk to Him...much like you would with your best friend.  Because God is BEST best friend you will EVER have!

Life is hard sometimes....maybe most of the time!  It's like running a race everyday.  There's a start, finish, and definitely a middle.  And if you don't pace yourself, you'll definitely feel out of breath, exhausted, and you might not finish so well.  Running a marathon is even harder!  It's best to train yourself for such a long race.   You build up muscle strength, learn how to pace yourself, toughen your mental state, and gain confidence in your training.  All of this training is necessary so that, when the marathon race day comes, you'll be prepared to finish strong.

Well, think of your spiritual life in the same way.  Your spiritual life is also like a marathon.  If you haven't trained yourself to have a strong walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, then you will stumble, falter, and lose the race, IF you finish at all.  We must train ourselves to believe in His redeeming power as face life's problems, and even the most mundane circumstances of each day.  So, we must spend each day (on a regular basis at least) praying to God and spending time reading the love letter that He wrote to us (ie, the Bible). 

Take a look at the worst day of my life...December 14th.  There is no way that I could have endured that day, much less the coming months, alone.  If I had not prepared myself spiritually to have a strong faith for Him to carry me through and relied upon God to give me the strength to persevere in the darkest moment of my life, I convinced that I would not be alive today to write to you.  You see, God carries us when we are weak.  He wraps His loving arms around us and tells us "it's gonna be okay!  I'm in control!!!"  He reassures us in the book of Philippians that "I can do all thing through Christ which strengtheneth me" (KJV).      

I know that God was with me that day...December 14th.  And every day leading up to December 14th.  And every day since!  And I believe in prayer.  I believe in God MORE now because of what I have endured with our loss of Caroline.  And I believe prayer works MORE than ever!!

You might be thinking I'm crazy.  Maybe not.  But how can I have a greater faith in God after He took my daughter from me????  How is that??  This doesn't make sense, does it? 

You see...we have a God that loves us despite our inner most evil desires of our heart.  Despite the deepest, blackest, most hateful thoughts and sins, he loves us!!  We don't deserve it!  He knows that!  He knew we would fail Him before He even gave us life.  But He created us anyway.  His love is perfect!!  He loves us and cares for us even we are oblivious to His presence in our lives.

Check this out....I woke up at 5:00 a.m. on December 14th.  I went to the dining room table.  I got out my Bible and my devotional book, "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers.  I read from the book of John that morning, meditating on the words of Jesus in John 14:27:  "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."  Then, I read my devotion from Oswald Chambers:  "Whenever we experience something difficult in our personal life, we are tempted to blame God." 

Whoa!  Really?  I didn't know what December 14th had in store for me that morning.  I just thought, "this is just another day.  I'll eat breakfast, get ready for work, go to work, come home from work, spend time with Emily, eat dinner, and eventually go to bed."  Sure I was struggling with the thought of losing Caroline, but that was much later on down the road...probably late February or early March.  Haha.  But God had other plans.  And those plans included preparing my heart with peace for that day...December 14th. 

My devotion that morning continues:  "...Our attitude must be one of complete reliance on Go, "ad's mark of approval, whenever you obey Him, is peace.  He sends an immeasurable, deep peace; not a natural peace, "as the world gives," but the peace of Jesus."  Wow!!  I had no idea.  This was the PERFECT devotion for December 14th!!!

In my prayer journal, this is what I wrote (exactly...not ad-libbing, exaggerating...this is a word-for-word quote) on the morning of December 14th:  "I come to you, Lord, tired and weak this morning."  I am over-burdened about Caroline and feel sick at heart.  I know I am not capable of this journey without you.  And I know your Word says to give up my burden to you.  But I don't know how.  Teach me, Master, so that I can have your peace.  Oh God - - please!  I need you more than ever."

I have re-read that devotion and my journal entry several times now.  And I am in awe.  I am amazed.  Just amazed!  I cannot believe exactly how much God was preparing me for the next 24 hours and upcoming months. 

After I wrote in my journal and finished my coffee, I went upstairs to get ready for work.  I took a shower, got dressed, grabbed my keys, told Emily "I love you.  Have a good day," and was walking out of our bedroom.....probably 30 minutes after finishing my journal entry.  That's when really woke up.  She got out of bed slowly, stood up hesitantly, and said, "somethings wrong.  I've got to call the doctor."  As God would have it, December 14th was not just another day.  It was a day that I did not go to work.  Instead, we spent the rest of the day in the delivery room waiting for our Caroline to be born into Jesus' arms.  God was in control the whole time.  Never once did He leave us.  And we needed Him "more than ever."  

As I said, we serve a mighty God.  He is THE Almighty.  ALL authority in all the world belongs to Him.  And He is definitely in control.  Will you let Him have control today?  Right this second?  Please pray to Him right now and tell Him how much you love Him. 
He is waiting to hear from you  :-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I’m alive, even though a part of me has died!

Emily and I spent a relaxing day at the spa and eating a nice meal in St. Michaels, Maryland.  We thought it was a good idea to get out of the house and treat ourselves to a special day.  We felt so relaxed (and stuffed)!  It was very nice.  I definitely did not want to leave the spa!  Haha.

When we got home though, all I wanted to do was go to sleep.  But I couldn't.  I probably stayed awake for about an hour while lying in bed.  I tried wrapping myself in a prayer blanket.  I tried holding my cat, pretending he was Caroline.  I even tried holding a stupid stuffed animal.  None of it worked.  The only thing that brought me peace was praying myself to sleep.

And this morning....all I can say is thank God for amazing music!  The lyrics from Mercy Me's latest song, "The Hurt and the Healer" got me to work.  Here it is:

 "The Hurt & The Healer"

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Sometimes I feel it’s all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

It’s the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all the scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say “It’s over now”

I’m alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into your arms open wide
When The hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide [x2]

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here

Monday, March 5, 2012

Caroline's Original Due Date

I'm swimming in a sea of emotions today. Today, March 5th, was the original due date of our Caroline Grace before she was diagnosed with a fatal condition. I grieve her loss but am overjoyed to know that she is in Heaven smiling down at her proud daddy (emphasis on the proud). God, be with us today and grant us peace that only you can give! And please give Caroline a hug for me!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Caroline's International Influence

This is a post to encourage any viewers from countries outside of the US to contact me.  Please e-mail me at  I would love to hear from you and see how my daughter has reached you and impacted foreign nations.

Thank you for reading and encouraging me as I continue to "find strength to face the day" through Jesus Christ, my Savior. 

My analytics tracker for my blog this month says I have viewers from the following nations:






United Kingdom






Saturday, February 25, 2012

Lonely Saturday Night

It's a lonely Saturday night.  I'm sitting here studying for my Masters degree.  And all I can think about is my Caroline.  I miss her. 

My heart has not hurt like this in a few weeks.  I thought I was having a heart attack this afternoon.  I had shortness of breath, again, and I actually could not breath at all for about 5 seconds.  The pain just took over and all I could do was wince in excruciating pain.  I couldn't even clutch my chest for I lacked strength.

I know she is with my Jesus.  But I am not.  And I long to be with Him.  I want to know Him more.  I want to see His face.  I want to behold His glory.  I want to leave this world of guilt, shame, failures, pain, suffering, crying, anxiety, and the list goes on.  I want to be in Heaven more than anything else.

But I have to ask I want to be in Heaven because I really do want to be with Jesus???  Or is it that I just want to be with Caroline?  Am I that carnal?  And I that shallow?  Really?? 

Jesus, perfect in every way, never sinned.  Yet He came to earth to die for my sins (and yours).  He was punished by flogging, as soldiers repeatedly hit him with a cat-o-nine tails.  Soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and crushed it into his head.  Soldiers mocked him by clothing him in a purple robe and went up to him saying, "Hail, king of the Jews" as they struck him in the face.  Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.  Physically exhausted and bloody from his beatings, he carried his own cross as he marched to his death.  Soldiers then nailed spikes through his hands and feet and then lifted the cross for him to hang as they continued mocking him.  But, before he died, his suffering continued.  Soldiers took his clothes and ripped them into quarters.  When he was thirsty, they gave him a sponge soaked in wine vinegar. 

Despite knowing his tremendous, ultimate sacrifice, I am still missing Caroline more.  I might as well be one of the soldiers who spit in Jesus' face.  Yes, I am shallow.  I am still angry that she is not here.  I DO want to see Jesus...but I have to admit that I do not grieve for His death like I do Caroline's.  At least not right now.

Several of our friends are celebrating the lives of their little ones as I write this.  Others are expecting healthy babies within the next few months.

And all I can do is sulk in my sorrow, fight back tears, pound my fists in anger, and miss her like crazy.  This is ALL I can do.  I am powerless.  No one can help me fix this.  It is not fixable.  There is no solution.  

I want her back.  I want to hold her.  I want to hear her laugh.  I would give anything to change a poopie diaper right now.  I never thought I'd say that.  I'd be ecstatic to wake up in the middle of the night just to be able to hold her and rock her back to sleep.

Dear sweet baby Caroline,
     I miss you baby girl.  I'm sorry I'm struggling like this.  I don't want to be.  I promise.  I want to be strong.  I want to make you proud.  But I'm hurting right now.  I am just happy that you are in a better place than I am!! Please tell Jesus I said, "Hey!" and that I will talk to Him later tonight.  I love you so much. 
Your Daddy

Friday, February 3, 2012

Caroline is gone. Peace is here. But the pain remains.

GOD IS AMAZING:  The love of God has been more evident to me than ever before during the past 4 months.  I have done nothing -- absolutely nothing! -- to deserve the abundant grace He has provided to me.  Because of His love, I have been able to get through each day.  I need Him more than I need air to breathe.  And He never, not once, failed me.   

CAROLINE IS GONE:  Today, while riding in the elevator, I was approached by a coworker who asked "how is your baby girl?"  You're probably thinking, "how cruel for her to ask that!"  Well, here's some background on that....I told her about Caroline at the 10 week point in our pregnancy.  However, since that 10 week mark, I have changed Divisions at work.  And I have not seen her or several others since that day!  So, to her, nothing has changed.  She meant nothing by it.  She was actually very excited and eager to hear any updates I had.  However....she was not prepared for me to tell her the real news.  Nor was I.  Her innocent question hit me like a ton of bricks.  I have not been able to stop thinking about Caroline all day.  All I could do was tell her that I would talk to her about it later.  I had no idea what to say in an elevator speech that would capture the full story without absolutely devastating her for the rest of her day.  Instead, it has been weighing on my heart ever since.  What is it that makes me care for others more than myself??  Sometimes, I just wish I could be selfish and emotionally vomit on someone else and let them just deal with it!  But I can't.  Unfortunately for me, my heart isn't built like that. 

PEACE:  So, I'm stuck with a burden so heavy.  And I don't have a clue what to do except to pray to my God and rely on the power of Jesus Christ to take my pain away.  If He can bare the weight of the sin of the world, then I know He can also bare the weight of my pain.  And for this I breathe a heavy sigh of relief.  And I have peace in my heart knowing that He is holding me in the palm of His hand. 

PAIN:  I still miss my Caroline.  I want her to be with me so bad.  Emily's belly should be bursting at the seams right now.  It would be a tremendous blessing if I HAD to do EVERYTHING for Emily because she was so pregnant that she couldn't move.  Suffering through Caroline's loss has captivated me.  Captivated me to love God with a sincere heart.  Captivated me to hurt deeper.  Captivated me to admire Emily more than I ever thought imaginable.

Caroline is gone.  Peace is here.  But the pain remains.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Caroline's Funeral

Tonight, my heart is heavy but my burden is somehow light.  Although I know in my heart that I am saddened by the loss of our little Caroline, God has lifted a tremendous weight off of my shoulders.  There is no reason why I should feel as strong as I do right now.  This has been, by far, the most burdensome event I have ever endured.  Yet, in what should be my weakest moments, God has made me strong....not just strong, but stronger than I have ever been!

Instead of looking at my daughter's casket with sadness, I look at it and smile.
Instead of being ashamed that my daughter has passed before me, I am proud to have just known her.
Instead of wallowing in my pain and suffering, God has allowed me to increase my faith and strength.

I realize that this may not make any sense to anyone else.  If you do not understand what I am saying, all I can leave you with is that this unbelievable turn of emotions is the ability that God has to change our lives.  He is the Almighty!!  He is the Redeemer of this world.  And He is the Master Healer of our hearts. 

God has healed my heart despite my huge loss!!  And He has used Caroline in such a way to heal hundreds, if not thousands, of others' hearts.  Will you let Caroline's story touch your heart, too?  As her father, I can assure you that she would want you to feel the overwhelming and unconditional love that she has felt ever since her arrival in Heaven at 1:58 a.m. on December 15, 2011.

I love you, baby girl.  I am so proud to be your dad!  I see your name and I just smile!!!  But we miss you so very much!  And we'll see you in a few decades!  ...what a wonderful day that will be!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Journey Texas!

Life is full of firsts. 

First car.  First speeding ticket. 
First girlfriend.  First break up.
First job.  First promotion. 
First child.  First death.

Yesterday, I got to ride in a hearse for the first time.  I'm not sure if I should call that a privilege or not!  But I can say that it was a proper ride for my little Cinderella as we escorted her to the airport cargo line.  She was ridin' in style!!  Only the best for my baby girl!!!  As for Emily and me, however, I'm still undecided.  I'd be quite alright if I never have to ride in a hearse least until I'm the reason the hearse is being driven!!

We were able to coordinate flights such that Caroline was placed on the same flight as us.  That was pretty special to me.  I felt secure and at peace knowing that I fulfilled my Daddy duties in assuring Caroline was properly and punctually prepared for our flight.  Once we arrived in Texas, we also had the privilege of driving back to the cargo area to pick her up from the airline.  Finally, after dropping her off at the funeral home, we made it home for some much needed rest and quality Texas family time.

Today, we met with the funeral directors to make more plans.  Caroline's funeral service is scheduled for Saturday, January 7th, 2012.  Emily and I chose to bury Caroline in "Babyland."  It was somewhat comforting to know she will be laid to rest with other babies who were born into Jesus's arms.  However, picking out a burial plot is yet another first for me. 
The Yellow Flag Marks Caroline's Gravesite

It was bittersweet, just like everything else we have dealt with regarding Caroline.  But we have assurance that we are only burying her earthly remains...her spirit left us over two weeks ago!! 

God has been ever present during this whole process.  Emily and I both feel as if we have just woken up from a bad dream.  What I mean is that we both feel as if no tragedy has actually occurred, relative to what we expected to feel like.  We both expected to feel as if we were run over by Mack trucks and left for dead while our marriage fell apart and fizzled to an end as we knew it.  In reality, what really happened, is that God has been our pilot, flying us through the most treacherous mountains and valleys we have ever seen, and Emily and I just got to enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Caroline's death had extreme potential to be the ugliest event that we ever saw.  However, because of our faith in Jesus and because of our conscious decision to glorify God through Caroline's life, this journey has actually been one of the most beautiful events we ever experienced.  Because of Caroline, I have a stronger faith in my Lord.  Because of Caroline, I love my wife more than ever!!  She is a ROCK!  And because of Caroline, we are inseparable!!  To God be the glory, forever and ever! 

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the best gift you ever could:  eternal life.  Because of your sacrifice on the cross, we will see our Caroline in Heaven one day!!  And thank you for also giving Emily and me the second best gift you ever could:  Caroline Grace.  We continue to commit our journey with Caroline to you.