It was just a post-it note with cursive lettering and less than twenty words, but it somehow felt like a sucker punch to the gut when I read it.

I was checking my eight-year old in to the Emergency Room and these words whispered the strangest mixture of hope and fear into my heart:

Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. {James 1:2, KJV}

My immediate question was: what trial have I just fallen into? Am I about to lose my son? I’m not ready for that trial. I don’t want that trial. I’m falling into a trial and I should consider it …. joy?

I thought that was asking an awful lot of this Mama sitting, trembling on the wrong side of the desk.

The words flashed into my mind again on the helicopter ride to the next town over. I wrestled and furrowed my brows and closed my eyes until I could finally open my palms and lay them face up on my lap. I was trying to say, “Lord, I trust You. And Lord, I am holding onto You.”

Palms up. I am Yours. Palms open. Blake is Yours.

But, Lord… please.

I revisited that verse again in the days that followed and found it was an abbreviation of a full and beautiful promise:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. {James 1:2}

We found in ourselves a kind of steadfastness — powered by prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit — that walked us through, day after day. Night after night as we traded places, walking the halls of the hospital or putting the rest of our children to bed at home, we found we could keep putting one foot in front of the other. We could. We did.

And the funniest thing happened, just two nights before our sweet Blake came home.

Our sweet six year old, Arabella, had a clementine (a “Cutie”) from the fridge in the afternoon, and afterwards told me, “It was squishy and tasted funny.” Having spent 46 days traveling back and forth to the hospital, I really had no idea how long those little orange balls of goodness had graced our fridge, so I suggested she perhaps not eat a Cutie if it tastes funny or feels squishy next time.

Around midnight, the Cutie made a not-so-cute reappearance, all over her bed, and the three dozen stuffed animals she sleeps who are her nighttime companions.

Six years, ago, the hubs was on a trip, out of town, and I was home with two little fellas, when one of them decided his dinner didn’t agree with him, and made its way to the carpet and bed and floor.

While he sat in the tub and a dear friend visiting sat with his baby brother, I scrubbed the carpet and found myself praying these three words, through tears: Teach Me, Jesus.

Yes, I sat and cried over the spaghetti and juicy juice, feeling sorry for myself that the Hubs was out of town and I was cleaning up vomit.

Fast forward six years, loads more parenting, and a fast track to steadfastness, also known as kid-in-the-ICU. Once again, the vomit is here and the hubs is not. I follow the girl who’s been sick in her bed back up to her room, settle her into bed in another room, remove sheets, throw those sheets and three dozen stuffed animals into the washer and hope for the best, and laugh as I scrub her mattress. 

This too will pass. I am okay. It will be okay. 

The next morning, I had to delight in conversation with the Creator, remembering my tears and my Teach Me, Jesus moment. Maybe I am learning!

I wrote, “Six years later, I got up, worked to solve the problem and didn’t let self-pity overcome me. Maybe just MAYBE, thanks to Your goodness, I have more steadfastness now than I did before. This trial has birthed good things.”

I can’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve read the Bible, but I can tell you I’ve been through it again and again from Genesis to Revelation, slowly and carefully, a few chapters at a time.

And I have yet to find a mistake.

Those words in the Emergency Room, the careful cursive on that post it note? It was Truth I had to live to understand. 

Yes, we endured this trial with a kid in the hospital and life on hold and fear on our shoulder every waking moment. But also? We found this crazy joy. We found out what it feels like to have a whole community wrap you up in their arms. With meals and gifts and care and love. With prayers that wrap up you and your whole family. With blankets of prayer that you can literally cover you with prayers from head to toe.

With watching your eight-year-old walk up a flight of stairs, and witnessing a miracle.

It was true after all — when we met this trial God had joy in mind. And He cultivated a steadfastness, proven in midnight hours with sick kids. Proven in hard places when the enemy whispers fears that rattle the soul.

Don’t make it a hobby alongside gardening or surfing or decoupage. 

Let it be the treasure that you hide in your heart. Let it speak to every part of your story, from struggle to triumph and back again. It won’t return void. It won’t lie. 

God’s Word is the Book you can read forever, and you will always, only ever find truth. Search it and hold onto it and find it, friends. When things fall apart, it will hold you together.


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Update on Blake:
What a joy to say it is to say our Blake came through last week’s CTA and arteriogram and Gamma Radiation very well. On Saturday it was hard to believe he’d had such significant procedures done just the day before. He radiates joy, is cuddly and loving, and is just such a precious gift to our family. We are so grateful.

We would be grateful for your prayers — his AVM still poses a potential risk of re-bleed until it is obliterated, and the Gamma Radiation will take time to do just that. Please pray his AVM would disappear very quickly and there would be no complications on the road to its disappearance. An MRI in about 12 months will let us know how that process is going, but it could take two to two and a half years. While Blake is improving leaps and bounds physically (he basically just has the slightest deficit in his left hand and a bit of a limp), he is otherwise doing so incredibly well and continues to amaze us. However, his vision is an issue as he continues to seem to see nothing on the left side of his field of vision. We will visit a neuro-ophthalmologist on November 20th and hope some progress will begin then, if not sooner. His short term memory also needs a great deal of strengthening, and we continue with exercise and prayer to trust that, like a muscle, it will return to full strength with time. We’d be grateful if you’d pray for Blake about these things — his AVM, his vision and his short term memory.

Thank you for your prayers and support. And PLEASE if you are nearby and would like to join us, we would LOVE to have you at our celebration on November 23rd at 3:30 pm in downtown Washington at Festival Park, where we will Raise a Hallelujah of thanksgiving and praise to God for what He has done for us. And perhaps enjoy some fun together and watch the sun set on the Pamlico! Please join us!