Thursday, December 2, 2010

Broken but blessed (part two)

If you know me, to say that I am a huge Angie Smith fan is a total understatement.

I know that just about every person who blogs has read Bring the Rain and knows Audrey Caroline's story. If you have ever lost a baby, you have probably read her book, "I Will Carry You." It is unfortunate that I even have to know who she is or relate to her the way that I do. However, so many of her words and explanation of Scripture have rocked my world these past 5 months. Seriously, the woman is crazy anointed. I swear I want to be just like her.. well, more a combination of her and Priscillar Shirer.. but that's another post for another day!

So anyway, this is a "borrowed" post from Angie that can be read in its entirety here. I felt that it was very appropriate to share how her words blessed my heart as a follow up to my previous post. It is a illustration that I think of so often...something so beautiful, so life-changing for me.

In her blog, Bring the Rain - this post is titled "The Past and the Pitcher". It discusses, in part, the days following Audrey's death and how Angie decided she would follow some advice she had read in a book about grieving the loss of a child. In the book, a therapist encourages those grieving to take something and break it. At first, Angie thought the idea was ridiculous but then the Lord began to speak to her heart that breaking something was exactly what she should do. So, she went to her cabinets, pulled out a perfectly good pitcher, walked outside onto her front porch, threw it on the ground and watched it shatter into pieces.

via Angie Smith


She waited a few minutes as she stood there in silence, staring at the broken pieces,
until God finally spoke to her heart...

Put it back together.

So, Angie took all the small pieces of porcelain inside and one by one, she glued them back together with a hot glue gun. Her fingers were burnt and bloody from handling the small, sharp pieces. She continued working until finally, the pitcher had been put back together once again.



via Angie Smith

Angie then writes these words that still bring tears to my eyes this day,

---
"And as I worked, He let me think about my past. Mistakes that I have long regretted. I began to realize that this pitcher was my life, and every piece was part of a story that He had chosen to put together. I started crying, and remembering things I thought I had forgotten. It took a long time to finish, but it was time well spent. Every nook and cranny whispered to me, until at last it stood in all its imperfection.

Here you are, Angie.

You are mended. You are filled with my Spirit, and I am asking you to pour yourself out.

The image of my life as a broken pitcher was beautiful to me, but at the same time, it was hard to look at all of the cracks.

I ran my fingers along them and told Him I wish it had been different. How I wished I had always loved Him, always obeyed Him, always sought Him the way I should. I was mad at the imperfections, years wasted, gaping holes where it should be smooth.

But God, my ever-gracious God, was gentle and yet convicting as He explained.

My dearest Angie. How do you think the world has seen me? If it wasn't for the cracks, I couldn't seep out the way I do. I chose the pitcher. I chose you, just as you are."
  ---


How beautiful is it to be broken? So many times, we must be broken before we can be shared...just as the body of Christ had to be broken before it could be given. God wants to use us not in spite of our brokenness, but because of it.
 
I realized the problem is that we ourselves have developed a mindset that what is broken is useless. We are quick to throw away things in our lives that have stopped working, have cracks or missing pieces. We find no use for them so they find a place in the trash instead of our lives.
 
Aren't you glad that Christ doesn't think of us that way?
Instead...the more we are broken, the more valuable we become to Him.
 
You see, God isn't the issue here - we are. We are the ones who look at that broken pitcher, the broken heart, the broken life...and we see all that is wrong, messed up, useless. We focus more on the broken pieces than we do the blessing inside. Yet, in between those cracks is something that has been restored, made whole again. Something that when filled up, can spill over and be given freely. Something beautiful. After all, God loves the gaps just as much, if not more than He loves the whole pieces. So, why don't we?
 
I have come across so many people who look at me with sad eyes. They tilt their heads to the side and shake their head, pat my hand and say..."Oh honey, I'm so sorry." I know they mean well. I know that they don't know what to say. I know their heart breaks for my loss. They look at me and see broken...yet, once they sit and talk with me awhile...once they see what God has done for me over these past five months...I hope that they don't see broken...I pray they see blessed. That is what I see when I look into the mirror today - but only because I choose to see my life that way, thanks to the grace and strength of my God.
 
Where are you today? Do you look at your life and just stare at the broken pieces? Do you hide your scars, your pain, your hurt - or do you allow God to use those cracked areas of your life to pour into you so that you can overflow into the lives of others?

After all, it is through those cracks-- the pains and mistakes that we are most ashamed of-- that the world can see a glimpse of the glory of God.

 
"The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.” - 1 Corin. 11:23-24
 
Thank you Jesus for being broken...for me.
Today, I rejoice in being broken...for You.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Broken but blessed.

The Lord has really put on my heart to share what we talked about during women's bible study last week. I know that a lot of people who read my blog are heart moms or moms of babies in Heaven. It was through praying for other moms whose blogs I follow that God revealed something so special to me in His Word. Something that has radically changed the way I feel about my situation and how to go about living life without Luke here.

Genesis 32:22-31

He was known as a deceitful man, one who did whatever it took to get his way. His name, Jacob, meant "supplanter, schemer, cheater; one who grabs from behind." Through his schemes, he had accumulated much wealth.  For many years he had been running from the truth but that night, he could not run any longer.

He had sent all of his wives, servants and company...everything he had across the Jabbok River and was left on the riverbank completely alone with his doubts, dreams and fears. He was troubled not only by his past, but also his future. The next morning he was to meet up with Essau, the brother that he had wronged and stolen from years ago. His brother was much larger and stronger than Jacob and as he thought more and more about his situation, fear began to sink into his heart. Surely, his brother would take everything from him or possibily even kill him. He needed some answers, some assurance as he faced the future and yet...that night, he sat completely alone.

It could have been that Jacob began to pray that night. In the agony of his soul, he cried out to God. Perhaps, for the first time in his life, Jacob earnestly began to wrestle in prayer...then, something happened. He was no longer alone by the riverside. It was as though he sensed that God was really present with him. God's presence and purpose became more and more real to him until, suddenly, He was real! His uplifted arms were actually clinging to God, Himself! There God was...flesh to flesh...bone to bone...in human form!

They wrestled through the night until the match reached a turning point...God touched Jacob in the hollow of his thigh and dislocated his hip joint. Suddenly, Jacob was weakened and immobilized. He yelled out in unbearbale pain as he stopped wrestling and started clinging!

You see, there is a difference between wrestling and clinging. To "wrestle" is to contend and fight for dominance. However, to "cling" is to hold on to, to grasp in desperation. Even though it hurt, even though he was broken beyond measure - Jacob refused to let go. Instead of crying out in pain and running the other direction, his grip tightened and his knuckles turned white holding onto this heavenly being. In that moment, the same God whom he had wrestled with all night became his answer to prayer, his only hope...his everything.

As morning dawn began to break, the pre-incarnate Christ instructed for Jacob to let go - however, Jacob responds back in a  life-changing way.

"I will not let you go until you bless me." - Genesis 32:26

God, in turn, blessed Jacob, not because He had to or was forced to, but because Jacob was finally ready to receive the blessing. "What is your name?" God asked. Yet what He was really asking Jacob was, "Who are you?" As Jacob clung on to Him in pain, he answered, "I'm Jacob, the schemer, the one who grabs from behind, the scared mama's boy, the con-man, the self-centered, self- serving, self-sufficient one!" Then God said, "Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for you have wrestled with God and prevailed." It was as if God was saying, "This is who you were...but because you have wrestled through your faith and prevailed, you will never be same."

This is the part I love...

God did not bless him by taking away Jacob's brokenness...even though that may have been what Jacob was asking for at the time. Instead, He blessed Jacob in a way that was unexpected by giving him a new name...a new purpose. From that night on, Jacob would forever walk with a limp...a physical reminder of both the brokenness and the blessing. His limp was outward sign to everyone who met him that he was changed. His physical pain must have been beyond measure and I am sure that every day, for the rest of his life, his hip would cause him great misery. Yet, I am sure that Jacob would gladly take the pain for the joy he received in being made new that night. To him, everything he would endure physically in the days to come, were worth it all for that one moment...that one touch. Jacob was forever broken, but he was also forever blessed.

I think about my life before Luke and the way that I viewed my faith and my relationship with Christ. I was strong, I thought that I had it all together. However, during the days of his diagnosis, birth and surgeries...I admit that I did my fair share of  wrestling with God. I began to pray, seek and question Him in a way that I never had before. Some days I couldn't help but be bitter and angry...after all, it was was MY baby that was sick, MY dreams that were fading away. Yet, God is faithful and understanding during our weakest times. He allowed me to be mad, to cry, to scream out at Him...He knew that it was in the battle that my faith began to grow stronger.

Then, the morning light came on July 10th, 2010. Luke's condition had worsened and I knew that it was time to let go...yet the mother inside of me wanted to hold on even tighter. Finally, that night as Luke left my arms, I felt as if Christ literally reached down and touched me. Oh, did it hurt!...but even in my pain, even in the agony of losing my sweet baby...I found myself holding on to Jesus tighter than I ever had before. Now, five months later, I still have not let go. The pain is still there and  I still wake up each day with an ache in my heart for a baby I will never see grow. My heart literally hurts so bad at times it is all I can do not to scream out in pain. Luke is gone and because of his absense, I am forever wounded - yet forever changed...forever blessed.


Blessed.

If it weren't for Luke's story...I would not see my life the way that I do today. I would not love this deeply. I would not pray this hard. I would not be as bold with my faith as I am. I would not wake up every day ready to change the world. I am forever changed...forever blessed.

God showed me through this Scripture to look at my brokenness, not as a pain or thorn in my side...but as my very own life-changing blessing. To realize that I will always be broken and instead of trying to fix my brokenness - that I should accept it as a part of who I am and will always be. To embrace my tears, my aches, my bad days knowing that as much as I am broken, I am equally blessed. My brokenness and blessing will continue coexist, side by side the rest of my life; there will never be one without the other...and that is okay with me.

What you speak into your life is what you will get back out of it. So often, we allow satan to be glorified in our lives by focusing more on what we do not have instead of giving God glory for all that is ours. I could live life every day thinking about the son that I don't have - but instead, I find peace in giving God glory for giving me not just a son...but a blessing that has forever changed my life. I encourage you...instead of crying out constantly to God about your brokenness, be changed in praising Him for your blessing. They are, after all...so often one in the same.



My prayer every day this week has been..."God, I'm not letting go...I'm not giving up. Even when its hard and even when it hurts, I choose to hold on to you. I will not let go until you bless me."

And sure enough, He has... and He is.

He wants to bless you too. Don't let go, don't give up...no matter how hard it may seem right now. Sometimes life's greatest blessings come when you wake up and realize that being broken can be breathtakingly beautiful.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy 5 months Luke!

Today marks 5 months since our sweet baby boy was born.


It is hard to believe that it has been five months. Everyday I think about what Luke would be doing if he was here...what I would be buying him for Christmas...what his personality would be like...or who he would look like. When you have a baby that is in Heaven, it's very easy to get lost in the "what if's" and eventually fall deep into the sadness of a life you will never fully know. So instead of focusing on what isn't, I remind myself each day to be thankful for what was...his long skinny legs, crooked toes, head full of hair. Even with a broken heart, my baby was perfect. There was and is so much to be thankful for.  I carried him, I gave birth to him, I held him in my arms. He was here and he was mine.

So, today...I celebrate.
Happy five months little man...we love you more than ever.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Introducing...

As Benson mentioned, God has been doing an amazing work in our lives - in more ways than one! The past month or so, the Lord really convicted me to be still and listen. So, instead of blogging I have been spending time reading and teaching God's word. It has been an amazing, life-changing month for me.

On October 21st, God fulfilled a promise to Benson and I when we found out that we were pregnant for a second time...something that we had been praying for but didn't expect to be answered this soon. So, it is with a joyful heart that I proudly introduce to you.... 

...the Sexton 4!!


Today, I am 8 weeks pregnant with our sweet rainbow baby. It has been an emotional but blessed experience to be pregnant with Luke's little brother or sister. Luke has definately had a hand in this new special blessing - as our new baby's due date is... June 29th, his birthday! You cannot tell me that we do not serve an AWESOME God!

Please continue to pray for us and for our sweet miracle. Even with our joyful news there is not a day that goes by that we don't miss Luke. We know that the next few months will be filled with many anxious doctors appointments and a wide range of emotions but we are standing steadfast on the promises of God - praying and believing that this baby is healthy and whole.

We look forward to sharing this new journey with all of you!

Kristin

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Luke!

HAPPY 4 MONTHS LUKE!

4 months ago today I experienced a joy that can only be topped by God's love and salvation...the birth of my son.

As for Kristin and I, we haven't posted in quite sometime...actually, it's been a long time. We have not abandoned the blog, but we are in a teaching season from the Lord. He is doing amazing things in both mine and Kristin's life as we receive His rich blessings every day.

I will say, watch out world because my wife is on fire! God has blessed me with gifts and talents to lead worship and He is opening many doors...but...God is giving Kristin some of the most incredible revelation of Scripture and His Word that I have ever heard. She is a woman after God's heart and her bold witness for Him has the devil shaking in his shoes!

As we continue to transition into a new phase of ministry, please be in prayer for us both. We don't know exactly what or where...but we know it is BIG!

-- Benson

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another song for Luke

The other day I posted about two special ladies in my life who have written songs that were inspired by Luke. Today I would like to share with you the second song written by Hannah Ellis. I have watched her grow up from a little girl to a beautiful woman of God. I am so blessed to know her, to help raise her, and to call her my friend.


There’s I love you and then there’s down on one knee
There’s making plans and then there’s I take thee
There’s an argument and then there’s making up
There’s honesty no matter what

What is faith if we’re not faithful
Through the obstacles along the way
How we feel, compared to what is real
is defined by who we walk with everyday
there’s giving up, there’s knowing providence
Love is the difference

There’s we’re trying and then there’s six months along
There’s the crying when something seems to be wrong
Then there’s believing that there’s a greater plan
Even in the times we don’t understand

What is faith if we’re not faithful
Through the obstacles along the way
How we feel, compared to what is real
is defined by who we walk with everyday
there’s giving up, there’s knowing providence
Love is the difference

There’s the pain that we’re feeling, but then you’ve been there too
There’s a rugged cross and then there’s what you didn’t have to do...

What is faith if we’re not faithful
Through the obstacles along the way
How we feel, compared to what is real
is defined by who we walk with everyday
there’s giving up, there’s knowing providence
Love is the difference

Sunday, October 10, 2010

three months without him here.

It's been three months since....


 I saw this face..





Prayed this hard....



Kissed these cheeks....



And held this miracle in my arms...






Oh, I miss him more every day.




Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yet another angel...

This morning I came to work, logged on facebook and saw where sweet little Joshua's...a HLHS baby in IN...little heart had stopped. I prayed and prayed and prayed all morning. That sweet boy deserved to live...his mommy deserved to take him home.
Just a few minutes ago, Jill posted that Joshua went to be with Jesus in Heaven...with Luke, Cohen and just recently, Ewan.

Joshua makes two babies this week.

I know this happens every day...I'm not ignorant to the sickness and suffering in the world.
But these are two babies that I read about every day...prayed for every night, even before they were born.
Like us, they were given hope.

Today, I am mad at satan...
I have had ENOUGH.

In the name of JESUS, satan leave our babies alone.

Pray for all of us who will never know the joy of our babies eyes squinting in the sunlight...it is not a fun club to be in.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My first babies..

One of the greatest blessings of my entire life were the four years I spent as a youth minister. There are no words that I could write that would begin to describe the love I have for my first "babies." Over those four years, many kids came and went...but my "crew" stuck by me. They were there when I first started dating Benson, when we were engaged, when we were married, when we got pregnant and when we had Luke. They are my heart.











I have been so blessed by the love they have shown me the past few months. They have prayed for me and loved me like only the best of friends could. One of the saddest parts about Luke going to heaven was knowing that he wouldn't get to meet his "siblings" that had waited so long to meet him and lovingly named him "Barry." More than anything, I just wanted each of them to hold him and spoil him SO bad.

Two of my girls have been blessed with tremendous talent - like seriously, ridiculous talent. Each one wrote songs specifically for my sweet Luke. It is my honor to share with you one of the two. They both are two of the most special gifts I have ever been given. I know Luke loves them both.

Sweet Little Boy - Hannah C.

Hey little baby
The light of your life shined daily
You fought a battle you could not win
But war is victory in the end

I would have given you every drop I had
When the people cried, the angel smiled and said
Sweet little boy...
Heaven is your toy

The pain you had we wish we could bare
Hearts alone only rip and tear
The lives you touched only thousands know
The love of your life that Jesus showed

I would have given you every drop I had
When the people cried, the angel smiled and said
Sweet little boy...
You're blessed with eternal joy

No one...understands
But God has...His plan
No one...understands
But God has...His plan
Well I don't...understand
But God knows...His plan

Hey little baby
You're loved more than you'll ever know...
You're loved more than you'll ever know...
We love you Luke more than you could...ever...know.



I don't have the lyrics to Hannah E.'s song for Luke yet...but you can check our her music at http://www.hannahellismusic.com/ or on iTunes. I'm not just being biased when I tell you she is GOOD.
 
Also, lift up a prayer for the Petermann's today. Sweet baby Ewan that I posted about a week or so ago went to be with Jesus on October 3rd. It's a pain that obviously hits close to home. I know that Luke and Cohen are excited to have a new buddy...but I also know how bad his mommy and daddy miss him right now. Pray for them please.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy 3 months little man!

Today is Luke's 3 month birthday...

Tonight I will read Luke the book, "You Are Special" by Max Lucado. It was a special book given to us by Tricia. (Thanks Aunt T!).



Right after Luke was born, my whole family sat around and talked about every inch of him. One of our most favorite things about him were his sideburns. Not one of us had ever seen a baby with sideburns like Luke. He had thicker sideburns than most men do. Thus, the nickname..."little man" came to be. Every time my dad stood over Luke, he would call him little man.


You can kinda see his sideburns in this picture.

I'd like to share with you a song that has stolen my heart. It is my song for my sweet boy, my little man.




Sweet Luke, oh how Mommy and Daddy miss you. The world is such an empty place without you here. It's hard to think about how I am supposed to be packing up your newborn clothes and taking you over to your Papaw's every morning...how you should be going to your first birthday party this weekend - your cousin Crit is turning one...how you should be pulling Rylie's hair and keeping me up every night. I hope that you know that you were everything I had ever dreamed of. God did not make a single mistake with you Luke. You were perfect. You are perfect...and Heaven is so much sweeter now that you are there. I am so proud to be your mommy. Sweet dreams, little man...We all love you so so so much.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Pray for Ewan

I can't believe its been a week since I posted last. I promise I will do better guys. I will post again later...but there is something more important that needs our attention right now.

So, most of you know by now that Benson and I are big on praying for babies with CHD. After our experience with Luke, we understand and know too well what these families and babies are going through. They are desperate for prayer...and we serve a God who is ABLE.

Last night, through my fellow heart mom and friend Megan, I learned about sweet baby Ewan (pronounced you-win). He has an extreme case of Tetralogy of Fallot. It is not the same heart defect as Luke - but is a very serious CHD.

Here is a picture of sweet little Ewan from his mommy's blog.


Ewan had a very rough night last night. I don't know all the details but I do know that they had to do a very serious emergency surgery to keep him alive. His mommy and daddy thought they were losing him. :( Now he is on ECMO (a scary word that we all know too well). Please pray for him and his family today. The doctors aren't giving them much hope - they need a miracle.

Nothing is impossible with God.

You can read more about Ewan and his family at http://www.team-ewan.com/.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The peace of God.

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." - Phillipians 4:7

I received a beautiful email that gave me such amazing insight to the verse. I just had to share. Thank you Donna!

So many people who have lost children, spouses or anyone they love often struggle with the concept of having "peace from God." We lay awake at night...wondering and questioning, Why? What if?

Phillipians 4:7 is a verse that I am very familiar with. It was given to me many times while I was in the hospital with Luke. It is what I like to call, a feel-good verse that you read when you need to be uplifted.  I remember reading it many times thinking...okay, good verse...got it, thanks.

However, the email I got the other day opened my eyes to a piece of the Scripture that I had never really understood the significance of...

"the peace of God, which passeth all understanding..."

There are often times that I get caught up with wanting to understand why this happened to me...to us...to Luke. I have reasoned that it was not of God's character to inflict illness upon Luke or suffering upon my family (see post)...and that is something that I believe very strongly. However, I am still human and I still wish there was some answer, some closure to the question...why?

However, there is a peace that comes from God...not just a peace that gives us rest or a warm feeling inside...not just a peace that lifts us up and carries us in our darkest times. It is a peace that goes beyond - that passes - our own understanding.

In the words of my friend Donna...

"The peace of God is not in our understanding--it is passed it. Greater than! God's peace is not something we have once in a while, or when things are going great. Peace in our hearts keeps our spiritual blood flowing! God's peace is with us through it all!"

How true.

When we are in a season of questioning...we can rest in His peace that surpasses our understanding and holds our heart and mind. Some things are just not for us to understand and that is okay. We don't always have to have the answers to our problems as long as we put our trust into the Ultimate Problem-Answerer.

I am so greatful that God has given me a peace that is greater than my understanding. I do not have to know the answers to "why" or "what if."  I can just rest in knowing that He is God and that, in all things, He will carry me through.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Great is Thy Faithfulness

I apologize for the lack of posts. Unfortunately, when I don't post for several days...it usually means that I have been struggling. I try not to post negative thoughts and feelings on here for the world to see...so instead of showing my brokenness, I tend to just keep to myself.

It seems that as time passes, it gets harder and harder. So many people think that time heals things and while I agree that is true, it hasn't gotten any easier for me yet. In the days following Luke going to heaven, I ran on nervous energy...getting by each minute on the prayers of others and on the grace of God. Today, that nervous energy is gone and I am left with the harsh reality of life without my baby. To put it bluntly...it sucks.

I am ordering a stone for my son's grave instead of his winter clothes. That sucks.
I packed away his stroller this weekend instead of packing it in the car to go to his first UK football game. That sucks.

It is so hard to believe that it has been just two months since my life changed forever. It seems like the longest two months of my life. And while it has not been easy by any means, the Lord has been very good. Some days are harder than others...I cry often, but not every day. I allow myself time to grieve and talk about Luke a lot with people that I am close to. Talking has helped a lot. I am so grateful to such an amazing community of friends and family who have loved and prayed me through this time of my life.

More than anything, I am thankful for the Lord's faithfulness.
He is SO faithful...

Oh, I cry just typing that...GOD IS SO FAITHFUL.

Many of you all do not know me outside of this blog or know me personally...Today, I am a woman after the Lord's own heart...but I have not always been that way.

I have a wonderful family and amazing parents that I adore with my entire heart. My home has always been one that grounded me in faith. I was raised in a wonderful church family with an amazing youth group that gave me a solid foundation and knowledge of Christ. However, during my later teenage years, I decided to do things my own way for awhile...and while I was never a "bad" kid, the choices I made and the desires of my heart were far from being part of God's will. Yet, in the midst of my youthful ignorance...God was faithful to me.

God was faithful when I gave my heart to old boyfriends who promised me forever...
God was faithful when I cried myself to sleep at night, wanting to end my own life...
God was faithful when my "friends" turned their backs on me...
God was faithful when I changed my career path and trusted my future in Him.

Even though I didn't realize it at the time...in the midst of all my hurts and pains...God was faithful.

He gave me a ministry with youth that changed my life.
He gave me gifts of the Spirit and wisdom that I had never experienced before.
He gave me a life partner, a husband, a love that continues to amaze me every day.
and He gave me a son, a beautiful baby boy that changed the world in just 12 days.
God was faithful.

When I think about what I deserved...the mistakes I made...the people that I hurt and lied to, I cannot hold back tears...that in the midst of it all, God was still faithful to me.

So, when I am in the midst of the deepest grief...when I think about how I deserved a healthy baby...how I deserved to bring him home with me...and how I deserved to be holding him now...

I think about my past, my mistakes, my sins instead...
and I am so thankful that God did not give me what I deserved.

I deserved condemnation...an eternity in hell...a life of fear, pain and doubt. Instead...He gave me peace, hope, freedom and security. A life eternal to be with my Jesus and my sweet baby Luke. God has been faithful to me.

So often, we think about all the things that God has not done for us...
instead of thanking Him for all that He has.

I don't know about you all, but I do not stop enough to thank Him for the simple fact of saving my soul. I take Heaven for granted so often. I take His mercy, His goodness, His faithfulness to me for granted.

The world today also takes faithfulness for granted. There is no longer much value to what it means to be faithful. Adultery is glorified. Lying is expected. 50 year anniversaries are seldom heard of. We build walls around our hearts and protect ourselves from people we unconsciously expect to hurt us. We find it hard to trust others, to give our hearts fully to anyone because we are so afraid that they may be unfaithful to us.

We carry that bondage into our relationship with Christ. We are scared to let go of our dreams and our hopes. We are terrified of trusting God completely. We may give our lives to Him but we continue to hold on to a small portion - afraid that if something happens, we will have nothing left. We love the Lord, yet we continue to hide behind the walls we have built around our hearts...holding on with fists clenched tight and knuckles white, never fully letting go.

How beautiful it is, though...when we truly believe and fully trust. When we let the walls fall to the ground and saturate ourselves in Him. With no more fear and doubts. We open up our eyes and realize...that no matter what happens in this life, He is always faithful.

There is freedom in letting go. In being faithful to the One who is faithful to us.
How true these lyrics are...

"Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!"

The whole world will fail me.
People will break their promises.
But...the Lord was, is, and always will be faithful to me.

...and for that, I am thankful.

Please take a moment to pray for sweet baby Bowen., the son of Matt & Sarah Hammitt of Sanctus Real who was born with HLHS just a few days ago. He came through his surgery fine but had a rough night last night and is now on full ECMO support, just like baby Luke. My heart breaks knowing the same thoughts and fears that his parents are going through right now. You can read their story at http://www.bowensheart.com

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Praying for Bowen

It's been a wild week, but God is good and He is faithful! Thank you for your continued pray and support as we continue our journey. Today mark's 2 month's since our final day with Luke. The numbness of it all has worn away and the raw feeling of reality has set in. It's hard to imagine missing someone so much after knowing them for a short 10 days...but I can't tell you how difficult it is to process at times. However, God is near and with Him we are pressing on!

My reason for writing today is to beg you to cry out to God for an incredible little boy named Bowen. Bowen is the son of Matt and Sarah Hammitt and will entered this world today with a diagnosis of HLHS. Bowen has been a topic of discussion in the Christian world for several weeks as Matt is the lead singer of Sanctus Real. Sarah left a comment on this blog last week with appreciation of unwavering faith. You can follow their story at http://www.bowensheart.com/.

Today, we do not waver in our faith! We know, that we know, that we know that Jesus Christ is the Great Physician. We know that He is faithful! In His name, we claim healing over Bowen's body at this very moment! We pray that his heart is transformed into a heart that is strong and that beats to the sound of the trumpets of the Lord. We pray for peace and comfort for the family. We pray for Divine knowledge and wisdom for the doctors and nurses. Above all, we pray that what the enemy intended for evil, that God is lifted high. God, receive glory and praise for Your goodness today. Touch Bowen in the same way that You touched the blind man, the crippled man and Lazarus! Mold Bowen into Your image so that He can grow to be strong in You and proclaim Your victory in the years to come! Lord, we truly believe and proclaim Luke 1:37, "For Nothing Is Impossible With God!"

My favorite song right now is Hear Us From Heaven by Jared Anderson. The lyrics fit well with our prayer today.

Hear Us From Heaven

Verse:
Lord, hear our cry
Come heal our land
Breath life into these dry and thirsty souls
Lord, hear our prayer
Forgive our sin
And as we call on your name
Would you make this a place
For your glory to dwell

Chorus:
Open the blind eyes
Unlock the deaf ears
Come to your people
As we draw near
Hear us from heaven
Touch our generation
We are your people
Crying out in desperation

Bridge:
Hear us from heaven,
Hear us from heaven,
Hear us from heaven


- Benson

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

God is good, all the time..

Bible study was awesome last night. 40 women came and worshipped together. I am so thankful that God is moving in a radical way. He is so faithtful. I will share what we learned later on today... for now, I need to vent. Many of you have already heard this soapbox... So, I apologize for this in advance....


Today, I went through and read several blogs that I keep up with. Most of them are stories of heart moms and mothers who have babies in heaven. Today, I read THREE different blogs that all mentioned the same thing...

"This was God's plan for our lives."
"Why did God choose us to lose our babies?"
"Why me, God?"


 My heart almost exploded out of my chest when I read those comments and I went on leave replies that were longer than necessary. Not because I am angry (or offended) but because I know that God how good the Lord has been to me. This subject is soooo sensitive to my heart and I apologize if I seem angry (I am not) I am just really passionate about the goodness of the Lord these days.

Trust me, I understand. I have been there. I know how hard it is not to question God and I know that God understands our occasional doubts. However, It breaks my heart to know that to many people, these feelings are not just doubts... they are beliefs. Some Christians honestly believe that God is responsible when bad things happen. They love Him and they believe in Him but at the same time, they feel like suffering is part of God's plan... that when bad things happen, God just hides His face.

Shortly after Luke passed, so many people would come up to me and tried to offer words of comfort. I completely understand that people don't know what to say. I know that they mean well.. but one thing I began to notice over and over again was that people were almost blaming God for Luke's illness.

"I guess it just wasn't meant to be."
"I guess it was just part of God's plan"

Every time I would hear this, my spirit wanted to literally throw up. How can anyone, especially Christians, believe that the same God that sent his Son on the cross to die for us, who is loving, merciful and kind would PLAN for a sweet, innocent baby to suffer and die?

It pretty much boils down to the fact that churches today are not doing a good job of representing Christ or who He is. If you are Christian (or even a non-believer) and have been in church your whole life and have a misrepresentation of who God is, I apologize. I believe this is one area where the church as failed miserably. For that, I am sorry.

I do NOT know what kind of view you have of the Lord. I don't know what you see when you close your eyes and picture Jesus in your mind. But, I do know this - GOD IS GOOD.

Jeremiah 29:11 tell us that Lord does have a plan for each one of us...
"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.

The Lord's plan for each of our lives is not one that includes bondage, sickness or death. It is a plan of prosperity, of richness. So, why do babies die? Why are people sick? I will tell you why... The answer lies in John 10:10... "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

We live in a disgusting, dark, sin-filled world. Satan's entire purpose on this earth is to cause pain and suffering to the people of the Lord. It is not my fault that Luke was sick. It is not the Lord's fault that Luke died. It is not because of lack or prayer or because God was not faithful to us. It is because satan is a thief and he wants to destroy my life and yours too.

When I get to heaven and stand face to face with my Savior, He will not be able to tell me why Luke had HLHS. He will not be able to explain to me why he had to suffer and die. He will not be able to answer my questions because He did not cause this to happen to my family. He did not "choose" us for this. He did not look at Luke and say, "Sorry, little buddy.. but this is my plan for your life." That is not the kind of God I have given my life to. THAT IS NOT MY GOD.

My God is good, in season and out of season. He is the lifter of my head. He is Jehovah Jireh, my provider. He is my protector and my strong tower. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is not a baby killer or a sickness giver. He is good, all the time. All the time, He is good.

It breaks my heart that people who give their lives to the Lord and honestly trust Him can somehow reason in their minds that God plans bad things to happen to his people. He has power over satan and over sickness and death. Yes, He could have chosen to intervene and heal my son. Yes, all authority on heaven and earth is His and He could have reached into Luke's little body and healed Him completely. But He did not... and that does not make Him any less of a God or make Him any less faithful. He is still God and He is still good. He is still a God who can. He is still a God who heals. It is just that sometimes He chooses to and sometimes He chooses not to.

So often, we as Christians feel that in order to be "healed" that healing has to take place the way that we want it to, in front of our eyes. We think that healing has to be a witnessed miracle on earth. However, the ultimate healing is to be lifted up into the arms of Jesus - to be safe, protected and whole forever. The way God chose to heal Luke is not less because it did not happen on earth. I do not believe that God is any less faithful because He chose to give my son life eternal. I honestly rejoice with my WHOLE heart that God did not allow Luke to suffer. He could have allowed him to suffer years without arms and legs - but instead, He showed up and showed off and blessed our family with a whole healthy little boy, no tubes, no surgeries, no suffering EVER again. That, my friends, is HEALING!

We may not understand why God chooses to intervene the way that He does. We may not understand why some babies live with HLHS and others don't. But I do know this.... God is GOOD. He loves you and He loves me. He came to give us abundant life and has plans to prosper us. What satan intended for evil, God can turn it around and use it for the good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

I pray that today you believe that He is who He says He is! That you do not conform to the world and those who try to lessen the blow by pushing things off on God when bad things happen. He deserves our praise, not our pity or our blame.

GOD IS GOOD, All the time!
All the time, GOD IS GOOD.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Happy two month birthday little Luke!

Two months ago yesterday, Luke was born.

Every month, I look forward to the 29th... and I relive the happiest moment of my life over and over again in my head.

The tears in my mother's eyes.
My dad pacing the hallway outside the delivery room.
Luke's faint cry.
The look on Benson's face.
His head of hair.
The feeling I had when I first held him.
The way his little fingers wrapped around mine.
His soft skin against my lips.

August 29th, 2010... 9:26 p.m. The best moment of my whole life.


Yesterday, Benson and I went to the cemetery. I don't ever feel like that is where I go to "visit" Luke because I know my sweet boy isn't there anymore. The only thing that is buried there is the sick little body that he left behind on this earth. I guess the only reason I go there is because I feel like that is what I am supposed to do. I honestly hate it there. He has a beautiful spot near my grandparents and the cemetery itself is a nice place... but still, I hate going. Fake silk flowers, headstones and babies just don't go together.

Anyway, we hadn't been there in a couple of weeks so we decided to stop by there yesterday. As we were standing there together, it was so surreal. It still is so hard to believe that we had a baby just two months ago and buried him two weeks later.

Last night while I was home by myself for a few hours, I decided to go into Luke's room. Many people have asked about Luke's room and what we have done with his things. For the most part, we have just left everything like it was. We packed away the carseat, stroller and swing but his room and his closet are exactly the same as they were when we left for the hospital. Benson and I feel like Luke's room is our own little sanctuary. Every night before Luke was born, Benson would go in there and pray. It is a very special place with a really sweet spirit.


So last night while Benson was gone, I grabbed his little blanket and stuffed dog and sat next to his crib. I picked up one of his books off the shelf and started reading it out loud. I thought about how I would give anything to sit next to his bed every night and read him bed time stories. Looking back now, I wish that I would have read to him more while he was inside me. While we were pregnant, Benson and I decided that instead of having hundreds of toys (which I know he would have had anyway) that we would just buy him books. So for weeks Mom and I bought almost every little children's book we could find. The bookshelves in Luke's room are filled with his books. It breaks my heart to know that those little fingers will never hold all those books my mom and I picked out just for him. Last night while sitting in his room, I decided  that every month on his birthday I would pick out a story and read it out loud to celebrate.

Last night, his birthday story was "Mama Loves You" by Caroline Stutson.... I wish you could see all the little illustrations, they were so sweet.



"I am yours; you are mine,
Mama loves you Porcupine

Come a buzzing; straight to me
Mama loves you Honeybee

Flit to mama; Fly sky-high
Mama loves you Butterfly

 Let it snow, we dont care
Mama loves you Polar bear

My heart is singing have you heard?
Mama loves you Hummingbird

Who's that nibbling in my house
Mama loves you Little mouse

Give me kisses, give me hugs
Mama loves you Little bug

In our thicket, snuggle near
Mama loves you Little deer

Look who's running Pitter Pat
Mama loves you Kitty cat

Your my star, my moon my sun!
Mama loves you Little one."



Happy two month birthday little Luke! I wish you were here so I could hold you in my arms and read to you. I know Jesus is a much better storyteller than Mommy could ever be, but I hope that just maybe He would let you look down from heaven into your room and listen while Mommy reads to you for a little while. The words I read last night are so true -- You are our star, our moon, our sun. Mommy and Daddy love you, little one!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Freedom reigns.

If you were to ask my husband, he would be the first to tell you that I have been a down right grouch the past few days. For no good reason, I have been tired, irritable and cranky. Not to mention that I have had a headache every single day since I gave birth to Luke. (PS...if you could pray for that, I would really appreciate it!)

However...this morning, I woke up with a new song in my heart and a new hope in my spirit.

I serve a God whose mercies are new every morning. Hallelujah!

I realized this morning that no matter what is going on or how bad I may feel...my God is greater. He is greater than my bad days at work. He is greater than my fears and insecurities. He is greater than my headaches. He is God.

So often, I wake up, go through my day and go to bed defeated. I let the world get the best of me. I complain about the little things instead of thinking about how much the Lord has done for me. I allow satan to steal my joy, to cloud my mind and to hinder my spirit.

Instead of claiming the freedom Christ has given me, I put shackles on my own feet and then complain about how I can't move.

We serve a God who gives us a key. So many of us are shacked down, carrying around burdens that we have accumulated over the years. We are tired. We are overwhelmed. We live our entire lives as though we are captive to our circumstances. Yet all the while, we have the key in our own hands. We are so distracted by the world that we forget that it's ours. All we have to do is use what God has already given us and set ourselves free from our own condemnation.

Romans 8:1 tell us that, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." When we submit ourselves to Him, He is overwhelmed with mercy. He forgives us and no longer condemns us for our sins. We are the ones who choose to continue to condemn ourselves.

I am the world's worst when it comes to believing in myself. One of my greatest struggles is dealing with my own self-worth. Unfortunately, the devil knows this. He puts negative thoughts in my mind all the time that I know are not of the Lord. In my mind, I am never good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, or talented enough. I complain a lot about superficial physical things that shouldn't matter. I beat myself up about things in my past and choices I wish I would have never made. Although I may never admit these thoughts out loud, every negative thought I allow to grow inside my mind is one more shackle that I put on myself. Before long, I am carrying around a heavy chain of guilt and worthlessness that binds me down and keeps me from being used by God to my full potential.

I love the scripture out of Galatians 5:1 that says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

The Lord has given us freedom. He has set us free. We are the ones who choose to be slaves and to set ourselves in our own bondage. We are the ones who decide that we are too unfit, too broken and too burdened to be used.

Last night, someone told me that she thought I was going to be the next Beth Moore. I laughed. Surely, to be like Beth Moore, I would have to be more educated, more anointed...I would have big time connections. I'm from a small town in the middle of nowhere for crying out loud.

Then I realized, I was shackling myself and shackling God.

Why can't God use me in a big way?

As long as I feel like I never can...I never will.
As long as I feel like God wouldn't...He won't.

You don't have to have all the answers before you begin doing something for the Lord. You don't have to have it all figured out or every bullet point in place. You just have to go for it. Quit making excuses or rescheduling -- just move. The Lord will be faithful to your faithfulness.

Last week, I finally decided to take my own advice and listen to what the Lord was calling me to do. For a long time I have been burdened for the women in my community and this burden has continued to grow after losing Luke. There are so many women who feel alone and isolated...that don't have friends or other women around them to motivate, encourage and empower them. The Lord spoke into my heart to provide an opportunity for women to get together and be part of a community...to talk, share and learn together...to go out and have fun with each other...to be a family and source of support. So with the help of some women who I love and respect more than they will ever know, we are doing it!  We will meet every Tuesday (starting next week, August 31st) at 7:00pm at Elkhorn Baptist Church in the WAC building. This is open to all women of all ages. If you want to grow in Christ and be connect with other women who want the same thing, please come. I have no idea what exactly it is going to look like.. but I know its going to be good.

I am excited about what the Lord is doing in my life but I know that I am not the only one who God desires to use. We can all be used to do big things for the kingdom of God. After all, the majority of people who God used in scripture were messed up common people like you and me. The same God that called fishermen to be disciples can call you and I to do even greater things for the Kingdom of God...if we let Him.

First, we have to choose to be free.
We have to want to be used.
We have to take the key and unlock ourselves from our own bondage.

This means believing in ourselves...believing that we are worth it....believing that no matter what we have been through, He has set us free and called us to more than ourselves. It means living in today instead of yesterdays. It means not making excuses for our actions or rescheduling our spiritual lives...it means claiming your life back and living victorious.

You CAN set yourself free of the bondage you have been carrying.
You CAN release the shackles you have placed on your own feet.
You CAN do ridiculously incredible things for the kingdom of God.
You CAN be the next Beth Moore.

Do you believe that you can?
The Lord does.

Be free today. Believe that you can. Believe that you will. Believe in yourself...Believe that He is greater.

Luke 1:37

- Kristin

Challenge: I challenge you today to read Romans chapter 8. I have read this chapter almost every day the past month. It has really helped me realize who I am in Jesus and the power that I have through His Spirit.

Feel free to leave a comment about how God is working in your life. Let's be encouraged together with the news that God is moving!

PS: To all my girls out there...PLEASE COME NEXT TUESDAY!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Promised land.

I have not posted lately because I just couldn't.

These past two weeks have been so incredibly hard for me. I have managed to keep it together on the outside but inside there have been times when I could barely breathe. I am learning that some days are better than others and these past few have been especially tough.

Even though my world stopped at 12:10am on July 10th when my little boy went to heaven, the rest of the world didn't. The clock kept ticking. The earth kept turning.

I came home to a bassinet in my bedroom. Freshly washed baby clothes on top of his dresser. Newborn diapers in a monogrammed diaper bag that I will never carry. For awhile I was able to hide from time... I could sit there in his nursery and cry. I could lay in my bed for as long as I wanted with his blanket in my arms. However, now... a little over a month later... I have come to realize that time does not stop or even slow down for those who grieve.

I am still living. I am still breathing... and as much as I want to pretend it was all a bad dream, I have to wake up and keep going.

Some days are easier than others. Some days it feel like it hardly even happened. Some days I simply try to forget the pain.... however, at the same time, I never want to forget. My memories of those 12 days are the only ones I will ever have of my little boy. I want to hold on to them and soak in every moment... every expression... every detail... even though most of those moments hurt to remember. It is absolutely the worst feeling in the world to want to forget and want to remember at the same time.

When I left the hospital, I returned to a life that is the same as before I had Luke. The same job. The same house. The same people... however, my life has forever changed because he was here.

I am not the same. I will never be the same. I feel like a stranger in my own life sometimes.

And as bad as it hurts and as hard as it sounds... it is okay.

I am okay.
I will be okay.

I am sad that Luke is gone... but I am SO glad that he was here and he was mine. The 12 days I had with him were worth it all... they were worth every tear and every tough day I have had and will have. I would rather have had him for 12 days then never have had him at all.

This weekend while I was in worship, the Lord showed me that my grief is like a heavy fog. It has places where it is very thick, where the air is so heavy that I can barely breathe. Other places are more clear where I can see more clearly and breathe a little easier. When covered in the thickness, it can be terrifying to keep going... to not know what is ahead or what is coming in your direction. In those times, it is easy to sit down and just wait for things to clear. However, I believe that the Lord desires for me, and for you, to pick ourselves up and keep going. To face the thick fog with faith. To not sit and wait for things to get easier, but to press on.

A close friend of ours preached a sermon a few weeks ago about how the Lord promised Joshua that every place where he set his foot would be given to him (Joshua 1:3). Yet, when the Israelites finally entered into the promised land, they became satisfied and settled down. They were tired of fighting... tired of walking... they just wanted to sit and rest for a little while. A little while became years and years became decades. The Israelites could have gone on and conquered so much more land if they had just got up and kept going. They had been promised sure victory, but settled for less than what God had for them because they were tired, unsure and afraid.

We are so often like the Israelites. God has equipped us with the same power that resurrected Christ from the grave... yet, when we are faced with any kind of difficulty or pain, we are quick to lay down and accept defeat. He has given us more, promised us more... yet we choose to sit where we are and feel sorry for ourselves.

Instead of just sitting down and soaking in our grief or self-pity when life is tough... we need to pick ourselves up and keep going because every step we take, no matter how small, we are one step closer to Jesus. It may be hard and we may be afraid but He promises us that He will always be with us. We don't ever have to walk through the thick fog alone.

I never dreamed of living life without Luke. To be honest, some days I don't want to. I wonder how much longer I will have to go on without seeing his face again. However, I know that I have been given life in order to live it in a way that glorifies the Lord. I could choose to sit and let the opportunity to serve Him pass me by... or, I could choose to get up and keep going. It doesn't mean that I won't cry or that I am over my grief. It just simply means that I choose to move instead of sit... to long for more instead of settling for less.

Right now, there are stacks of papers on my kitchen counter. An envelope from Similac sits on my counter giving advice about "late night feedings at home with a new baby" right next to a deed for the grave plot where my "new baby" is buried. Yes, that hurts but that is the reality of my life now without Luke. I cannot change it. I cannot make it stop. The clock is still ticking. The world is still turning.

I could choose to stay where I am... to sit and to cry... but today, I choose to get up and walk and move forward toward the promises that the Lord has made to me... one small step at a time.

Will you join me?

- Kristin

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A part of me.

First of all, thank you for all of your emails and comments. We are still going through and responding to them all. The Lord is truly at work. I thank Him for the opportunity to share one our burdens with one another. Please know that you are always welcome to contact us if you feel led to do so...

.. I just want to share with you what the Lord has really showed me in the past few days. I love love love watching Him work and teach me every day. He is SO good.

Last Friday, Benson and I decided to take our boat out. Benson fished and I laid out (and got terribly burnt by the way...). It felt soooo good to get out of the house and just be together outside for awhile. There is something so amazing about just being still before the Lord, surrounded by His creation. However, even in the midst of an amazingly beautiful day - my mind, as always, is filled with thoughts of my little boy. From the moment I climbed into the boat, my mind immediately began thinking about Luke and how he would never be able to ride in that boat with us.... how I would never be able to put a lifejacket on him or rub sunscreen on his little face.... how Benson would never be able to teach him how to hold a fishing pole or cast a line like his Papaw Tommy...

I honestly try not to think about all the things we will never get to experience with Luke but no matter how hard I try, it is a major part of grieving the loss of a child. There were so many dreams and plans I had for his life and for our lives together. Sometimes, I can't help but think about all those special little moments I wanted to have with him...

... the look on his face when his tiny feet felt grass for the first time.
... the way he would have laughed when I tickled his belly.
... the sound of him saying "ma-ma" or "da-da".
... the expression on his face when he first tasted baby food.
... his first tooth, his first haircut, his first steps.. his first skinned knee that I would kiss to make all better.

So many firsts that will never happen.... so many memories that will never be made.

So, here I was...out on the lake, thinking about how many things I wanted to show him. Benson had fished for awhile and we were about to take off to another side of the lake when a little butterfly landed on my leg. I didn't think much about it at first... I poked at it with my finger and was surprised when it didn't immediately fly away. Benson started up the boat and we took off.... and sure enough, that little butterfly held on. We literally went from one side of the lake to the other (for those of you who know Green River, we went from ramp 1, past the marina, past the state dock all the way to the other side of Emerald Isle) going as fast as our little boat would go. Finally, minutes later, when we stopped... I looked down and that little butterfly was still hanging on to my leg. It was then the Lord spoke to my heart...

"Luke is always with you."

I realized then that Luke is a part of me. He holds a place in my heart that no one else ever will. Every where I go, I carry him with me. Every experience I have in my life, I will experience with him. I may not be able to touch him but I can feel him inside my heart. He was there for that boat ride... he will always be there.

In that moment, I realized that I cannot focus my life on all the things that I will never share with Luke... Instead, I need to live my life the way I would have wanted Luke to live his and experience all the things I would have wanted him to experience. I need to live every day as if Luke were right there with me.

During our last day in the hospital with Luke, I remember sitting next to him looking at his sweet little face without all the tubes and wires. While I was sitting there Benson walked over and stood behind me and put his arm around me... and said, "Luke, this is your mommy... and I promise you, I'm going to show her the whole world."

At the time, I didn't really understand why Benson said those exact words and why they were so important... but I do now.

Luke had twelve days on this earth. Twelve days.

He will never feel sand between his little toes.
He will never feel the wind blow through his hair or feel sunshine on his face.
He will never be able to play and laugh with his friends.
He will never graduate from high school or college.
He will never be able to say the words "I love you".
He will never be able to lift his hands up during worship and praise the Lord.
He will never be able to get down on his knees and pray.

But I can....
....and so can you.

We take so much for granted... every breath, every minute, every day. We take for granted that we will wake up tomorrow and see our friends and family.. that we will have another chance to say a prayer or to praise the Lord with all we have. We get so focused on our problems that we forget to live.

We get satisfied with "ordinary"... waking up, living a routine and doing it all over again the next day. There HAS to be more to this life than that. I refuse to believe that God created us in His image to live ordinary, routine lives.  I believe that God has so much more in store for us than we could ever imagine, if we would just allow Him to use us and expect for the supernatural to take place in our lives. He wants to use us to the extent of which we want to be used by Him. We are the only ones who limit His power in our lives because his power is limitless. Romans 8:11 tells us that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us! It is up to us to decide how we use that power in our lives and to what extent we will let Christ have control and take our lives from "ordinary" to "extraordinary".

During Luke's christening service, Bro Brian Rafferty stood over my baby boy and prayed for his healing. He spoke life into Luke, believing the Lord's will for His life. I will never forget the sound of his voice when he shouted out seven words that would forever be repeated in my mind each day...

"In the name of Jesus..... Luke, live!"

Today, my son is not alive on this earth... but He continues to live in my heart. I refuse to take that for granted. I want to live my life and make the most of every moment. The only life that my baby will have on this Earth is the life I will share with him. Just like Benson, I want to show him the world. I want to take him with me on this awesome journey the Lord has planned for me. He is and always will be a part of me.

We have one life on Earth. One opportunity to really, truly live it out loud. To give God everything we've got. Today, I pray that God opens your eyes to realize how special your life is and how special you are. I hope He fills your mind with endless opportunities of what your life could be like if you choose to give it all over to Him. I pray that He gives you the boldness to step out into a radical life of faith and accept the calling He has specifically for you. Accept no excuses - you are never too young, too old, too poor, too uneducated or too broken to be used by God.

Place King Jesus on the throne of your life today.... take risks... serve Him out loud with your whole heart. Live every moment to its fullness, realizing that each second is a gift from your Creator. Dream big dreams, Do big things... Don't ever look back. Make every day worth it.


"In the name of Jesus..... live!"


-- Kristin

Saturday, July 31, 2010

He is worth it all.

"Lord, take our lives and do whatever you want with them. We are yours. We want to be used by you, so Lord - lead us, guide us, send us. More than anything Lord, we want to bring You glory."

Months before we were even pregnant, Benson and I began praying that God would start to use us in a radical way.  Over a period of months, we had grown spiritually stagnant. Our lives and our ministry had become a weekly routine and we grew desperate for a change. So, we began to pray for God to move - to challenge us, to fill us with His presence, to send us to people and places where we could minister, to shake up our world in a way that would glorify Him.

When I found out that I was expecting a baby, I began to fervently pray that God would anoint him even before birth. I prayed prayers that some people would call crazy - that the Lord would fill Him with the Holy Spirit, that He would be an ambassador of the Gospel and that people would come to know Christ because of his life. I gave Luke to the Lord very early on - knowing and trusting that this baby would grow up to bring glory to the kingdom of God.

I look back on those prayers and realize now just how faithful God is when we call on Him. Maybe I should have listened to all those times people told me to "be careful what you pray for."

Last night as I sat in a pew worshipping the Lord as my amazingly talented and passion-filled husband led worship with Steadfast, the Lord began to speak into my heart. I felt the Spirit leading me and convicting me to once again, give my life over to the Lord...to let Him have his way with my family and with my future...to commit myself to His ministry and His call. It is a prayer that I have prayed many times throughout my life - however, last night - the thought of promising my life over to God absolutely terrified me.

You see, it wasn't long ago that Benson and I started talking about having another baby. I know most people would think that we should take months or even years before trying to get pregnant again. However, as Benson and I both prayed, the Lord spoke into our spirits that He would bless us in His time - whether that means a few weeks, a few months or a few years...and whenever He was ready to bless us in that way, we were ready to receive it.

A few days after having this conversation, satan began to speak doubt into my mind..."What if you lose another baby? What if you have a miscarriage? What if your next baby has another heart defect?..." The more people told us about how Luke touched their lives and how God used him in such a mighty way, satan would try to speak thoughts of how "You prayed for this...you asked for God to use your baby...He answered your prayers..." into my mind.

So, last night... when I felt convicted to pray once again for God to use my life, I could hear the devil saying "But Kristin, what if He chooses to use your next baby in the same way as Luke?"

Luke 9:23 says "Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

In society during the time of Christ, the cross was a symbol for pain and suffering. It was a well-known figure that represented torture and death. When He call us to "take up our cross" He does so with the understanding that giving your life to Him will most likely involve some kind of pain and sorrow. We must give up everything to serve Him, knowing that it will not always be easy - but in the end, it will be worth it.

So last night, I went to the altar with a heavy heart. The Lord knew my fears and as much as I wanted Him to speak to me and promise me that I would ever have to go through such intense pain again - I knew that He couldn't. The Lord cannot promise me that I will never hurt again or that He will never lead Benson and I down another dark path. What He does promise is that He will never leave me or forsake me...that He loves me and He will always be my strength.

So, last night...on my knees in front of the Lord, I prayed a prayer that I would never have dreamed I would ever have to pray...

"Lord...I love you. I give you my life...I give you my yesterdays and my tomorrows. My heart is broken and I feel so empty Lord. My pain is unbearable at times, but...You Jesus are the lifter of my head. You promise that no matter what, You will never leave me or forsake me.

So, whatever you want me to do Lord - I'll do it...whether that means that I may have to suffer or go through heartache again - as long as it brings you glory Lord, I am willing...send me...

...and if that means losing another baby, I'm okay with that...because Jesus, you are worth it. You are worth it all."


I don't tell you any of this to bring any kind of glory to myself...I tell you this because it's true...He is worth it all.

People have asked how we can go through losing our baby boy and still have a passion to serve God...why after all we have been through, we choose to give our lives to Him - I can tell you very simply why it is so easy for us to do..

It is because we have tried everything else in this world and the ONLY thing that works is Jesus.

Drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships, anger, bitterness, resentment, depression - between both Benson and I we have been there and done that. I am telling you, nothing fills the void in your life like Jesus can. Nothing. So when you are faced with pain or suffering, you have a choice. You can either run away from Jesus or run to Him. I have ran the other way before and learned the hard way - if you want healing, if you want Him to mend your brokenness...you can't do it on your own. You have to choose each day to give it all to Jesus.

We both feel like the Lord has brought us through so much in our lives because He wants to use our lives, both past and present, to glorify Him. I know that there are many of you who read this blog who are going through a lot of hurt and pain right now. Maybe you lost a child or someone your love...or maybe you are in a relationship that is not glorifying the Lord...or perhaps you just aren't where you need to be spiritually and you need to reconnect with Jesus...or maybe you have never really truly accepted Him as your Lord and Savior and want to know more about how to become a follower of Christ...we want to be an outlet of grace for you to share your feelings with or ask questions.

Some of the greatest way to release bondage in your own life is to just get it out in the open and tell others of your hurt. We don't have all the answers, but we know a God who does. We are real people with real pain and we want you to know that if you are hurting, you are not alone.

If you feel led to share what is going on in your life and just want someone to reach out to our email addresses are listed below. Please feel free to send us a message:

Kristin's email: kristin.sexton@yahoo.com
Benson's email: bensonsexton@hotmail.com

Also, if you would like or us to come and speak to your church, youth group, school or anywhere - please contact us. More than anything, we want to keep Luke's story alive and continue the ministry that the Lord has called us to. We would love to share Christ with as many people as we have the opportunity to. You can email us or message us on Facebook to contact us.

So where are you today? Are you too filled with fear to allow the Lord to completely have your life? Are you too scared to take up your cross and follow Him? Do not allow satan to rob you of the amazing journey that Christ has for your life. No matter where that journey takes you, whether through joy or pain, we serve a God that is there to carry you every step of the way...and trust me, He is worth it all.

-- Kristin

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A mother's heart.

This will be my first post since Luke went to Heaven. I have sat here with the laptop in my lap for hours not knowing where to start. What can I say when my heart hurts so bad?

I have decided that all I can do is be honest about what I am feeling and thinking. So many of you tell me that you think I am strong - and I will be first to tell you, my strength is only from the Lord. My flesh is broken and weak. I am a mother without her baby to hold and I have quickly realized that there is no earthly strength that is strong enough to get me through this on my own. All I can do is praise God that He is the lifter of my head and that He is near to the brokenhearted during this time.

Yesterday, I was a mess. I could not get over how empty I felt. I look at my stomach and cry... not because my clothes don't fit or because I'm not skinny... but because its empty. One month ago today, I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I could feel his little feet pressing up against my ribs and feel his little body jump when he had the hiccups. I could push against my belly and pat his butt.

One month ago, I was carrying Luke.

More than anything, I loved being pregnant with him. There is something so incredibly special about the bond between a mother and her unborn baby. Luke was my best friend. For nine months, we liked the same foods, listened to the same music, shopped online at our favorite stores and went everywhere together. He was a part of me, a God-formed miracle that was as important to my life as my very own heartbeat. Even though at the time I had never met him, I knew him and he knew me. I talked to him about Jesus and sang praise and worship songs to him in the car. He heard my jokes and knew I was funny (even funnier than his daddy!). He knew my voice and he knew I loved the Lord and that I loved him and prayed for him everyday. I only carried him for nine months but I felt like I had been his mother for my entire life.

Today, I cannot feel Luke with my hands. I cannot pick him up and hold him in my arms... and even though I know he is with Jesus, I miss him. I really miss him.

No words could ever explain how deep the void is in my heart. I have tasted of the sweetest joy that God gives on this Earth and it has left me with an insatiable hunger that cannot be filled.

However, no matter how much I hurt now - my pain is nothing compared to what I felt when I stood over my baby with his arms and legs turning black from lack of circulation. It is a mere sting compared to the deep ache I had when I saw his face in pain. Unless you saw Luke in the hospital, you will never fully comprehend just how sick our little boy was. As much as my arms ache for him, I have peace in knowing that the Lord knew best. I am not mad. I am not bitter. I cry for my own selfishness of dreams and hopes for my son that will never come to pass in this life. My grief is in my flesh and my spirit shouts with joy that my little boy is healed. I praise the Lord that I "do not have to grieve as those who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13-14 -- thank you Jesus!)

I am so thankful for all of the prayers and comments people have sent. Please know we read every one of them. There is no way we could respond to them all. There have been so many people who have helped pray us through this and we are so thankful. I am especially thankful for one person that God placed in my life that has been my source of strength every day. They have been there to hold me and cry with me when I felt like my world was falling apart and I can honestly say, I would not be able to do this without them. I would like to take the opportunity to thank that very special person who I know will be reading this...


Benson Sexton... I have never loved you more. In the midst of the worst days of our lives, I have fallen in love with you all over again. You will never fully understand how your love has held me together during the past few weeks. You are so much more than my husband and father to our baby boy - you are my rock, my anchor and my very breath with I cannot breathe on my own. We have stood beside our baby's bed and beside his casket in the very same week. No one (especially you) deserves to experience such intense pain. So many of my tears are because I hurt for you. I hurt for all the UK games you wanted to take Luke to, all the songs you would have sang to him, all the laughs I would have had watching you change his diaper for the first time. I am so sorry that the three of us will never share those memories together on this Earth. Thank you for being such a man of God and for loving Him even more than you love me. Thank you for being everything I ever dreamed of and more in a husband and best friend. Thank you for being the most incredible dad to Luke and for praying and singing over him even when it was hard. I know the Lord is going to fulfill every promise to us and I absolutely cannot wait to be blessed alongside you. I am so proud to be your wife and your partner in ministry. I love you now and will always love you no matter where life takes us.


From then (our first picture together...)


Our wedding.. (08.09.08).


Our family... the Sexton 3.

Please continue to pray for us, especially as we seek the Lord's direction for our lives and our ministry. Even in the dark times, God is still God and He is always good. He is speaking so much into our hearts and He is so close to us now in our brokenness. I can't wait to share all the things He is speaking to us. We are blessed.

-- Kristin