A Garden of Souls 

Over our twelve years of marriage, the two of us have become gardeners. Gardeners in the English sense to be clear, not so much in the Texas sense. I’ll never forget going to England and hearing parents talk with concern about the absolute necessity of helping their children as they moved into their new home. Not help them move in, you understand. Help them “sort out the garden.” Because (apparently) you can live with unpacked boxes in the home, but you cannot live without some plants to tend (I absolutely agree, for the record.). Of course, when we talk about gardening here in Texas, people immediately ask what we grow, expecting to hear broccoli, cabbage, and taters. And, if they ask in June through September, as the Death Star assumes its position directly over our state, they’re asking what we grow as they envision a Texas gardener — the sweat soaked, sun scorched, bent but not broken figure obstinately watering plants, picking hornworms off tomatoes, and suffering the irritation of okra’s antagonistic leaves, while all other people scuttle into whatever air conditioned shelter they can find and complain about how hot it is. 

So when we’re asked here in Texas what we grow, and we enthusiastically begin to talk about our petunias and our roses and our chaste trees and our almond verbena that smells so good… well, I’m pretty sure we get downgraded from (G)ardeners to (g)ardeners in the minds of the people we’re talking to. Not that I’m complaining. I ain’t picking any hornworms off anything, and anybody that is deserves a capital G. 

I do think though, that the experience of gardening, whether you’re a (G)ardener or a (g)ardener, teaches the same lessons.

1. It’s never going to be perfect.

2. Every little effort counts.

3. A little regular effort reaps far greater rewards than a back breaking twice annual marathon. 

The parallels between raising plants and raising people seem pretty clear to me, as both a parent and a gardener. 1. It’s never going to be perfect. 2. Every little effort counts. 3. A little regular effort reaps great rewards. I think perhaps fathers don’t father their children for the same reason that people don’t garden. “I don’t know what to do and it looks hard.” 

Well, unlike gardening, fathering is not optional in God’s eyes (Well… that’s actually arguable, since God is a gardener — see Genesis 2:8 “The Lord God planted a garden in Eden…” — and we are commanded to imitate God… but I won’t push that point too hard.). So since parenting is not optional, here’s the Word on what fathers are supposed to do. (This is a calling for grandfathers too. See Deuteronomy 4:9.) 

Fathers, do not exasperate your children to anger; 

instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. 

Ephesians 6:4 

1. Don’t exasperate your children. In gardening terms, there are a lot of things I can do to exasperate my plants. And the thing is, each plant is different. One plant is exasperated by too much water. Another plant is exasperated by not living in a swamp. This plant likes compacted soil, likes being walked on. This plant wants loamy, friable (I love the words there are to describe different kinds and qualities of dirt) soil. This one wants sun, but this one prefers shade. This one likes being talked to, but this one is a loner. So the thing is, if you’re not going to provoke your kids, you have to take the time to know what provokes them. Otherwise, you may have the best of intentions, but you’re watering a desert plant. You’re fertilizing a plant that wants a lean soil. 

2. Train them in the Lord’s way. In any garden, no plant exists in a vacuum. There are other plants around to consider, and then there’s the overall garden to consider. My almond verbena dies to the ground every year, and every year, grows back into a 15 foot tall monstrosity that will completely grow over the garden path if it is allowed to do so. Children have to be trained how to behave in a world that does not revolve around them. More than that, they have to be trained how to behave in this world in a way that pleases the Lord. They have to be taught, more than “do no harm to thy neighbor,” to “love thy neighbor.” More than “be nice,” they have to be taught “be kind to one another… honor everyone.” 

3. Instruct them in the Lord’s way. In my personal opinion, this is the most disregarded portion of this passage. It’s also the portion that has no gardening illustration. You can exasperate plants, pets, and people. You can train plants, pets and people. But you can only instruct people. I think maybe fathers fall short here because the other two commands pretty well flow out of just living with your children. Love comes fairly naturally to parents, therefore you, fairly naturally, try not to exasperate your children. You live with them, therefore you, naturally, try to make them pleasant to live with. You train them not to hit or bite. You train them to say “Please” and “Thank you.” These things come naturally to parents. In merely human terms, if you keep from exasperating and if you train them, you’re doing well. But what is it to instruct them in the Lord? How are fathers to do this? This is where the gospel comes in. This is where doctrine comes in. This is the “why” behind the “training in the Lord.” 

We’re going to look more in depth at how and what fathers and grandfathers are to instruct their offspring next time. If you would like to read ahead a little, then feel free to listen to these two podcast episodes in which I discuss some of these issues in a more free form way. 

Fireside Talk Radio - Part One 

Fireside Talk Radio - Part Two 

In the meantime, if you’re a non-gardener looking into an unkempt jungle, start at the beginning. Get to know your plants. Do your homework. Experiment. If you know your plants, but they’re taking over the garden…remember, it’s not going to be perfect. But with God’s blessing, every effort counts. And a little regular effort reaps great rewards. 

Keep after it. 

Miles & Martha


This devotional is based on our thoughts in preparing the synopsis for the Storyteller album. If you didn’t know that we write synopses… synopsises… synopsi?? …for our albums, be sure to read the album covers. 

We live in a world in which words are ever more malleable, controversial, shallow, and sordid. So when we, as creatures shaped by this world, read scriptures about God “upholding the universe by the word of his power;” when we hear “in the beginning was the Word;” and when we understand that God is the “author and finisher” of the faith, it comes as a shock to realize that words, narrative, and the culmination of a storyline, far from being merely valuable as entertainment, are actually paramount to understanding not only biblical purposes, but ultimately, life itself. 

I think the idea of God as Author is foundational to what the Bible reveals to us about the divine. I mean, what do you call an entity who is outside the narrative and creating every aspect of it? An author. The writer exists even if the story is never penned. While human authors can only dabble with the ink of a pen or the typing on a computer screen to create their worlds, God wrote upon time, space and matter. Speaking effortless words, sparking the flame of life and exploding every molecule into its preordained place, the stage was set and the Narrator began to speak to and through the “holy men of God.” 

Now here’s something that takes it from the amazing to the fantastical: the Author, the storyteller of storytellers wrote himself into the plot. The Director made a cameo in the beginning walking with Adam and Eve in the garden. He visited his friend Abraham. He burned in a bush. He guided his people through the wilderness. Joshua bowed before him before a great battle. Hints about him were whispered in prophesies hundreds of times up until the grand unveiling when “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He is not only the poet, but what the poem is about. He is not only the author, but the central plot point. He is not only the song, but the reason for music. 

“God comes down, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and draws to himself all of the sin and the shame, the rebellion and the hate, the sickness and the death, and swallows it whole. And he swallows it by letting it swallow him. The Dragon is crushed in the crushing of the Prince of Peace.” 

~ Joe Rigney 

This is why we should have indefatigable hope. It’s like when you are ten minutes into watching a blockbuster movie and you have already identified the indispensable heroes who will triumph in the end. You know that no matter what happens they will be victorious. There is that Biblical meaning of hope: absolute assurance. But knowing that all will be well does not mean that you do not gasp in horror at the seemingly unbearable circumstances the heroes are put through or cry at the unspeakable heartaches they will bear. The best storytelling works are unpredictably predictable: all will be well in the end, but there's a bunch of cliffhangers before you get there. Frodo will get the Ring to the destructive fires of Mount Doom, but when he’s finally at the peak, he himself falls prey to the Ring’s influence. Who saw that coming? Aslan will be victorious in the fight against the White Witch… but how can he be when he dies in exchange for Edmund’s life? Then you have Bugs Bunny, in the pan, in the oven, with Yosemite Sam fixing to light the match… I could go on.

I think Christian art suffers greatly when we give our characters mundane annoyances and predictable Hallmark channel victories. Jehovah is a writer of the grand sweeping narrative, the perilous odyssey, the grueling battle, the slog through the slough of despond, the arduous quest, the heroic epic, the hazardous conquest and the wounded warrior narrowly escaping death and improbably vanquishing his foes in the last moment. Christ himself did not step into the story as untouchable God, but as a man. Not just a man, but the lowest, the most helpless of the low. He came to a third world, conquered country. He came as a baby, born to impoverished teenagers who would shortly become refugees. Now there's drama for you. 

And here we are, written into this epic story. The 139th Psalm tells us that our days have been recorded in a book before we were even born and in Scripture's finale, we read that our names and all our works are written down. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God's poiema. His poem. His work of art. His masterpiece. 

Just as characters in a story do not comprehend or many times may be completely ignorant of the details that the narrator is speaking to the reader, so we often see our emotional agony, family dramas, disabilities and they all feel bleak and pointless from our limited vantage point. Our hope, our confidence, is that we only know a fraction of the plot points of our own lives. Our hope is that the Author is bringing it together into a coherent and meaningful whole. Praise God, we have the last chapter given to us as inextinguishable fuel for this confidence. 

These story song selections are meant to lay bare the experiences of life. Funny and dark; sweet and bitter; sad and hopeful; lost and found. As we face the arrival of virtual worlds, in which people want to retreat into the space between their two ears to avoid the chaos around them, let Christians be the ones who remain active participants in this divine story. May we ever strive, in our supporting roles, to bring notoriety to the lead character and to call the unwitting extras on the global set to join the cast before the credits run. We await with eager expectation the final chapter. No more numbers on the page. No more chapters building to the culmination of all the loose plot lines. The glorious final cut: the red carpet event. Awards will be given and we will lay them at all at the feet of the cause of all causes, the Author Himself. 

These songs are not just my story. They’re also your story. And ultimately, all of our stories, are His story. 

We are His poiema. 

Miles & Martha

Your Worst Nightmare 

Habakkuk 3:17-19 

Though the fig tree does not bud 

and there is no fruit on the vines, 

though the olive crop fails 

and the fields produce no food, 

though the flocks disappear from the pen 

and there are no herds in the stalls, 

yet I will celebrate in the LORD; 

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! 

The LORD my Lord is my strength; 

He makes my feet like those of a deer 

and enables me to walk on mountain heights! 

For the choir director on stringed instruments. 

I read once that if you’re struggling with worry, the best thing to do is to imagine the worst possible scenario of your worry. It’s a pretty good strategy, although I have a very active imagination. In my conversations with people these days, I see this mentality. The mentality of buckling down and preparing for the worst. Habakkuk’s mentality. Or is it? 

For a few days I’ve had this passage in mind to write about for this newsletter. Today, the opportune moment came. Babies are napping, the house is quiet. I’m going to write about Habakkuk and about how in the midst of his worst possible scenario, he’s trusting the Lord. It’s not a bad take, but it’s far from the whole picture. I only know this, because I went ahead and read all three chapters of Habakkuk before I started to write. Extreme prep, I know, but like I said, the babies are asleep. The silence goes to my head. 

It’s different from how it was in my head, and I’ve read Habakkuk before. Habakkuk starts out with 

“How long, Lord, must I call for help 

and you do not listen 

or cry out to You about violence 

and You do not save? 

Why do You force me to look at injustice? 

Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? 

Oppression and violence are right in front of me. 

Strife is ongoing and conflict escalates.” 

Wow, right? Talk about relevant. This is a prayer I could pray right now, word for word. The amazing thing is that God actually answers Habakkuk and gives the big picture view that Habakkuk is asking for in order to understand. God says: 

Look at the nations and observe— 

be utterly astounded! 

For I am doing something in your days 

that you will not believe 

when you hear about it. 

Look! I am raising up the Chaldeans… 

I’m pretty sure this is why the Lord rarely tells us what He is doing. It’s because we would be scared spitless. In response to Habakkuk’s plea for justice, the Lord says He is raising up the Chaldeans. Great! Good plan! Um... who are the Chaldeans? Habakkuk would most likely have already heard frightening rumors about this fierce new empire spreading its borders ever closer to Judah. The capital city of Chaldea was Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar would be the Chaldean king who would later invade Judah, just as God is telling Habakkuk, and who would destroy Solomon’s temple, lay waste the land, and carry off the vast majority of its inhabitants into slavery (among them Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). 

Habakkuk is understandably shaken by this revelation. He asks: 

Is he then to keep on emptying his net 

and mercilessly killing nations forever? 

God, what about the Chaldeans? What about justice for them? Part of the Lord’s answer sounds familiar because it is quoted by Paul in Romans: 

Write the vision; 

make it plain on tablets, 

so he may run who reads it. 

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; 

it hastens to the end — it will not lie. 

If it seems slow, wait for it; 

it will surely come; it will not delay. 

Behold his (Chaldea’s) soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, 

but the righteous shall live by his faith. 


Woe to him (Chaldea) who heaps up what is not his own— 

for how long? 

and loads himself with pledges! 

Will not your debtors suddenly arise, 

and those awake who will make you tremble? 

Then you will be spoil for them. 


For the earth will be filled 

with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD 

as the waters cover the sea. 

God tells Habakkuk that the fulfillment of the prophecy may seem slow, but it is surely coming. God’s judgement on Judah for her injustice, violence, and wrongdoing, is surely coming. And God’s judgment on the Chaldeans for their viciousness, their cruelty, their idolatry, is surely coming. And in the midst of all this, God’s people are going to live by faith. They’re going to have to trust God’s promise that He is bringing about justice, that He is not slow, that He is not delaying, that He is at work in the movements of the greatest empire on earth at the time. 

The third chapter of Habakkuk is his final reply to the Lord. It’s filled with imagery of God working in history and doing mighty deeds. Here’s the conclusion Habakkuk reaches: It’s one thing to read through the Bible and pass from Genesis to Exodus and think “Huh. 400 years of slavery. Interesting.” It’s another to be a brickmaker at the 200 year mark of slavery and trust as you work for the glory of Pharaoh that great-great-great-great uncle Joseph had it right when he said that God would certainly bring your people into the land He swore to give to Abraham. It’s one thing to hear a Sunday school lesson about Moses and the children of Israel having to paint the blood of a lamb over their doors. It’s another to kill the lamb, paint the door, and trust, as you hold your sleeping firstborn son in the blackness of night, that the angel of death will pass over him. It’s one thing to hear about the Red Sea parting. It’s another to wake up in a vast encampment of terrified refugees with the rumble of Pharaoh’s chariots behind you, and an impassable sea ahead of you. Habakkuk is now seeing God work in mighty ways, which before he had only read about. Here's how he feels about it. 

O LORD, I have heard the report of you, 

and your work, O LORD, do I fear. 


I hear, and my body trembles; 

my lips quiver at the sound; 

rottenness enters into my bones; 

my legs tremble beneath me. 

Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble 

to come upon people who invade us. 

Though the fig tree should not blossom, 

nor fruit be on the vines, 

the produce of the olive fail, 

and the fields yield no food, 

the flock be cut off from the fold, 

and there be no herd in the stalls, 

yet I will rejoice in the LORD; 

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 

GOD, the Lord, is my strength; 

He makes my feet like the deer’s; 

He makes me tread on my high places. 

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. 

First of all, Habakkuk's response to God's terrifying plan, is to write a worship song. I love thinking about Daniel and his friends singing this song years before their captivity in Babylon. Somehow facing the worst things head on, even singing about them, takes the sting away. Christ was singing about the cross long before he was making his final trek to Jerusalem. We can sing about the worst things because if they're part of God's plan, then the worst things will ultimately be redemptive. 

If I were to write a song about my worst case scenario, it would be something far less poetic: 

though there is no end to Covid’s ramifications 

though the world governments become more power mad 

though the price of everyday necessities go ever up 

though the battle on the family is lost...

Well I guess those who can't write songs... write newsletters. 

We were watching Planet Earth the other day with the kids, and there was a section on mountain goats. Nimble is a feeble word to describe how agile they were on cliffs and precipices. That was what brought Habakkuk to mind in the first place because suddenly 

“He makes my feet like the deer’s; 

He makes me tread on my high places” 

became so much more than just a pretty mental picture. Far from being a reiteration of Psalm 23, Habakkuk is saying 'God makes me able to endure in the harshest circumstances.' Whatever your worst case scenario song is, even if it comes true down to the jot and the tittle, God’s righteous ones will live by faith. We trust that He is bringing about His ultimate plan of redemption. We trust that He loves us because we keep the cross of Jesus in mind. We trust that even if things worse than our imaginations were to take place, He would make us able to keep our footing in that wasteland. Above all, we trust that though we ourselves deserve His judgment, in Jesus, that judgement is absorbed. 

He'll keep us standing, both on the precipices now, and before His throne on that great day. 

Keep on your toes, 

Miles & Martha

Mine ... But Not Mine 

I feel like everyone spent last year thinking, well, if we can just get to the summer, if we can just get to the fall, if we can just get to the vaccine in the winter, if we can just get past the election… Well that’s how I have thought at any rate. And here we are, past all of the above. To be brief, we have lost over 270 concerts since shutdown and have only been able to do 31. At the time of this writing I have a total of four churches booked. Most congregations are still running well below pre-Covid numbers and leadership is understandably not willing to schedule things until their numbers get more steady. From my conversations over the course of hundreds of phone calls these last few weeks I regret to say that for the most part churches are going to be very slow coming back and many may never be what they were. There has been a great sifting and many people who were able to do without church for a year without a sigh are perfectly content to continue that way. 

Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together is a command just like #4 of the “Big Ten.” Failure to do so is not mitigated by the technological advances of live streaming. God is not taken by surprise that this is now possible. That’s why the word “together” is there. You can technically “assemble” your digital selves online, but you cannot be physically together. God made us physical beings and God made us social beings. It is not good for us to be alone and when we are, everything from bad habits, to loneliness, suicidal thoughts, feelings of meaninglessness, and worse naturally occur. But the child of God who has been uniquely and intricately placed into a part of the local body and the universal Body of Christ is especially dependent on this social experience. 

I wait patiently for the “y’all” version of the Bible to come out. There are so many “y’all’s” in Scripture that we can’t see because translators use the plural “you” for a smoother reading experience. But the real word behind that “you” many times is “y’all.” Go read an epistle on yallversion.com for an eye-opening experience. Prime example:

1 Corinthians 3:16

“Do y’all not know that y’all are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in y’all? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what y’all are.

Show of hands — how many thought that verse was saying that you, singular, are the temple of God? 

Why does the “y’all” aspect of the Bible matter? Because it is in the common grace observances of the Lord’s table, the witnessing of baptisms, the singing of the saints, and hearing the proclamation of God’s word that the church finds its sustenance. Private Bible study is needful. Family prayer time is a must. Taking advantage of the wealth of podcasts from multiple preachers online is an amazing blessing. However, you are an unrepeatable gear in this machine. No one else can do what you do. Your church is a incomparable and priceless part of Christ’s body. If you judge an item by the price paid, the collective Body of Christ is infinitely, immeasurably, undeniably the most valuable entity in all of creation because it was appraised by God as being worth the life of his perfect eternal and glorious Son. 

Being able to go without church for a year and not be greatly distressed is a disturbing diagnostic for anyone who has claimed Christianity. For a professing Christian to be apart from the church with no regrets or longing is at best an indicator that you are in an extremely shallow church that is not feeding you properly or at worst, you are a false convert. 

There is a “you” aspect to Christianity. But it exists alongside the “y’all” aspect. Certainly it is right to think of your personal walk with Christ, but that awareness needs to come with the parallel awareness of your church’s walk with Christ... and your walk with your church... and how your walk with your church affects your personal walk with Christ. 

Culture today skews heavily toward the individual experience, and that is true of the church as of the culture: it’s my personal walk with Christ, my interpretation of Scripture, my worship experience, my personal sins, my individual temptations, my strengths, my weaknesses, my joy, my grief. Like the other paradoxical truths of Scripture, these things are wrong only in the absence of the opposite and parallel truth. Christ was truly man. But if you stop there and fail to complete the catechism, you’ve fallen into error. Christ was truly man … and truly God. And so, it is my personal spiritual life. But if I can’t see that I exist within the church… that my personal spiritual life is mine, but also not mine, then I’ve fallen into error. 

     It’s my personal walk with Christ,

but it’s also the church’s walk with Christ, myself forming a small, but necessary part. 

     It’s my interpretation of Scripture,

but it’s learning from and submitting to the leadership within the church as they interpret the same Scripture. 

     It’s my worship experience,

but it’s the church together worshipping while observing the sacraments of communion and baptism, and singing to one another with psalms and hymns, and hearing together the Scripture read and expounded upon. 

     It’s my personal sin,

but it’s in the context of the church that we can bear each other’s burdens and confess our sins to one another. And it’s my sin that potentially taints and weakens the whole church, my sin that my leadership is in some sense accountable for. 

     It’s my individual temptation,

but it’s the church that encourages me and exhorts me to see the eternal weight of glory and not settle for Esau’s porridge. 

     It’s my strength,

but it’s for the purpose of building up the church. 

     It’s my weakness,

but it’s for the purpose of being built up within the church. 

     It’s my joy,

but it’s also for the joy of the church. 

     It’s my grief,

but it is shared and comforted by the church. 

In a world that prizes individualism above all else, let’s grow deep roots within the churches in which we’ve been placed. Let’s prize the joy of community, the joy of being one with people that are sometimes utterly foreign to us otherwise. Let’s embrace the truth that we are living stones, carefully placed into the living structure that is being built into a holy temple for the Lord. 

Grace be with y’all. 

Miles & Martha

O For Grace to Trust Him More 

Seems like since the beginning of the shutdowns and general craziness, we’ve heard a lot of references to Job, suffering, and the feeling of having lost it all. In the context of Job, I don’t believe I personally have seen anyone during this pandemic lose anything close to what Job did. But at least he didn’t have to wear a mask for his ailment. So I feel like I’m right there with him as far as degree of suffering goes. Yes, there’s a big ole tongue in my cheek as I say that. 

You all know Job’s story. In a nutshell, Job lost his wealth, his livelihood, his children, his health, and in a less literal sense, his wife, all in a cosmic stand off between God and Satan. 

For this devotional, I’d like to focus in on the lesser known characters in the book of Job — lesser known even though their words take up a large chunk of the book. Job’s friends. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. To their credit, they came, they stayed quiet for seven days, they wept with Job, and when they spoke, they said it to Job and not all over town. 

So after they’ve been sitting with Job in silence for a week, Job starts talking. “I wish I had never been born.” Imagine that it’s a friend of yours that is suffering, and this friend tells you he wishes he had never been born. What would you tell him? 

Eliphaz tells Job: 

“Blessed is the one whom God reproves; 
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

Job 5:17

Doesn’t sound that bad, does it? It’s a spiritual way of telling Job that the bad things that have happened to him *may* have been his fault. Job replies that yes, his words have been rash, but he has ample cause for rash words. He tells them he can see the fear in their eyes — what if this is a punishment from God? What if Job’s misfortune is catching? And this is such a great word from Job when it comes to being with suffering people: 

“Do you think that you can reprove words, 
when the speech of a despairing man is wind?” 

Job 6:26

Eliphaz is tut-tutting Job’s words when Job is in every kind of agony, rather than doing him the kindness of letting some steam off (let alone the kindness of physically taking care of his friend). This is not where I’m heading, but I think it’s worth pointing out that being a good friend means allowing your friends to be free to say things in the fullness of their hearts that they will perhaps later repent of. Bildad replies to Job next: 

“If your children have sinned against him, 
he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression” (Job 8:4). 


“Behold, God will not reject a blameless man, 
nor take the hand of evildoers” (Job 8:20). 

He's saying look, your children may have (probably) received what they deserved. God’s not in the business of hurting good people! 

Job replies: 

“He crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause; 
he will not let me get a breath, but fills me with bitterness. 
If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty! 
If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him? 
Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; 
though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse. 
He destroys both the blameless and the wicked. 
When disaster brings sudden death 
he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. 
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; 
he covers the faces of its judges — if it is not he, who then is it?” 

Job 9:17-24

I love this book! There’s so many things we feel when we’re suffering that are not kosher to say. And here Job is, just laying it all out there. And here God is, putting all Job’s words in a book for us to read and shake our heads in amazement at! “God, you destroy the blameless and the wicked together. You mock the calamity of the innocent. You are crushing me without a cause!” 

Here’s Zophar’s response: 

“You say, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God’s eyes.’ 
But oh, that God would speak and open His lips to you, 
and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom! 
For he is manifold in understanding. 
Know then that God exacts less of you than your guilt deserves.

Job 11:4-6

I mean, technically, what’s wrong with this, right? Isn’t it kinda like what we say when we’re asked how we’re doing and we reply “better than I deserve”? If we all deserve hellfire, then what’s wrong with saying that Job’s received less than he deserves? The book goes on like this, with Job continuing to assert that he has done nothing for which God would be just to punish him in such a manner, and with the friends doubling down on their assertions that God is punishing Job justly. At the beginning, they’re hinting around that God may be punishing Job, but as Job continues to tell them he is innocent, they quit with hinting and just say out and out what they were really thinking all along. 


Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you 
and enters into judgment with you? 
Is not your evil abundant? 
There is no end to your iniquities. 
For you have exacted pledges of your brothers for nothing 
and stripped the naked of their clothing. 
You have given no water to the weary to drink, 
and you have withheld bread from the hungry.

Job 22:4-7

Wow, Eliphaz! Don’t hold back, bro! Tell us what you really think! As I read this, I see these friends saying things that are not right about Job, but at the book’s conclusion, God tells the friends that they have not spoken what is right about Him, as Job has. So if that’s the case, I’ve always wondered, what did they say that was wrong about God? 

I think, put simply, what the friends are saying is that God is comprehensible, predictable, and formulaic. That God is good, and therefore, God only does what is easily explained as being good. He rewards good people and punishes bad people. Eliphaz told Job in his reply to Job’s first words: 

“Who that was innocent ever perished? 
Or where were the upright cut off?”

Job 4:7 

Which is to say, if you’re innocent, these kinds of things just don’t happen to you! Check off your boxes of sacrificing for sin, cross the “t” of giving to the poor, dot the “i” of living a righteous life. Et voila! You’re bound to be blessed in your finances, family life, and health. Does that sound familiar? TBN preachers? Follow this formula, send me this money, and God will bless your finances. 

This is a very easy trap for all of us to fall into, even as Christians who have immeasurably more information about God than these four men would have had at the time of Job’s story. Even as Christians who would die on the hill of “by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.” We say “Your ways are higher than our ways, and your thoughts than our thoughts” but do we think that way? Much of the time we act as if we actually can explain what God is doing. 

The problem is, God isn’t an iPhone app with neat buttons and progress bars to tell you what’s going on. Mr Beaver gets it right in the Chronicles of Narnia: “Safe? … Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

Back to Job’s friends. Let’s be fair to them. Were they wrong to think and believe that God punishes wrongdoing? Absolutely not. See Romans 2:6 - “God will repay each person according to his deeds.” Were they wrong to think that God disciplines his children? No. Hebrews 12:6, right? “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” And let’s continue to be fair to them — if you were to have a friend who in one day lost his wealth because fire fell from heaven, lost his business in a vicious one-hour takeover, lost his children in a tornado, and then who broke out in disgusting sores all over his body and whose marriage was suddenly on the rocks? Well, if you don’t think you’d have some questions about where they stood with God, I think you maybe don’t know yourself very well. That’s Sodom and Gomorrah stuff there! Job’s situation did bear the hallmarks of divine judgement. But Job’s friends went wrong when they assumed that just because some suffering bears God's fingerprints, that therefore the reason for that suffering must be sin, as if God is a God of karma, or this world is fair, or Satan does not abuse those that God loves, or God does not bring suffering for his own divine purposes. 

Because, let’s be clear, God does sometimes bring suffering for his own divine purposes. “His own divine purposes,” meaning that you may have absolutely no idea what good any of it is doing. It may seem utterly meaningless. Look at the psalms. Sometimes a psalmist suffers as a result of his sin — “There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.” (Ps. 41:4) — but often it’s just inexplicable. Listen to this psalmist’s lament: “O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?” (Ps. 88:14). 

As a child of God, when bad things happen to me, I’m with Job — “Make me know my transgression and my sin” (Job 13:23). I think we all need the humility in suffering to ask this, to say “is it I, Lord?” But if God does not show us a sin to repent of, we also need the faith to move on from looking at ourselves, to looking at the sovereignty of a loving, yet sometimes inexplicable God 

In the middle of the confrontation with his friends Job says this: 

Oh that my words were written! 
Oh that they were inscribed in a book! 
Oh that with an iron pen and lead 
they were engraved in the rock forever! 
For I know that my Redeemer lives, 
and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 
And after my skin has been thus destroyed, 
yet in my flesh I shall see God, 
whom I shall see for myself, 
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Job 19:23-27

Amazing isn’t it? The God Job thought wasn’t listening, was listening. The God Job thought had stopped caring, was putting Job’s tears in a bottle, one by one (Ps 56:8). Job’s words are inscribed in a book, an eternal book, and the Redeemer that Job had only the vaguest notion of has come, has stood on the earth, has shown the kind of love that God has for us, and at the last, he will stand on the earth again. So whatever mess we are going through may, like Job's, be unexplainable, but it is not unloving or purposeless. 

Have I been doing a lot of crying out and “woe is I” complaining over the past year? You betcha. But I feel very at home with David, with Moses, with the other psalmists, with Paul, with Jeremiah, and yes, even with Job. After all my calling out and questioning, here I stand with those many witnesses saying with them “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away. I’m going to attempt to stop figuring out the reason for this mess, stop looking at my own weakness and failings, and try to trust the God whose plan is beyond my comprehension. 

O for grace to trust Him more! 

Miles & Mar

A Toddler's Mess 

I would like to relate to you a slightly amusing irony. Needless to say this year has stunk… and the stench has been more potent for people in the arts. Also people in the medical profession… and families with children in school… and people in nursing homes… and older people in general… not to mention people needing elective procedures… people that live in large cities… people that watched the first presidential debate… I’m sure you could fill in my blanks. But I’m in the arts, so that’s my relationship to the upper echelons of stinkage this year. 

On top of tediously sitting at home over the last several months, we have been in a seemingly unending kitchen cabinet remodel  for going on two months now and looking like it will be at least another month (decade) before it is done, and currently I have quickly come down with some terrible condition. I don’t think it’s Covid, (footnote: this was written right before we went to get tested - it was Covid) but it has my teeth hurting and me completely wiped out. 

With me sick we don’t want to spread the joy around to my extended family and so Martha had to run to town for provisions and I was left to keep the babies alive. I thought it was going pretty well until I turned the corner in the library where we have a shelf on which we keep all of our ministry resource books for the product table. There are hundreds of them on all different topics for people to pick up. You can probably see where this is going, but a whole pile of them had been ripped from the well organized location and strewn from hither to yon. The babies, as per usual, were very proud of their productivity. 

Feeling as I did at the moment, I thankfully did manage not to think in expletives. Maybe a few asterisks. I may have muttered like Yosemite Sam under my breath as I began to pick the books up. The irony came in when I began to realize that the only pile that had been toppled was the topic, “Does God Control Everything?” 

Depending on who is reading this you may have a different take on it, but orthodox Christianity has always held that God is sovereign in all things and so the universal answer of the faithful church has always been “yes.” 

This year has seen us slogging through a morass of raw feelings that may or may not be warranted (it’s hard to reason with feelings), along with actual major losses and setbacks. Underneath the swamp, my feet rest on the only thing that keeps me from letting my head go under: a solid bedrock of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and mercy. For the second time in my life Psalm 42 is my anthem: 

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? 

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Does reading it does it change the situation around me? Nope. But it changes me... 

And isn’t that what salvation is all about? Less me, more Christ? 

Am I reading a lot into a toddler’s mess? Well, I usually make more of my messes than I should. I’m literally and figuratively the dad with his t-shirt perpetually pulled up over his nose while changing diapers. Was cleaning that mess up a big deal? Naw... took a couple of minutes. Is the mess of this world gonna be a big deal for God to clean up? 

Naw... just a final word and all things will be new. 

Keep decreasing, 

Miles & Martha

The Hope Within 

Who wants to hear more about coronavirus? Throw your hands in the air! 

So how’s your light shining in this swamp, Christian? If you ask me, Peter’s charge to “be ready with an answer when someone asks you for a reason for the hope that is within you” seems a bit over zealous about now. Seriously? We’re supposed to have hope to the point that someone asks about it? In the middle of this mess? These days, if you were to ask for an answer for the heaviness within me, I would be pretty likely to go off like a radio talk show host about my reasons for being discouraged, irritated, outraged, even depressed. 

I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong. I don’t think Peter wants us to be unaware of or unaffected by the darkness of the world. The whole point behind people asking for the reason for hope within us is that there’s not an obvious reason. From the outside looking in, there may be every reason for discouragement, irritation, outrage, and even depression. I’m pretty sure Jesus experienced every one of those at some point during his ministry. But the bedrock reality that shaped his outlook was hope. 

(Minor side note in this paragraph.) The problem is, when I say “the bedrock reality of hope,” it kinda sounds like saying jumbo shrimp. Airline food. Honest politicians. When we say we “hope” something today, we don’t mean what Peter did. We say “I hope things will go back to normal soon,” or “I hope the chaos in our country will be resolved soon.” But we mean something closer to we “wish” things would go back to normal. We wish the chaos in our country would be resolved. 

(Back to the main point about hope in the midst of unhopeful circumstances.) Perfect example of discouragement, irritation, outrage, despair? Jeremiah. Yeah, the prophet who wrote a book of the Bible called Lamentations. Ever wondered why it was named Lamentations? Read it. If five chapters is too much for you, just read chapter 3. Seriously, read it. Sometimes reading someone else’s bad news gives you a fresh perspective on your own. The Cliffs notes version is that Jeremiah says he’s seen affliction, had God’s hand turned against him, been worn down physically, worn down spiritually, been turned against by his own people, had his peace taken away, his future, his home, his hope. Then we get to verse 21. 

Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish,

for his mercies never end.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness!

I say, “The Lord is my portion,

therefore I will put my hope in him.

Someone write a song! Oh, wait. 

Faith and hope are designated throughout the Bible as being rooted in the character of God himself. If he is not faithful and if his promises are not sure, then there is no reason to hope in him. Here’s Peter again (1 Peter 1:21): 

Through Him you believe in God, 

who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him; 

and so your faith and hope are in God.

The New Testament takes the concept of hope a step further than Jeremiah can. Peter tells us where our hope rests, just as Jeremiah does. Peter can take it to the next level though, and give us the bedrock reasons for our hope: Christ, the Messiah died, has been raised, and is now glorified. Christ’s work is complete, with nothing lacking to restore a right relationship between God and man. So not only do we hope in God’s character, in his goodness and faithfulness, but we hope in that very goodness and faithfulness being extended to us forever, knowing that Christ has completely reconciled us. 

You can skip this middle portion if you like, because we’re gonna go a little geeky on you and give you a chunk of Luther to read on the relationship of hope to faith. I needed some major help here to try and come up with the differentials between the two, so I turned to a giant on whose shoulders all protestants stand. Enjoy, and enjoy nonchalantly injecting into random conversations the fact that you’ve been reading Luther. Reading Luther without mentioning it would be such a waste. 


"There is so great affinity between faith and hope, that the one cannot be separate from the other. Notwithstanding, there is a difference between them, which is gathered of their several offices, diversity of working, and of their ends. 
1. They differ in respect of their subject, that is, of the ground wherein they rest. For faith resteth in the understanding, hope in the will; but the one is to the other, as the two cherubim on the mercy-seat. 
2. They differ in respect of their office, i.e. of their working. Faith tells what is to be done, teaches, prescribes, directs; hope stirs up the mind that it may be strong, bold, courageous, that it may suffer and endure adversity, waiting for better things. 
3. They differ as touching their object, that is, the special matter whereunto they look. Faith has for her object the truth, teaching us to cleave surely thereto, and looking upon the word and promise of the thing that is promised; hope has for her object the goodness of God, and looks upon the thing which is promised in the word, that is, upon such matters as faith teaches us to hope for. 
4. They differ in order. Faith is the beginning of life, before all tribulation; hope proceeds from tribulation. 
5. They differ by the diversity of working. Faith is a teacher and a judge, fighting against errors and heresies, judging spirits and doctrines; hope is, as it were, the general or captain of the field, fighting against tribulation, the cross, impatience, heaviness of spirit, weakness, desperation, and blasphemy, and it waits for good things even in the midst of all evils. Therefore, when I am instructed by faith in the Word of God, and lay hold of Christ, believing in Him with my whole heart, then am I righteous by this knowledge. When I am so justified by faith, or by this knowledge, by and by cometh the devil, the father of wiles, and laboureth to extinguish my faith by wiles and subtleties; that is to say, by lies, errors, and heresies. Moreover, because he is a murderer, he goeth about also to oppress it by violence. Here hope wrestling, layeth hold on the thing revealed by faith, and overcometh the devil that warreth against faith; and after this victory followeth peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."

So, there’s some 500 year old wisdom from a church father. Back to ME! 
A commentary on the Bible is one thing, but a commentary on a commentary is…well, I won’t comment. Might cause a black hole to open up. 

Another part of our hope is the looking-forward part that I’ll just mention briefly via our brother Paul (Titus 2:12-13) . 

It (Scripture) instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, 

and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 

as we await the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

So to sum up - 

We hope in his character, for he is faithful and true. 
We hope in his death, for he took our place of punishment on the cross. 
We hope in his burial, for he descended into hell as a conquerer of the grave. 
We hope in his resurrection, because God has proclaimed him victor for us. 
We hope in his ascension, for he is now sitting at the right hand of power interceding for us. 
We hope in his soon coming, for he will make all things right again. 

So, bringing it all together. Is it ok to have a bleak outlook on current events? Yes. In this world we will have troubles. That’s pretty bleak. We gonna have swamps to muck through before it’s all done. We’re not called to deny reality. On the contrary, if you think about it, according to the Bible, the reality of our world is really much, much worse than we could ever imagine. 

Here's the other reality: our hope is much more overwhelmingly glorious than we could ever imagine. Christ has won for us, his victory is total, his kingdom has come and will come, and the irrepressible power of his coming will wash away every blemish on this blood-soaked, sin-sick, bad-news-saturated, riot-ravaged, politics-swarmed, prejudice-plagued, injustice-riddled, and mosquito-infested, miserable orb. 

Let's be realists - embracing both the reality that we see, and the reality that we do not see. Let's do as Jeremiah did, and remember our hope in the midst of all circumstances. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope and give your answer boldly to the world. 


Your Justice Be Done 

Our devotionals since the twins have been born have reflected our state of life really well — no deep thought required! We’re a little less in survival mode now, but not so much that we didn’t discuss just using something we wrote a few years ago for this particular newsletter. We’re not going to do that, but we are going to use material that we’ve thought much about already. Namely, one of the songs we’ve recorded. Hopefully it goes without saying, but we could talk your ears off about every one of the songs we’ve picked to record. Each of them is about deep and enduring truth, even the fast and fun ones. 

However this song isn’t fast or fun. It’s called “The Reckoning,” and it was written by Andrew Peterson. 

I can see the storm descending on the hill tonight 

Tall trees are bending to your will tonight 

Let the mighty bow down 

At the thundering sound of your voice 

I can hear the howling wind and feel the rain tonight 

Every drop a prophet in your name tonight 

And the words that they sing 

They are washing me clean, but 

How long until this curtain is lifted? 

How long is this the song that we sing? 

How long until the reckoning? 

“Every drop a prophet in your name tonight.” What a great line. Every time there’s a storm, the thunder and lightning that sends Lillie crying to Mommy and Daddy — it’s a foretelling of the judgment that is to come. 

This is one of those songs that came home to us as a result of starting a family and having little ones. All of you who have children know that having children changes how you view so many things. Abortion was always evil, but now… we see that the evil is much darker and more terrible than we knew. Sexual predators were always appalling, but now the very thought is nauseous. Broken families were always sad, but now they are heartbreaking. Having helplessness and innocence to guard makes us so very aware of the evil that is present in the world system, in fallen human nature, and in our adversary, Satan, always seeking to kill, steal, and destroy. 

And I know you hear the cries of every soul tonight 

You see the teardrops as they roll tonight 

Down the faces of the saints 

Who grow weary and faint in your fields 

And the wicked roam the cities and the streets tonight 

But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight 

I believe You will come 

Your justice be done, but how long? 

Look at that line. “But when the God of love and thunder speaks tonight / I believe You will come / Your justice be done.” Thank God for thunder and lightning, for howling wind and storms. Their violence reminds us of the coming judgment, renews our hope that His justice will be done in the end, however long He chooses to wait. 

We need those reminders. It’s so hard to grasp what God is doing in the world. Looking around, one of the hardest questions Christianity has to answer is how God can allow evil to continue. He hears the cries of every soul tonight. Sees the teardrops. And yet, the wicked continue to roam the cities and the streets. There’s tension there, even paradox. God’s wrath at evil is to be feared and fled from, yet God is the God of love, full of lovingkindness and mercy, ready to receive all who come to him in penitence. 

Thus the bridge of the song: 

You are holiness and grace 

You are fury and rest 

You are anger and love 

You curse and you bless 

You are mighty and weak 

You are silence and song 

You are plain as the day, 

But you have hidden your face-- 

For how long? How long? 

The poetry in these lyrics is beautiful. Such an economy of words to describe our God, yet with every line I could pull up dozens of scripture references to back it up. 

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning 

The storm is past and rest is beckoning 

Mighty God, how I fear you 

How I long to be near you, O Lord 

How long until the burden is lifted? 

How long is this the song that we sing? 

How long until the reckoning? 

And I know that I don't know what I'm asking 

But I long to look you full in the face 

I am ready for the reckoning 

I think it makes people nervous to talk about wanting God’s judgment to come. It sounds a little wild-eyed, a little crazy, a little vengeful. I’ve heard people say that it’s wrong to be wanting Christ to return and make an end — that there’s many people that need saving still. I guess my answer would be that being made in God’s image, we should resonate with the different aspects of His being. While we long for justice to be done, we should also have the part of us that wishes wrath to be put off for the sake of the righteous, for the sake of mercy, for the sake of one more person being born again. The two desires can and should exist in the same heart. 

Let us then be praying “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” and be confident that we are echoing the heart of God when we long for all evil to be put to an end. And no, we don’t know what we’re asking. We have a few pictures in the Bible of what that justice, that day will be like, but we only have the ability to comprehend a very small bit of that reality. It’s ok, though. The God of holiness and grace, of anger and love, of fury and rest… He is the one who will do justice. He will do it well. And on that day, there will not be a person who feels that justice has gone too far, or that it has not gone far enough. Every one’s innate desire for wrong to be dealt with, will be fully satisfied. 

Thanks be to God, we who are in Christ don’t have to have fear about the wrath of God on that day. It is not coming for us. It has been forever settled in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. 



Providential Graces on the Road 

If this is your first time receiving our newsletter, you can get up to date by going back and reading the previous newsletter in the “Writings” tab of our website. In short, the twins were born in June. A week later, Martha experienced severe postpartum hemorrhaging, nearly died, and had to have an emergency hysterectomy. 

Needless to say, as we were on the cusp of an 18-state, 10,000 mile, 40-concert tour a mere 25 days after Martha got home from the hospital, not to mention the 3 infants we were going to be traveling with, two of them 5 weeks old, and the other 20 months… well, let’s just say we had a long line of people questioning our sanity. We looked at each other and did the same occasionally. In my husbandly defense, I did leave it up to Martha to have the final say of going or not. She was determined to go forward with it as soon as the doctor released her to drive again. 

Use your imaginations to conjure up two already emotionally and physically depleted parents, one of them legally blind and susceptible to retinal migraines and vomiting under stress. The other having undergone months of a physically grueling twin pregnancy, two major surgeries and major blood loss days before leaving on the trip. Take these individuals and pile them into a 30-foot box on wheels with a talkative toddler just getting used to massive family changes. Add a newborn who is very sweet when awake, very unhappy in the process of falling asleep, and who has the appetite of a Barbie doll, thus adding pumping and bottle feeding to the mix. Finally, add another newborn who is the exact opposite, ceaselessly hungry, who happily… vigorously… spits up two ounces of milk for every one ounce he drinks. 

Pile up on top of that the job of entertaining the babies for 10,000 miles, and the unloading/setup/soundcheck/concert/tear down process - sometimes twice a day. Then there was motorhome maintenance, cleaning, meal prep, limited opportunities for doing laundry… and finally, there were the diapers. In the beginning it was at least 20 diapers a day, some of which had exploded in the car seat. The advice they give parents who are at their wits end is to walk away and take 5 minutes. This is the part where we throw our heads back and laugh. Walk away where? There’s babies in both ends of this thing! People suggested before we left that we get a nanny to take with us, but the local mental institution didn’t have one on parole. Even the baby monitor we bought from Amazon shipped itself back at the thought of being part of the circus. 

So. Why are we giving you a rundown of what sounds like an absolutely miserable two months? Just being real here… writing the above paragraphs was hard and we took a week between writing them and writing these. In precious quiet moments between the noise, we’ve talked together about the grace God providentially provided for the moment and the difference between the miraculous and the providential. 

During the hardest four months of our lives, we saw the difference in detail, up close and personal. So many times we were at the end of our tether and there would be a special word of encouragement, a home cooked meal delivered to the motorhome with enough leftovers to make an extra meal on the road, a special concert with a super kind audience who would worship and then pray for us, a much needed break from the concerts, a beautiful sunset, the babies waking up just 30 seconds before we pulled into our destination, a Cracker Barrel gift card, and yes, three times we managed to get all three babies asleep at the same time. 

Being real again here… just about every day there were points when the stress would get to one or the other of us and there would be a misunderstanding, a sharper word than necessary, hurt feelings. We felt our broken humanity acutely. But there was the grace of God again, changing our hearts, giving us the ability to soften, to ask forgiveness, to give forgiveness, to see the other’s point of view… and giving us the wisdom to grab another cup of coffee. 

An even more amazing issue to me is the following. Since I was a teenager (just a little while ago), I have always had to deal with retinal migraines stemming from my congenital eye defects. These were debilitating, lasting at least several hours, making me unable to function for the duration, generally ending in vomiting, and resulting in making my eyes weaker and more susceptible to migraines the days afterward. About half of my annual homecoming concerts, I’ve had one afterwards. On all of our previous long trips, I’ve had to deal with them. The extra stress of travel always gets to my eyes no matter how careful we are. On this trip I had anticipated and dreaded migraines even more, for obvious reasons. I’m truly amazed to report that I did not have one, either on the trip, or in the stress of getting home and settling back in. I have no doubt that it was God’s gracious answer to our need and your prayers, and we greatly appreciate the time that you faithful readers and supporters gave to lift us up. 

(We beg you, please don’t stop until these kids are older…like out of the house.) 

Was any of that God mounting a white horse and charging into our situation, making mountains move, parting rivers, and burning up our enemies? In other words, was it miraculous? Nope, because we still had plenty of spit up and poop and sleepless nights, and tiredness, and did I mention spit up? A divinely touched bib or two that miraculously stayed dry and clean would have been handy. 

No miracles, but God made Himself evident in the everyday workings of our lives and showed that when He didn’t move the mountain, He’d give that extra shove to get us over the hump or give us the tools to tunnel through it. Miracles are great, and God uses them for His glory too, but what amazed us on this trip was how every day, in an innumerable amount of ways - a few that we saw, most that we won’t know until we get to heaven - God orchestrated the little things and the big things, the imperfect and the obtuse things, the mundane and the invisible things to fulfill promises He has made to His children, to us. I’ve seen Him work this way for the past 13 years in this ministry, but His providential grace has never been more evident to me than in those 10 very long weeks. 

I never thought we’d be writing a post about the Providence of God in regard to the very regular grueling happenings of a family with infants. I guess it may seem rather simple, even a dull thing for anyone to take the time to praise God for. The thing is, He knows and I’m learning that we are much weaker than we think ourselves to be. In truth, we would not make it out the door of our house without His goodness keeping us. That’s true whether you are mentally taxed to the point of tears, fighting a dreaded disease, dealing with marital woes, or praying for wisdom to talk to a family member about Christ. We are totally dependent on the momentary, providential graces of our eternal God.

Blessings and a Close Call 

Martha wrote this on Tuesday, July 2. We rejoice to report that we are all home together again, being doted on by family and friends, and enjoying the sweetness of the life that the Lord has given us. Martha is recovering amazingly fast, and the doctors told us that this will likely only put her recover back a week. 


Yesterday I woke up to a sleeping household. Sleeping all except two scrawny mites trying to outdo each other in convincing Mama that they were near the brink of starvation. Full home, full heart. This morning I’m waking up to an incessant beeping. “Distal occlusion” blinking on a screen. Pain. A styrofoam cup of melted icechips in my hand. Miles sleeping curled up in an 'engineered for optimal discomfort' hospital recliner beside me. 

The bleeding started without warning yesterday. Over my protestations that it was unnecessary, Miles handed over babies and brief instructions to grandparents, and got me to the ER. After walking me and Miles through worst case scenarios, they wheeled me in for an exam under anesthesia. 

My ears woke up first. It was loud. Bumpy. I could tell we were in a helicopter. Voices: “All I know is her name... hysterectomy...” 

My joy in seeing my darling’s face come round the corner in the ICU was profound. I could barely open my eyes but I communicated via blinks. Then when I could move my fingers, via poorly executed sign language letters. He kept me smiling to keep my mind off the choking sensation of intubation and a machine breathing for me. A doctor came in. They’d had to give me three units of RBCs and three of plasma. 

I’ve been lying here tonight, in joy and grief. Joy to still be here for my family. Grief at the loss of children we had still hoped to have. In God’s merciful providence, the morning before life shifted, we had struggled through reviewing one of our Bible memory passages. Romans 8. Through the tears this night, I have rejoiced in this: “He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” 

My joy behind the joy and the grief of yesterday is that God has given me His Son. Having done this, whatever else He chooses to give or take away from me, I can trust that it is love, love, all love.