When You Stand Outside a Grave


I kept thinking if I waited a little longer, I might have more words. But I’ve learned over the years, that most of the time, words don’t come (at least the right ones) until my fingers hit these keys.

One of our pastors said on Sunday, “Vulnerability always comes with a risk.” It’s true. For the last six years, I have met you here, pouring out my heart in the hopes that my vulnerability would lead to your transformation. Because vulnerability without transformation is only transparency. And there is enough of that in our world these days, we do not need any more useless opinions. It’s never been my heart to share our story for the simple fact of sharing our story. My heart over these years has been to share our story so that you can see what we’ve found in Papa God, you can find too. That your family, like mine, can experience His goodness and walk into deeper places in His heart. That you can be His intimate friends, too.

The risk involved in sharing our story is that not only have I invited you into the miraculous places in our lives where we’ve found the beauty and victory of the Lord, but it’s only fair for me to share with you the sorrow too.

In all actuality, the miracles aren’t really miracles if you don’t know the degree of the impossibility before.

Back in January, I felt the Father telling me about a baby in the mornings in the secret place with Him that would come to us through adoption. This shocked me because I thought our next child would only come through my womb. We still are believing God to heal my body after all of these years. We know that healing is my inheritance through Jesus. So when He was telling me about this baby, I was a little caught off guard, and so was Brandon to say the least. A whirlwind of events happened in April and May, some too intimate, too precious to share here, and by the end of May an expectant mother had reached out to us and had chosen us to parent her child.

And we did it all wrong. At least in the world’s eyes.

We told our children. We told our friends. We told everyone. We prepared a nursery. We rushed a home study. Our sixth home study (we’ve gotten really good at those). We had baby showers. All the things hopeful adoptive parents do that make me cringe, we did. Not because I wanted to, please believe me on this. It’s quite the opposite. I didn’t want to tell a soul. I, for sure, didn’t want to tell my children.

In the very beginning of this story, we heard the Lord strongly on this, “Share my glory.” And if you remember, it all had to do with ivy which represents His faithfulness. This entire year with Him, has been about obedience. Will I obey Him when it goes against everything I know? Will His voice mean more to me than the voices around me? When it makes me look like a fool will I still obey? When the world thinks I am crazy?


Every step throughout this year has been painful for me. He has been unearthing so much that is deep within me. But I am finally, after so long, at a place with the Father where all I care about is His approval. All I want is His beautiful eyes delighting in the posture of my heart. My heart cry this year has been, “Fully Yours, Papa, fully Yours.” Every inch of the territory of my heart, I want Him to have fully conquered. So there is nothing left of me, just a heart that is fully His.

This entire story from the beginning has been much more than just a baby. And a baby is a big deal, don’t get me wrong. This story has been more about me and Him, and what He is doing in me.

Every day waiting on this little one, He’s spoken promises over her precious life. Those closest to me have carried her in prayer like nothing I’ve ever seen, it’s been the most beautiful story to witness. Every day was and still is a choice to trust Him, to believe what He has spoken instead of the circumstances we see.

It’s not my entire story to share. But the baby that we thought would be sleeping upstairs, we never got to meet. I know there aren’t supposed to be “failed adoptions” but this feels failed. Because the birth mom didn’t even decide to parent.

We are heartbroken.


The moment I found out, we were away on a short vacation. I went back to the room, alone. I collapsed on my knees and cried out to the Lord, “We’ve done everything You said to do. Even when we didn’t want to. I’ve given you every part of my heart. What else do you want? I don’t need another word Father, not about this situation. I need to hear Your voice, Your voice for me. What are You saying Father?”

“I Am with you,” I felt Him whisper louder than any other time in my life.

“But I don’t want You to be with me,” I said, “I want You to fix this.”

I cried a little longer and lingered in His presence. Eventually I picked myself up off the floor and chose joy, I chose to trust Him regardless of all of the questions flying through my mind. Throughout the day I realized the gravity of what He had shared with me, “I am with you.” In His presence is everything I need. In His presence is the fullness of joy. There’s nothing I need apart from Him being near. Him being near is everything to me.

Three years ago, this would have devastated me. Not only because we have an empty nursery, but mostly because our circumstances are the exact opposite of what God has said. About the baby for sure, but I would have been more devastated that what God told me hadn’t happened.

But I’ve been in the secret place, tucked away when no one has known or seen for quite some time now. I’ve built history with Papa. I’ve developed intimacy with Him. Someone hasn’t told me about God being good, they haven’t even taught me about His goodness. But I’ve actually seen what His heart looks like on the inside, and I know for myself that He is only good. And that there is no good apart from Him.

I know He is a God that doesn’t lie (Titus 1:2). I know that not a word that comes from His mouth falls to the ground (Isaiah 55:11). I know that He will fulfill every promise He has spoken over my life and our family (Luke 1:45). And I know with every fiber of my being that He is not done writing this story (Philippians 1:6).


So I guess you could call this a failed adoption, but I know that this story isn’t over. Kris Vallotton says, “If it’s not good, it isn’t the end.”

I know my Father’s voice, and I know what He’s said about this.

During worship on Sunday, I closed my eyes and immediately saw Jesus and me standing in front of a grave. Jesus was holding my hand looking at the grave, staring in the face impossibility. My face was turned looking at His.

Just like He took Mary to stand outside of the grave of Lazarus before He raised him from the dead, here we stand together too, hand in hand. So very near.

There are baby things all around my house. There is a swing in the living room. A bouncy seat in my office. A highchair in our dining room. Clean baby bottles in our cabinets, and donated breastmilk in our freezer. There is a perfectly, lovingly decorated, beautiful nursery upstairs and a hospital bag that was packed with a little outfit and a name that was ready to be used.

I could look at all of these things and they could make me sad, and if I’m honest, they do. But every time I look at them, sitting in the tension of what is and what is to come, I whisper, “I believe You, Father.”

It doesn’t matter what your circumstances look like, Friend. It doesn’t matter how dead things seem to appear. It doesn’t matter how hopeless your situation seems. He’s still the God of miracles. He’s still the God of the impossible. But more than anything, He is so near. He is so close to you, closer than the skin on your bones.

And He holds your hand staring down your impossibilities, waiting for the most beautiful moment to call forth His resurrection life. All you have to do is keep your eyes on Him. Turn your precious face, towards His.

And watch Him resurrect the dead.