Fourteen.

Every year around this time, I sit down to write with a focus on my Hannah Elizabeth Gayle Cooley. Can you believe she’d be 14 this year? This October 30th, my daughter would be turning 14 years old, & I’m sure had she stayed with us, that our social media feeds would be full of the things that mothers and teenagers are both besties and frenemies over. I’d like to think we’d have a great relationship, and that we would be on each other’s last nerve…that she’d be musical and lyrical, and free-spirited and independent, and that above all, she’d love Jesus. That’s my hope for both of my kiddos–that they love Jesus. I think a lot of parents would say that about their children.

Last night, I was perusing Instagram when the Humans of New York page came up:

“(edited for space)There were prayer chains and Facebook groups. My friends got together without me knowing, and they prayed over us. We received letters from so many people: family overseas, people we’d lost touch with, people we’d never met. We hung them all in the bathroom until the entire wall was filled. But a few weeks before our due date, we received the worst possible news: Elliana’s chest cavity hadn’t grown enough, and there wasn’t room for her lungs. I asked the doctor to give me the odds, but he just shook his head. We began to plan for her funeral… On the day of her birth, the waiting room was filled with people who loved us. They prayed from 10 AM to 5 AM the next day. I still keep a picture of that waiting room hanging in our hallway. And it’s my favorite picture, because it reminds me of all the people who petitioned for Elliana’s life. And we got our miracle. I struggle with it sometimes, because I know so many people lose their babies. But Elliana came out breathing on her own, and the doctors were in awe…Our story has a happy ending. But even when it seemed like a tragedy, I never felt alone. I never felt like the story was my own. Because in my darkest moments, a community of people chose to share my burden.”

I don’t need to go into the “whys,” for my breakdown (albeit a brief one) into the Ugly Crys. You know me well enough to understand that when I read the phrase, “we got our miracle,” that it broke me. I’m so grateful that HONY shared this story, because I remember what it was like to see that room full of people who poured their hearts out for days, petitioning to the Lord to save my daughter’s life. We didn’t get our miracle, and I can’t paint that in any kind of redeeming light. I will never understand the whys (on this earth), and even if I did, would that make it any better? No. So we pursue on in faith, trusting that He knows what He’s doing when He makes His choices.

Last week, our daily reading plan (click the link, you won’t be sorry–see my last blog for details) had us reading in both Micah and in 2 Timothy. In 2 Timothy, we see Paul coming to the end of his life, as he writes his final words from prison.

In Micah, we see a prophet trying to prepare his community…trying to get them to wake up and seek the Lord for their redemption…He states the oft-quoted,

Meanwhile, as Paul looks at the approaching end of his life, he states,

We have a mandate to “do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.” Only when we do these things, can we look at the end of our life and say, with confidence (not arrogance) that we have “fought the good fight,” and that we have “kept the faith.”

This is not an easy thing to do…it’s not a small task, and Jesus knows what He is asking us to do.

Trials–deaths, sickness, COVID, poverty, unemployment, crime, whatever–come and go, but Jesus and His love for us are eternal.

That’s the only reason I have any hope for anything.

After I read the HONY story last night, I tripped up over “we got our miracle,” and my mind immediately went to “why?” I’ve blogged about this before; the “whys” range from plaintive cries to flat-out screams, and they’re always there in some respect. The question is do I stay there? Do I keep questioning, knowing the outcome will always be the same, until I’m face-to-face with Him? Or do I take a deep breath (or 50), let the tears fall, and listen to Him remind me that He loves me? That He’s still in control? That I’m heard, and that He understands? I make a choice every time the “why” comes to the forefront of my thoughts. I choose to “walk humbly with my God,” and that means that above all, I trust Him.

No one ever said that was a fun choice.

Sometimes the world smacks us in the face with that reminder….that reminder that we are strangers in a strange land, and that we can’t let ourselves get sucked into the mindgames and emotional traps that are laid for us: “Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. So I beg you not to surrender to those desires that fight against you“–I Pet. 2:11-12, CEV

Those “desires that fight against” us aren’t just people throwing lusts of the flesh in our face. They’re also the “quicksand” that we get trapped into, that make us question His motives and character, and our own faith. It’s cyclical thinking that kicks off our anxiety and leaves us an emotional basket case. I’m not immune to it, but I’d like to think I can spot the traps a bit easier now than I used to. Those first few years after Hannah passed away? Oooh, I got caught UP in some messes.

Quicksand – Stuff Rater
Actual photo of getting stuck in the quicksand of an emotional mind trap. 🙂

Grief and loss are pitfalls for so many of us…playing the “why?” game with God is a dangerous dead weight that only serves an enemy that wants to see us destroyed.

It’s a tender time of the year for us–for David as well as for myself, even when we seem like everything is fine. Our daughter is never far from our minds, but as her birthday approaches, memories come back, and I know I find myself looking at her pictures a bit more…remembering tiny hands, and beautiful, red-pink cheeks (like her Daddy), and how she’d snuggle in to the soft robe my mother had made me…how she smelled like Cheerios, and how to this day, I cherish every photo taken of family and friends because I know how much those pictures of her mean to me.

I’m finding myself ready to withdraw from social events, and from social media in general–whether it’s healthy or not, I never know, but I will tell you that I make no apologies. Maybe that sounds rude, but I’ve learned that if I don’t listen to these emotions, they’ll pop out at the most inopportune times, and I have no desire to have another flippin’ sobfest in the middle of a Hobby Lobby, so if I tell you I can’t make it, let me be. 🙂

I started writing a piece last night that I think I will leave unfinished; I feel like it makes a good conclusion, even though it’s not fully written, because “unfinished” feels like a pretty good way to describe how I’m feeling through all of this….

Hannah Elizabeth Gayle Cooley, 10/30/2006-11/28/2006

Finally going to write about it…

There are a great many things that have happened over the recent months that have made me wonder how we are still walking the earth.
Like, when Paul wrote, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption, (Eph. 4:30)”…how often are we doing just that? I read headlines and Facebook posts, and “news” articles, and moments in history that I never knew existed, and I feel like we should be wiped off of the face of the earth…We’re a terrible species of people.


I’m in a group on Facebook that sells leggings—LEGGINGS, people. Soft, comfortable, bury-me-in-them leggings—where one post about a pattern for law enforcement support blew up into the most hateful, racist, condescending, evil “banter” that I’ve ever read in my life. From LEGGINGS.

Christians are fighting with other Christians. It started with the mask-wearers vs. the non-mask wearers; now it’s somehow the “my freedoms are being violated!!!” vs. the “I don’t wanna die from COVID, and you’re an inconsiderate bastard if you don’t wear a mask!!” And yet all of them say, “Yeah, we love Jesus!!!”
“We support the police” is now equal to, “well, you’re a racist,” but “Black Lives Matter” means you’re either a lemming, a White Savior, or a militant. There is no “agree to disagree,” and there is no “middle ground.”
Blood is being shed, lives and careers are being ended, and #CancelCulture has taken over.A young man recently opened up an app on his phone, which told him his stock values had dropped to negative $750,000. He then killed himself…but what he didn’t know, was that the app had glitched, and the data was wrong. It was too late for this kid. He based his very survival on what was false information….he made a quick reaction to what he thought was truth, and now his family is devastated. I feel like this poor kid is indicative of our world right now.
We read posts, and we hear stories, and we react (and we post our reactions). We have knee-jerk responses to anything and everything, and we spout off our opinions or our dramatic rebuttal. We’re so quick to pick up offenses and to drag them around like roadkill that’s hung up on an exhaust pipe.

We do not stop and take the time to take things before the Lord in prayer before we make permanent impressions with either our mouths or our keyboards, and we leave a trail of broken hearts and souls in our wake.
There’s a reason why I’m saying, “we.” I’m guilty.
I’m totally guilty of a knee-jerk, biting response, or an embittered eye-roll, or even of being a part of Cancel Culture in my mind. And I guess because I’m not publicly sharing who and what I think should be cancelled, I tell myself I’m not playing a part in it, but I totally do. I have people and establishments that are 100% dead to me, and I’m not proud of it. Resentment and bitterness are suffocating, and they’re a chain I believe we all risk carrying around…
And our world is beleaguered with it.
Like the Dickens tale taught us, I feel like we’re all a bit like Mr. Marley, with our chains and our boxes dangling around our necks, but we’re too busy squawking like a bunch of chickens, looking at everyone else, to notice that we’re about to go under…We’re all tired, and we don’t even realize that’s why.
These chains and these burdens are heavy, and there’s nothing to make them any lighter.

Yesterday, we celebrated Juneteeth (which should be a national holiday. Mr. Trump, please make it so), and we took notice far more this year than in any other year, of the weight of that day: The End of Slavery in America.
The chains were broken, at least physically….but we all know they’ve lingered for generations even still.
I sat in our home group yesterday and commented that when I read the passages in Ephesians 6 about slavery, I wondered how we as a nation got it so wrong? I read in another post today about how we as white Americans “Disney-ify” the Bible to make ourselves the Israelites—God’s “chosen” people—when if we really think about it, we were more like the Egyptians, building our cities and our country on the backs of those who were stolen from their own lands.


Ephesians 6 gives clear instructions about slavery; the term, “bondservant” was a more accurate translation. There was to be a working relationship between master and slave, a mutual respect. It was to be more of a worker/boss relationship, than an abusive relationship. Our ancestors, who came here under the guise of religious freedom, twisted it so much (and I believe the biggest parts of that were rooted in erroneous translations of the Scripture by the Church of England at the time, who were in cahoots with the royals…everything was bought and paid and traded for, and I seriously question the authenticity of certain translations/paraphrasings of the Bible based on the studies I’ve done on the topic. I digress.). They twisted the Scriptures and used them to kidnap, abuse, and enslave people and to force our belief systems on them, to support their deceptive ideas. The irony of it all—religious freedom is used to enslave a race?!?—is nauseating, and the more I learn the history of the African American people in our nation, the more my heart grieves.
I wasn’t taught any of this stuff in school. I learned a little bit about slavery, but outside of watching Glory, I didn’t get it. The Tulsa Race Riots? I first heard about it last week. Ruby Bridges? I had to Google “little Black girl, integrated schools,” because I knew the story but I didn’t know her NAME. Juneteenth? I learned about it when I was 31. In going to a Christian school, one of the things I’ve struggled with as I’ve learned and read more, is that the history we were taught was so whitewashed. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, and it was in the 80’s & 90’s. The truth remains, though, is that it was. There was a complete imbalance in the history of minorities and of women in what we were taught, verses the history of male achievements. What’s the saddest, is that I didn’t realize it until I was an adult.


There is a difference between rewriting history and writing history. I do not think the textbooks I learned from rewrote history, but I sure as heck KNOW they omitted history. I believe our history books need to be expanded to include the stories of the amazing contributions of women and of people of color. They need to even out the representation, and if that means our general history classes take 3 years to get through instead of 1 semester? GOOD. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”—Santayana. My high school history teacher drilled that quote into my head, and I think it’s truer now than it’s ever been. The more I learn about the gross abuse that people went through at the hands of our forefathers, the more I see it coming back for another round….
Because we’re not learning.
We’re not learning to Be Kind.
We’re not learning to share Jesus.
We’re not learning to Love…
If anything, we’re getting better at hatred, and it’s so sad and it’s so scary.
I have a child to raise in this mess.
I have a responsibility to teach him to love first and foremost…to teach him to “seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with the Lord (Micah 6:8)…to know his own privilege and to use it to stop the mistreatment of another human being at any cost…
I have a responsibility to set the example, myself.


When Ferguson happened, I was, “All Lives Matter.” I was challenged by a few friends who were digging into Civil Rights, into true justice, who led me by example to really pray about it. I started reading, and listening, and having those Uncomfortable Conversations where I realized that I was wrong—no one ever said that all lives DON’T matter. I started to understand that Jesus left the 99 to find the one, and that That One Mattered to Him, so why am I sitting here with my arms crossed, clicking with the 99? If He cares about That One, so should I…and so should my son, and so should anyone that knows me. I truly believe that Black Lives Matter, and I can say that without being disingenuous.
I still struggle. I still struggle with stereotypes, and with using the wrong words, and with being so afraid to offend anyone that I won’t say a word during the Q&A portion of the endless Zoom courses on inclusion and diversity that I’ve sat in on over the last few months. I still struggle with the knee-jerk reactions and the type of mentality that you get when you live in a primarily white, rural area and where you’re oblivious to your privilege (which just goes to show you how privileged you really are—that’s another diatribe). I’m not the poster child of Woke White People, and I would never pretend that I’m on some kind of Civil Reform Bandwagon…
But my heart has changed since Ferguson. My heart has grieved since Ferguson…for the sights that I saw in the aftermath, for the anger that burned the city to the ground, and for the pain that boiled out of people..people that are fellow Americans, that feel betrayed by this country that brought their ancestors here illegally in the first place. That pain is deep, and it’s a generational wound that I cannot understand…but I can listen. The protests that are happening in the wake of George Floyd are different this time around (and not just because the case is so clear-cut, or because we’ve gone down this road too many times before). The spirit of the protest is different, and the violence that’s trying to sneak in is much more pronounced in how it’s deviant of the true heart of the message.
People are crying out for real, tangible, measurable change, and they’re sick of empty words and ideas. I don’t know if we’re willing as a nation, to put the work in that making these changes will require. My cynical side says we have no idea what we’re asking for…and my spiritual side says the only way any changes will come is by the power of the Holy Spirit.


God is grieving over our nation and our world. His very heart is grieved…I believe, and I hope with all of my soul, that this world is on its way to the Great Revival that I’ve heard was coming ever since I was a child…that the heart of people would be so drawn into praying for change that an encounter with Jesus Christ is inescapable…The Civil Righteousness organization (www.civilrighteousness.org) is covering our nation with prayers for lasting change, and for “spiritual, cultural, and economic renewal” by way of intensive prayer, Hope Rallies, fasting, and more…I am agreeing with them in prayer that we’re on the cusp of a national breakthrough, and that all of the pain of the last few months is like the birthing pains for a new nation that seeks the Lord’s face as we head into what I believe could be the last days…


Because we’ve grieved His heart long enough…and the burdens we carry, and the burdens our ancestors put on other people, are heavy….and His word tells us that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
It’s time to lay our burdens down, and to seek healing and revival in this land.