BUT, God!

Daniel and Sarah candid

BUT God.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
– Romans 8:18, 26-28

Sarah wrote the following one year ago today as she shared many of the things God had been teaching her following her emergency surgery.

“I am beyond the words capable of fully expressing just how thankful, humble, and relieved I am. My Heavenly Father is so gracious.

His love, power, and faithfulness truly overwhelm us both – and the outpouring of His love has been abundant – through His feet and hands: the living body of Christ 

I will be transparent about the not-so-fun stuff: not eating or drinking by mouth for 12 days, not really sleeping (especially since coming to the ICU – even though I am indescribably thankful to be here!)….not having my pain level drop as fast as I was hoping it would….my legs/feet feel like they’re so swollen that they could easily weigh about 100 lbs each 😳 Plus some chest pain in addition to my lungs not “bouncing back” as fast as we/they would like, as well as needing supplemental oxygen (especially at night) – oh and why are nasal cannulas so obnoxious/annoying? Of course, then there is the whole fun aspect of being hooked up to what really feels like a MILLION tubes and other machines….so yes, it takes a tole on you, of course! 😢…before I came up to ICU I had nicknamed my IV pole “Big Bertha” 😂

BUT God.

He is sustaining us. I know when the surgeon and ICU nurses tell me I’m doing so much better that they REALLY mean it – and the fact that I could sit up in a chair yesterday for several hours, plus walk 2 big “laps” around the floor…that my kidneys aren’t in “temporary failure” anymore, and my white count is at a normal-ish enough level that they’ll even tell me what it is – instead of changing the topic because they don’t want to stress me out 😕 – so those are all huge gains!! 🙌🏼

That an incredibly–gifted and skilled critical-care float nurse who has done this for many years – just could not stop looking at my chart all day while taking care of me – asking me questions again and again about the last week, as well as my symptoms before coming into the hospital….and saying “WOW!…I just cannot believe what you’ve been through and that you are doing as well as you are…that you are doing so well just in general!”.

Then when another RN says over and over to me last night when I was constantly apologizing for not being able to remember certain things – “well, despite the many medications you have to be on, I honestly cannot believe how lucid you are, given how strong these meds are!” — so, to me it is “just” the power of the Holy Spirit and I want Him to receive the praise! But believe me – cognitive function is still a HUGE struggle right now (and wow, am I more thankful than ever for my husband who is exceedingly patient) – but again, that just encouraged my heart to know that it could be much worse!

All of these praises….these miracles and mercies….they are all due to our great and almighty Physician – who has done incredible miracles and answered very specifically SO many of your/our prayers. I am completely overwhelmed (and I know Daniel is too) by all of it.

Of course, then there’s my husband – who has really never left my side, or failed to care for me in any way. I think he has fulfilled more of his marriage vows to me in the last 4.5 years then many have in twice as long or more….and no, this is NOT a competition – but just what God has determined for us – and truly what HE can do in absolutely any marriage when you submit to Him and His biblical plan for husband and wife.

However – the last 2+ weeks, his Christ-like love and sacrificial-leadership have been overwhelming – without Jesus Christ and him, I could not be doing this right now.

The greatest outward-praise I can hope to give to God through our marriage during this trial – is that multiple nursing staff members have noticed his love/care/tenderness and have specifically asked if we are still newlyweds? 😊That fills my heart with praise that we can have a testimony of HIS love flowing throughout our marriage!

There is still a LONG WAY to go healing-wise….I find myself so very prone to battling impatience and anxiety at moments…just wanting to feel NORMAL 😐

….worried they’ll send me out of ICU before I’m ready, concerned about complications,
and wondering how long it will take to heal….WHEN I can eat and drink again and stop hallucinating about food?!? 😆😂🥛🍰🥓🍇🍎🥑🌽🍳🍜🌮

So, I really felt taking time this morning to give God ALL of the glory and point my affections and desires back to Him – where they belong – would help me fight this battle in my flesh – especially when I am feeling so very weak.

Also, to once again THANK every single person – young, old,
or un-categorized 😉 – for their boundless love, encouragement, and prayers ❤”


There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall, the cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow. And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel; We are tempted to believe God does not know. When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.
Bow the knee; Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity. And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan, in the presence of the King, bow the knee. – ‘Bow the Knee’

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills HIS purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah God will send out His steadfast love and His faithfulness! – Psalm 56 + 57

Faith Grows Step by Step

Daniel and Sarah (1)

I am so thankful for how God used the progressive nature of last year’s trial to grow Sarah’s and my faith step by step. I’m grateful for those days when we had to fight for our faith in desperation and pain. That time illuminated then just as it continues to do now for me the stark contrast between the temporal and eternal. Each experience drove us in dependence to our knees, molded our characters, and made plain the reality of the firm knowledge this world isn’t our home. Gratitude for pain in the moment is hard and we struggled with that last year. As I look back though, I rejoice in what God wrought in both of our lives through Sarah’s trials.

Friends, you don’t have to face quite the same circumstances to reap the benefits of the Holy Spirit’s conviction though! Perhaps visualize yourself in similar circumstances as us last year and ask God to show you what ought to be changed. And when trials do come, be thankful for these gifts, what one of my favorite authors Vaneetha Rendall Risner called “gifts wrapped in black but gifts nonetheless,” because of how they can refine your faith and bring glory to God (James 1).

Sarah wrote the following in her journal one year ago today and these words now preach truth to all the rest of us still walking through our earthly journey.

“This weekend I found myself facing many life – impacting obsessions and concerns that I had refused to acknowledge – and/or I was just wilfullly ignoring that these sin-issues were a significant hindrance to my walk with my Heavenly Father….I have been continually consumed with my own needs/wants/selfish desires – much more than being consumed with what is most important to my Heavenly Father: simply trusting in, and obeying Him alone! In Christ alone my hope is found.

Even though we most often think we want to know what the future is going to hold … truly, it is trials like these that remind me how wise our Heavenly Father is, in *not* revealing what’s to come. Because I could never have been able to take in the knowledge of what these last few weeks would hold, all at once. He is so wise, gracious, loving, and perfect – He knows exactly how to care for each one of His children, and to lead us along the path He has prepared for us.” – Sarah Kopp

My Prayer for Today

My prayer for today from Psalm 78:32, 38-39 – Lord give me the strength of belief that I not “in spite of all this, [I] still sin; despite His wonders, [I] did not believe.” Yet, Lord when I do sin may you, “Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for my [my] iniquity and did not destroy [me]. He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath. He remembered that [I] am but flesh a wind that passes and does not come again.”

Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Daniel and Sarah - Hospital

One year ago today Sarah and I were sitting in the ER trying to process the news that she was in serious danger from a crisis health situation we had no idea was brewing. I can still hear the surgeon’s words “you both need to understand how serious this is.” My ears heard what he said and my brain thought it comprehended it, but I had no idea just how deep and long the valley of the shadow of death would end up being. Yet, the Lord was and is my faithful Shepherd.

As I continue to reflect back on everything that happened last year I recognize ever more clearly God’s mercy and grace. Had we known everything that was yet to happen we would not have been able to face it. Thankfully for us, God’s grace is sufficient for one day at a time and as James 4:13-15 reminds us of our limited perspective of time anyways. How much better it is to rest in new mercies each morning! At the same time too, each successive challenge and trial prepared us for one yet to come. I’ve written before about that especially in regard to our three miscarriages. Sarah wrote last year “God is the author of life” and I know that Sarah is now more alive in heaven than she ever was on earth. Going through trials can tempt us to have an egocentric perspective where it becomes all about us and “why me.” We should strive instead to have a theocentric perspective and recognize that our sovereign, all-loving God is at work for His glory and our good. Our trouble comes so often when we only think of what is “good” from our perspective, not from the eternal and omniscient perspective of God.

As finite humans we often struggle to understand an infinite God and His workings. Add in our feeble emotions and we can quickly lose perspective of what is right and true. This is where we have to consciously preach truth to ourselves from God’s Word.

Our heart says God must not love us to let us go through trials. God’s Word says in Eph. 2:4 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,”. Our heart says God must not be in control. Jesus said in John 9:3 about the man born blind “that the works of God might be displayed in Him” explicitly meaning every sickness and disability is under His control. Our heart says God doesn’t really care about me and my circumstances. Jesus says in Matthews 10 that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge and “you are of more value than many sparrows.” Our heart says God doesn’t understand my pain. Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Our heart says “why?” God’s Word replies to “what ultimate end” in James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I could go on and on, but this is how I remind myself what is true when my heart and emotions struggle to remember. Whether we realize it or not we are always meditating on something. Much of the time it’s what might be called “self-talk” and much of the self-help world today tries to just tell you how to think positively to impact this. Christians don’t have to conjure up anything on our own because we have the “living and active Word of God.” This is how Ephesians 5 talks about the “washing of water of the Word” when our minds are so saturated with truth that there is little ability for lies and error to take root.

It’s been said before that either you’re in a trial or you’re getting ready to go into one. I encourage you to likewise consciously preach truth unto yourself. Only the words of God have the power to transform you and your circumstances.

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” – Psalm 119:49-50

The Miscarriage of Grief

Daniel and Sarah are having a Baby

I have known the agonizing sorrow of loss from the death of my wife and before that the loss of 3 children through miscarriage and accompanying grief that built with each successive loss. I know deep pain, yet even all that cannot compare with the crushing affliction my savior bore for me. His love is stronger than any pain as the God of all comfort, but also comes from the heart of the Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief!

“When the mourning of loss is matched by faith in Jesus, there are fresh mercies with every dawn, all because we know what it means to look on the one who was pierced for us. In this, we have hope and promised help for our battle against sin and for the times when those we love are gone. In Christ, grief will not have the last word.” – Jason DeRouchie

Looking to Christ in the Loss of a Child

Shining Brightly for God’s Glory

Last night as I was driving home, I saw a unique and eerily beautiful sight as I looked north into the foothills just outside of town. In the inky darkness of the mostly moonless and cloudy night I could see the soft glow of white lights at the ski resort. Normally at such a far distance I should not have been able to see the lights as I came up the valley, but this evening a thick, low cloud deck hovered only a short distance above the hills provided a perfect reflective backdrop to magnify the ski slope lights as well as elevating their brightness higher into the night sky and casting those reflections to the great distance from which I first saw them.

I could not help but immediately think of the verse in Matthew 5:14 where Jesus says “You are the light of the world” and then further describes His disciples as “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” As I thought of the past year’s events, I was struck by a parallel where Sarah and I had been shining our light in our Christian walk in very much an “ordinary way.” We did not have a large circle of ministry at the time still settling into a new city and dealing with the increasing limitations of Sarah’s health. Yet, we sought to be faithful in the witness and testimony we did have. Then as Sarah’s health crisis began in earnest and increased in intensity, God gave us a broader and broader opportunity to reflect that light. Just as the unique atmospheric conditions on this night dramatically and effectively reflected the lights of the ski slopes last night, so too had God brought about a unique circumstance in our lives to more brightly shine for His glory and reflect to a wide audience in a way beyond our normal circumstances. Thankful for every blessing He gives and the way He reminds me so faithfully along the way.

Departing Active Duty and Beginning a New Adventure

American Flag with Adlai Stevenson Quote

As I now begin terminal leave and depart from my Air Force active duty career, it has been a surreal and often bittersweet moment as I reflect on the past 9 years and 4 years of AFROTC before that. I have been blessed and privileged to serve alongside the best and brightest individuals I have ever known, and humbled by many leaders who made incredible investments in me. It has been an honor to serve my country and be charged with leading and molding many of its sons and daughters. I stand forever indebted to all those I have served with and for the way my Air Force family has truly cared for me during the most crushing trial I have ever faced. Their unending support throughout my entire career has made all the difference. Although I am stepping away from active duty, Lord willing I look forward to many more years of service in the Reserves. As one of my favorite quotes by Adlai Stevenson says, “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

My plan is now to be on my sabbatical over the next 8 months while I work on my Certified Financial Planner designation (CFP) and masters in financial planning along with much time to write, read, and reflect. I will be starting my travel around our great country in my RV in April. I am also stepping into entrepreneurship and am thrilled to be launching my own financial planning firm this fall where I will be able to offer fiduciary, fee-only planning to a younger generation and expand upon my work with Military Life Planning in helping servicemembers. As I build this venture, I will create it as an all-digital business allowing me the opportunity to work and live geographically independent thus being able to travel and work from anywhere so I can spend more time with the people that mean so much to me.

Currently I plan to return to my current home out west later this year where I’ve fallen in love with this wonderful place, its people, and my church family. However, I’m open to the Lord’s leading as He directs so I ask for your prayers for wisdom and guidance in this area.

I am very thankful that these plans were laid out in advance of last year’s trial, and that Sarah and I had many opportunities to talk about these plans for 2018 during her final weeks. She never knew a different life with me other than my serving in the Air Force so it has not been without challenges to fill in these details of what was supposed to be this new future for the both of us, but is now just me. Her boundless encouragement and selfless support throughout our entire marriage spilled over in those final weeks though as she shared with me her bright hopes and wise counsel for me. She knew just what to say and her insightful words ring in my mind! Not many widowed spouses get to have such a blessing like I now experience in that way. God’s infinite blessings, grace, and mercy continue to be showered upon me, and I can’t wait to share with you all what He is going to do next in this new phase!

Immersing Yourself in Scripture

Immersing Yourself in Scripture

In this new year as many of you consider ways to immerse yourself in Scripture, I’ll share a way that Sarah and I used to keep it literally before us as we rose up in the morning and laid down at night by posting verses on our bathroom mirror. We would choose passages meaningful to us with what we were struggling with or seeking to challenge our spiritual walk in a particular area. The picture here shows what I have been reminding myself of every morning and evening the past 4 months – what a joy it is to delight in His statutes and not forget His Word! (Psalm 119:16)

We live in the day of Bible apps on our phones, access to thousands upon thousands of great messages through SermonAudio and podcasts, almost unlimited exposure to uplifting Christian music, and technology that enables us to encourage each other in so many ways, stay in touch with missionaries, and journal through written, video, or voice format. Never before in the history of the world have we had access to as much Biblical literature and study materials! Yet, with all this privilege and blessing I have to ask myself and urge you to do the same – how much am I taking advantage of these things for eternal purposes, or am I just expending my time on lesser pursuits?

As one who has seen so recently and personally the fragility and temporal nature of this world, I encourage you to remind yourself daily of the importance of God’s Word – nothing else we do each day has more eternal purpose!

Giving Thanks in the Midst of Grief

Daniel and Sarah

“When Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled, and to give thanks in all circumstances, we can know that we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15), and that he has left us an example, so that we might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21).” – Jon Bloom

My heart swells giving thanks to God on this Thanksgiving Day even in the midst of grief. I am so thankful this year for all that God has done in growing and strengthening my faith. I am thankful that Sarah’s long physical suffering came to an end and she’s in the glory of heaven. I am thankful for the countless people who supported and encouraged me all year long. I am thankful for the wonderful conversations that Sarah and I were able to have this year as she looked ahead to the challenges I would face. I am thankful for more than I can even comprehend.

I can truly and completely “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thes. 5:8) because of who my God is and what He has and continues to do for me.

How a Heavy Heart Gives Thanks