The Waiting

Yesterday, as I made my way to the Celebration of Life service for the precious and much-loved Layla Grace Marsh, my heart was aching. To be honest it was broken. All I could do on the drive was ask God for peace, for tender care, for His truth to penetrate what was about to happen. Not only for my heart, or for Layla's strong but grieving family, but also for all of those who would be present that struggled to know Him.

For the last few months I have followed the Marsh family's journey through Stage 4 Neuroblastoma through their blog and on Twitter. I updated several times a day to see how well Layla was doing and yet, as her condition began to deteriorate it grew harder and harder for me to watch. I prayed and cried, on my knees and on my face for this family that I have never met. I wept as I asked God to please make her comfortable, to give her mama and daddy strength that they have never known before, to cover her sisters in His protection and love... It continued to get worse and as I received updates, I couldn't help but go back to our place of waiting. It is probably the most difficult place to be and yet, the most intimate. The one most filled with peace.

Many of you know that place. The one that God has you in for a season, maybe weeks or months, sometimes years. Some of you have been in those seasons more than once and you actually get physically ill when something brings you back. The waiting for us was undoubtedly the hardest. Waiting for God's plan to play out. Knowing that you are praying for something that God probably won't answer in a way that you might be able to accept. It's in that waiting, in that deep hurt and suffering, in the uncertainty, that God's presence is so often overwhelming.

I wondered, sitting there in the church before Layla's service, if her parents ever felt like I did. Somehow knowing that this story, our story, wasn't playing out how I ever imagined and somehow I was wishing it would just hurry up. Wishing, through the waiting, that God's hand would move and there would just be a "finality" to this. It sounds so terrible. So crude. And yet I will admit that I was there. I just wanted to hurry up and find out what was in store. But God... He had other plans. For us he had 4 months of waiting. For the Marsh family He had a year of waiting. How long have you had to wait for your answer?

So the waiting is the hardest. But then... so is the answer. That "finality" that I secretly desired was excruciating. I can imagine it is the same for sweet Layla's family. It is a beautiful thing to know that your child is whole, well, free from sickness, playing with the angels and laying in Christ's arms- but in the beginning, and even sometimes now 2 years later, your longing heart overrides that knowledge. And you cry... you weep... you beg for The Truth to resound in your life.

And then you are reminded, just as I was in Layla's celebration, that that knowledge is the true promise that ultimately makes it all okay. Okay that we have to walk in this life without a child that we so love. Okay that our hearts suddenly begin a longing, one like we have never known before, for our eternal home. Okay that the hurt that penetrates our heart, wounds us and leaves us with scars, is still beating and allows us to continue to live through it all.

It's okay because of Jesus. It's okay because He died for them. Because He died for us.

During the service it was very apparent that God was present. He filled that place, both with people and with His Spirit, and through the tears, He reminded me of what a big work He can do through families that are obedient to His calling. He used the message to fill my heart and remind me that even through pain and suffering, HE has a bigger plan. For the Marsh family and for ours.

I needed to be there this weekend. I needed to show a family who I will probably never meet that their little girl has rocked my world. I needed God to remind me of His ultimate plan. ...He did it and He used a baby girl two years after my own son's departure to remind me that I still have a purpose in carrying on Maddox's legacy. Of sharing our testimony to His faithfulness. To remind me that these little ones can bring people to Christ that us "big people" might never be able to reach. If that is just part of His plan, then I am okay. Praise God that we are okay.

Very few times in the busyness and noise of this life does God grab you by the face and say "Look at me! Look into my eyes. Do you see me? I want you and I love you!" God has used Layla's short but amazing life to do that for hundreds of people. Are you listening to Him if He is calling you?- paraphrased from the message presented at Layla's service

"But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."- Luke 18:16


Kelli said…
I followed this family's precious story as well. My heart aches for those who have walked this painful road. When we lose sweet babies and others that we love, it is a reminder that this world is not our home!! Thanks for sharing of your heart!!
Lauren Clayton said…

I just learned of the Marsh family weeks ago and thought of you every time I checked their blog for an update (which was almost obessively, something about that little girls eyes that drew me in). I thought it was the connection to the Houston area that I associated with you, but now I'm thinking it was more than that.

I will be forever impacted by little Layla.

Thank you for your post, and I wish you all of the best!
Pam said…

This was a blog that I had not read. I am constantly amazed how these precious little lives impact us. I can remember reading your blog daily while you were awaiting Maddox's arrival and very quick departure. I know the impact he made on me and the change in my thinking.
You are such a precious woman of God. Hang on to the hem of His garment!!!!! He IS SOOO worth it!!!!
Michelle Jamie said…
Thanks for sharing that...I going through something right now that isn't as painful as loosing a child but painful enough and involves the waiting you describe. I know GOD is holding my face in HIS hands and saying, "Look at me, look into my eyes. I want you and I love you"
Kim said…
I just love reading your blog :)
This is a completely random question:
Where you did you find the dress Faith Clare's wearing on the blog header?
Just what I'm looking for, color wise, for my 2 girls to wear in a beach pic this summer.
Kathy said…
So very sad for this precious family. Knowing that their precious girl is well and happy in Our Savior's arms and as one commenter said "reminds us that this is not our home" will hopefully bring peace to her grieving family.

It's wonderful that you were there and willing to open yourself to the pain and memories but glad you there to hear the comforting words and celebrate her precious and all too short life.
beautiful. absolutely beautiful. thank you for your honesty even though it is so apparent that it painful at times. I keep being reminded over and over God's power is made perfect in our weakness. what a wonderful reminder.
Kristal said…
Thanks for this post...don't get a chance to read your blog much, but your email led me to it tonight. Needed this tonight...good cry :). Thanks sweet friend, and I thank God for precious Layla Grace...

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