25 March 2023


It was just a normal phone call, a few months after we'd moved. I was in our bedroom, sun streaming in the windows, trying to put away laundry and clean up a bit while catching up with dad. Dad had a way of getting right to the pressing issue...and knowing what the pressing issue to start with. We chatted about the kids and Matt, and then he asked about the old house.

It still hadn't sold, and he knew it was threatening me, eating at me. He listened while I explained all the same things, pacing around the room, worried about money, the housing market, owning two homes, not having anything else we could do.

Dad got choked up, not a normal thing at all, and then frustrated with himself for getting teary. 

Listen, I can still hear his shaky but positive voice say, It's going to be ok, it's going to sell. These aren't the things that matter. This isn't what's important. You've done what you can do, God's going to take care of the rest, and I know I'm stupid crying...I keep doing that lately...but this isn't what matters. You've gotta not worry about it one more minute.

Laying in bed last night, listening to the storm and watching the lightning flash up the sky, I could hear him and remember like it was yesterday. Same room. Same floor. Same phone. Same house. Different problems lying me awake, Dad's voice, saying the same thing, no longer irritated with his own increasing weakness.  

It did sell. Nothing we did differently. Not due to my worrying. It didn't really matter, not at all. 

What I wouldn't do to have that conversation again, over what really DID matter, and is now gone.

There will be no new wisdom from my dad. I'm trying to apply his old wisdom and truth to now...trying to keep before me only the things that truly matter. 

All dad's urgings blur with His Word. His Word, also final. I'm trying to apply the old wisdom and truth to now.

21 March 2023

one who leans

This is just hard.  It's just hard. I don't want to keep saying that. More, I don't want to keep feeling that. But it just is, and if it is for you, too...it takes courage not to shrink from the ache, not to just bury it.


As soon as loss hits you fresh, it hits you all the old places. 

The waves of losing dad stir up waves of losing mom stir up waves of losing daily life and relationships in Haiti...and suddenly I'm underwater and I don't know how we got here. Again.

I miss my parents. I miss my homes. I miss lots of people...relationships....times...places.

I get stuck...wishing things were different. Wishing so-and-so had said something. Wishing such-and-such would do something.Being sure that I am alone. Sure that I can't do this again. Sure that all the best things are finished. Sure that I want to sink into the carpet and disappear. Sure that I'll never laugh and pray and worship with sweet friends in Haiti again or ever ever sit at the ocean again or ever do anything but laundry and clean up dirty socks again and again and again and sure that every sweet gift will be overshadowed with loss.

What do you get stuck on?

I know that all needs let go. Or isn't true. Or won't always be. 



It is all the things. All at once...and the losses are deafening. 

Dad not here for my children is deafening. Lily, missing him, hurts my ears. The present parents of "everyone" else yells at me. The quiet of my phone...the unwritten updates and pictures to not text...like constant ringing. 

It doesn't matter how loud it is, though, for six o'clock comes early, Dad always said, and it does...again and again, regardless. You go to bed. You rise early. You go again. Even if I thought I could pause, a four-year old and a chubby crawler intersect every space and loudly prove otherwise.

I'm a sunshine-pusher by nature, but having so much settling down into the cracks now has me in a foreign, overcast place. Nora is no longer sick, neither is my dad. Our family has grown and transitioned and settled, almost a full year now. There is nothing we are waiting for, no emergency hanging overhead. 

Just a cloud. 

the daily cost of it, O Lord, sometimes seems
more than I can daily bear--apart from your care.
So tend me in the midst of this, O God. 
Hover, O Holy Spirit, over this chaos of loss,
and order it with light and hope.

Let me commune with you
within these many voids, O God.
In each place I encounter pain,
let me there find your Spirit at work, 
shaping my hearts, so that day by day
I am becoming one who leans 
with greater expectations into the fullness
of the coming redemption

17 March 2023

all piled up

 The art room is a disaster of crayon peels and Easter bunnies. Ben and Nora's jungle theme took on a fort and an animal kingdom this week that I'm determined disappear sometime today, and there are seven tween-age girls still sleeping various places upstairs this morning, the third sleepover of the break. The sink and the dishwasher are both full, and we have gone through a full week of groceries since Monday and we still have Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Matt went from bad to worse despite antibiotic injections and pills, and spent all day yesterday in bed, but everyone else is going strong, and every mess and empty shelf and track of mud represent a night of giggling through a cheesy romantic comedy, manicures, kid baking projects, crafts, hours outside, walks, reading, helping neighbors, too many games of Uno and bits of school, piano lessons, card writing, friends. 

While getting my teeth cleaned Tuesday, our hygienist asked, "So what do you do for self-care?" despite it being pretty obvious I was finally getting my teeth cleaned (thank you Beth!). 

Julie and I took the kids to the agricultural museum yesterday and were repeatedly mistaken for a field trip...it's just a lot of kiddos to love and shepherd...seemingly multiplied by spring break.

But all the sweet memories this Mary grabs a photo of and stores up in her heart pile up, too.

13 March 2023

He helps

Today was Day One of Spring Break and I had three sick kiddos on the couch and a boogie baby and Matt at the doctor with an ear infection.  We have been healthy since New Years and as soon as a break hits....man.  I'm thankful that the rest that was needed was easily available, for sunshine to sit in, even if bundled up, and for conversations throughout the day with the One who keeps me grounded and going, with the One who helps me. 

When the silverware drawer is jammed again and I mentally put it on our, "next time Dad comes" list...the Lord helps me. When Ben runs over Emma's fingers with the chair I have told him 86 dozen times not to "drive" around the house. When I trip over Sofie's shoes that she can never find. When I miss our Haiti home and people and community so badly I can hardly stand it.  

I always breathe-pray, dozens of times a day, Lord, help me...and He just does.  I love that we have a God who asks for our holiness of attitude...and also plays an active roll in shaping it. That we have a God who commands us not to worry, and who is quick to carry our burdens.  That we have a God who tells us to be faithful, and helps our unbelief...who warns us against pity, and helps us to praise...who sees and knows but also cares and intervenes. 

I need all that. 

10 days off school with seven kids and a sick husband or not :). 

I have gotten a few really precious letters and I am so grateful for the reminders that you loved my dad, or that you are praying for us, or that you've been there.

The Lord also gave me some precious moments last week with the only person in our daily lives we know who has done foster ministry, and I needed that. It's a hard, heavy, lonely mission field, foster care. I've heard people talk about it my whole life, and always always thought, "NOT me. I'm not doing that...that would just be TOO hard and messy and raw and costly and 24/7. That would just be too much."

And some days it is, but you can't take those days off. 

That's refining, isn't it?...His work that you can't only do when it's fun or rewarding...His work that you never wanted and never signed up for and were terribly equipped for and then somehow found He walked you in...and stayed?

Hearing her say, right out of my crazy confessions and frustrations, "yes, that IS how it is...that is how it feels"...having her get it right away and understand, man, it just set me free. I had been feeling so overwhelmed and helpless, and she got it, and gave me a plan and some things to try, and that just made all the difference.  He helps me.

I know it feels counterintuitive to share your heartbreaks and struggles with hurting people...but man alive does it help to know we're all in it together, and that if there is hope for you, there is hope....that if He is helping you, there is help...that if you've been through it, I'll get there. 

Grateful for His body and for His help.

We've been through it these past few years. I've still got things to work through and rubs for Him to redeem.  

But the only thing that is TOO much is doing it without Him...and that is the very thing He promises will never happen.

08 March 2023

carrying on

It's all just settling in hard. I'm not doing well and that doesn't really change anything, does it...just putting it out there.

Our dear friend from Haiti lost his precious wife Vicki, and Matt leaves tomorrow for the funeral. He just got back from being in Tupelo Sunday and Monday for American Family Radio.  My dear friend's baby nephew was just diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation...tomorrow the anniversary of the death of a dear friend's husband...
You've got your list too...so many hard and heavy things. It all piles up and then sometimes it all catches up, too, and you just want to have a day to stay in bed and be quiet...

I'm tired. Our crew is hard to manage solo, even just between homeschool and carpool and preschool alone..a lot of shuttling, a lot of shepherding, and mama is always the safe place to dump and to take it all out on, a safe place to land. Court is over for another six months, but as all the stirred up waters settle, everyone is a bit emotional. Happy, sad, disappointed, excited, thankful, grateful, frustrated, grieving...all again, always, all of us. 

I am never ever alone, and yet often lonely under here...I don't know when I'll stop automatically reaching to call dad my 15 minutes in the car or at the end of the day when everyone's in bed...or feel like everyone has passed me by and are off having fun and rest with family and I am back here reeling and without one.

I fight the temptation to believe I am unseen, the unshowered woman at home who earns all the eye-rolls and never stops sorting socks and whose importance ends right about there. I fight the temptation to believe for a minute that my family is dwindling or that we are alone. I fight the temptation to believe lots of lies....to allow for lots of worries...to make space for pity when He does NOT.  I fight to be grounded and stable and consistent and loving when my four tweenagers and four year old are NOT. No wonder I'm tired...that's a lot of fighting!

Emily was here for a few days to see Ethan, and I'm so glad we got to house her and catch up. Ana wrote me the best letter of the good and the bad, and she has been used by the Lord again and again as a symbol of being seen by Him. Today was 86 degrees, warmer than Cap-Haitian, and some kiddos gardened while others had a water-balloon fight on the trampoline, and I am grateful for every sweet, sunny moment. Our small group was overflowing with beautiful, broken and faithful brothers and sisters tonight, and every Tuesday night I get to come alongside and laugh and cry and eat and pray and study and praise... and how good is that? 

I've got a good list to pray for and a good God to pray to and good gifts to praise for and a faithful Friend to praise...so I'mma carry on with you.

03 March 2023


I've been working through Hebrews, and couldn't help but notice this time through the many images of Christ being seated.  

He offered for all time a single sacrifice for our sins, and then He sat down at the throne.

We can boldly draw near to the throne of grace He sits on. 

We can look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who is seated next to God. 

I am weary.

We have been through the heaviest, hit-after-hit season of our lives, and as the clouds are finally lifting a bit and the sun is shining through, I feel wiped and sputtering and soaked to the bone. I want to spiritually pour hot coffee in my eyes as much as I physically keep considering it. 

So something just resonates deeply with me that our Lord and Friend did His work and sat down.

It warms my bones to know that He is not running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, trying to fix my circumstances. He is not flustered over our children, not frantic over the losses nor the waves. 

The God of our lives and home and circumstances? He is at peace. He hold power in His hand and a perspective of ALL...He sees it ALL...and He is at work, sitting by the Father.

I know stewing. I know midnight ponderings and what-if marathons and I know shepherding the emotions of many with little bandwidth to even consider my own. I know throwing up my hands in I don't know...I'm sorry!  I know breathing exercises and multitasking madness and balancing acts and making it all work and not coming up until I hit the wall.

But He doesn't. 

He doesn't know frantic nor tired, doesn't worry nor slumber.

He knows me, though.

He knows how my heart aches in this grief, and all the facets of processing this loss and missing my dad. He knew all the things involved in court yesterday and cared for our girls well and will continue to care for our family well as we persevere. He knows how my heart longs for Haiti...He knows the little things that hurt, the little things that chip away, He sees the hard places and He helps.

He helps, seated on His throne. 

Praise the Lord for a God like that...The
One who rules above and sees below and cares, at work and at rest over me.

27 February 2023


We had a sweet weekend of sunshine and celebrating dear girl turning 13...lunch at a nice restaurant with dad today, dinner and "mall-ing" with her best friends last night, a sleepover where the giggling finally ceased with the rising sun and chocolate chip pancakes. Our children all love each other, and each have a few dear friends who know and love them well...what richness for a mom.

I was reading Hebrews 2 last week and came across a passage I know I've read before but without the meaning it has currently.  

I will tell of your name, 
I will sing your praise.
I will put my trust in Him.
Behold, I and the children God has given me. 

I don't know what's going to happen this week. But I will hold the children God has given me close beside me in the telling of His name, the singing His praise, and in putting our trust in Him.

I'll remind them. I'll model it for them. I'll pray it over them. I'll share it with others around them. I'll keep them in the middle of my telling, of my praising, of my trusting.  

Because from my being or not...with my last name or not...with dad's long stick legs or not...these are the children God has given me today, these seven and the many flying through our doors and adding handprints to the windows each week.

The laundry is rarely all folded (and even more rarely all put away). The sink is rarely free of dishes, the homework and lessons not all done...I don't always make the right decisions and the growing number of teens in the house will tell you I'm a fun-killer and a drag. 

But if I can tell these children God has given me about His hand again and again, if I can praise Him often enough for eye-rolls and sighs...if I can trust Him with the little and big things and help them to do the same...

...if they can see that through how I lose my keys. How I lose my sleep. How I lose my dad...

...if all they remember is that I treasured them, and that all my treasure was firmly in Him. 

If I can do Hebrews 2, then I can do this week.

25 February 2023

not the next best thing

 There is a common expression in Haiti, Apre Bondje, se sel ou memn m gen.

After God, all I have is you.

When someone was desperate for food, the request would come, hands extended helplessly with an after God, you're all I have.

When someone needed help getting a loved one medical care, after God, you're my only hope.

If the deadline for school tuition was approaching, after God, our only chance for this is you.

It used to terrify me as a young missionary, approached by men my father's age, presenting a massive need I knew nothing about how to care for, and being told I was their only hope.

If they said it, it must be true, and oh what a predicament I now was in with this child covered in tumors or this widow with five children with swollen bellies, or this family with piles of bills and dreams and desperate for help.

But one day, I was with Uncle Dave when someone extended him the idea that after God, he was their only hope, and he shortly but graciously corrected, as is his way, After God? There is NONE after God!  Sometimes I can help by the grace of God, and sometimes I can't, but only He is God, and there is NONE after.

He quickly removed himself from the pedestal next to God that I had been trying to lovingly occupy for the sake of brothers and sisters God had perhaps let down, and reminded me that we were not the hope of Haiti nor the hope for the hopeless nor the next best thing...and wouldn't dare pretend.

Tonight I was at church, and as we sang and prayed and listened and prayed, I had a short, heavy, messy list of things I wanted the Lord to work on for me.

Instead, always instead, He gave me two clear words.

One: to fill my mouth and mind and heart with the greatness of God and the subsequent outflowing of praise so I don't have the space to offend the Lord by complaining about my issues and frustrations with His creations (which kind of shortened my list)

Two: to remember that after God, it wasn't my dad.

My whole childhood, after God, I had mom and dad. And then my whole adulthood, after God, I had dad. 

If God didn't come through...if God didn't show up...if He didn't provide...if He disappointed...I still always had this hope and trust that my dad.  

Not long ago I cried to Matt, "What if we need help one day, what in the world are we going to do? What if one day we are homeless and need a home? Where will we go? Who is going to help us?"

He listened to me patiently.  

I started bawling harder. "Who is going to LOVE me like parents do? Who is going to care about the little things? Who is going to care about my children like true grandparents? Who is going to be proud of me and watch over me and listen to me and be my friend? Who is going let me belong to them and love us most, like mom and dad?"

I have followed the Lord my whole life, and I was as hopeless and helpless in that moment as I had been in my whole life...the terrible answer, NO ONE, NEVER AGAIN, resounding in the pit of my soul. I was on the verge of losing my way when Matt snapped me back to hope with what I already knew.

Stacey, THE LORD. And NOT the Lord, after your dad and mom. The Lord, FIRST and always and BETTER and BEST.  The Lord's love for us is the model our parents struggle to faintly model. 

After God, it wasn't my mom, though she pointed to Him. It wasn't my Dad, right there next to the Lord, dishing Him out. Even if they never let me down while living...and they did...they have let me down now, entirely. When I have needed mom, she has not been there, not once, not in 20 years. My dad, when we are desperate, hands out helplessly, he will not answer my call.

There is none after God...I have none after Him. I never did. 

Who is going to love me well and care for the little things and watch me over and love me ridiculously?

God my Father.

I lost track these last hard months that after God is still just God...and where else would I go?

If you're waiting on the things after God, friend, they aren't coming. If you're counting on something else to satisfy just in case God doesn't, He DOES. And it won't. If you're putting your hope and faith and joy in a person after Jesus, they are going to let you down. If you're frustrated that the people you're putting "after God" aren't coming through the way you need, they can't. If I'm trying to be "right after God" for my family, friends and children...I'm never going to live up. 

There is none after, and in Him is the beginning and the end, the one who never fails. 

He never fails.

23 February 2023


I started this blog for dad...as soon as we left his house in Ohio in 2004 and headed to Canada for immersion training before heading to Haiti. It was hard to call every day, and a few other close friends were asking how we were doing, so I started writing for every-other-day short updates. Dad would know we were good, and see a few pictures. 

It turned into a place to WRITE...a place to process, a place to heal and hurt and work it all through.  A place to search for what the Lord was teaching me.

Dad read every post for 18 years...and every time we spoke he would ask more about what I'd written.  If I knew he'd want to know about it, I'd write about it...and it's caught me off guard to realize that here I still am, all these years later, still writing with him in mind. What he'd want to know. What pictures he'd want to see.

He's had 20 novels from me. I wish I had one from him...but it's just all in my heart and mind, and in the long sought after "perfect" birthday, anniversary and Mother's Day cards he always signed simply, "Love, Dad", but labored over finding just the right message. 

I. just. miss. him.


A dear couple brought us dinner last night...special dinner. Above and beyond, thoughtful and sweet, with two blueberry bushes to plant for us and the kids as reminders of Dad....reminders he's not finished. Reminders that he grows on and sweet in each of us. Reminders that God's not finished, either, doing the work of blooming and growing that only He can do.

I'm having a hard time getting on top of all the laundry and school work and housework and pick-ups and getting back in a rhythm, and my brain is frustrating me in such a fog, unable to get up to speed and my normal capacity.. It blessed me so much to be gifted and loved and remembered.  I have been also so grateful for cards from several of you...thank you.

Our church has been having revival/worship nights since Sunday and Matt and the four older girls have been going. The littles and sick baby and I have been home, searching the Lord with them...and He's been showing up as the hunger for Him grows....I am grateful, for what God's doing at Asbury....at Foundry....at so many places...and just here.

If you've lost your parents and have a three step plan for making this all easier...please send it to me.  Your words of encouragement and sharing of similar circumstances have been precious water.  

One of our girlies turns 13 this weekend...with court rescheduled from December for this Thursday, a week from today. I would be so grateful for your prayers. Trusting the Lord with the dear hearts and very lives of children is no small trust...I'd be coming undone if He could not be trusted, if they were not His girls first and foremost and always. 

He is no small God.

21 February 2023

not even close

A million hours in the van later, and we got home tonight at 7.

It feels like we've been gone for weeks. 

And for the first road trip of my life, as we reached each next destination, there was no one to text that we'd safely arrived. I have called and texted dad at each major point of each major trip in each city and country my whole life. And we are back home safely. And dad would be waiting up to hear. 

So I am telling you.

I have a lot of thoughts (what else is new), but to summarize tonight, I was dreading the funeral more than anything in the world, worried that every person there, sheerly by facing them, would be an announcement of dad being gone...dead...finished.

"He is gone" I expected their presence to say, and I couldn't hardly face it. 

I was not even close...I was surprised again and again to find different graces in different people that said otherwise.

Not anything that anyone even said.

The Millers were there before I was born. Prayed for me in my mom's belly...as a little girl in church...throughout school...when mom died...when I got married...when I moved to Haiti...when I had my babies...when we moved to Mississippi...when Dad got sick.

I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Sarah and Bonnie and Chris and Kevin and Carl and Mary would be there...Maybe even Meghan and Colin. I didn't ask them ahead. I knew they would be, no matter what. I knew they would already have loving tears in their eyes before I saw them. And when we walked in and I didn't see them, I knew they were there. I knew they were crying with me. I knew they were praying.

The sheer stability of the confidence of the prayers and presence of a family who has prayed for and loved us for my entire lifetime...brought me the deepest and unexpected groundedness and peace. They weren't pointing to Dad being dead. They were pointing to loving him and us.

Rick and Carol, Greg and Cathie who took me in in Port-au-Prince when Mom died, Don and Brenda, Micheline and Benito...my first friend in Haiti who helped us raise Lily, Sofie and Nora, our Haiti family...they were there. It was crazy they were there. But seeing them was far better than I ever would have thought...it was so sweet to have genuine family in them, still. Our kids call them family...They have all been like grandparents. They came at great expense. They were massive parts of the massive part of Haiti in our lives...just like dad was....I felt so hemmed in.

Elisa, Molly...they've been two of my best friends forever. I KNEW they would be there and knew that they know-know. All the behind the scenes. All the good, bad, ugly. That my dad loved them in season like daughters and cared for them like he cared for me. And that they would be there, and will be, that they cradle meaningful memories of dad like I do...I felt so at peace when I saw them.

My first grade teacher and third grade, my mom's principal, my band instructor who sang at mom's funeral, my dad's co-workers from Mahan, my dad's very best friends....my dad's sister and step-sister, my cousins I haven't seen in 10 years....my friends from college who saw dad almost as much as we did...my sister's good friends. Some people shared precious stories and sentiments. Some people couldn't say anything at all. All of it blessed me, because they were there...there with me.

I thought seeing everyone would remind me dad was gone. But seeing them instead reminded me that Dad was loved...and that he loved me.  That he was truly known...that who I know he was, he was...that the stories I have are 10 in a hundred. That what I knew he did, he did more. 

I thought seeing everyone would remind me I was alone...toeing around the idea of orphaned in my mind and heart.  But seeing this crowd of people who loved Dad, instead, reminded me that I never will or could be...He has richly filled my life with too much family to ever throw around an idea like that, of being alone.  We have too much family to be orphaned, not even close.

I fell asleep that night feeling so unexpectedly grateful and rich and exhausted. I woke up the next dreary morning feeling nothing but the deep and heavy and empty and crippling loss. 

It is something in the middle. It is both. The deep loss, and the richness of His steadfast love and His precious people. 

I'll always hold dad's funeral in my heart as a testimony of God's people and how badly we need one another to point us to Him and to hope....and even to carry us there, sometimes. 

I wish I had pictures of each person, to remember. This is all I've got, lunch after.

But I'll remember all the same.