Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What If...

(I've been thinking about this for a while)

I've said it before, but it has been simply amazing to watch and read and hear and see the way that God is using our story to work in the lives of others. I would never have imagined that our journey over the past several months could help restore relationships, bring healing to broken hearts, and move people closer to a God they either have turned away from or have never really known at all.

But, I've been thinking...

What if the next time you check this blog you read that something horrible has happened to one or both of my girls?

What if, someday soon, you had to go through something similar in your own life?


What if something happens to my girls and I decide to turn my back on God and everyone who has helped us so far?


Or, what if I were to tell you that everything you've read on our blog was a lie...something I made up just because I'm really a jerk?


Hopefully, none of those things are going to happen (I can promise you that the last one won't), but what if they did? Those of you who write that your lives have been changed somehow...what would happen to you if our story took an unexpected and undesirable turn?

Would I feel cheated?

Would we want to go back to the way we were before we were given an opportunity to be a part of this story?

Would you start praying less? Start hugging your family less? Believing less?

I wonder about these things for you, because I wonder about them for myself (see This Related Post).

It's so easy to experience a quick positive change in attitude or thinking or action or living when we're given something amazingly real to witness and be a part of. And, from experience, it's even easier to have a negative change when we're presented with something really awful. It's so much easier to continue on with or go back to living a comfortable life than it is to step out and move ourselves (or allow ourselves to be moved) toward something we know could be both uncomfortable and good.

But, real, positive change is hard.

Sticking with it when life returns to normal is even harder.

Nate

68 comments:

Donnie, Cheri, Brock, Alex, Logan....Coming Soon Malaena-Sloan said...

Nate...If from posting your story, you bring just one person to know the Lord, and make changes in his/her life, you've possibly fulfilled what God laid out for you to do. I don't know "how" God thinks, but I do know that He wants us to share with others how He works in our daily lives in good times and bad. When my son lost his father last year, if it wouldn't have been for his walk with Christ, he wouldn't have come through it so easily. I always say if "if's" and "but's" were candy and nuts, we'd have Christmas everyday! One of my all-time favorite old songs is "In the Valley He Restoreth My Soul." You may never heard it cause it's older than you. If you ever have the chance, at least read the words. Cheri

Princess Talana said...

None of these what if's would make me read less, make me celebrate with you less, pray less, or send less vibes to you. I guess it's a risk that I'm so used to with CF, that something bad is always lurking, that even when it does happen it doesn't rattle me anymore. I know to live for the positive, and hold on in the hard times.

Baby Leino said...

well said.

Undomestic said...

Well, I am one of those "What if's." Last fall, as a 34 year old with no history of it, (married, 3 young kids) I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But for me, I was brought closer to God by the circumstances. However, I know others, who's "diffcult" circumstances, led them to turn away. I don't know what makes one do one or the other.

terri c said...

You ask terrific questions, Nate, and a lot of how people answer will depend on how they view God. If God is seen as the one who gives good things in response to prayer, and ONLY that, then when bad things happen, faith can be seriously challenged. Simplistic approaches can leave people who want to be faithful feeling as if God has abandoned them, or as if their own faith has not been sufficient, if something bad happens to them or to a loved one. I see this as a chaplain... So the real question that each faithful person has to grapple with, and pray over, is: Where is God if prayers seem NOT to be answered? I'm not answering that question because I think God works differently in different lives--but what I do suggest sometimes is that people read the Psalms of lament (like 88), and realize that we can bring our sorrows and even our anger to God and still be faithful to our tradition. After all the Psalms are part of the Bible, and sometimes hurt and pain are so great that the hymns of praise just don't fit. I tend to think that if God in fact wants ALL of us, then God wants our pained feelings as well as our praise feelings. But that's just me.

Melissa, Mike, and Brendon said...

Nathan,
I wanted to share with you my testimony that God used my experience (similar to yours and Tricia's when I had my child) to rock my world and provide a foundation.

I would need it. After we finally came home from the hospital (my baby and I on the same day weeks later ironically), the doctors "slowly" introduced us to the challenges our child would face. It was heartbreaking. at first. I repeat, AT FIRST. However, we gathered resolve and thankfully God had provided this previous difficult experience as a solid faith building foundation we could lean on.
We finally, about a year later, got "used" to all the routines, therapies, specialized care that both myself and my son needed and our home was completely destroyed in a tornado. We got out with our lives.
My dad left my mom after 38 years of marriage for her best friends of 40 years, shocking their church family, friends, and abandoning me and my baby (his grandchild, too.

Mom developed a dimentia and chronic anxiety. I had to get her on disability, etc etc.

I could go on and on. The bottom line is that when God slams a door, he opens a window. You can't be sitting in the room with dark blinders on or you won't find the window.

I am a very very blessed woman. It has been 3 years and my little man still faces challenges, but God has brought him through every milestone and continues to help him achieve what he needs.

I will admit that I have said on more than one occasion, "Ok, God, can the 'character building' phase be OVER now?"

I believe God creates life and life shapes us, teaches us, so we can witness to others.

Psalm23:4 Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me

happy gram said...

funny, as i've been reading your blog for a long time now, i've had so many random thoughts. when someone posts and the title is 'we are SO blessed' i wonder to myself, then should daughter's blog be titled 'we are so NOT blessed'. i'm really kidding BUT it makes me think 'what IS being blessed'? now while my heart knows the answer, it is still hard to accept and FEEL blessed under bad circumstances. and the same with prayer...when someone says "this is TRULY answered prayer"....then, when horrible outcome occurs after much prayer then should one say "this TRULY wasn't answered prayer." how can you say the one without saying the other? i'm am TOTALLY not on your case - just posing questions for conversation. when we prayed for a soldier going back to iraq sunday at church, it was the first time i've thought, 'well, i'm praying for you but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll come back." how could i have been so naive or un-understanding (bad grammar) that i didn't realize all along that just because i prayed for safety and protection, that it would automatically happen. ok, enuff. it is late. still praying for you....

jaammull said...

Hi Nate,

I have a messed up sleep schedule too, but mines from insomnia. lol

Your thoughts and questions really make me dig deep within myself, and I appreciate that. If any of the "what if's" came true, I still wouldn't turn my back on God or go back to my old ways. I would not pray any less.

See, God is using you and your family Nate in more ways than you know. I'm going to lay my story out there, in hopes that it gives you some encouragement just as you've given to me.

My mom was born in 1943, and was raised in a strict pentecostal family. She married my father, who borders on agnostic. My dad is a very controlling man, and didn't out and out forbid my mom to go to church but ridiculed her, the church and pastor if she did go. Eventually, she broke down and stopped going to church. Therefore, I wasn't raised in the church, and will readily admit that at the age of 37 I still don't know very much of the Bible.

About 2 years ago, with my parents aging, my mom decided that she was going back to church again whether my father liked it or not. She went back to the same church she'd gone to as a child, and the same Pastor was there. Albeit aging, but the same Pastor none the less. She'd invite me to come along. Finally I did. Eventually I got saved. I became very attached to Pastor George and his wife, as did my youngest daughter. Brother George always said that God had special things planned for Courtney (my youngest daughter). One night, Courtney told brother George that she wanted to preach. She said God had led her to John 3:16 and asked if she could preach on it. He told her that she could the following Wednesday evening. Well, that night came and my 9yr. old little girl at the time, took the stage with brother George holding her hand and introducing her. She did an amazing job. At the end of the service, brother George hugged her, and spoke with tears streaming down his face. He told the congregation how proud of her he was.

That was the last time we saw brother George alive. He passed away that Friday evening. I hate to admit it, but I haven't been back to church since.

Since reading about your story, and following your blog, I've been praying a LOT and I've started reading the Bible once again. The thought provoking questions you ask, really have made me reach inside. Your faith, makes me ashamed of how I've lived my life. Not only do I read your blog, but also I read those of your father, uncle, and brother in law.

Your family and their messages have become my church, so to speak. I know that isn't enough, I know to be a good Christian I need the physical presence of a church and other Christians around me to help me learn more and adhere to Christiananity. BUT, this is a start, and I most certainly AM getting lessons daily from you and your family.

Sorry this is so long, I know you get a million messages to have to try and sort through. I just really felt compelled to tell you (for some reason I'm not quite sure of)that you and your family are Pastors on a daily basis, whether or not you're aware of it and I really appreciate each and every one of you.

No matter the outcome of your story (life), NOTHING can take away the miracles tha God has given and shown through you, your beautiful girls, and the rest of your entire family. Each and every day has been a miracle that I feel honored to have witnessed.

Thank you for teaching me Nate, Tricia, and sweet Gwyneth Rose, and bringing me closer to God.

Anonymous said...

You wouldn't be human if you didn't have a few "what ifs". And I am sure that if a "what if" came about, there would be some sorrow, anger, and mourning. However, the important part is that you have a firm foundation that would pull you out and help comfort you (or anyone in a trying circumstance). That is part of God's plan for us, experiencing all the human emotions.

Wobbly Librarian said...

God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Our circumstances change. Your questions are good. I can't share on my blog all the things that are going on in my life- heartbreaking things with situations in my family, but some folks would think it looks not so good. I, however, know that it is God's plan - however dimly I can't see right now through my human eyes, and trust my God to bring us through.....
And that is sufficient for me. Grace. Peace. God's peace, no matter the circumstances here on earth.

Rich and Lauren said...

nate.

if the only reason that God took my monther's life was that one or more people could saved. it WAS woth it. lets say no one got save... God put me through that trial to help people in the same situation. I dont know what you are going through, but i do know what its like to be in that stupid waiing room with no hope. so if nothing else i offer you or anyone reading this is, God has a plan... it might no be the same as ours, but it is the PERFECT plan. the one who created this universe, bone structure, music, your 1lb 6oz baby... he knows what he is doing.

JERM 29:11

Rich

Rich and Lauren said...

i love YOU
l loveTrish
i love Gwyen

Anonymous said...

Hi Nate,
I’m truly happy for people who are feeling the genuine gift of the Holy Ghost touching their hearts through your story. It’s there, and it’s strong, and as many people who see it and feel it, I say it’s from our Father in Heaven, using your story to help others.

Now I’m going to be candid with you. Don’t say “Ah-oh”. It’s okay! Sometimes, it’s good to hear what people are truly thinking. So, here I go. Just as you have shared with us your honesty, I will return the favor. I am definitely a person of faith, but I don’t really follow your story for that (even though I’ve bawled my eyes out watching your videos of Tricia and Gwyneth). My faith is bolstered by yours, but my faith is based on my own experiences and my own willingness to believe.

As far as everyone relying on your story to bolster or destroy their faith, I honestly think of the parable of the ten virgins. There is only enough oil in our lamps (that we have gathered ourselves) for each of us IN THE END. We can’t give it away. We have to get it for ourselves throughout this life, and people have to get their own oil for themselves. It’s the same with faith. Nobody can MAKE anyone have faith or spirituality. Each of us has to get it for ourselves one drop at a time. So, my point (if I have rightly or wrongly read between the lines and sensed your fear) no more worries about people joining spirituality or leaving it because of the good or bad things that happen to you. In the end, it’s up to us to decide, no matter what God puts in front of us. But I digress……..

I follow your story for the true human aspect. I’ve heard it said before (get ready for the bad cliché) we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are SPIRITUAL BEINGS having a human experience. I’m sure you’ve heard that before too, but every time I read your story, I feel like I’m getting a glimpse into your “human experience” and how your spirituality is being effected (or is it "affected"). I love how you’re honest with all of us. You show us your true self, your true human side, and your true spiritual side too. You’re not trying to make anyone do anything with their faith, with their money, or with their lives. You’re just sharing who you are. I can say, honestly, that it’s so refreshing to hear someone’s true thoughts without them trying to get anything from you for it. I have those same thoughts even though I consider myself to have a lot of faith. I go to church every Sunday, serve in the church, and feel like I have a good testimony of God and Jesus. Sometimes, I can be so weak, like us all. It’s nice to hear I’m not alone.

Sorry this is so long. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop and let someone else share.

lonely said...

*IF* you should loose one or both of your girls, my faith (or lack thereof) would stay the same. In fact it would probably only reinforce my thinking. *IF* you should turn out to be a jerk with some great photos of someone else's wife and child, I suppose I would be angry for giving my tears to the wrong man, though not for the wrong reasons.

A previous comment said when God slams a door, he opens a window.

In my world, the window hasn't been opened, it has simply shattered.

In your world, there are no doors, nor any windows. Beautiful breezeways line your life, and the halls are full of the people your story has touched.

walkingbyfaith said...

I agree with you. I think it's hardest to keep up with the fervent prayers, extra family hugs, extra "i love yous", and strong faith when things are normal.

To me, your story has been God's way of reminding me that we don't ever know His plans for our lives. We need to make sure and live a daily life for Him -- strong in His word, clinging to His side -- so that in the event this happens to any of us, we are somewhat prepared. I know there are certain situations we're never prepared to handle, but if our faith and walk are strong, we are better suited to handle things and hopefully are able to remind ourselves that God's will is perfect, even in the times we can't see that.

I also agree with the first comment...if one person has to come to know Christ through your family's story, everything you've written is worth it and perhaps that alone is the reason God laid it on your heart to journal your story online. :)

I'm grateful for you sharing this, and no matter what happens with Tricia, Gwyneth, and even you...I will still pray. I strongly feel that each person who was lead to read this blog was lead for a reason. I personally don't think I'll ever forget your family.

Love & Hugs...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lissa Lane said...

I wanted to answer each question you asked specifically with their own answers

>What if the next time you check this blog you read that something horrible has happened to one or both of my girls?<
I would be extremely sympathetic and would tell you that I KNOW that my daughter accepted your girls into Heaven with Jesus happily. I would cry and I would mourn with you and try to support you in your grief journey as much as i'm able to online

>What if, someday soon, you had to go through something similar in your own life?<
We have gone through alot in our own life. The only things keeping me sane are God, and taking it one breath at a time. Don't worry what will hapen 5 minutes from now, just concentrate on this breath and this minute

>What if something happens to my girls and I decide to turn my back on God and everyone who has helped us so far? <
I would continue to read and pray for you and ask for a special unspoken prayer request at church, that God would show you back to the right path

>Or, what if I were to tell you that everything you've read on our blog was a lie...something I made up just because I'm really a jerk?<
Prayer extends all time and space. So if you were lieing whoever is in those pictures you are posting are still being lifted up in prayer and god knows this. I would be hurt of course, but I would live

>Hopefully, none of those things are going to happen (I can promise you that the last one won't), but what if they did? Those of you who write that your lives have been changed somehow...what would happen to you if our story took an unexpected and undesirable turn?<
I would continue to go to God. In this life we will have troubles but as god said 'I have overcome the world!'

>Would you start praying less? Start hugging your family less? Believing less?<

No NEVER! Since I lost my daughter EVERY moment I have with my family is a treasure

Rene said...

I know what it is like to have life change in a heartbeat and still have to move forward! My youngest son was born 7 weeks premature with multiple congenital heart defects and a birth defect to his esophagus causing him to aspirate. He eats by gtube, breathes by trach, and insult to injury--the aspirations caused pulmonary hypertension and his heart cannot be repaired.

He's 16 months old and we're still humming along. It's hard to fall asleep at night because you wonder if he will take his last breath. I am hoping and praying the medications and procedures he is having is enough to sustain his life until his lungs heal enough to allow the doctors to repair his heart.

I know how it feels to look at someone you love more than life itself and want to take their place. Your "what if" about reading something happened to one of Your Girls would break my heart, because I'm walking in your shoes. I wake up every day thanking God that yesterday wasn't the day and beg him that today won't be either.

Rene

Anonymous said...

Or, what if I were to tell you that everything you've read on our blog was a lie...something I made up just because I'm really a jerk?


I would pray that God would forgive you and that all of your sins be washed away.

What if the next time you check this blog you read that something horrible has happened to one or both of my girls?

I would pray for the entire staff at Duke, for your entire family, and for your girls. I would turn it up a notch and if the absolute worst happened I would pray for solace and understanding for everyone just as I did for Patience & Jordan when I heard about Isaac.

I would praise God for knowing the best choice was the hardest choice and praise God for continuing to be in my life as well as the lives of others.

Have a blessed day and I will pray for Tricia to be put on that list today (and for the donors families as well).

Scott said...

Caught up on all the posts was on the road all day yesterday. The story is great. The what if is challenging and I'm glad you posted it. Sometimes we say "God is good" based on the events of our life being good. Instead of God is good by nature. Lord bless you and we are praying.

Anonymous said...

I have played the "what-if" game many times in my life, but specifically for my physical life in the past 3 1/2 years. God uses each person on earth for a purpose, whether that person believes in God or not. God uses ugly things in life for a purpose ... things like cancer, CF, congenital defects that end in death. God uses everything to bring glory to Him ... even if it is only 1 life that is changed.

Satan uses the "what-if" game to question our trust in God. I have learned that lesson, and quite frankly, am still learning that lesson today, over the past several months. It's a painful road to be on when you play that game ... which is why God constantly whispers ... "trust in me always ... I know the plans I have for you ... I am with you always."

As long as we remember that God is using our lives to impact someone else's life to glorify Him, we can trust in the One who created us and who watches over us. He alone is to be praised in every situation. And when we come out on the other side and look back, no matter the outcome, we will see that indeed, He was glorified and there was only one set of footprints in the sand, because we were in His arms.

NuttyGal said...

OK, these are questions I ask myself all the time and I don't like my answers much and wish they were different but the one thing they are is HONEST.

What if the next time you check this blog you read that something horrible has happened to one or both of my girls? I'd cry my hurt out and think that praying obviously doesn't work and that all along God knew he was going to take them and I would wonder why why why why and be very frustrated in the fact that I just don't understand. When I read the blog of the family that had lost their little baby boy recently on your blog, I thought to myself "does that mean they didn't pray as much as you guys?" and I know thats silly but they are questions I ask myself all the time.

What if, someday soon, you had to go through something similar in your own life? I have been through some horrible heartache which is probably what made me question the whole God thing in the first place. My aunty was brutally murdered and I just didn't and still don't, understand how something like that is in God's plan. I find no good in what happened as it hasn't brought families together, infact it split them up where as I can see the positive side to your story and it fills me with hope every day!

What if something happens to my girls and I decide to turn my back on God and everyone who has helped us so far? I would totally understand. I would be saddened as it would mean you had lost 3 instead of 2. I would want to take away your hurt and I would feel helpless cos I couldn't.

Or, what if I were to tell you that everything you've read on our blog was a lie...something I made up just because I'm really a jerk?

I would feel so dissapointed, I'd feel angry and probably not want to read another blog again as I would have lost all trust in "humanity" again. - I know this is not true and you will never realise just how much "good" you have done by sharing your thoughts and feelings with us all. You are the first thing I look at when I open my pc every morning and the last thing I look at before going to bed. I saw some horrible stuff on you tube last week and I could not get the pictures out of my head. I started questioning "people" on this planet and trying to understand WHY some peopke are just so horrible and sick in the head, I won't go into details but I will say that I will never look on you tube ever again and looking at your blog just made everything right with the world again - it made me KNOW there are GOOD people out there!

Much LOVE and hugs to all 3 of you XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx

Hossam said...

hello
this is ma firist visite to ur blog
hope be a frinds
----------------------------------
ur words are perfect

The Townleys said...

If one of those horrible things happened, you would know God had armed you with more people's love and prayers than you could possibly have imagined. You would realize that your girls' lives (however short) had fulfilled God's purpose and changed lives, and you would be reminded that doubt lives in us all. Anyone who can look at your story and not see God's Love and ultimate Plan - regardless of the outcome - hasn't been paying attention.

Paul said...

Those are great thoughts for people to ponder because things do happen.

Although my husband ultimately led me to the Lord, there was a mutual friend of ours that was very influential in bringing me to Him also. Sadly, that friend has now turned away from the Lord. The same friend was also influential in making me think about God's plan for birth control - which for me is that God is in control. We probably wouldn't have the children we have today if that friend hadn't said certain words. It breaks my heart to know that he's turned away from the Lord but at the same time I know that my walk with Jesus is personal and I shouldn't let other people's lives effect my walk in a negative way. I hope that makes sense :-)

Thank you so much for sharing all this Nate.

Many prayers,
Marla and Paul

Destini said...

The story of (forgive me for shortening the names, I'm used to the Veggie Tales version of the story) Rach, Shach and Benny keeps coming to mind. When they faced a firey death in the furnace the acknowledged that God could save them but even if He did not, they acknowledged his sovereignty. God has worked great miracles in the lives of you and your girls, he has done a great work in building your faith. If one of your girls were to take a turn for the worse, I wouldn't blame you for being in anguish and in agony. You are human! Jesus was in anguish and in agony before his sacrifice, but through it all he still praised God. It is my prayer that this will be a response for you should anything happen. I continue to pray for your family that God would continue to sustain you all and through the good and bad you will have a song of praise on your lips. Try not to stay in this "what if" place too long. Sometimes when we focus on the what ifs and the buts we miss out on some of the blessings right now. Stay encouraged brother!

Brian and Rachel said...

Well thankfully we don't have a what if God. As long we we have hope there are no what ifs to be afraid of. Blessings from Florida.

Chris said...

I think one of the things about having a strong faith and foundation in Christ, is that you weather anything thrown at you - good, bad, or indifferent....Christ is the constant that keeps us going....One of the more difficult journies in my faith walk was realizing we live in an imperfect world, and that negative things DO happen as a result - usually our free will enters into that somewhere,although sometimes it doesn't, but God is always there with us, even in the darkest hours....Once I "got" that, nothing was a crisis any more. I always had that underlying "peace that passes all understanding"...Do you get what I mean? If so, hallelujah, if not, I pray you'll find that peace soon on your walk as well :-)....And Praise God for answered prayer - that pix of you holding Gwynnie was priceless :)

Chris/Rhin

Chris said...

I think one of the things about having a strong faith and foundation in Christ, is that you weather anything thrown at you - good, bad, or indifferent....Christ is the constant that keeps us going....One of the more difficult journies in my faith walk was realizing we live in an imperfect world, and that negative things DO happen as a result - usually our free will enters into that somewhere,although sometimes it doesn't, but God is always there with us, even in the darkest hours....Once I "got" that, nothing was a crisis any more. I always had that underlying "peace that passes all understanding"...Do you get what I mean? If so, hallelujah, if not, I pray you'll find that peace soon on your walk as well :-)....And Praise God for answered prayer - that pix of you holding Gwynnie was priceless :)

Chris/Rhin

karo14 said...

dear Nate, what if.. are difficult questions. The only thing I know is, that God will never turn his back to you. My daughter died after 19 hours. I'm not angry, I know that God is taking care of her.
It's hard but God is there for me and my husband. I would have never thought that I could cope with the loss of my daughter. I can, and that is just because of God.
I'm praying for you and your girls.

imasharp said...

You just posted a mouthful. I pray over my kids all the time, God's promise that what is in them won't leave them and they will also know the truth and let it set them free. It would be so cool to have a quick fix that would last for ourselves or others. I for one have never chosen the easy way of learning. I remember going thru chemo and radiation. It seemed that everyday was a roller coaster ride. Great post! Big Prayers, Christy in KY

refreshing in ohio said...

I am one of your faithful readers whose life you have changed. Not because of all the 'good' miracles that have come your way and it's so far, a 'happy' story, but because you've put into perspective many things that I didn't fully understand (or, most often, haven't take the time to think about). In a weird sort of way, I'm USING you and your story to find a better me. That sounds selfish even as I type it, but I think that it works for both of us in this instance, it seems that is your hope anyway. I love how eloquently you describe your feelings about your faith in God and your wife and daughter. It's not everyday I get to crawl inside a man's head and see what he is thinking (my husband is quiet, too) Yes, we all are alot more prayerful when the chips are down, but through you, we've all learned to trust God and His plan when they are and count our blessings and thank Him when they're not!

This post was thoughtful and I can appreciate that, but please don't think that only your written story is what keeps us coming back. I do love all the great and inspiring news, but it is your insight that draws me several times a day! Besides, it's a whole lot easier than dragging the kids to church 3 times a day (and with my denomination, sadly, I probably wouldn't even GET that much out of it!) Keep those posts coming - You're inspiring so much good around the world!

grey like snuffie said...

I can read a novel and if the Word of God is included I can be challenged and encouraged--His Truth is His Truth. Circumstances do not define who He is---that seems to be the training ground of believers---to walk through this life as if that was true---IT IS TRUE---we just seem challenged in keeping our eyes on Him. No matter what happens to the three of you---He is holy, He is worthy of praise and we can choose to set our eyes on Him. May not feel right or good but it would be Truth. He will always be God. You have done a great job pointing us to God throughout all of this--you are all His and I will trust Him that He will not let go of you. After all, while this is all amazing and emotionally moving at times---it's not really about you guys--its making me look at Him. So I thank Him and pray on as He leads.

mom2LEAA said...

Nate,
If things do not turn out the way that we want, we may be mad or disappionted for ourselves, but in our faith, we will rejoice that those who go before us are now with our God. It is often hard to remember that our will and wants are not God's, your story and your willingness to share your family will always stand as a testament to God and nothing, not even the what if's can change the glory that God has shown to us in these past months.
Let us give thanks in all things,
for our God is an awesome God.
God's peace be with you and your family,
Cindy

Elizabeth said...

If these things did happen, I would still pray, but I look at you and your story as a story of faith, loyalty and perserverance thru trials and struggles. I believe your "lifestory" is one written by God and hopefully, through the things you and your family are going thru, you can

*turn someone(or many) to Christ
*be counsel to someone going thru the same things
*help others to see the blessings in their lives
*show strength in trials
*help others' feel they aren't alone because they have already gone thru similar circumstances.

Thank you for sharing your family, your heart, and your lifestory with us.

Praying for You :)

Adam & Mommy said...

We thought about this with sweet baby Isaac (we found you thru Jordan and Patience). We were all so hopeful that he would grow into a young boy and fabulous man. We can now see that God is growing Jordan and Patience through all they have been through. In a recent Beth Moore study she said God ALWAYS delivers the faithful ... either from something, through something, or by something into His loving arms. It may not be the deliverance we, as earthly beings, hope for. But, God is faithful to those who love him. And He will pursue us to our last breath if we flee from Him. Praying for continued strength for all 3 of you!

Mrs.Haggie810 said...

I would be heartbroken if you lost your girls, but I would not turn my back on God, I would turn my heart towards him, and pray for you. I would be sad if you turned your back towards him, but I would understand, and pray for you that you would return to Him. If this same thing were to happen to my family I don't know what I would do...it scares me 1/2 to death to even put that into words...I pray that I could have your strength and the strength that others have had, but I just don't think I could...I pray I never have to find out.

I just wanted to let you know also that I linked to your blog on my blog, here's the addy...http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog&pop=1&ping=1&indicate=1 and if that doesn't work you can check out my blog by going to www.myspace.com/haggieswifey and click on my blog. I have a blogger account, but i need to get it changed an updated. Anyways, also, I'm glad Tricia and Gwyneth are doing so well and I will continue to pray for you all! =) God Bless!

A stranger in Canada said...

Your story made me believe in the strength of prayers, the little miracles of every day. Taking it one day at a time, and knowing there's a bigger plan in place for each of us, at God's will is what I learned from you, Tricia and Gwyneth, and whatever happens, I'll always be thankful for that!

Anonymous said...

What if....isn't that the question? But, what if we remember that God is with us in good times and bad. He is a wonderful God! What if something happens to your girls? Well, then we will moarn their loss, but we will remember how many people they touched, and we will be there for you. If you turn your back to God in that time, well...good luck with that one, because you have got thousands of people around you who will be reminding you what a wonderful God we have, and how lucky you have been. We will remind you that God has a plan for all of us, and that you are in that plan and have touched so many lives. We will pray for you and hug you constantly...even if only internet hugs ((hug)). BUT, from what I have learned about you...I can't see you turning your back on God...He is too good of a friend to you! :) And, what if this is just a story, and not true? Then Brother, get it to the publisher...because you can tell a story!!! No...if it wasn't true, we believers would know the difference...and we would know. What if? What if you touch one more person today? What if your daughter teaches her friends to trust in God by sharing the obstacles she is overcoming? What if your wife gets that lung transplant and someday gets to hold her first grandchild? What if? What if we remember that GOD is GOOD! He is AWESOME! Praise God in our time of need and in our time of rejoicing!

Rebecca in KS

Jane-Jane said...

eventually all of us have an undesirable moment in life...it truly is how we come through it that see what we are made of.

I'm here. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly....as long as you keep us posted I will know the daily prayer. Just like the Leino family, I'm praying for them even tho I don't know the latest.

always praying!

coffespaz said...

Amen. It is hard when things don't go the way you think they might. God has a plan, and we are all part of that plan, even if we don't understand it right away.

HUGS.

Anonymous said...

wonderful that gwyneth is on nasal canula already. really really brilliant. regarding your post - as tough as the nicu is, it isn't real life. once you're back there, it will get harder in a different sort of way.

but as for the what ifs - no. you have chosen you publicly share your what ifs with us - and so many of us are blessed as a result. but we each have what ifs, every day. its what we choose to do with them that counts. you have so obviously made your choice. people take their queues from the person it happens to. you chose joy.

keep on keeping on.

tess & charles

ApplePieMom said...

Nate...not that your questions were anything but rhetorical (maybe?)...yet, I feel like I should try to answer them. I know that as a Christian the only thing that I can ever do is trust, have faith, that God knows what I do not. Jeremiah 29:11

1. I would pray so desparately for you and your families. And I would pray for the faith to believe what the word says in Romans 8:28

2. I had someone ask me this exact question in relation to your situation. And the ONLY answer that I could give was Jesus tells us He will never put more on us than we can handle.

3. I'm quite sure that we would all stand on the promise of Joshua 1:5, He will never leave you or forsake you.

4. If you made all this up as a lie, then I'd just have to say that I'm glad I've been praying for you because you obviously one messed up son of gun! :)

These are all the "Sunday School" answers (well, except the last :). Would we all struggle with it...of course, we're only human.

We continue to pray for you all.

Teacher in the middle said...

I've said this before to my friends...there has never been a time in my life (that I can remember) when I didn't know who God is and what He does/has done for me. There were times when I chose not to spend as much time with God as I needed to, and times when I made the choice to do things that I knew God would not approve of, but I always knew Him and His love, mercy, and grace.

I pray with you, that none of those things you listed happens to you, Tricia or Gwyneth, but if they do, God will still be God and He will still be good. He will still love all of us because (and you understand this much better now that you're a daddy) we are His CHILDREN. What would you do for Gwyneth? Immediately, upon her birth, I bet you decided that you would give your life for her if it would keep her here.

You are doing a wonderful job of allowing God to use your story to touch others. He is definitely getting the glory for all you and your precious family have gone through. This will be His story as much as it is yours, because ultimately "man's chief end is to glorify God and worship Him forever."

Robin

Tori - PA said...

If if were a skiff I'd be across the lake by now . . .

Just wanted to throw a bit of humor into the mix. :)

But on the serious side - I have learned in life that the "what ifs" are the quintessential rhetorical question. And if God were standing before me answering each and every one of my "what ifs" I would only bombard Him with more.

Life is full of what ifs and that will never change. There will be pleasures an pain, sorrow and singing. God uses it all! God turns the ashes into something beautiful.

God is greater than my if. And when I don't understand why He is doing, what He is doing, the way He is doing it - - - I must trust that He loves me more.

I cannot control how others react to my trials and testing, I can only remain faithful to the One who has entrusted me with such a blessing!!

Lizze said...

If heaven forbid one of your girls took a turn for worse, I would cry and hurt for you from my view point of limited understanding. Then I would pray harder.

I've been through similar situations with my Elliott Richard. I'm also no stranger to rough times in life in general. If anything the faith you've shown me can exist in the face of struggle, has helped me to handle these struggles. Not to say that it's been easy because I'm still the newbie but it's helped.

If something happened to one of your girls (again Heaven forbid) and you faultered in your faith, I would pray for you. But would I think any less of you, no. Everyone faulters. Everyone has a crisis of faith at some point or another - even Mother Theresa! So why should you, or me, or Joe Schmoe walking down the street be any different?

And finally, I found out tomorrow that this whole blog was a lie...I would be angry. I would feel hurt and betrayed. But I would like to think that I would still pray for you. And then I would suggest that you take your abilities to the nearest publisher and get your tushie published! ;) lol

Thom said...

Nathan,

What if?

ISAIAH 38

Hezekiah was told by the prophet Isaiah, (1b)"This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."

THEN...

(2)"Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, (3)"Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.[I like to interject - whined like a little baby] (4)Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: (5)"Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life

> Some points on this

1. Gods message to King Hezekiah was that he was to die. That was Gods perfect will.

2. Hezekiah prayed to be spared. God heard and answered and promised him another 15 years, but why?

If it was Gods original intention, His will, that Hezekiah die at that time, why change things and allow him another 15 years?

Well, one thing, it showed Gods compassion, grace and mercy. But I propose it also did one other thing. It showed us the consequences of being outside what God has proposed to be the proper sequence of events.

About 2-3 years later, Hezekiah has a son - Manasseh. Yeah, that dude.

So, what if? What if Hezekiah had just accepted what God had ordained over his life? Perhaps the bloodiest Kingship could have been averted.

So why do I mention all this - how does this relate to you?

Well, I am supposing that you have not been told of Gods desired outcome over this situation - correct? I’m just guessing here. So in light of the fact that you don’t necessary know what God has in store for you, then by all means ask of God what you would like to see happen. Walk in faith, then live your life for God, empowered fully by His spirit, and then how could you be outside of His perfect will? BUT, if things don’t go the way you want them to, will you accept it? We are human, we are limited and we could never fully understand the will of God.

My son would be 8 years old now. He now walks with Jesus. No matter how much pain we go through or how much seemingly unnecessary suffering we endure, remember - this is not the end.

My earnest prayer just for you…

> May you receive all that you have asked of God. He is an awesome God and nothing is beyond His power.

> May you never be discouraged because you can’t understand why.

> May you always answer every "What If" with "You are still my God, Creator, King and I will praise you in the storm."

> We are only guaranteed today. May cherish today with all that you have.


It is okay to greive, to get mad, to get upset, to feel hurt, to anguish. Just dont walk away, this is not the end.

-peace

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes lifes greatest disappointments are God's way of getting our attention".
I remember your post in where you talk about having a stronger faith in the difficult times and it being tested in the easy seemingly going well times. That is a true statement for me also. Our faith in the God we believe in is tested in many ways. The quote above is one that I have remembered over the years on dealing with recent disappointments...it is in those experiences that we are truly tested in our faith & belief. There are a lot of what ifs with your story. You have thus far proven in your honesty and sharing that you have a strength that comes from God and I know whatever comes that you will come through it and be blessed as well as a blessing. Thank you for sharing and touching so many lives. I praise Him with you for your miracle girls and how they have touched so many lives with their journey.

Mary said...

No matter what happens, I know that God is still in control. We all have these thoughts. I wonder if I would turn my back on God if he took my daughter....but then I think "God, you gave her to me and you can take her away, and I pray if that happens, that you give me the strength to get through it and continue to praise you, even in the storm." Nate, I pray that God will continue to use you and your girls to touch many lives and that we will all give HIM the honor and glory.

Mary
Florida

Sarah said...

I'm one of the people who has been encouraged by your story and made to think about their relationship with God.

In the past, when I've heard about people who have children with a terminal illness or who have lost a child or a spouse I've always wondered how I would handle this. In my heart I felt like I'd probably be really angry and that my faith would not be enough to sustain me.

I appreciated your honesty a few days ago when you admitted that you probably sound stronger on paper than you are in real life. I think we all tend to rely on God less when things are going really well...Evenso, the way that you tell your story still says a lot about who Jesus is to you.

If I were to read tomorrow that you had lost one or both of your girls my heart would ache for you. However, to this point you have demonstrated that God's grace is sufficient and that we are not like those who have no hope. Your story is prrof to me that God keeps his promises.

No matter what happens, your story makes me want a deeper relationship with God and to trust and depend on Him in both good and bad times.

Kerry said...

If something terrible happens to one of your girls, or if you're a liar (I don't believe either of these to be the end of your story)...the God we've seen is real and steady and constant. If people have turned to this steady and constant God, He will still be there at the end of your story. That steadiness and constancy is what our lives need to revolve around. We commend you for your faith and the way you lead your family, but we thank God for it because we know it is just another gift of His grace.

clara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barb said...

Nate, I know you're asking these "what ifs" to get people to think about life, and not because you question God. If you enjoy listening to podcasts, a great one is Ravi Zacharias' "The Constancy of God in a Changing World." He talks about not looking AT circumstances, people, disease, etc., but looking through them. For example, one tiny strand of Gwyneth's DNA contains 600 pages (500 words to a page) of information distinctive to her. He enumerates 3 changes that define the life of a believer—1. To bring us into existence from non-existence 2. Transformation 3. Translation.

It's an excellent sermon on the unchanging God, who changes us and never leaves us.

Kristi said...

Ya know, having my triplets at 26 weeks, and going through the nicu (and we had many setbacks, including NEC and many other obstacles) one of the hardest parts for me was that we made it through it-that all of my babies survived. I know that sounds crazy. The month that my babies were born, several other triplets were born that month, and many of them did not survive.
I struggled with many emotions (and still do) for many months. Why did my babies survive? How did they make it out of there with no long term disabilities? Everyone kept telling me what "miracles" they were, and how they must have survived because we prayed so hard. But that only left me wondering...well why weren't these other babies granted a miracle? I know that their parents were praying just as hard for their little ones... Instead of having a case of the "Why me?", I was having a case of the "Why not me??"

And just as your story has brought people closer to God, our story did too. But I kept wondering...but what if one, or all of the triplets had died?? Then how would people have felt?
It's so easy to believe in miracles, and put your full trust in God when things are going your way. But like you said, what if you lost someone? Then how would you feel? How would others feel? Would I have turned my back on God? Would others have turned their back on him?
I'm so glad that you brought this up, because it's something that I've struggled with for a long time now.
Sorry for rambling on and on. :)

Kristi and the triplets

Anonymous said...

dear Nate,
I am a total stranger who checks in on your story a few times a day. what's amazing about this post is that "something horrible" is already happening to one or both of your girls, and yet you are hopeful and faithful through all of this. that's what's inspiring to me about your story, not the invisible hand of some mysterious, all-powerful god reaching in and manipulating things.
i think the real question you're asking here is, what if tricia or gwyneth dies? one of them might die. each of us will die. but it won't destroy the hope and faith of your story. it won't destroy the fact that you ever knew your beautiful wife, or held your daughter in your arms. i think god doesn't control the day-to-day world, but the miracle is rather that god created a world where such beautiful, amazing things are possible. nine years ago i survived a brutal rape/murder attempt and still suffer from the physical injuries. this is the only god i can trust.
thank you for opening your world to me.
-m

Anonymous said...

JESUS CHRIST is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I believe that's why God admonishes us over and over to take it only one day at a time - because He knows that yes, we are like that. But whether your story is still the sign pointing people to Him or not, HE is still unchanged. The method for pointing this many people to Him WILL eventually change (from your story to something else), but HE will still be the same. People shouldn't be trusting in how your's turns out, but in the One who will decide how it turns out. But you have been a faithful sower, Nate. And if in the future you stumble, HE can still work around that in people's hearts. Maybe some would turn away, but if even one person "got it," all of it, the good and the bad, that ALL things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose, well then, you've been a part of something miraculous and eternal. Just my humble opinion.

Cheryl said...

Nate,

I say a prayer every morning before I read your blog because I fear reading something awful has happened to your girls. I try to pray that Gods will be done but I'm not to that place yet. I want them to be OK. I want there to be a happy ending.

Please keep writing.

HUGS!!!!

Ginger said...

If something happened to one or both of your girls, I would cry, I would hold up you and your families to God, but God would still be on His Throne, Holy and Righteous.

If I had to go through something like this in my life, I pray I would hold tightly to Christ as I have witnessed you (and others) doing through their blogs.

No matter what is or what would happen, God will still honor the prayers of His people.

There are others I have prayed for, people I knew only through their blogs. madelinelester.com, for one. My youngest daughter and I prayed for this little girl for almost six months. Her outcome was not what we expected - and when I read "that post," I sobbed as if it were someone in my "real time" life.

I think in praying for people whom I don't even know except through what they have shared online, God has taught me compassion on a level I've never experienced before. I've always been a tender, sensitive person and gladly pray for needs. But I also have a busy life - with your blog, I check it daily and daily am reminded to lift up Tricia and Gwyneth. Because you have shared pictures and because you have shared your heart, I think of your little family many times throughout my day, lifting up the needs as they come into my mind.

If all you had written had been a made up story, God may not have changed Tricia or Gwyneth (because they would be made up), but He still would be changing ME. And, who knows, as people prayed for the made up story, perhaps Christ would touch the heart of the made-up-story teller anyway. :^)

Julie said...

You're right, it IS so much harder to praise and be faithful when things are tough. It's good for you to address this to others as well as yourself. God doesn't want us to be "fair weather friends" - we need to rely on Him in the good AND bad times. It's easier said than done...but it IS possible. Prayers aren't always answered in the way WE deem fit, but our Lord knows what He's doing!

Rick Lawrenson said...

Because they are so many and so lengthy (!) I haven't read every comment. But your post raises excellent questions that challenge us deep within.

To answer your last "What if?", I'd kick your butt.

For the others (and I've asked them, too, inserting me into the equation) I hope I would respond in faith. Every moment of life is a gift of God's grace.

I also am so reminded of Job's story. And his words "He gives/He takes away/Blessed be the name of the Lord" speak louder than ever.

David the Psalmist, who himself struggled with God and frequently asked "Why?" wrote these words, "Shall Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Your faithfulness in the place of destruction? Shall Your wonders be known in the dark? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?"

And what we need to accept is that God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He says "Yes". Sometimes He says "No". Sometimes He says, "Not now." Sometimes He says, "I've got something better in mind for you."

But if your concept of God is a celestial sugar daddy, tne "No" answers will crush your "faith". So the real issue for each of us is this: Is my faith in God, or is my faith in my faith or in a god of my own making?

Again, from Job. "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." (13:15).

What Job said.

Franceskasjourneyhome said...

Nate I have thought of those same things also, but as far as you go, your spiritual walk is so strong that I would never expect you to stray from God because I know that is where you get your strength from. As far as the unmentionable...something happening to the girls, there are no words for that right now, but I know I have a tremendous faith and I know he is going to restore them to perfect health and if anything did happen, I would still be here for you, and that is a true testament of our God's grace because I know that this friendship that you have formed with what seems like the entire earth is not just by coincidence, it is simply by GOD'S DESIGN!!

And on a more lighter note... If my sister was a boy , well then I guess I would have a brother!!!! lololo!! There are 10 million what if's in this life!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Nathan - so wierd that you mentioned "what ifs" on your blog as we were talking about that in devos this a.m. here in Helene. This is not a rebuke by any means, but be careful of the "what ifs" - we were talking about how that is sometimes of tool of the enemy. It happens to me sometimes as I think back about my sister's family and how I could maybe have made a difference with one of her children growing up. But doing the what ifs always seems to get my focus onto me and stuff that God didn't allow to happen. So praise the Lord He has it all in His hands no matter what or how it turns out. It is really really hard to say, "I praise you God either way." (But I think that's part of the secret of His heart.) We love you guys and are praying daily. Sheila B

Amanda said...

Wow- you're starting to scare me a little. I just posted about this last night/this morning. I'm sure you haven't checked my blog but here is my response:

"Having a tragedy happen to my family has not made me doubt my faith in God. If anything it's made it stronger. It has made me ask more questions that I never thought about before and it's made me want to further my journey as a Christian. I'm not saying that everyday will be a piece of cake, but for the most part- my God is a compassionate one and a forgiving one- and I just have to remember that."

~Amanda

Saralyn said...

Your questions are the essence of Hebrews 11--they believed (and sinned a lot, and turned their backs on God, and repented, and believed some more, and sinned some more...) and never saw the promise with their own eyes.

God? He's grace, mercy, sacrifice, justice, consistency, and more. Us? Well, pretty much dust and failure. So really, should any of us be disenchanted with any one else?

justinjasonsmom said...

You make some very good points. And I think it is very natural to question this. Just rest assure that if yout story has lead just one person (and I am sure it is more than one) to the Lord, that is an amazing thing.
I have just begun my journy to learn about the Lord and His Word. I have been going to bible study since October. Your story has inspired me so much to study His Word. Its funny, a couple of weeks before Christmas I recieved a post card from a fairly new chuch in my area and I checked out their website and thought I would love to try this chuch out. I will try to go this Sunday (it was three weeks before Christmas). And of course, Sunday came and I was just too busy to go (shame on me. Well I think I came across your story the first week on January and like I said it inspired me to go to church. So that next Sunday I woke up with only one thing on my mind, I want to go to church. And we did. My husband who has somewhat of a negative feeling about church has been coming with me too. I asked him if he would try the chuch just once and he said of course. Well its been 4 weeks and he has gone each time. So I would like to Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me to learn more about God and His word.

speckledpup said...

I would be saddened to learn of poor news of Tricia or Gweneth. But my faith would not waiver. Why do we go through what we go through? Why do we walk through the valleys? Why do bad things come upon good people? Even the apostles, inspired by God himself in their writings, could not answer all these questions.
The master plan is so intricate our little minds can't begin to comprehend it's ripples and nuances.
Has your story influenced me? yes.
Has it renewed my faith? yes.
Will we ever meet IRL? prolly not.
Will I falter if things don't go well...no... and neither my friend will you.
Keep posting. You have no idea what God is doing with your words.

MilePost13 said...

I'm shutting down the comments for this post. I posted this, not so that I could read a lot of comments (although I do appreciate them), but just to get my own thoughts down on paper and to help us all think through some things.

It seems that many of you are missing the point of this post, and reading incorrectly "between the lines", so I'll ask you to maybe read it again and just think...no need to send me any emails or comment about this post under another post. Just think.

That's all...thanks, as always.

Nate