Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Did God answer our prayers...

...and provide a miracle for our friend and family member Paul?

Well I believe He did.  What I have witnessed the past few weeks has been miraculous.  It's been beautiful and terrifying.  It's been sorrowful and joyful.  It has brought a community of people together.

I have been so all over the place since Christmas week- when I got the text from Ann that said, 'we think Paul might have cancer'.  I truly feel like I've been living in slow motion, under a thick haze these last few weeks as Paul's condition went from bad, to worse, to worse still, to desperate, to the end.

Two weeks ago, Ann sent me a text message that simply said, "brain tumors. Love you".  I got on a plane, that night, with my brother.  We went to go see our friend.  We laughed with him and Annie.  We gave them a bag of dollar store gifts to make them smile...an orange ball, a bag of peanut M&:Ms, a wand to make it all better.  That was fun.  But, it was the last thing. The last thing we did? The last thing I did with my friend?  We prayed.  Brian had his hand on Paul's head, I had my hand on his shoulder (and can't let go of the fact that I think I held it too hard), Ann on his other side holding his hand.  We prayed. We thanked God for friendship. We prayed it be the will of God to cure Paul. We told God we trusted Him.  Nurses came in, Paul was preparing for a surgery, they said we could finish.  So we prayed.

Then we hugged.
And I cried on the elevator back to the car.
But the last thing I did with my friend was pray.
Paul and Ann assured us, they were going to glorify God through this circumstance.  That night, at the hotel, engaging in a couple too many budlights, I cried to my brother and said, 'How?  How can it be God's will to take my friend? How can Paul give Him the greatest Glory in death?'  And Brian reminded me, that if and when God calls Paul, we have no idea how Paul would be used.  We can't understand the great mystery of life entirely.  But we have a God who loves, who works all things to his Glory.   I believe that.

Last week- several times, it appeared Paul would die within the hour.  Some of these times were at night.  I haven't slept, like so many of you.  Anxious with worry.  And so I prayed. I begged to understand our God.  And I felt called to read the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  Since then I have read it over and over and over again.

When Mary and Martha sent word, "Master the one you love is sick!" (John 11:3)

How we've been doing that.  
"Master, Lord, Blessed Margaret, sweet Lady... the one you love is sick!"
We started a facebook page for prayers and support.  You guys, there are well over 7000 people on it.  All of us begging, "Lord, Master, the one you love is sick".

Now Jesus Loved Mary, and her sister Martha and Lazarus (John 11:5).

What comfort I have taken in God's reminder of Love.  Jesus loves us.  My friendship with Paul, it was built on faith. I can't tell you how many times I have prayed with him.  We knew Jesus.  We knew Jesus as friends.  We knew Jesus in our adventures.  We knew and know Jesus.  Ann, sweet Ann, and their children.  They know Jesus.  And Jesus knows them.  He knows them by name.  And he loves them.  And in this story, the story of sisters losing a brother- we are reminded first, that Jesus loved them.

"Martha said, "Jesus, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21)

The sorrow.  The sorrow of saying, 'Where are you?'  Saturday, my friends, I was angry.  "stop praying for a miracle" I wanted to shout.  "Pray my friend dies in peace, he is SUFFEREING- Jesus, stop making him SUFFER".

"The teacher is asking for you" (John 11:28)

I am still learning about The Teacher through Paul.  Saturday I raged, Sunday I understood.  Paul was suffering.  Paul was most likely not going to get his miracle in the way I wanted it for him.  But, Paul would not give up.  He would not give up because HE WANTED TO SUFFER WITH JESUS FOR US!  He wanted to pray.  He wanted to fight.  He wanted to use every ounce he had for grace.  To bring people closer to Christ.

"When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became deeply troubled" (John 11:33)

Death was not in the original design.  Death is the most horrifying, terrible end.  Death seems so final.  Death hurts.  Death brings disbelief.  How many times have I said, "I can't even comprehend what is happening to Paul. I cannot comprehend I might not see my friend on earth again".  It's too hard for me to understand.  All of us, in such disbelief.  You guys, ONE MONTH AGO MY FRIEND WAS ALIVE AND AS FAR AS I KNEW, WELL. And now he is dead?  How. how is that possible?  How is it possible that two weeks ago, my brother and I gave Paul a gift of dollar store smiles (including rotting teeth and a smiley face stickers), we laughed, we told him he would fight.  And now he is dead?  Dead?  Dead I will never see my friend again here?  Dead, my children will not know him but through stories?  Dead, his wife, my sweet friend, can't hold her husband?  Dead, his babies.  My gosh, you guys HIS BABIES. He has an unborn child.  His siblings.  His mother.  dead?  not possible, my grief screams.  Not so!  Please. Not so.

And Jesus wept (John 11:35).

We weep.  We weep for our friend.  I saw the world with this friend.  Can it be true our adventures are over here on earth?  Can it be possible I won't hear the Pauly laugh anymore?  It hurts so much. So deep. My heart, and so many of my friends, not to mention Paul's family and his sweet Annie/Children...our hearts are shattered.  Grief so profound.  But friends, I have a God that sees that grief and he WEEPS.  He knows the outcome.  He knows the glory.  And yet, he looks at the suffering of those meant to live with loss and he WEEPS.

So they took away the stone.  And Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe you have sent me...and when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, "LAZARUS, COME OUT" The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth.  So Jesus said, "Untie him and let him go" (John 11:41-44)

Can you imagine?  Can you imagine after seeing the crowds, the anger, the questioning, the sorrow, Jesus Weeping...and then He says, 'Untie him and let him go".
You see.  My God defeated death.  It is no more.  This morning, I couldn't breathe with grief.  I drove in the car and all I could think about was my friend's last breath.  But when I thought of it, I thought of his next eternal breath.  Paul, who lived his ENTIRE LIFE for Jesus.  Not just in word, like so many of us...but so completely.  So fully.  Until the very end.  It is so very fitting that he gets to see Jesus first.  Paul is free.  I believe with all my heart that Paul is in heaven- with all my heart. I believe he entered the kingdom today, something he was waiting for.  And he knew, after all of his suffering, in a way we can only glimpse right now...that JESUS DEFEATED DEATH and GIVES NEW LIFE.

My friend's battle is over.  The battle that kept him vehemently shaking his head that he wanted to keep going with treatment, though his fragile body could barely stand it.  The battle that doctors say kept him so worn out it was like he was running on a treadmill for days.  The battle he fought so hard for this last month, with every inch of his will, in order to suffer well and bring others to Christ.  It's funny- there is a slight irony that, this week, the cover story of People magazine is the young woman who chose to die rather than suffer or have her loved ones watch her suffer. That image of our culture, up against the image of my friend, the true warrior, battling for every breath so that he might use it for good.  I am so glad he fought.  But I am so glad he gets a reprieve.

With the battle over, the miracle has already been beginning.  My inbox, phone, facebook, instagram...filled with people saying...

"I did not know him, but his story has changed me"
"I cannot stop praying for this person I do not know"
"I am closer to Jesus because of his example"


THAT'S the miracle. It was granted.  Paul and Annie told us all repeatedly...they were willing to go where God wanted them to go, to bring him glory.

And glory has been brought.
And we are all better for it.

I'll miss you dear friend.  More than words can say.  More than I can possibly imagine on this day.  And yet, when I got the message you had 'gone home'...I looked up at the sky- I stared and I knew where you were.  And I knew you could see me.

I expect you'll be taking care of us all in a special way now my friend.  And I can't wait to watch that story unfold.

Did God answer our prayers?!?!


Please consider helping out Ann as she moves forward without her beloved.

Oh...and after you donate, listen to this song.  It is about my friend Paul. Every word.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Seven Quick Takes

I'm on an airplane- writing my quick takes on my phone. I'm probably not gonna be able to link them until tonight and I can't use the fancy graphic. But I wanted to write them. For you.

If you are on "thefacebook" or "theinstagram" you I went to Nashville to see this guy and his beautiful wife
It was very spontaneous. I booked my flight at 5:00 pm, for a flight at 7:30 pm. It was an awesome trip. I haven't done a crazy road trip in years, so it seems fitting that when I finally took one it would be to see my spontaneous road trip buddy! 

Paul still needs your prayers and they are still waiting on a real big miracle! Let's make it happen, if it's suppose to happen  ok?

So you know how you can be friends with someone for almost 17 years but still find out about them? When Paul was a kid- he won the Junior Olympics, for a triathlon (or a couple). I knew that. What I didn't know is that in one of the newspaper articles the headline was "Paul Coakley Shatters Lance Armstrong's Record" or something like that. The word shattered was used! Turns out, Paul has the same exact cancer (if not a bit more severe) as Mr. Armstrong had- in almost all the same places. I found that to be very hopeful. Because Armstrong beat cancer- and Paul shattered his record. Does my train of thought make sense? Anyway can someone who read this know someone, who knows someone, who can have good ol' Lance give Paul a call? I think that'd be cool. And we are only all separated by six degrees, so do some thinking and make it happen. Please and thank you.

My parents/sister watched my boys very last minute for me. I'm grateful like "whoa" because my boys are not an easy  crew to last minute watch. They kind of create upheaval. I owe them.

I don't mean to be all "come on guys" but I think it's super weird when people act surprised that it's cold in January.

#joy (Brian doesn't get it) #insidejoke #facebookjokesonottooinside

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The things that went down....

...over Christmas break.

Remember how I told you Aaron had two weeks off for Christmas Break?  Remember how I told you I was intentionally not going to make plans?  That was an INCREDIBLY hard thing to do, and it was hard to decline visits with people who were only in town for a short period of time.  At the same time, I really felt our family needed some slowing down and collecting ourselves before the new year.  Wanna know how we spent it?  We kicked it off with a Christmas party- friends style...it was deeeelightful.

I wanna warn you, there are far too many pictures in this post. Probably more than I have ever put in a post before... because editing them down was tough for me!

Getting crafty in our pictures

They always hook our boys up.  This year was no exception

This makes me happy. Friendships are important

That led to our next great adventure... Frankenmuth, MI!  Frankenmuth, for those of you who don't know, is a Christmas town in overdrive.  It might not have been the smartest idea in the world to take a 3, 2, and 1 year old to such a busy town a few days before Christmas, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless (except for our first experience of having to leave a restaurant before we ate due to meltdowns and dirty diapers...the ONE time I forget the diaper bag!).
Look at that happy bunch

It's how we roll

The boy was obsessed with his hot coco. It was really cute.

5 years ago this man asked me to marry him in this city.  regrets?!?!

After that delightful fun, Aaron surprised us with a groupon to a bounce house place.  It took lil' A almost an hour to warm up to the idea, but all the boys loved it!
I LOVE this picture so much

Slow down on the whole growing up thing little man

he finally tried a slide.

Christmas Eve was a bit Crazy 'round these parts.  We made some cookies, we made a 'Peppa Pig' birthday cake for Jesus (because my kids watch too much TV and request weird things), we went to my parents for Wigilia, annnnnnd then we went to Mass. Mass was a fiasco, as 'fake midnight Masses at 9:00 pm' tend to be- then we got home and assembled the toys for the boys visit from Santa (and Jesus and presents from mom and dad).

cooking.  Don't get excited- its the prepackaged stuff

Joey got in on the action

proud of their work

I don't care who you are...this is a darn cute pig

I was so excited to give them this present from Rakstar Designs

Joey's absolute favorite person in the world is his Har Har

Santa's treat

We are those parents, who set up those things on Christmas Eve

Then, it was our Christmas morning. I love LOVE LOVE our Christmas day.  We sang to Jesus, the boys did presents, Aaron's parents came over for breakfast and then we just enjoy the day.  It's so cool to not have to 'run' a million places.  To just be together, celebrating our Lord's birth in peaceful tranquility. Well, I mean, we do have three kids... so, more like- not total insanity. 

They were so excited

John Paul opening books from Jesus

Playing together

My lucky boys surrounded by love

Their excitement and curiosity was awesome

The sleeping bags were a MAJOR win by Grammy and Papa.  They stayed in them all day.

New racetrack from the uncle
In crazy spontaneity, my sisters and I decided we needed some time together.  So, sisters weekend in a lovely little place called Dublin, Ohio was thrown together.  Thank God for Embassy Suites and short-ish drives to be able to see each other.
Bathroom selfie at the mall we met at

Day drankin'?  Why not.

Well all except the one cookin' a kid

Embassy Suites cause we so fancy

This was an AWESOME irish pub in Dublin, Ohio.

We went to a fancy place with nice waitresses for breakfast one morning. Our boys charmed the heck outta the whole place- but they were in their jammies.  Is it weird to take your kids to a restaurant in jammies?  probs.
I mean, with all the cute...come on?

Chocolate Chip Pancakes is where it's at

Our Bacon Lover

JP getting in on the action

After a terribly dramatic fight with my husband that began with whether or not he'd make beef stew without potatoes... and built into me crying at my parent's table about my mean old husband (seriously, that happened) we ended up having a super fun night at our friend's New Year's Eve Party.  Someone might have indulged a bit too much (which took a full 24 hours to recover from)- but the pictures show we had a blast!

The girls and Jay's fancy stairs

Right before the ball dropped.  And right before I consumed the champagne that sent me over the edge

is EVERYBODY happy?!?!?!

I feel so blessed to be in this community of people...

Annnnnd that my friends is a Christmas break wrap.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014



At first glance, this picture might seem a little cheese-ball.  My sister made and sent this to me on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  To be honest, as you've probably witnessed through this blog, I really think race is discussed completely backward in this country.  That being said, it is super important for me to recognize and acknowledge that less than 75 years ago, our little family would have been quite impossible in this country. There is a strong sense of thankfulness I feel deep within my heart for civil rights leaders of the 20th century.  This picture represents that to me.


February was long wasn't it?  The fatigue of our very long winter starting to set in (though I'd love me some true winter now).  This is a good representation of our February.  Pajamas and lounging around.


Ah.... look at these little leprechauns.  My dear cousin Judy bought matching sweatshirts for the boys (you know I love me some matching sweatshirts) and we got to enjoy all the Joy of this very special day for my 1/2 Black, 1/4 Irish, and 1/4 Polish babies.


What a special day!  On this day, John Paul Francis Wilkerson's Godfather, Uncle Deacon Mario, was ordained a Deacon.  It was a beautiful thing to see my dear friend transitionally give of his life in service of the Church.  Keep him in your prayers as he prepares for Priestly Ordination in 2015.


It ain't perfect, but it is us.  


June was awesome.  Our little family went on a sweet family vacation that started with Chicago (and one of my favorite pictures of my boys) and continued to the Wisconsin Dells.  It was drama free and lovely.  And a good opportunity to really bond with Big Aaron's family.


And that, my friends is JOY.  the JOY that only summer time and childhood can bring.


I'm not gonna lie.  August was pretty terrible, and this picture kind of sums it up.  Aaron lost his job on the last day of July, his company (the worst company in the world BLAZENT), did it intentionally, so they wouldn't have to pay out any more insurance.  It was/is a small company, so they knew we had three little babies at home.  The next day (I think) Joey fell and cracked his head open, needing stitches.  Thank God for my responsible husband, we had funds to cover it, but it just perfectly encapsulated this month.  We had a trip planned to Mexico, but Aaron was still trying to find a job and we missed our flights.  August really stunk.  But don't get too sad, because there was a September...


September was awesome.  My kick butt husband worked his butt off hustling to find a new job.  By the end of August we had two really good offers to choose from.  My sweet cousin Judy (do you notice a theme here) came to watch the boys, so Aaron and I could go up to the outlet shops in order to get him fancified  for his new role as team lead.


So, if you read the ol' blog, you know I am not a crafter.  Which is why I was more than proud of my creative moment in costumes when I made all three boys race-cars out of cardboard boxes.  I am pretty much Martha Stewart.


So, just for the record, Joey does not have his finger in his nose.  This picture was from Thanksgiving morning.  It's my sweet little family, under covers, watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade.  You know how sometimes, we get those moments of overwhelming gratefulness?  This was one of those moments. I felt so blessed for my family and the life we have, I couldn't stop crying.  Aaron, my fancy husband, had just accepted a new position as an IT Manager.  My family was coming into town, and I got to snuggle with my family. I am still, to this day, overwhelmed by what God has done in such little time (5 years) to my life.  My cupeth, truly overflows.


This one was really hard to choose.  This month has been a mixed bag.  St. Nicholas Day, Advent, Christmas morning, but in the end, I chose this one.  This is from our second annual 'friends Christmas' at the Chamberlands house.  We are so very blessed with good friends.  Friends who are truly very much like family.  It's been wonderful watching our friendship grow and sustain through years of experiences.  In this picture is Jay, a high school/college friend and my son's godfather, his wife Beth and their two children Thomas (my godson) and Ethan.  Mike and Kellie- my ministry partner and my college roommate.  Aaron- my best friend.  Jodi- my dear friend who made my 10 years at St. John Neumann so much fun,  My sister Annie, who is cooking my newest godchild and our dear friend Father Craig, who married us almost five years ago.  I am so blessed by my circle of friends, and this is just a few of them. 

As many of you know, we found out 1.5 weeks ago that one of our closest friends has an incredibly difficult cancer road ahead.  At the end of this week, we will all find out exactly what that road will entail. It's helped me to step back and feel so very thankful for the moments I have with those who God has placed in my life.  It has helped me feel grateful for all of you, as so many of you have offered prayers, support and financial help to a man you've never met. 

2014 was a mixed bag.  But I can say with confidence, the good Lord has been too good to me.  And with that, I leave you with a Pearl Jam song that was recently put on my radar.  ENJOY.