Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blessings in the flames

Right now there are several wildfires burning in Colorado, threatening and destroying homes and property. The weather forecast today is not favorable to fire-fighting. As I prayed this morning for the rain we so desperately need to put out the fires, I thought about last year. While fire raged in Colorado Springs, devouring hundreds of homes, we gathered with Beth Moore at the World Arena for Living Proof Live. With women in attendance who had already lost everything, we prayed for rain to come and wash out the flames. We prayed earnestly, passionately, boldly, expecting to walk outside later that day and see water pouring from the heavens. But the rain didn't come. I wondered at the time, and I wondered again this morning, why not? I still wonder, but I was reminded of this truth:

Sometimes fire is a gift.

It doesn't seem like it at the time. It often seems like a curse, a punishment, a fiery trial to be endured. And yet, it can be more than that. Fire can refine us, restore us, and reignite us. It reminds us of what is truly important. Fire can take property, mementos, and even lives, but it can't destroy souls. It may forever alter our relationships, but it can't destroy them. In fact, it can mend fractured relationships and even heal broken ones by clearing away so much of what distracts us.

I'm still praying for rain. I'm definitely praying for all those who are putting themselves at so much risk to fight the fires and keep the damage to a minimum. I'm praying boldly, believing, asking for God's mercy to rain down on us. But I'm also reminded that God is sovereign, and He will do what it takes to accomplish His will. He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29), and He can bring beauty from ashes (Isa. 61:3).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I realized yesterday that many of you are probably wondering "How Nathan is doing." It's easy for us to get lost in our sleep deprived fog. So, I thought we'd let Nathan let you know how things are:

I AM STARVING!!! These "Mommy" and "Daddy" people seem to think it's appropriate to wait TWO minutes for a bottle from the fridge to warm up for me. Don't they know it's been THREE HOURS since I ate? Sometimes they even let me sleep longer than that! You would not believe how empty a baby boy's belly is when that happens. I am WASTING AWAY. And this "big sister" is no help at all. All she does is hug me and stuff. Lame. Sometimes these people even try to stick a torture device called a "pacifier" in my mouth. This deceptive device gives the impression that you could be eating, but there's NO MILK! What good is that?  I'M STARVING!

So, there you have it. Nathan is hungry. All the time. Unless he's asleep.

He really is doing well. Yesterday Allison did the home scale with him, and he weighs 10.5 pounds. That's right. Little man has gained 3 pounds in 5 weeks. So much for starvation. He even gave us 5 hours of continuous sleep last night.

Thanks for your prayers, friendship, and general interest.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Several of you have mentioned how touched you were by Greg's post on the story behind Nathan's name. I had thought about writing something very similar, but since he beat me (very eloquently, I might add) to the punch, I wanted to share my side.

Nathan is absolutely a gift. He is a gift that we have really come to appreciate in the last week, especially because, due to the flu scare, Greg and I were not allowed to see him during the first few days of his life. Greg got to see him when he was born, but as soon as they realized in the NICU that he was still contagious with the flu, they banned him. I got to see him a little bit later but then late Friday night I started running a fever and I was banned for the next 60 hours or so, until I was totally cleared of any suspicion of having the flu. After spending so much time anticipating and praying for the arrival of our little guy, it was very difficult to know that he was here and yet still not be able to see him or hold him. We had to rely on reports from others to hear that he was doing well, that he was eating, that he was sweet and adorable...all those first moments we had so looked forward to had to wait. Now we are able to empathize in a small way with those parents of preemies and very seriously ill babies who are unable to hold their little ones for months after they are born. As we have since the moment we first knew about Nathan's existence, we continued to trust him to the hands of God and of others while we waited to hold him ourselves. Finally, on Monday we both were cleared to see him and on Tuesday we brought him home. So far, he seems to be doing very well, acting like a normal baby despite his "little heart problem."

As Greg wrote, Nathan means gift, and for as long as we have known what his name would be, we have held it like a promise. But sometimes a gift works two ways. He is God's special gift to us, and we are so thankful for every single moment of his sweet life. Not only that, he is a gift that we have an opportunity to give back to God every day. This child was formed with a unique combination of our DNA (which somehow turned out pretty darn cute, thankfully!) and was given to us to love and cherish and raise, but ultimately, he is not ours. From the beginning, and especially once we discovered his heart block, we gave him, his health, and his future, to God. We continue to do that. We believe that God has a purpose for this child, just as He does for every child. God has already used Nathan in our lives and in many of your lives as well, to teach us faith that overcomes obstacles, peace in the midst of chaos, and the simple, everlasting truth that God is always good. We are thankful for the gift that he is, and we will continue to give him to God every day. We hope that you will join us.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Gift

Receiving something you don't deserve is called a "gift." Often we don't recognize the gifts that are plopped in our laps. Less often we name our gifts long before we ever receive them.
Three years ago, we were planning for the arrival of our first child, and had a complicated time picking names. I don't know if you have ever noticed, but both of us have pretty strong opinions. There were names that one of us liked and the other vetoed without a thought.  We did easily determine we would use the middle name to honor special people in our lives. One day a couple of months before our first was born, Allison walked into my office and wrote down a boy name and a girl name on a tiny post it note.  The choices were made, and we both were happy.
We didn't find out the gender of our first, so we were as surprised as you when Katelyn Ashley was born.  There was no spiritual significance to the name, which is the American derivative of a classic Celtic name meaning "pure." It does fit.  Katelyn is "pure" in many ways, mostly in love and joy. Her middle name is in honor of Allison's best friend, who basically set us up. We think it has worked out alright.
When #2 started along, we had many intentions of repeating our pattern, and we did come up with a new girl name. The boy name had been set. No going back.  As most of you know, at 20 weeks we learned that we would be seeing a lot more of Dukeling part deux.  We had informed the ultrasound techs that we didn't want to know the gender.  Things rolled smoothly until one of the few sonograms Allison attended by herself. Apparently the tech lost her notes and said, "Well, he's really showing off his boy parts today! But then, he always is." (A bit of an exhibitionist apparently. Allison said NOTHING and we never told her she gave it away. She did it again in my presence a few weeks later.)  Anyway, when Allison came home she asked me if I would want to know certain information if it had become known. It was funny.
A while later she sent me a message and asked me if I remembered what Nathan means.  I replied immediately "Gift." And then I checked to make sure I was right.  We didn't put much thought into the meaning when the name was chosen three years earlier, but with everything that was happening, it took on even more special significance. Since that day, I have thanked the Lord for this special new gift.
It would be easy to be fearful and resentful of the issues that face this young new life.  The cardiologist confirmed yesterday that our baby has "complete heart block," which means the AV node in the heart isn't working and the top and bottom halves are completely out of sync.  Without miraculous intervention, he will likely need a pacemaker before adulthood. That means no roughhousing, no WWE reenactments, and no football. (With his gene pool, those things probably wouldn't have lasted long anyway.)
I am reminded that we don't always get what we think we want in a gift. We do receive the stewardship of making the most of what we receive.
Nathan Danny. We have been promised great things in this beautiful new baby boy. His very name, I believe, is prophetic. We did not choose it to be profound; we chose it because we like it. His name was set three years ago, not knowing if we would ever have a son. He is our gift. We don't know what the future holds, but he is that future. He carries the name of my dad, his grandfather who, fittingly it seems, battled heart problems much of his life.  And he will carry the name well.
I love you, my son.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Nathan Danny Duke
Born January 11 at 12:07 p.m.
7 lbs 10 oz, 20.5 inches

Mom and baby doing okay. More info and pics to come. Thanks for your prayers!