God turns our mourning into joyful dancing… (from Ps. 30)

Nineteen years ago today I returned home from the hospital without my daughter. Her empty car seat seemed to mock me from Columbia to Greenville, SC — and had I listened to the voice of the enemy for the duration of that trip, I’d have returned home bitter. Instead, I crossed that threshold broken. And I believe there’s beauty in brokenness, because it’s there that we are most truly held.

Devon Mara-Leigh was to be Ian’s baby sister. Only three months apart, they’d be more like twins. Dorian and Devon. Their names felt like a song on my lips.

A baby shower, prepared time off work, a plan for her presence in our space — all dancing steps toward bringing our daughter home. Ian didn’t understand what we were saying when we’d sing, “Your daddy and your mother are making you a brother. Your sister is a baby named Devon Mara-Leigh…” Ian would just smile, seeming to approve.

But adoption is never easy — even if every jot and tittle of the legal part falls perfectly into place. There are hearts exposed. Love is discovered. Raw realities have to be faced.

When Devon was born on May 18th, there seemed to be no question. Her birth mother was certain. She was ours. This was right. All for the best.

But sometimes the brain gets ahead of the heart, and in matters of one’s flesh and blood, there aren’t always guarantees.

It didn’t matter that Devon had spent her first night with me in our hospital room, nor that I’d fed her her first few bottles, changed her first few diapers. Our time together was less than 24 hours total — a drop in the bucket to the nine months she’d been carried by, nourished by, brought to life by another. And in the end, this woman couldn’t say goodbye. Could I blame her… really?

Still, the news hit me. Shook me. Broke me. What about our plans? What about all those little pink onesies? The handmade blankets? The dreams for our daughter?

I left the hospital alone. Bill had come on Devon’s birth day but — in the throes of residency — had to return to the reality of work. Thus, he anxiously awaited our arrival home.

Carrying the nearly full baby bag and the empty car seat — loading them into the Nissan — took everything in me. The events of the last hour — our attorney’s commands, “Stay in the room…”, “Something’s happening…”, “Don’t leave…” — all were a blur. And then it seemed my dreams for a lifetime were shattered in one solitary moment. She was just gone — our daughter taken, leaving my arms empty.

The absence of Devon’s weight released me to flail, and how I drove that stretch of highway, I’ll never understand. I shook my fists and screamed and cried. Even a single pause for air left me susceptible to the enemy’s mockery — words of condemnation… reminders that, like the empty car seat and my empty arms, so was my womb. “It’s a tomb,” the voice sneered, “and this is just one more death of your dreams — because YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH. Now you’ve lost her too.”

The lies flew — fiery darts — and for a time, perhaps measured in miles rather than feet or yards, I was pierced by them. Felt their sting, until…

“Am I good?”

It wasn’t shouted but loud enough for my heart to hear. Still, it surprised me. “What?”

“Am I good?”

His words — these three words — silenced the enemy’s accusations. I looked in the rearview mirror but the car seat was still empty, though the space felt suddenly full. Again…

“Am I good?”

It was as though my Savior, with this very question, was handing me a sword. My weapon to combat the mockery of the enemy was scripture. Jesus asked me a question, and although he’s a gentleman, he expected me to answer. He would persist, my heart feeling suddenly more at peace.

He’s not in the least uncomfortable with silence, and so he waited, aware that I was thinking. Finally…




“‘Yes’ what?”

“Yes, You are good.”

“Ok, then. Do you trust Me…?”

“Do you trust Me?”

I knew I did. So I answered, “Yes. I trust You.”

“Okay then. Let’s go home.”

And we did — Jesus and I. And when I could open my Bible to find the scripture I knew my heart needed — the words it believed — this is what I read. “You are good and kind and do good…” (Ps. 119:68). So I said it again, through tears…

“Yes, You are good. I trust You.”

We lost Devon Mara-Leigh on May 19th, nineteen years ago today. And Heaven gained this precious one several weeks later — the cause of her death unknown. But not to God, who held her then. Who holds her still.

And He holds me. He has redeemed my life in ways too numerous to count. In ways I’m not even aware of, perhaps. What I do know is this — “He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His promises” (Romans 8:28).

On Mother’s Day, just a few days ago, Allie gave me a gift. “All About My Mom” the title said. “The best thing about my mom is…” and Allie completed the sentence, “…she loves birds.” I hugged my daughter hard. (I love her so!)

Then a little later, I sat out on our porch. Looking up, I saw a single bird on the wire above — a Mocking Bird. He sang a song. Then another. And another.


And I heard again —

“Am I good?”

I smiled, tears in my eyes. Yes, God truly redeems and restores — working all things together perfectly.

He IS good. 

Oh how I love Him!