Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
Mother Teresa

Monday, November 17, 2014

Heavendate

Saturday, Nov.22 marks one year since Quynh's entrance to heaven.

 it aches. the mystery of how hurt begins to heal, but wounds are vulnerable, and reopen, tediously, back and forth, catching in your throat, predictable, unexpected. raw.

and we cry tears that do not escape His ever vigilant watch. we cry when we remember the words she once said. we cry when we remember that look on her face. we cry when we remember the sound of her  laugh or the little things she did with her hands when she talked. we miss her so much.
we cry because we know this isn’t how things are supposed to be. we cry because we know death is unnatural and because we want her back. we cry because we want her back so bad. we cry because it’s tough to say “goodbye.”
but we cry with tears of hope, because deep down we know our tears will not last forever. we know it’s not really “goodbye.” not really. it’s “goodbye for now.” it’s “see you soon". 

our perfect Master has not made a mistake, His mercy flows...everyday, enough supply for a moment. We talk to Him constantly, abiding, sheltering in the shadow of His wing. His presence has never been more needed, or been more intimate and real.
-for beautiful Kinsey Quynh, 



you remain desperately  missed 
 and so deeply loved. dance ahead of us, precious girl . we'll see you soon.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Her Spark Continues

Marvin often shares his definition of faith as...

"If I was God, and knew all that He knows, I would do things exactly as He did."

 That's a hard one when you lay your precious little girl to rest.

But it is true. We would not be able to breathe without the full hope and assurance of a God who is all knowing, wiser than we can comprehend, understands all, who counts and kisses our tears dry.

And so we choose to live with anticipation of His goodness.  It doesn't mean we don't feel tremendous loss, sadness, fatigue, afraid and lonely, even sometimes abandoned. Those are real human emotions of our being...

 He is bigger than our emotions, He calls our name softly though our pain and reminds us over and over that He will be enough for those emotions. In our feeling them, He will show us more of Himself.

 He will restore our broken  hearts, and though they will not fully mend until heaven, the cracks will remind us to care about another's heart cracks even more.

Time,... this moment, this week, the year...stretches out in front of us — and most of us have no idea what’s ahead. The possibilities are endless in the coming months — countless possibilities of great joy or immense sadness. Which way will it all go? We don’t know what might derail our lives … or what beautiful surprises might sweep us off our feet.

Life is a marble cake — with joy and sadness all mixed into the batter, to make the pattern of our days. You don’t have all joy, all the time. But thanks be to God, we aren’t stuck with all sadness either.

 We so desperately need God, someone to thank in the good, for He is the Giver of all things, and someone to lean on during the bad, for  He is the Sustainer in all things. Our gentle Teacher keeps showing me that we cannot  experience either without Him in the very center.


Would you join us today in a GIANT boost forward for our precious Quynh's legacy project? Those of you that know Quynh's story know that her life was saved and transformed because God provided protection and a safe place for her.



Our HEART CRY is to have that place for other abandoned infants and children.  "Quynh's room" , as part of  "CASA MANA", is to open in Sept. and begin receiving children right away.  Each dollar goes directly to the  children.  No overhead, straight to blessing a little life in need.


If each of us could "share" her page today and if each contributed $10 (or less or more) to the project, we would meet our goal and exceed it! 


***Would you consider taking a moment to share this status and consider contributing?***

Many of you already have and we are in AWE of your generosity.  THANK YOU for making Quynh's legacy project possible.  We hope you will join us on a trip soon to see your investment in action!






"I will not leave you as orphans; I will 


come to you." (John 14:18)













 Quynh's room 3 weeks ago, progress every day!



https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/b8p4/quynh-s-legacy-project

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Our beautiful family. 9 unique children. Spirited, adventuresome, gifted uniquely.  We sometimes disagree, we are sometimes walking different roads, but all are united by a deep abiding love for one another. Proven so true this year.
I love each of my kids more than words can express, and I am so grateful to God for allowing us to be honored, privileged and spoiled  to have them as ours… 
 And I praise my God for them…for   I realize that everyone of them are on lone from the Giver of all great gifts, to  love and pour into their lives for the days we have with them…



 HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY BEAUTIFUL                 PRINCESS QUYNH.. 

I am honored to CELEBRATE  the day you were born, for I treasured every day I had with you. You were and are an amazing GIFT.  I just wish it was more.... more time, more laughter, more memories, more special Quynhism's., more you.
 I made an ice cream cake for you today..you would have loved every minute of of the messy process. 

What a joyous day it must be in Heaven!…





Your are longed for....loved deeply and missed immensely…. and our reunion is greatly anticipated!



And...from your amazing Daddy...we are honored to share your legacy and may we all learn daily from the lessons and inspiration you keep on giving...
Good news! Our friend has extended her offer of a matching gift for Quynh's Legacy Project until Sunday night since Sunday is Quynh's Birthday! (More about that tomorrow - I'm dreading facing a birthday without the birthday girl.)

Donation... See More

Friday, March 28, 2014

IN HIS PRESENCE

Quynh is in His presence every moment.

What a sweet, yet overwhelmingly powerful thought.

On the countless moments each day when I long for her, ache to hear her voice, cry out in heartache, it is this assurance that empowers to keep going.




And so... much reflection as Easter approaches. Today I just wrote...His story, our Hope, our Stronghold, our Redemption, our Healing, and the story of our real Home. Cause His Truth is all that could help my hurting heart.

...To think of Jesus existing with the Trinity in heaven painted with glory . He was there, as a King. Royalty marked his brow. . He was the highest of the highest, seated above all.



Imagine Him gazing upon His Father’s creation and turning to see the look on His face. God knew creation was lost and desperate for hope.  Their sinfulness had separated them from Him, the creator of the universe.

 God was fully aware of the decisions we would make. He knew our eyes would turn and that we would rebel and cast away His perfect love and mighty hand.. Yet, He was not only aware of humanity’s rejection but also of His plan for restoration.

God’s son was in perfect union with Him. He loved and adored Jesus. He was His one and only. They dwelt together before the dawn of time. Looking into the eyes of Jesus, God spoke out of love for His creation.

 Asking His Son to take off His royal garments and step down off the throne, Jesus was told by His Father to leave the heavenly kingdom and abandon everything...

Taking on the form of a man, Jesus left His heavenly seat and entered this world in a very helpless position; a baby. Born just like you and I.  He was suddenly relying on mankind for everything; the same mankind that had rejected His Father.

 Jesus would now experience life from the lens of humanity. He would experience hunger, and temptation. He would grow tired and weary. He would experience labor and the natural aches of a fleshly body.

As every year of His 33 years on earth passed by, I wonder what Jesus was thinking as He knew the Father’s plan? Death was on the doorstep and He would soon experience the weight of God’s wrath, the rejection of His Father, and the sins of all of mankind. The actual death seems less burdensome compared to all that Jesus was going to bear spiritually and mentally.

After several years of ministry, Jesus turned Himself over to the courts and withstood what will eternally be known as the worst suffering ever.  Guiltless and perfect, He withstood the calling and followed through on what God asked Him to do.

 The moment that the Old Testament had been telling of and that the whole universe’s hope hinged on had finally come. Jesus died. Publicly spat upon, His pierced body dangled from a wooden cross and in a moment’s time God’s wrath was satisfied and mankind’s sinfulness was forgiven.

In a dark tomb, there his body laid. The precious savior of the world was no longer living and was placed within darkness guarded by men.

 But the story couldn’t and didn't end here. On the third day, Jesus was raised from the dead and once for all conquered death for all mankind. As he stepped forth in triumph, the penalty owed for our sins was paid and death no longer had a hold on God’s creation. Death no longer has victory!



Our King is alive! He took our place and is now with His Father for all of eternity. His obedience and work on the cross has now made it possible for all of us to experience eternal life and relationship with a Holy God.  Wow...

We were created to find the ultimate fulfillment in God. When we actually start allowing Him as the only thing that needs meaning to fulfill us, then we  witness a glimmer into God’s wonderful kingdom. After all, He is preparing us for the day that we too see Him face to face.

 On the day that we finally experience all of His glory without the world, or our flesh getting in the way, we will see how incredibly worthless it has been chasing around all these other false idols, American dreams, and dimly lit features the world offers.

But waiting is often so. terribly. hard. Our timing is very limited in view and insight; for we are often seeking after something that is driven through an earthly lens. I know I do.

But right in the center of waiting is where we become increasingly aware of God’s presence. Mercy flows into our hearts and the wisdom and knowledge of God’s timing become more  evident. And He promises...God’s timing is perfect. He makes no mistakes.

He promises, that...though deep and agonizing it now is, all fades into the blissful depths of the very love you and I  were created for. then, on that day, “the bad dream will be over: it will be morning” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity). the broken bone will be set. the bleeding will be stopped. the tears will be dried up. all will finally be made right. 

 As I journey forward, I hope and pray that I can become better at sitting at God’s throne and at the bottom of the cross setting my affections at the one and only place where I was truly made to be inspired, loved, encouraged, and fulfilled.


 And may each task I undertake reflect that...









Tuesday, March 4, 2014

                            

                  you are loved, Quynh.


with all our heart, we love you. 





  and you are missed. 

with all of our heart, we miss you.






 and until that day we see you again. . .

until we see that  beautiful smile 

shining from within the heavenly  Light

streaming forth from His presence. . . 

  you will remain missed.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sometimes I look at myself and think how strange and unlike myself I now am. Who is this woman? Will I ever be *ME* again? Yet, the Lord does not make mistakes. This change in me is who I am now. It has forced me to live transparently. I want to learn to live more compassionately and  love more fiercely. I am finding a better grasp on my boundaries and limitations. I see more clearly the important things in life.

 I never wanted my child to die. I never wanted to be sitting here staring at her picture, hard grieving the fact that I will never hold her again this side of Heaven. I never wanted to have to visit the grave of one of my children. I did not plan this. This was not supposed to be in my life, was it?

In our humanity, we plan out our lives in our heads. It looks just right with all the pieces in place. There is nothing missing or scattered. At least not for long. It is serene and beautiful.

...But, really, our plans are like a house of cards.

More than likely, we all  face a time in  life when what you see before you resembles something more like the aftermath of an explosion rather than the beautiful scene we had envisioned. One day, you may wake up and say, “Is this my life? How did I get here?”

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’”

I don't  think the Israelites looked around at their situation and thought, “What a great life! It is all so beautiful!” No, probably not...
 But, yet the Lord is adament that His plans are for their welfare. They are plans of hope. There is a future there. It just doesn’t look exactly as they thought it would look.


His Word tells me,... “The ways of the LORD are right.” (Hosea 14:9b) The loss of my child is somehow “right.” That is hard to say. There are times when I beg the Lord to give her back to me, just for a moment. I promise Him that I will hand her right back to Him. But, if I really think about it, would I truly want my little girl to leave the beauty of Heaven and the comforts of being in our Lord’s presence just so I can hold her during this vapor of a life I live? No, I would not. It would be all selfishness on my part and not at all in her best interest.

 The Lord had our whole family's welfare in mind when He took Quynh home. To ask Him to go against that perfect plan, would be going against His authority,and ultimately, the Future and Hope and Bigger Plan that He has in store for each of us.


“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” (Jer 29:12-14a)

I have never sought Him, longed for Him  and felt Him when the waters were still ... like I do in the torrent.

Losing Quynh  was not in my plans, but the Lord held every moment of her little life and her mama’s life in His hands. So yes, this is my life.The Lord knows all this about me. He is not oblivious to my fears. None of what we have gone through was an accident. None of what we are going through now is an accident. It is all within His almighty will and all part of the Refiner’s fire. 

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

 Every horribly-overwhelming grief-filled moment I endure in this life is serving a purpose, all within His perfect will for me, and it will lack in nothing! I am not going through this trial for no good reason. It is not some random thing that just happened. My faith has been tested…and if I lean into Him, it will  produce endurance…and will eventually have a perfect and complete result.

Our entire family is different. There is no denying that we are forever changed. But, I know in my heart that the Lord has something for us in all of this. It may not be revealed to us today or tomorrow or the next day, but “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

And so, I accept these emotional days and the change in me as part of His plan. And in my human frailty, I cry out to Him. In my affliction,... He comforts me.

and I remember again...

This life  is but  a vapor of breath on a cold morning in light of eternity...We will see our beautiful baby again.

Hope is confident expectation in God to be faithful to fulfill each and every one of His promises.









Thursday, January 2, 2014

Marvin often shares his definition of faith as... "If I was God, and knew all that He knows, I would do things exactly as He did." 

 That's a hard one when you lose your precious little girl. 

 But it is true. We would not be able to breathe without the full hope and assurance of a God who is all knowing, wiser than we can comprehend, understands all, who counts and kisses our tears dry. 

... And so we enter a new year with anticipation of His goodness. It doesn't mean we don't feel tremendous loss, sadness, fatigue, afraid and lonely, even sometimes abandoned. Those are real human emotions of our being... 

BUT WE KNOW. He is bigger than our emotions, He calls our name softly though our pain and reminds us over and over that He will be enough for those emotions. In our feeling them, He will show us more of Himself. He will restore our broken hearts, and though they will not fully mend until heaven, the cracks will remind us to care about another's heart cracks even more. 

 A New Year stretches out in front of us — and most of us have no idea what’s ahead. The possibilities are endless in the coming months — countless possibilities of great joy or immense sadness. Which way will it all go? We don’t know what might derail our lives … or what beautiful surprises might sweep us off our feet. Life is a marble cake — with joy and sadness all mixed in to the batter, to make the pattern of our days. But thanks be to God, He is the one who has designed each one.

Our Tyler encouraged a family hike. It was strenuous. We saw stark. We saw beauty in the midst. A waterfall appeared after a long dry creek. The hike to the top was steep and rocky and caused us to lean on one another. Tears came freely in the vastness of nature. His majesty was everywhere, even in the bleak. We could only be still and Praise Him...


















Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And with Him...Everything



                    "Once in our world, a stable had something in it  that  was bigger than our whole world."






                                                                                                                           Video Tribute to Quynh





HOPE  is confident expectation in God to be faithful to fulfill each and every one of His promises...

 We know we will embrace our beautiful Quynh again one day.  I am sure she is breathless with excitement as she spends her Christmas with Jesus and rejoices with the angels!

Our time here is but a vapor of breath on a cold morning in light of eternity. 

May we look for Him and to Him now , and find our everything...

Merry Christmas, with love, from the Harlans

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

 Today...

 We need His constant whisper that He is here and we will make it.


We ask God  to help us not miss out on the good things that He has for us by submitting to despair.
 Every hard minute we have two choices...
 We  can focus on ourselves and our loss, which absolutely causes us greater despair...


or

we can choose to look to God and praise Him for what He is—our  absolutely sure Foundation, Everlasting Hope, Mighty Warrior, Perfect Provider, Beloved Counselor, Sovereign King of kings, Incomparable Protector, Great Physician, and Unfailing Friend. Even saying those names soothes my pain.

 His words say that despair and praise cannot coexist in our heart for very long. I believe that. Hopelessness does shrink when we choose to dwell on the abundant goodness and mercy of our Father and we voice our adoration to Him. God, please help us do that.

We are raw and broken, our HOPE is in Him alone.  Beauty is revealed in His Promises, and we cling to them..

The beautiful song below brings me to praise, and the long ago written words speak right along with it.  Click and listen with me of  the beauty of Heaven.

 And imagine Quynh laughing and dancing...

written long ago by a British theologian ...
"Think of your child, then, not as dead, but as fully alive and awakened ; not as a flower that has withered, but as one that is transplanted, and touched by the  Divine hand, and  is blooming in richer colors and sweeter shades than those we can yet imagine of earth."



 

Thursday, December 5, 2013



how do you do day 13?
the flowers are withering
the weather is dreary
sadness is in every crevice of my being
our enemy would say this is it...death is the end and it will hurt like this forever.

...we say together, ""Thank you God."... and grasp to pull strength from Him and one another...

HOPE trickles through our crushed hearts,

as friends are praying diligently, and asking Him to blanket us with Grace to hold on.

and He whispers through His words...

that we are not alone
that our beautiful baby is safe
that Victory is hers
and that angels surround us.




Christmas is about such a bigger plan
we read together and try to take in the story
of the certainty of His coming,

and we light our HOPE candle.  something tangible with words we stick on the candle and cling to...

We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.
The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.
The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
We are desperate for the One who comes.

Read more at http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2013/12/why-we-need-advent-so-desperately-week-1/#Y4X6fJHExybB9BDp.99

the waiting, itself,  signifies our desperation.  we need Him so desperately to come to us. 


marvin and I want to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him,... to remember what it was/and is like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
 
we are desperate for the One who comes to do that.

and then... God stretches open His hand, and the rain drops begin to fall from His fingertips. 
the rain may take all kinds of forms,
 for God has limitless resources, but we know the rain when it hits us.

it refreshes us, and we feel the buds opening just a little again.

 "Yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant."

 a stump, bringing forth branches? 

it's  not just empty encouragement; it's in the very heart of God...

"To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
~ Isaiah 61:2-3, NKJV


 
Jesus is speaking to the nation of Israel here, but timelessly, He is also speaking to our family in a beautiful, specific way,...

 for He has included us and our very real, present circumstances in the heart of His mission.

"Please God, out of ashes of devastation, draw out beauty and life. that's who You Are..."

we don't want to settle for stumps, regardless of how things seem or how we  feel.

 Jesus is in the business of bringing stumps to life with just the scent of His Spirit.

and  He does this for us...


thank you for praying.

we need Jesus.



We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.
The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.
The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
We are desperate for the One who comes.

Read more at http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2013/12/why-we-need-advent-so-desperately-week-1/#Y4X6fJHExybB9BDp.99


We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.
The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.
The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
We are desperate for the One who comes.

Read more at http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2013/12/why-we-need-advent-so-desperately-week-1/#Y4X6fJHExybB9BDp.99
We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.
The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.
The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
We are desperate for the One who comes.

Read more at http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2013/12/why-we-need-advent-so-desperately-week-1/#Y4X6fJHExybB9BDp.99


We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.
The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.
The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
We are desperate for the One who comes.

Read more at http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2013/12/why-we-need-advent-so-desperately-week-1/#Y4X6fJHExybB9BDp.99

We beg Him to break in—to find us, to shatter our idols, to rescue us from sin and death, to pursue us in our depravity and wandering.  He must come to us for we are unable and unwilling to come to Him.  Advent answers our despair and our self-righteousness with the beautiful mystery of Christ’s incarnation.  We are not waiting in vain! We learn on the first Sunday of Advent, as He rides in to Jerusalem on a donkey, that He is coming with His eyes set like a flint on the cross. He means to be our Savior, to conquer death, hell, and every sin that so easily besets us.
The waiting gives us time to repent, to prepare for the Savior of the world to be born, not just in manger, but in our hearts.
The season of Advent teaches us to live in expectation and repentance—to yearn for Him, to remember what it was like to live in darkness and to give thanks to the One who is always shattering the night.
We are desperate for the One who comes.

Read more at http://www.lifeingraceblog.com/2013/12/why-we-need-advent-so-desperately-week-1/#Y4X6fJHExybB9BDp.99