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It’s hard to know where to start when staring down something so heavy. It’s hard to explain how you can grieve deeply someone you never knew. I think part of that comes, at least for me, from having my own babies and from prayer.

For the last several months I have been praying and have been teaching my kids to pray for a little girl who had brain cancer. She passed away last week, and we stopped praying for her comfort and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for her life. You do not have to have a lot of birthdays to change the world. Hadlee taught me that. 

I learned her story through social media. Several of my Facebook friends shared her story, and right then I added Hadlee and her family to our daily prayers. You don’t have to know people to pray for them, but it’s been my experience that praying for someone will move your heart to love them. 

I talked to my daughter about her and we prayed for her. I prayed for her and her parents and her siblings. Lauren is old enough now that she understands these kind of things quite a bit better than Ethan. 

I have written about the difficulty in watching my children struggle with expressive language delays, but I can’t begin to think what it would be like to watch your toddler battle cancer. I know the pain I feel in the challenge my children have because I never want to watch them struggle. That seems so small comparatively, but as a pastor I listen to once wrote, “Pain is pain.” His point is there is no point in comparing. The worst thing you’ve ever lost or experienced may not be as “bad” as someone else, but he says that doesn’t matter because it’s the worst pain you’ve ever known. This is important coming from Levi Lusko. He writes about this in his book Through the Eyes of A Lion where he discusses a loss Hadlee’s parents now know; the loss of a child. He lost Lenya to unforeseen tragedy. It’s an incredible book, and I would encourage anyone to read it. 

That’s honestly the worst thing I can imagine. It would be living a nightmare. It would destroy my heart. It would wound me in ways and places that would probably not ever fully recover. Something would always be different. I think most parents feel that way. I love my children deeply and the thought of losing one of them is so devastating it makes me feel sick. 

It would be a nightmare. It would change me. I would learn to live with it and pray for healing in those places. It would be something I would never want anyone to go through. It’s why I’ve been praying for Hadlee’s parents so much. It’s a pain they know. It’s part of their story. It’s part of who they are, but from what I have seen, so is Jesus. 

As I was praying for them the first time after learning of Hadlee’s passing and I remember thinking, “God I don’t know what to pray besides be their comfort.” As soon as I thought this, I remembered or had a revelation or was given this and I stopped and typed it into a note on my phone right then:

We serve a God who endured separation from His child. We serve a God who predestined this pain of searing loss from before time so that I would know His love. He chose to love me and He made a way for me to know that love at great cost to Himself. The depth of His love for me was greater than the depth of pain in crushing His Son so I could know Him and enjoy Him forever. He lived what I consider a nightmare to love me. 

This is something I knew before, but it’s something I know differently now. The depth of love He feels for me is more real to me in the sense that I think differently about what it cost God to have it. For me. For you. 

I’m thankful that Hadlee taught me how to teach my kids about praying for others. I am thankful that Hadlee taught me something incredibly beautiful about God’s love for me that I hope never leaves me. I am thankful for the privilege of praying for her, and I will pray for her family everyday. 

I will close by sharing a link to a sermon from Levi Lusko.