So the thing is: Kate Merrick isn’t your typical pastors wife. I’ve met Kate and I’m just saying: She favors boots and ripped jeans over pumps and pantsuits and has never hosted a church tea party. With the most disarmingly approachable demeanor, she’s everything you hope for in a friend, but with the depth of someone who has known the deepest hardships and the richest laughs. She might make you laugh so hard you snort, and you may entertain breaking into her closet to “borrow” an item or two of her (best!) boho gypsy style knowing she has to forgive you. But what’s so much more telling than the incredible joy that exudes from her is knowing that it blossoms from a place where loss has been bitter. That she has held the precious hand of her eight-year-old daughter as she whispered her last words and has chosen to honor God by the laughter that He brings in her life. Kate has learned to walk in defiant joy, even in the depths of suffering — and she kinda takes my breath away. It’s a grace to welcome the soul beautiful Kate Merrick to the farm’s front porch today…
P erspective is a giver. Comparison takes.
Perspective is generous. Comparison pares down the loveliness of your life until it appears a thin shred of its former glory.
Perspective carries us through life laughing. Comparison evokes cursing and frowns and grumbling.
Perspective says that I got eight years with the dearest little fairy a mama could hope for.
Comparison says I got ripped off.
Perspective says going to Israel was a gift to our family, the magic of extra time away together that melded us closer as a family amid every bite of hummus, every impatient honk and Hebrew profanity aimed at us, every car ride through pockmarked villages.
Comparison says the three months we spent in Israel heaped hardship upon hardship, needlessly stretching paper-thin nerves.
Perspective says we are blessed that Daisy didn’t die in obscurity but with the support of thousands who prayed and loved and sacrificed for her, who felt our pain and remember her beauty.
Comparison says I don’t care if your kids learned compassion through her story; your kid is still right there with you and mine is gone.
One night in early November, just a week or so before we left Israel, Daisy and I were lying in bed together.
There we were, under the thin borrowed covers, two bodies pressed into one another like spoons. Her form was so small, so spindly. Her hair was about an inch long, a fair, silky fleece she worked so hard to grow.
In the stillness, we had late-night discussions of things an eight-year-old should never have to think about.
And we breathed, together as one body, as if she were still in my womb, covered by my heartbeat.
We had been staying in a rental home in a hilltop town called Zikhron Ya’akov, a half Orthodox and half Muslim, Gentile, and old-fashioned heathen town.
We were nearing the end of our time there and Daisy didn’t seem to be getting much better.
We had watched the sky metamorphose from dusky tan, melting into the land without border, to a more vivid blue, dotted with clouds pregnant with the necessary elements to bring life to the earth. The dramatic clouds were bold and fierce and full of emotion, much like every Sabra in Israel, much like us toward the end of our journey there. And those clouds let loose.
Thunderstorms in Israel during that time of year are breathtaking. They are loud, torrential, electrifying.
As we lay in the darkness together, the room lit up. The storm was over our heads, and the decibel level was more than I’d ever experienced.
The rain came in sheets through the black night, violently entering the atmosphere, piercing the cracked earth. It was the thunderstorm of thunderstorms, a display of the magnitude that is creation, contrasted with the frailty of humanity.
That night was a gift to me.
The tears, the bravery of my shattered daughter, the way she melted into me—all of it a gift.
I had no assurance of anything other than the God of heaven, His sovereignty, His fearsome might.
And so I chose in that moment not to shrink from the lightning but to see the beauty in its potency.
To not lose the magic of the moment by agonizing further about my daughter’s declining health.
I chose to feel the warmth between us, to see the artful images the shadows on the wall were creating, to connect with the gift that was my firstborn daughter—who was still very much alive, still able to be enjoyed.
That terrifying yet wondrous night was like so much of life.
Sometimes a few smudges mess up the shiny days, but other times the most priceless gift exists smack-dab in the middle of the worst.
A clarity of vision, seeing the bigger picture painted by a generous God, makes all the difference.
Just as I learned all these crucial things during the fight for Daisy’s life, I have learned to carry this over into my post-Daisy world of grief.
It makes the sad days bearable and the average days magical.
Life blooms radiant in the times I choose perspective over comparison —
when I see the mess of things for what it is, and let the storm wash it clean.
Kate Merrick is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, mama of a teen and a toddler, surfer, part-time cowgirl, and self-proclaimed chicken whisperer. She has been married to Britt for 19 years and they live in Carpinteria, California, where they founded the Reality family of churches. In 2013 she endured the death of her daughter, Daisy Love, after suffering through cancer treatment for three and a half years. Kate is making her way back toward laughter and finding life to be filled with good things.
In her new book And Still She Laughs Kate examines the Bible’s gritty stories of resilient women as well as her own experience losing a child—a journey followed by more than a million on prayfordaisy.com—to reveal the reality of surprising joy and deep hope even in the midst of heartache.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]