PSALM 30:11-12

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever."
Psalm 30:11-12

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"A Mother's Song"

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

Last Tuesday, my 6 month old, Elias, had a surgical procedure done. He was so happy when we brought him into the hospital room; full of smiles. As the nurse took him from my arms and turned to walk out the door, he continued to smile at me over her shoulder. I followed them to the doorway and watched as they walked away. Soon, that happy face disappeared through the OR doors and I was left standing there. My infant son didn’t know what was coming and I couldn’t prepare him. I had to just let him go. 

I am his mom. Yet in that moment, I couldn’t protect him. And in the days that followed, as his body worked to recover from the surgery, I couldn’t take away the pain. I so wanted to, but I couldn’t. His body had to heal and I had no control over it. 

So I held him, I rocked him, and I prayed for him.

I prayed for him like my mother prayed for me when as a young wife, my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer, just four months after we were married. I prayed like my mother in law prayed for her son, my husband. His name was Michael. He fought hard, for four and half years. He remained full of faith through it all. His courage and his boldness for Christ, in midst of the pain, made a lasting impact on the people around him. I know for a fact that our mothers prayed for us during that time. They prayed without ceasing. They prayed scripture over us. They spoke truth to us. And by the grace of God, we were able to stand when everything around us was crumbling. 

I prayed for my son, like my grandma prayed for her son, my dad. He was diagnosed with leukemia just 2 and half years after my husband was diagnosed. He too fought hard, for 9 months. He fought till death; full of faith. And the lives that were changed because of the way he lived and gave God glory through his cancer, are too many to count. And I know, that his mom was on her knees for him through it all.

The outcome isn’t always easy. And the pain is real. But our God is a loving God. He is a Sovereign Savior and He is the ultimate comforter. 

He gives peace to the fearful. Rest to the weary.
He comforts those who mourn. And he gives strength to the weak.

He hears the cries of his children and he abides in the prayers of his people. 
And the prayers of a praying mother are powerful. 

Elias’ procedure was minor. The pain was temporary. But his surgery reminded me, once again, that I have no control over this life. And although I can love and care for my 3 kids to the best of my ability, I cannot protect them from the pain of this world.

But I know who can.

And so I pray for them. 

I pray that Jesus would be their everything. The one they turn to when life gets hard. Who they praise when they're overcome by gratitude. Who they seek when they need answers. Who they long for when they need fulfillment. I pray they run to His feet for forgiveness, that they find hope in the scriptures, and peace in His presence. 

I pray for them like my mom prayed for me.

From childhood to adulthood. She prayed.
When I was a newlywed till I became a young widow. She prayed.

My oldest son, Titus Michael was born just 3 months before his dad died and a year after his grandpa died. Titus means “giant.” According to science, he shouldn’t be here. But he is. His life has been a huge comfort to our family and is a daily testament to God’s faithfulness. 

I was a single mom, unsure of what the future held…and my mom prayed. 

A few years later, I won a radio giveaway trip to Israel, and it was there that I met my husband Bryan. We were married a year later. 10 months after that, Silas Isaac was born. Isaac means “laughter.” And every time I hear him laugh, I’m reminded that joy really does come from sorrow and laughter from pain. Elias John was born this past October. John is my dads name and means “God’s gracious gift.” And thats what he is to me, a gracious gift from a loving father. 

My mom’s name is Janet. Her name means “God’s gracious gift” as well. And what a tremendous gift she has been to me and to the whole family. 

To have a praying mother. There is no greater blessing. 

Female vocal artist, Bethany Dillon, wrote  about her children:
“You’re the best song I’ll ever write, and I pray you’ll hear Jesus in it when you’re older.”

I have heard Jesus clearly in my mother’s song. 

He is the reason that we sing, the reason that we live, the reason that we pray. He’s the reason we have breath, the reason we have salvation, and the only hope we have of heaven. 

May we never loose sight of that truth; may we never stop praying. May our life song proclaim Jesus to our children and to those around us. Because one day, we will leave this unpredictable and often painful world and we will enter into a kingdom that can never be shaken. Praise God!

Mother's Day 2018
(Titus-7, Silas-2, Elias-6mo)

Monday, December 12, 2016

"Lead me to the Rock"

Over time you move on.
And once you've moved on, 
you're over the one/s you’ve lost.
A part of me wishes these words were true. 
For if they were, the aching would cease. 

The breath would catch. The tears would vanish. 

But if that were so, the memories would be gone. The precious memories would be lost forever. If there were no feelings attached to the memories, what good are they? Just facts in your brain. A past to file away. 

Without the ache…there is no real. The constant ache keeps the blood pumping through the veins of your heart. It keeps the memories alive. It keeps them warm. A warmth that provides comfort in the icy, bitter, and extremely cold storms of grief. 

The storms. We all go through them. Their talked about in the media, their highlighted in reality shows, and their depicted in the movies and on sitcoms quite dramatically. In fact, I  chuckled (and shed a few tears) more than once while watching the new Gilmore Girls. Their individual responses to grief was heart wrenching…and even relatable at times. For example, the refined Emily Gilmore started wearing jeans; something she would never be caught dead doing before. She stayed in bed longer than she ever had and was completely fine with an entire maid’s family moving in. Her whole perspective changed and the way she related with people became entirely different. She stopped doing things just because she had always done them and she started seeing people, not for who they portrayed themselves to be, but for who they really were. She had a wall sized picture of her late husband in her living room and acted as if it was normal, even though she knew good and well it wasn’t. And then, she put her comfortable and very familiar home up for sale to move to a place completely different. She wanted to see the stars. To hear the ocean. To find herself yet again, or possibly, for the very first time. Death changes you. Grief destroys you. Not always in a negative way, though. It shapes you. It molds you. It gives you new lenses to see the world in a whole new way. 

Your heart aches. But your life continues. 

So how do you live? How do you breathe? How does one function in the present when memories surface from the past moment by moment? 

You smile.
You cry.
You laugh.
You weep.

You smile. At concerts; when an acoustic guitar is played. When you see a fool jamming to music in his car. When you see a facial expression that resembles his. When you see his favorite football team score on TV. When you see a dark green Dodge truck or hear his voice sing on your playlist. When you see a chocolate orange at the drug store or pass a package of zebra cakes in the grocery store line. When you slip on your moccasins, read his favorite verse, hear the praise song “Come ye Sinners,”  or witness a sunset. You smile.

You cry. When the hard memories arise. Those times you regret. The words spoken in anger; the way you tore him down just to make yourself look better. When you let his adorable quirkiness embarrass you or his passion for people stir jealousy within you. The times you condemned him in your heart, like David’s wife, during unrefined worship. When you walk through a hospital, smell the all too familiar smells, or hear the beeping from an IV pole. When you see a scar on another’s head or hear the words chemotherapy, brain surgery, or white blood counts. When someone quizzically and innocently asks of your 6 year old son, “where in the world does he get his blonde hair?” When you just want to pick up the phone and call your dad, just to hear his voice, or run into his arms when the pain gets to be too much. When you see others hurting, devastated by losses of their own. You cry. 

You laugh. When you walk past a frisbee golf course. When you think of the way he wouldn’t kiss a dolphin on your honeymoon or how he rolled down a hill in college (on purpose) after drinking a gallon of milk. When you come across a picture of him dancing at prom. When you see your son flying off the porch of your house for no apparent reason and then remember someone else jumping off the porch of a three story dormitory…for no apparent reason. When you notice that you are “killing” pancakes with the spatula after you flip them (to make sure their done, of course) just like your dad did. You laugh. 

You weep. When you realize your son will never know his “Daddy Michael” or your kids their “Papa John” this side of heaven. When you are overcome by the gravity of the loss you have experienced. When you see his parents longing for their son. When you see your mom longing for her husband; her soulmate. When you miss the life you once lived and the people you once loved. When you wrestle with the affects of those losses and battle the emotions that come in all sorts of waves; threatening to suffocate you at any moment. When you want to live fully in the present so desperately,  but feel like you're constantly fighting to stay out of the deep, dark, painful pit of the past. When you are overcome by the gratitude of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. When you realize that without Christ, we are lost forever, doomed for destruction. When you realize that people you love don’t know Him personally and that they will never know the joys that salvation in Him can bring. You weep. 

For “what cannot be said, shall be wept.”

And yet, in the pain. 

In the aches. 

Because of Christ,

we continue to live.

He is our joy. He is our hope. He is our provider. He is our comfort.
We stand, because He is strong.
We sing, because He sings over us.
We love, because He first loved us.

We may never be “over the ones we’ve lost,” 
but praise God,
because He lives…
so can we.

“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” -John Piper

And the life I have is good.

Oh, so very good. 

“…when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
 Psalm 61:2

Friday, November 11, 2016

"Love is the Same"

On Tuesday night, my eyes were glued to the TV. I watched as Texas lit up. I continued to watch. And then Missouri did the same. Bright red. 

The map continued to bleed as I watched the other states get their color. Both colors, the color of blood. Blue, pumping with oxygen, and red, poured out as if flowing from an open wound. It was hard to watch. I had to catch my breath a few times as the election coverage muddled through the results. The people were shocked. The world was stunned. Hearts stopped and the blood continued. It pumped and poured over America. The entire country affected. The world watching. It’s people frozen in disbelief.
How could love not win? 

This is the question that keeps getting asked. In the newsrooms, on the morning shows, in the classrooms, and on our couches. Love. It lost. How could that be possible?

And it devastates me. 

I was born into a red state, and my roots run deep there. My love for rodeos, the sunshine, and wide open spaces is an affect of that rearing and my Texas drawl slurs words that others find amusing...and often confusing. I am a conservative to my core and I have more Bibles in my house than most hotels have in all their rooms combined. 

But, I love.

I grew up riding horses, I swam in dirty ponds, and I spent most of my childhood barefoot. I was in church every time the doors were open and my family even sang Amazing Grace around a campfire a time or two. 

But, we love. 

I grew up in a red state, and still to this day, I live in a red state. 

But, I love.

My family loves. My conservative family loves...and always will love. Some would even say, “their hearts are the size of Texas.”

I also have family that grew up in a blue state. My husband, for one. He grew up in the Northwest. His roots run deep there. His memories alive there.

But, he loves.

And his family loves.

So how can we, as Americans, who all bleed the same blood, whose hearts all pound with the same force, 

hate each other?

Just because we are different? Just because we live in different states? Just because we have different convictions. Different beliefs? 

I don’t agree with some lifestyles. Some don’t agree with mine. But we can still love. 

For Christ came to seek and to save the lost. Without love, we are ALL lost. The world is hopeless without peace. Without forgiveness. Without hope for today. Hope for tomorrow. And hope for eternity. Without love, Christ’s perfect love, we are hopeless. Lost forever. Doomed for destruction. Every single one of us. Red or Blue. 

But because HE bled. We can live. 

No matter who you are. Or what lifestyle you lead. Or where you reside. Or how you live this one life you’ve been given.

He died for YOU. He died for me.

He lives for YOU. He lives for me.

He loves YOU. He loves me.

Love still lives. 

No matter who sits in office. 

No matter what our world comes to. 

Love will prevail. 

Jesus is still on His throne. 

And just like Titus wrote in his writer’s notebook today,
though life is different in St.Louis,

“love is the same.” 

So be encouraged, dear friends.

Love has won. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Joy in the Journey"

I watched him drive out of the driveway that day and I knew. A few minutes earlier, as he was getting into his car, he had said, “just say No, Brooke. Just say No and I won’t do it.” But I couldn’t. So I just stood there. I shrugged my shoulders, gave a slight smile, bent to kiss him goodbye, and waved as he drove away. I walked back inside and leaned against the door. Our life was about to change. Drastically. I turned to look out the window...and in that moment, though he hadn’t even applied for the job yet, I knew. We were moving to Missouri.

Looking forward is something I always hope to do, but even still, I don’t ever want to forget to look back. For it is in the looking back, that God’s fingerprints are evident and His faithfulness so clearly seen...

6 years ago, when I moved in with my mom, just months after my dad passed away, I remember thinking, how in the world is this going to work? Michael was extremely sick and I was pregnant and everyday was a struggle. Through the tears and in the chaos, mom would gently remind me: “Choose joy, Brooke.”

Titus was born and 3 and half months later, Michael passed away. What was I going to do? How was I going to make it? “Take joy” my Mom would say as she tenderly rocked my infant son. 

I started teaching again. Working full time and being a single mother was difficult. I would get overwhelmed, I would cry, I would gripe, and I would fight. Yet, even still, her steady voice made its way through my tired and muddled brain: “Find joy in this.” 

Titus went through his terrible twos and as he entered into the terrifying threes I would find myself frustrated. Raising a strong-willed little boy without the strong hand of a father was hard. “Don’t let this steal your joy, Brooke” she would say.

And when I won the trip to Israel, met Bryan, started dating him, and ended up engaged, she would say “Don’t miss the joy in all of this.”  

We were married and Silas joined our family 10 months later. His little life has brought so much joy...

and now, we are moving to Missouri.

“Find joy in the journey.”  This time, she said it through tears. As I turned towards her sweet and quiet voice, I could barely see her through my own. Packing the house and leaving, after 6 years beside her, hasn’t been easy. And as we drive across the country today, I am in awe of her support and strength.

As I sit here, typing in the passenger seat of the car, surrounded by years of accumulated stuff and little boys, I’m not exactly sure of the emotion that I am feeling. Is it excitement? Fear? Anticipation? Exhaustion? Uncertainty? Sadness? Amazement? Weariness? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes!!  

Born and raised in the lone star state, I’m not sure I know what to think about this whole driving ourselves and belongings across the border thing. It seems wrong somehow. No one is supposed to leave Texas! And in 32 years, I’ve abided by this unspoken but very clear rule. I even attended college, nestled in the piney woods of the oldest town in Texas... and I loved every minute of it! 

So yes, I am going to miss Texas. And more importantly, I am going to miss the family and friends that have always surrounded me in this great state. Yet, even still, I have an unexplainable peace about the new place God has called our little family of four to.

How can I doubt a God who has held my heart so perfectly in His hands and has reminded me over and over of His faithfulness? His faithfulness in the midst of the storm and His goodness in the light of the sunshine. 

I can take joy! No matter what. Not because I have a perfect life and a positive outlook but because I serve a perfect God and a gracious Savior who has rescued me from the snares of death and has covered me with His steadfast love. 

So, a big Howdy, Yeehaw, and Giddy Up to you Texas! 

And although I am not quite sure about you yet Missouri, I do know one thing...

no matter where God calls us to go, 

this handful of Haradas will, 

till our last heaving breath,

 “find joy in the journey!”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

"What's In A Name?"

It's a bird. A hot pink bird. And Titus absolutely loves it! It sings when you pet it and when you push a button, it repeats what you say in a “chirpy” little voice. I must say, it is quite adorable, even though it has a bulky cage and it MUST travel with us wherever we go. In fact, it was on one of these accompanying car adventures that my 5 year old son wrestled with the perfect name for his precious little birdie...

“I don’t want to name her what she is. I don’t want to name her Birdie. I want her to have something special. Like my name, Titus. If everybody walked around calling me “human” that wouldn’t be very special now, would it?!”

I listened to him, talking out his dilemma (rather dramatically) to himself in the backseat, and I had to stifle a laugh. Poor guy, he was determined! And although he thought long and hard about it that day, in the end, it was “Birdie” that stuck for the lil’ tweet. 

Can you imagine if our parents, completely overwhelmed with the thought of naming us, just gave up and called us all “Human?” Though I chuckle when I think about it, I mostly smile at the reasoning behind that thought. The reasoning of a very serious, and very determined little blonde haired, blue eyed boy. A boy who does in fact, have a very special name...

Titus Michael Piatt. 

Titus. The seventeenth book of the New Testament. The name of Paul’s companion and one of the first missionaries to the Gentiles. A strong name. A Greek name. A name that means “giant.”  

Michael. The name of the archangel who brought the news of Jesus’ birth. The name of a warrior. The name of God’s messenger. A Hebrew name. A name that means “Who is like God?” The name of a man who proclaimed this question day after day by the way he lived his life. The name of a man who loved his family and friends fiercely and who never backed down from a really good dare or an opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors. The name of a young husband and father who gave glory to God in ALL things, who worshiped His Savior in Spirit and in truth, and who prayed fervently for his infant son to know Christ one day. 

Piatt. A French name. A name that many people know but few can pronounce correctly. A name that bears a legacy of strength. Of courage. Of faith in the midst of trials. A name that resonates His goodness, His forgiveness, His faithfulness, and His unconditional love. A name that speaks of fearless adventures and of a deep love for the body of Christ. A name that I am honored to have married into and one that I am proud to have run through my son’s blood. 

For 5 and a half years, this has been his name. A strong name for a strong little boy. 

Today, however, a new name was added...

Harada. A Japanese name. A samurai name (according to Bryan). A name that bears a history few can rival with. A name that speaks of endurance, of persistence, of hard work, and of hospitality.  A name that loves surprise adventures and gives generously and selflessly. A name that is not only open to the idea of adoption but embraces it fully and completely.  A name that I thank God for. A name that Titus, Silas, and myself consider a privilege to now carry. 

Titus Michael Piatt Harada.

What a legacy of love this name bears. 

It speaks of strength.

It carries courage.

It tells of His tremendous faithfulness; of His wonderful love for His children. 

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5

My prayer is that Titus would not only grow strong, like his name, but that he would have a heart that beats for the Lord, all of his days. May it beat with the same rhythm and passion that his biological dad’s did and with the same force and integrity that his current dad’s does. 

“Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"Grief and Grace"

I sat down the curling iron for the last time and looked in the mirror. It wasn’t a full length mirror, just the upstairs bathroom mirror at the radio station. I could see the top half of my white dress and my eyes lovingly gazed at the lace sleeves that were added to it a couple of weeks ago. Lace from my mother’s wedding dress. I pulled my jewelry from the pouch that I had brought up with me. I clasped the cross necklace that my soon to be husband had thoughtfully and lovingly designed for me around my neck. It fell perfectly, right above my neckline. So beautiful. So delicate. So right. I then reached for a sterling silver bracelet. A heart charm dangled from it with the name “Daddy” etched in the center. I held it tenderly before clasping it around my wrist. My eyes moved back to the mirror and I stared, once again, at my reflection. I could hear Titus’ laughter outside the door. With only minutes to go, I couldn’t move from where I stood. Tears filled my eyes. They slipped down my cheeks. I couldn’t stop them. New and old memories filled my heart and flooded my soul. My mom came in. She looked at me, tears filling her eyes too. Before she handed me a tissue, she hugged me. Pain and peace. Fear and freedom. Grief and grace.

I walked down the aisle to his smiling face. His eyes sparkled and his hands shook. To be loved by this man, to be cherished once again by a selfless heart, completely took my breath away. We exchanged vows. We smiled and we laughed, and when I said my  vows, my voice quivered. New and old memories surfaced. I looked in his eyes, eyes that hadn’t left mine, and remembered all the times in the last year that I had cried, when I had tried to pull away, when I couldn’t speak what was in my heart. He never gave up on me. He had such patience. Such strength. Such faith. He listened. He loved and he never left. He took my hand and led me over to a waiting chair. As he picked up my bare feet and placed them one at a time in the water basin, I felt a comforting warmth wash through me. He prayerfully and gently washed the grime from my feet. At the same time, he promised to love, serve, and cherish me all of his days. The lyrics of John Waller’s  “The Wedding Prayer” played softly throughout the auditorium, and in that moment, I felt my fragile heart beat again; my open wounds washed and salved. Loss and love. Hurt and healing. Grief and grace. 

I lifted my head and ran the wash cloth over my face. The nausea was overwhelming. I sat back against the wall and placed a hand over my growing abdomen. Memories from 5 years ago filled my mind. They overwhelmed me. They brought tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart. I crawled into my bedroom and came to my feet. I walked to the  edge of the bed and sat down. A flutter in my stomach took my breath away and made me smile. The baby was moving. “Mommy!”  I smiled again. My other “baby” was calling for me. A mommy of two. Who would have thought? Loneliness and laughter. Sadness and strength. Grief and grace. 

I walked into the house from running errands and sat my purse down. Soon after, I heard a little voice say, “Mommy, don’t you worry. I’m going to take everything out of the car for you and bring it in so you don’t have to.” I looked up, surprised. His little face was so serious. “If daddy were here, he would do it, but since he isn’t, I’m going to do it.” He then marched out the front door with determination. I froze in the kitchen; speechless. He came back in the house a couple minutes later with bags in his hands. Huffing and puffing, he sat them down and went out to get more. From the window, I watched his blonde head bob down the porch stairs. A lump formed in my throat and tears stung my eyes. “If daddy were here...” The only dad he knows was working late this night. The dad he is a spitting image of, yet never knew, is in heaven. In that moment, however, I felt their two souls; the two hearts of the two men that captured mine, beat in one accord. Michael’s heart and prayer was to raise his son to love and cherish, first and foremost the Lord, and second, his mommy. Bryan, by example, had done just that. I caught my breath, swallowed the lump in my throat, and wiped away the tears. Cries and comfort. Doubts and deliverance. Grief and grace.

 “Grief and grace rose up within me like two giant wrestlers stopping long enough to shake hands. Pain and beauty tangled in a big knot called hope.” 
 -Beth Moore

There is no way to explain the war, the battle of grief and grace for a wife who will always be a widow. What is certain, however, is that “pain and beauty are tangled in a big knot called hope.” And that hope is Jesus Christ. In midst of life’s changes and chapters, He is good. He holds the pen and writes our stories so beautifully and perfectly. Even when we don’t understand. When we just can’t see. He is there. He is faithful. And in the midst of grief...there is grace. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Sitting in Sunshine"

A couple of weeks ago, Titus and I were driving into town. It was a beautiful day. The beauty of our surroundings, however, was lost on me. We were on a long, winding, country road and my mind was full; racing with all the things on my "to do" list.


I heard his voice from the back seat. I shook my head in hopes to clear my thoughts, and glanced in the rearview mirror. His head was turned towards the window. His eyes were squinted and his eyebrows were crinkled in thought. 


He said it again. This time, I answered.

"Yeah, babe?"

I glanced again at the rearview and realized that his face hadn't turned. He was still looking out the window with a crinkled brow and with squinted eyes.  

"I think the sun knows God." 

Before I could respond, I let out a little laugh. I couldn't help myself. 

"The sun knows God, huh? And why do you think that?"

He answered. His eyes still fixed out the window. 

"I think the sun knows God because God made the sun." 

I smiled and even chuckled a little at his comment. I turned to look out the window myself, pondering his words. Finally, with crinkled brows that matched his, I  responded. 

"I think you're right, Titus." 

The sun. It rises everyday at God's command. It brings joy. It brings life. It warms the body, soul, and mind. It provides consistency in our ever-changing world. It brings peace after the fiercest storms and light after the darkest nights. It rises and it sets. It dries and it heals. Without it, we wouldn't survive. 

The sun. 

"The sun knows God because God made the sun." 

Creation knows its Creator. And the Creator knows and holds His creation. From beginning to the end. 

He knows and holds us, far differently than he knows and holds the sun. "For he created man in His own image. In the image of God He created him." (Genesis 1:27)

He knows our past.

He holds our future.

And He provides...

"My heart is ok because He covered it." These words will resonate in my soul all of my days. They gave me peace in my darkest moments and hope in the face of fear. They comforted me then and they comfort me now. 

We serve a great God, who sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. That in life and in death, we may have hope. 

The sun may know God because God made the sun...

but we know God because He not only made us, but sent His Son to die for us. 

He loves us, holds us, covers our hearts, makes us new...

and gives us a future. 

"For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, let your glory be over all the earth." Psalm 57:10-11