memories of bella

its one thing to hear about a tragic story on the news, but when one happens to someone you know its a sobering reminder of the fragility of life. this particular tragedy unfolded right in front of us. on sunday night pēteris sproģis (bishop of the latvian baptist union) and his wife marta lost their four-year-old daughter izabella. the details about how everything happened are still a bit unclear, but the overarching story is not. its crystal clear. death brings new clarity to life. izabella lived a short and beautiful life and now she is together with Jesus. what a horrible and beautiful thing all at the same time. the truth that i can hold on to in times like this is that God is still good... even in death. and even when it doesnt make sense.

anna got a call sunday afternoon that izabella was in intensive care at the hospital and we began to pray. a few hours passed without any news, until we saw that p
ēteris had posted on facebook that bella was now in Jesus' arms. we sat in disbelief and cried. and prayed. then cried. then prayed again. i honestly struggled to know how to pray at a time like this.

i sat at my desk sobbing this morning as i reread the note p
ēteris had written to bella. my Bible reading happened to be from psalm 90 where moses asked God to teach him "to number his days" (vs. 12). this is one of many lessons that i will take away from izabella's life. we are never guaranteed tomorrow. every day and every breath is gracious gift from God. i have also witnessed what a powerful impact a four-year-old can have on an entire country. what a testimony to her life!

here is the note p
ēteris wrote his daughter the day after she died. its one of the most poweful stories that i have ever read. a true man of faith and a beautiful young life! thank you Jesus! please keep their family in your prayers over the coming weeks and months.

Memories about Bella
by Pēteris Sproģis

Little Bella, You know that we love You!

Just yesterday we attended the anniversary service at Valmiera Church. You went to the Sunday school. Afterwards You came, sat next to mummy and drew little hearts in your new notebook. Mummy whispered to You, „I love You. You are beautiful. You will be a singer…” The service went on, and You moved to the front row to sit next to me. You drew little flowers. I whispered into Your ear, „I love You. You are very beautiful.” We told You these words often. We told You often that Jesus loves You! So often You would come up to me or mummy, snuggle up to us and say in the way only You could, „I love you!” Thank You.

Quite often You would sing to Yourself the song with this refrain, „I come, I come to you, Jesus! You are my Joy, when I don’t have it, You are my Strength when I am weak, You are my Friend when I am alone, You are MY GOD!” Once I was tired and harsh, and You started singing this song quietly to Yourself… I felt ashamed.

After the service You ran around with Your sisters and other children in the backyard, full of sunlight. We all were there. Mum took a nice picture of You. Of Your light, lovely face, of Your blue eyes. You are so beautiful!

Often I would ask You, „Why are You so beautiful?” You would say, „God made me so.”
(Bella with her smile just a few minutes before going to Heaven to be with Jesus)

We said goodbye to people, started walking towards the car, You ran a couple steps ahead of us and… You were fighting for Your next breath. We tried to bring You back, apply artificial breathing, move You… Many people around us prayed to God and called on Jesus’ Name!

A moment later You were in reanimation room... In the hallway, behind a glass wall, I collapsed on my knees and prayed to Jesus to whom we have prayed to together so often. Mummy and Your sisters prayed in the car. I prayed, prayed – but then I put You into the arms of the Heavenly Father. This thought startled me, I did not understand from where these words came to me. But even though people in reanimation were fighting for Your life, it seemed that at that moment Your soul went to Heaven.

A moment later we were standing by Your bed. Artificial breathing had been applied to You, but Your little heart had stopped beating. I kissed Your forehead and, as every night before going to bed, drew a little sign of the cross on Your forehead. You always wanted it big and, if I made it small, You corrected me…

Now You are a singer in Heaven. You sing for the glory of God! Hallelujah! We have so many memories! We drove home, it was raining and we cried. So much we did not want to part from You!

You made us so rich, and Your going Home has given us many gifts. So many incomprehensible, beautiful memories… How You danced, sang, how You could put together a puzzle by Yourself for a long time…

Oh, dear, You are with Jesus, and You are very well now. You were with us for a little more than 4 years. But Your little life, with Your little feet has left deep, lasting and big footsteps. We will never be the same again. God will use You and Your going Home for His Glory.

There are many things we do not understand and cannot comprehend but I believe that many will be in Heaven because of You! You in Your four years have done more than I in my almost 40. Already in this life we will see how God has used You. Many things we will see only in Heaven. It seems to me that already today You saved a crumbling family and two boys will again have a dad who lives for God’s Glory…

Oh, dear Bella!

We will bid farewell to You on Thursday, August 30 at 15:00 in Uzava, Your and our summer home “Nikaži”. There You ran, swung, danced, sang, fed little sheep, trained the big dog, helped in all country work, helped grandma and grandpa, walked around clinging to me…

Then we will go the cemetery by the seaside. But, as Gabite and I discussed when I was holding her on my lap, You are sitting in Jesus’ lap now, and Jesus tells You, „I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL!”

You often met me when I came home from work, ran to meet me in the backyard yelling, „Daddy!” As long as God will grant me, I will still work here and then I will come home from work and You will run to meet us! Mummy and I love You very much! You will always be in our hearts until we meet again!

Thank You!

The Lord has given, The Lord has taken away.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

amen. thank you bella!



martiņš & sabīne

had my first (and potentially last) chance to be a wedding photographer this past friday! i was glad to do it for my brother-in-law and his wife, but i dont think i could ever do it professionally. it was a full day (taking pictures from noon-3:00 am), but a cool way to celebrate with martiņš and sabīne on their wedding day! here are a few of the pictures...

my current jam(s)

dustin kensrue's lyrics off of thrice's 2009 album beggars have been a huge encouragement to me lately. its a strong album overall, but there were a few songs that jumped out at me after the first few listens. "all the world is mad" starts the album with a brutally honest look at the human condition. "the weight" speaks about the gracious love that is displayed through a marriage/covenant. "doublespeak" is a thought provoking song with a groove that somehow makes me want to dance! (wild, huh?) i put an acoustic version of the song "wood and wire" below, which is another one of my favorite songs off the album. "the great exchange" gives a beautiful allegory to Christ's death on our behalf. "beggars" closes out the album with the thought that all humanity is on the receiving end of God's grace. if you enjoy rock music, please do yourself a favor and buy this album!

"wood and wire" by thrice
14 years behind these bars,

In 12-foot square of cold cement.
I've lost nearly everything,
For a crime of which I'm innocent.

But all my suffering's a light and momentary pain,

While the weight of an endless glory still remains to me.

A dead man walking down the hall,

To meet a mess of wood and wire.

They lead me where men fear to tread-

But towards the thing I most desire.

For all my suffering's a light and momentary pain,
While the weight of an endless glory still remains.

Throw the switch on; I know you ain't got a choice.

The dawn is coming; all is well, I will rejoice.


daily bread

my meal for the day!

Psalm 118

Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Saving Goodness.

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

2 Oh let Israel say,

“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

3 Oh let the house of Aaron say,

“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

4 Oh let those who fear the Lord say,

“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

5 From my distress I called upon the Lord;

The Lord answered me and set me in a large place.

6 The Lord is for me; I will not fear;

What can man do to me?

7 The Lord is for me among those who help me;

Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me.

8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord

Than to trust in man.

9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord

Than to trust in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;

In the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off.

11 They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me;

In the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off.

12 They surrounded me like bees;

They were extinguished as a fire of thorns;

In the name of the Lord I will surely cut them off.

13 You pushed me violently so that I was falling,

But the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and song,

And He has become my salvation.

15 The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous;

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.

17 I will not die, but live,

And tell of the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,

But He has not given me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness;

I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord.

20 This is the gate of the Lord;

The righteous will enter through it.

21 I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me,

And You have become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief corner stone.

23 This is the Lord’s doing;

It is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day which the Lord has made;

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 O Lord, do save, we beseech You;

O Lord, we beseech You, do send prosperity!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord;

We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

27 The Lord is God, and He has given us light;

Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I give thanks to You;

You are my God, I extol You.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.


youtube of the month: august

thought id share one that my brother put on facebook a few weeks back. its one of the funnier things ive seen in a while...


time off

a few days after the interns departed, anna and i drove to liepāja for some much needed "time off." i was grateful for the quality time with my wife and to be away from the internet and phone for a few days! we stayed at anna's grandpa's apartment in liepāja for most of the trip, but also drove down to lithuania and stayed in palanga for two nights. we had a bit of car trouble on the drive back to latvia (what would a vacation be without at least some car trouble?), but thanks to our wonderful teammate, david kingdon (seen below in the spartan kitchen apron), we made it back safely! here are a few of the pics from our trip...