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This is one of my best friends’ babies. In her hands is a custom order from someone who’s friend lost her son to suicide last week. A son who was this age once. A son who was fiercely loved and valued and squeezed tight. A son who will always be their baby. My heart cannot fathom the overwhelming grief. Our only hope? To lift our eyes to the One who is our help in every season and situation. Jesus, come quickly.
It seems the Lord is teaching me a deeper (more experiential) meaning of what Paul talks about when he describes servants of God as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10a). • You see, there is so much good happening. So much joy, provision, and depth of community. So many doors opening. So many opportunities to minister and be ministered to. So much love and humility and grace and kindness and care that it has made me—quite literally—cry into a plate of chicken and waffles from the mercy of it all. • These scattered beams can only be explained by the Lord, who is dropping joy bombs and grace explosions all around. • But it’s not all chicken and waffles. • (Link to blog post in profile ❤️)
“All in all, it was a never-to-be forgotten summer—one of those summers which comes seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going—one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends, and delightful doings, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” -L.M. Montgomery
“[It is] as if [David] had said, Separated from God I am nothing, and all that I attempt to do ends in nothing; but when I come to Him, I find an abundant supply of strength. It is highly necessary for us to consider what we are without God; for no man will cast himself wholly upon God, but he who feels himself in a fainting condition, and who despairs of the sufficiency of his own powers. We will seek nothing from God but what we are conscious of wanting in ourselves. ...the reason why God is represented as a portion is, because He alone is abundantly sufficient for us, and because in Him the perfection of our happiness consists.” -John Calvin, on Psalm 73:26

Follow me as I follow Jesus

A Brother’s Love


I always wanted an older brother.

One who would be there to fight with and for me, who would love and support me. A brother I could look up to and be proud of and who could be proud of me. In my mind, the best big brother was one who loved their little sisters enough to laugh and joke and make fun of them, but also fiercely protect them.

Basically I wanted Wally Cleaver to be my big brother.

Instead, I had an older sister.

And, unfortunately, we didn’t have the best relationship.

But God healed and restored that and along with it, gave me the best big brother a girl could have. 

Whitty, myself and Camillia.

Whitty, myself and Camillia at his birthday party last year.

Words fail me when I try to accurately express my gratitude for these two and the work God has done in their hearts.

And Whitty (for clarification, his real name is Whitt) is an especially awesome gift to our family.

After he married my sister in 2005 the relationship between the three of us was semi-strained based on circumstances surrounding their relationship.

Whitty washing my sister's feet to cool her down last summer when she was so hot.

Whitty washing my sister’s feet to cool her down last summer when she was so hot.

But God.

There are no other words to say. God did a miracle in them and He has been knitting our hearts together ever since.

Their marriage, though not perfect, is a shining example to everyone around them of the power of the Gospel and the love Jesus has for His bride, the church. 

They serve and love each other well, they disciple their children in a manner that reflects the Gospel on a daily basis and they do the same for me.

These two are no doubt my best friends.

My cup and heart run over.

IMG_0712What a privilege it is to be Whitt’s little sister. He is a man of God whose heart’s deepest desire is to treasure Christ above all else (he even has a blog, which you should definitely check out, called Treasuring Christ).

IMG_3784He is a servant, a recipient (and excellent giver) of mercy, an extender of grace and a lover of all things holy.

He is hilarious, dependable, discerning, steadfast and wise.

And he makes the world’s greatest cup of coffee.

He rebukes and serves, encourages and challenges, listens and protects, defends and loves.

He is the most perfect big brother God could have given me.

Last week after a prayer meeting at church, Whitty came up to me and, with tears in his eyes, apologized for not praying for me more often.

He then committed himself to our heavenly Father to pray for me more. I was (and still am) overwhelmed.

Since that night I have been the “blessed beneficiary” (as a new friend says) of several morning texts of prayer and encouragement.

This morning I received a beautiful prayer from him out of Ephesians 3. This is the last part:

“Soaps [we’re big on nicknames], He is able to do more, far more than all that you ask or think. What you are praying for today – He can do greater than even that. The love that He has for His own Son, He has for you. Don’t settle for less, that’s what the world wants for you. What He has is far greater. Trust.” 

Being goofy during C&C (coffee and conversation).

Being goofy during C&C (coffee and conversation).

My heart cannot fully grasp that a holy God would love me so much to send His only Son to be crushed for my sins and then redeem me from the waste of the world I was settling for.

But it doesn’t stop there.

No, this God, so intent on fully captivating and capturing His children’s love and joy, then allows our participation in His work to redeem others.

And on top of all that, He gives me Whitt and Camillia. A brother and sister I won’t be severed from after death. Praise Him.

Here’s one last quote from Whitt this morning (be warned: it’s highly convicting):

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. – DA Carson

I’m so grateful for the Father’s love made manifest through my brother’s.

4 comments on “A Brother’s Love

  1. Juliana Reed says:

    Wally Cleaver :))))) …….Love this.

  2. Sophie, I couldn’t agree with you more about them. They are a beautiful picture of God’s restoration and you’re pretty special yourself!

  3. Sophie, I couldn’t agree with you more! They are such a beautiful picture of God’s restoration. And you’re pretty special yourself!

  4. whittmadden says:

    Thank you Soapie, this blog has totally made my week. I’m so thankful that God has put you in my life. I am especially thankful that He restored your relationship with your sister, and that we are truly brothers and sister not just because of marriage, but because of Jesus.


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