torsdag 18 januari 2018

levi lives in my heart, too.


"because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you." psalm 63.3

another year has passed. another year of God's grace and goodness. "steadfast" was our family's word of the year for 2017, and it sums things up for us so very well. to be steadfast means to be firm in purpose, resolution, and faith: firmly established; unwavering. during the past year, as we have navigated life with two little ones, andreas and i have learned what it means to be steadfast to one another and to the Lord, and, with awe and gratitude, we have experienced his steadfast love toward us. it is, without a doubt, better than anything else this life has to offer.

in the wee hours of the night leading into this, levi's fourth birthday in heaven, i listened to quite a few songs from our "levi's legacy" playlist on spotify. i couldn't keep myself from weeping and falling on my face before God, who has been so incredibly good to us. of all the songs that put my heart at the feet of Jesus, three stood out to me as a the perfect summation of how the Lord has worked in our lives since we lost our precious baby boy. 




"it's not over" by israel & new breed: the Holy Spirit placed this song on my heart the second our fears were confirmed, and we listened and worshipped and claimed God's goodness in our lives when our feelings said otherwise. the words of the song hold true still. it's not over. the Lord is still working and doing things beyond our wildest expectations through levi's death and legacy, and we are so grateful.

"beauty from ashes" by steven curtis chapman: "out of these ashes, beauty will rise. we will dance among the ruins. we will see it with our own eyes...it will take our breath away to see the beauty that he's made out of these ashes." i claimed those words as we sang them at levi's memorial service, and i had no idea how incredibly true they would prove to be.

"great things (worth it all)" by elevation worship: "thank you for the wilderness where i learned to thirst for your presence. if i'd never known that place, how could i have known you are better? thank you for the lonely times, when i learned to live in the silence. as the other voices fade, i can hear you calling me, Jesus. and it's worth it all just to know you more. you've done great things. Jesus, your love never fails me. my soul will sing 'you have done great things!' thank you for the scars i bear. they declare that you are my healer. how could i have seen your strength if you'd never shown me my weakness?" yes, yes, and YES! everything we go through in this life on earth IS worth it all if we allow our circumstances to draw us to the feet of Jesus. 

thank you, sweet boy, for thrusting me into the arms of Jesus through your all-too-short life. there is no greater present you could have given your parents and the world. our present to you today (other than our traditional butterfly cupcakes that were made this year with the assistance of my

expert baker josiah gideon surell) is the "adoption" of a precious boy we don't really know yet. denis ginyambo geyjaru was born in a tiny village in tanzania on the very day you went to heaven (16 january 2014), and we are so very much looking forward to getting to know him and watching him grow and thrive!

as i was trying to explain to josiah this morning that his big brother levi lives in heaven with Jesus, he said, "Jesus lives far away." to which i replied, "well, yes, it certainly feels that way. but Jesus lives in our hearts, doesn't he?" 
without missing a beat, josiah replied, "levi lives in my heart, too." cue tears. tears of joy, sadness, thankfulness, and so very much amazement at the faith of children. God has indeed been good to us, and has done so very many great things! what a legacy our sweet boy has left!

here's a link to a recent interview i did with our dear friends the lorentszons at parentallegacy.com. feel free to watch and share (and have a box of tissues handy). https://youtu.be/V4bpYheXIUY 



and if you never read my last blog entry made a year ago today, it summarises my thoughts on levi's birthday even better than today's. 

may the Lord bless you richly, friends. seek him. his hope does not disappoint. "...we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." romans 5.3b-5

onsdag 18 januari 2017

worth it all

i woke up to my husband asking how i wanted to celebrate levi's birthday today as well as texts from my sister and a dear friend saying that they're praying for me today. minutes later, i learned that a young, healthy friend of mine had just suffered a serious heart attack. without much time to reflect over anything, i hurried to get my three month old to her doctor's appointment, where i learned that she is in perfect health. 

so. many. emotions. the word's to bethel church's "it is well" echo in my head. tears stream down my face. my little levi would be three years old today. three. three years i never experienced with him. three years of pain. three years of healing and hope and joy. 

somewhere, somehow along the journey of losing levi, i have learned some things that every Christian longs to know but is terrified to earnestly pray. knowing Jesus, really knowing and experiencing him, is worth. it. all. i have spent my Christian life singing songs like "knowing you," "all in all," "worth it all," and "it is well" and believing that i meant them. but since losing levi and truly being in the pit, in the depths of despair, i have realised that i had no idea what they meant. 

a quote in today's devotion from oswald chambers says, "How many of us are expecting Jesus Christ to quench our thirst when we shold be satisfying Him! We should be pouring out our lives, investing our total beings, not drawing on Him to satisfy us." and it's so true. why doesn't Jesus make us happy? why doesn't he answer all our prayers the way we want him to? why do we have to suffer? why doesn't he bless us for our obedience and devotion to him?

because we exist to bring him glory, to seek him, to know him, and to be like him in his suffering. and because his ways are HIGHER than our ways. if we truly believe these things, everything else makes sense. 

you know what else? to know Jesus is to know that he is GOOD. all the time. in ALL circumstances. in death. in suffering. in all things, he is good, and evil cannot abide with him. 

i have come to the point in my walk with Jesus where i can say in all honesty that knowing Jesus as i knew and experienced him in the days and weeks and months after levi's death was worth it all. {it was worth losing my son to know Jesus that intimately.} when you feel like you can't breathe without him, that you want to die without him, suddenly nothing stands in the way of experiencing him. when you're so desperately in need of a Saviour, THE Saviour, all expectations and subconscious requirements for who you want Jesus to be fly out the window.

and he's there. and he always was. and nothing, no one, not even my precious son for whom i weep today, can ever compare to the greatness, the sweetness of knowing Jesus. 

three years later and i have yet to experience such intimacy again. the fault is purely mine. life has moved on, and i have slowly allowed other things to take up the intimate crevices of my heart that are meant for Jesus alone. i long for that raw intimacy again. 

so on this, levi gideon surell's third birthday in heaven, i rejoice knowing that, although i lost my precious baby, i gained a gift that is so much sweeter, and i will be forever grateful to my sweet boy for giving it to me. happy birthday, sweet boy! one day we will celebrate together! i love you so much!

måndag 22 juni 2015

milestones and fleeting moments

i am exhausted. i feel like i haven't slept in ages. but i am exhausted because of a feeding frenzy my sweet little josiah has been on. i am exhausted because "God heals" is alive and well and growing.at this time last year, on 18 june, i was exhausted because we had just buried precious levi's ashes five months after his little heart stopped beating. oh how the Lord has brought us full circle during this past year, a year of anniversaries and milestones. "Jesus, in your name we rise. the glory is yours."*

i'm sure that some of you consider the almost daily photos i/we post of josiah to be excessive, and maybe they are, but for me, each new day i get to spend with josiah is a reminder of every moment i missed with levi, a reminder that life is beautiful and short and full of fleeting moments. and i don't want to miss a thing. there's that, and there's the fact that so very many of you have said that you feel that, in some way, josiah is partly your baby, too. you've walked this hard journey with us, interceding before the throne of God and being his hands, feet, and minds when our own weren't working, so in some ways, josiah is your kid, too! :)

every day, every. single. day, i thank Jesus for his healing, for new life, for this life, for this precious little boy, and for the opportunity to be his mamma and to have been levi's mamma.

on more days than not i see levi's face in josiah's and wonder how he would have been as a boy. and i am constantly asked by well-meaning people if he is my first child. that answer is never easy and is normally followed by "my first on earth. i have one son named levi in heaven."

'cause in case you didn't know, this mamma thing is hard. it's messy. it's beautiful and more rewarding than anything i've ever done. and i am blessed, oh so very blessed. Jesus has been good to me, being levi and josiah's mamma is perhaps the greatest honour the Lord has bestowed upon me. and looking back over this past year, i can, with great confidence, say that God. is. good. 

*from my friend carl cartee's song "glory is yours," our anthem during josiah's delivery ❤

fredag 16 januari 2015

this day.

I was already eight days overdue, so this day, one year ago, started like those before it had, but by the time it ended, my world had been turned upside down, and you were gone.

This past year has looked absolutely nothing like I thought it would. Many more hours and days of it were spent in tears than any other year of my life. But many, many more days were spent overwhelmed by the sheer presence of Christ and the beauty of his hands and feet at work in and through his body.

You were greatly anticipated, longed for, and loved years before you were born. I dreamt dreams and had visions and hopes of all you would do and accomplish and be. And on that day, this day, one year ago, those dreams died.

But with the death of those dreams, with your ashes, arose beauty, hope, love, and even joy, like I had never before witnessed. Your pappa and I were instantly enveloped in the largest blanket of love and prayer, prayer that carried us through the darkest days and love that constantly reminded us of God’s great love for us, even in death. One of my favourite verses in the Bible says that “weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30.5b). And it did. Even in the darkness, the Lord came to us with whispers of hope, whispers of healing, whispers of love. Josiah. God heals.

And just days short of your first birthday, your precious little brother arrived, full of spunk, warmth, and hilarious facial expressions, bringing with him love, joy, and the healing that God had promised when you left us far too soon.

The testimony of God’s great grace, love, healing, and hope has spread around the world and continues to do so as we hear of countless strangers, friends and loved ones who have carried us in prayer and prayed for the health and life of your little brother, Josiah Gideon. Because of you, people have learned that God IS in the storm, that his love IS never-ending and full of healing power, and that he ALWAYS keeps his promises. Joy DOES come in the morning.


This is your legacy, Levi Gideon, a legacy that your little brother has already begun to carry in your memory and honour. We promise that he will grow up knowing all about his big brother, and he, like you, will be a warrior (meaning of Gideon) for the Kingdom of God, fighting on behalf of God’s people, that they may know of his life and his love. 

fredag 7 november 2014

a letter to my sweet josiah


you're already so much like your big brother. in fact, i mistakenly say his name on occasion when talking to you. i'm pretty sure, though, that you don't mind and that you're honoured to be mistaken for him at times <3. 

yesterday, i showed a friend levi's picture when she asked what he looked like, and as i described his viking red hair, the spitting image of his pappa's beard, i began to wonder about you and if your hair will be the same colour. i sure hope so. 

you began with just a whisper from the Lord. "josiah." "God heals." could it be? could God send us another longed-for son? did we dare hope? did we dare trust and believe that the Lord could and would heal us? there was no other choice. we longed for healing, for hope, for you, and we still do. 

showing my friend levi's photo made me think about photos we've taken thus far of your journey. your pappa and i were so diligent about taking belly pics before levi's arrival, and we've honestly attemped to be while you're in utero, but we haven't been so good about doing so. almost everytime your pappa's asked to take a belly pic, i'm either in PJs or in need of a shower or both...and those aren't the kind of pics i've wanted to take to remember you during this time. and then suddenly, a few days and even weeks have gone by before we remember that we still haven't taken a picture...and then the timing is still bad. so here we are, smack dab in the middle of week 30, and we've taken TWO belly pics. TWO. i don't even know that we've taken so many photos out with friends other than the amazing photo shoot we had with your aunt stephanie back in september, and it breaks my heart...so much so that i cried a good while over it last night. i can't get those weeks and missed belly shots back. i don't want to be the kind of mamma who makes silly excuses like i have and ends up missing out on making beautiful memories. 

and i certainly don't ever want to miss out on making any memories with you. at the same time, i don't want to live life with regrets and what i could and should have done. your sweet pappa reminded me of that last night when we prayed over you and over these wretched thoughts and regrets that come up, i don't want to compare our lives to others'. your story, your big brother's story, they're ours and no one else's. we may have not taken as many photos thus far as we'd have liked to, but the legacy your big brother levi has left for you to follow in is a beautiful one. there aren't many babies who make it in the national Christian swedish newspaper before birth, but you did! 

and, i don't sing to you as much as i think about doing or wish i did, either, but you're killing my lung capacity, big boy! i know, though, that you know my voice and your pappa's, that you've been singing and dancing along with us in worship at church and at home, and that you will surely be gifted in music, too! oh how we can't wait to sing and dance, play instruments, and praise the Lord with you!!

...and we will before long! in just two short months, it'll be time for you to make your grand entry into the world, and we can't wait! there are so many people, so very, very many people who have prayed for your journey thus far, prayed blessings and shared prophesies of how you, our sweet child, will be a blessing to many. "God heals." yes, indeed he does. he's amazing in his grace, his plan, his work in our lives, and we are so thankful that you, little brother to precious levi, who has already stolen our hearts, are part of God's great plan.

we love you so.

your mamma & pappa


tisdag 14 oktober 2014

in swedish news

many of you have perhaps already seen the facebook link i posted this morning regarding the newspaper article that has been written about us in today's edition of sweden's largest Christian newspaper, "Dagen" ("Today"). well, as the article is in swedish and many of you don't read or speak the language, i won't make you google translate the whole thing. here comes a translation :).


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Photo caption: Both Jordana and Andreas bear the name of the child they lost on necklaces they each wear around their necks. Now Jordana is pregnant again. Levi’s little brother is due in January. He will be called Josiah, which means ”God heals.” Photo: Lina Mattebo



”Their Son Died Before He Was Born”

Levi would have been ten months old now, but Andreas and Jordana Surell’s first child died before he was born. Levi’s death is the worst thing that has happened to the couple, but it has also taught them that God’s goodness remains through it all. And soon Levi will have a little brother.

Andreas talked to Levi every evening. With his hand on Jordana’s stomach, he’d say, ”Hey Levi! Pappa here. Are you gonna kick for me?” And Levi answered every time with a hard kick, every night except 16 January. It was 10 days past Levi’s due date; Andreas had just finished his last exam in school, and Jordana had met up with two friends.

But not until they’d gone to bed for the night did Jordana realise that she hadn’t felt Levi kick for awhile. So when Andreas’ voice didn’t give any response, she knew at once that it was too late. Shocked whispers and panicked screams echoed through the apartment, ”Honey, he’s gone…How could this happen? Is this for real?”

At the hospital, what Jordana already knew was confirmed: little Levi’s heart had stopped beating. But in her head and heart there was a song from God, ”It’s not over. It’s not finished. It’s not ending. It’s only the beginning. When God is in it, all things are new.”

When they were finally alone in the hospital room after receiving confirmation that no one should have to hear, Jordana turned to Andreas and said, ”I know it sounds crazy, but God is telling me ’It’s not over.’ I don’t know if that means that God is going to heal Levi or if it just means that this story isn’t over, but I believe that we have to worship God even though it feels horrible.” So in that cold, white hospital room with no movement in her big tummy, with tears pouring down their faces, they listened to Israel Houghton’s worship song and praised God.

Levi’s hair was red, the same shade as his pappa’s beard. He had his mamma’s nose and his pappa’s lips. But his parents don’t know what his eyes looked like. When Levi was born on 18 January, they were closed, all life gone. The doctors don’t know why Levi died, as both he and Jordana were totally healthy.

In spite of the seemingly meaningless, Jordana and Andreas share of God’s presence and goodness in the midst of their endless grief.

”The whole delivery was truly covered in God’s grace. In the middle of it all, I felt God whisper the Swedish worship song ’The Lord Is My Strength and Song’ in my ear.  I’m not even a big fan of that song, but I sang out that truth throughout my contractions,” said Jordana.

Andreas continues, ”It had been a long time since I felt God’s presence as strongly as I did during our time in hospital and afterward. It’s hard to explain…Of course, something horrible happened, but at the same time, we experienced so much grace and goodness.”

There are visible signs of Levi throughout the flat six floors up in Stockholm. On the wall in the room that should have been his hangs a painting with his full name and birth information in happy, gold letters. Both Andreas and Jordana have silver necklaces engraved with Levi’s name that they wear. And above the sofa hang two large black and white photographs from the photo session they had just a few weeks before Levi was born.

In spite of these signs, several people who have visited them haven’t asked how they’re doing since Levi’s death. Even though Andreas and Jordana have been mostly positively overwhelmed with friends’ and the Church’s care—through encouraging texts and Facebook mesages, that the freezer filled quickly with food, economic help, company, and prayers—others’ silence since Levi’s death has been rather difficult.

With tears streaming down her face, Jordana says, ”I wish people would ask if I can tell them a bit about Levi. Ask why we chose just the photos we did for the wall hangings, what he looked like, why I wear his name on my necklace. There are a thousand things to say! Now it’s like he never existed.”

Andreas adds, ”I believe that many people don’t dare ask questions because they’re afraid we’ll be sad. And of course we might be, but to ask us gives us a choice. Then we can say, ’We don’t feel like talking now, but we’d love to another time.”

When they were planning the music for Levi’s memorial service, they discovered that several well-known worship leaders—Brenton Brown, Matt Redman, Darlene Zschech, and Steven Curtis Chapman—had all lost children and then gone on to write songs that have touched many. Andreas and Jordana hope that their experiences can help others as well. Although they’ve cried and been angry, Levi’s death has not meant a great crisis of faith for them. Many have asked, ”Why you guys?” and in the darkest moments, Jordana has even screamed that question, but often the answer has been, ”Why not us?”

”It’s a part of the western world’s culture, and especially Sweden’s culture, to believe that the world, that God owes us something. We’re used to being handed everything by the system. ’Here you go. Nothing’s going to happen to you.’ But we walk with God when life is going along normally as well as in the midst of crises. As Christians, we don’t live in a protected bubble.”

For Andreas and Jordana, the choice to try to have another baby was an obvious one.

”We finally came to a point where we felt that regardless of how long we wait, we’ll still have the same questions, the same doubts and fears. But we’re ready to be a family,” says Andreas.

Levi’s little brother is expected in January. He will be called Josiah.

Jordana shares, ”One month after Levi died, I sat in church, not listening at all to the sermon. Then I suddenly felt that God whispered Josiah to me. When I looked it up, I learned that the name means ’God heals.’”

Andreas felt him kick for the first time a few weeks ago.

”I was afraid that it would be more painful than joyful since Andreas loved to talk to Levi and feel him kick in response, but he started crying tears of joy. It’s truly a gift from God that we can experience such peace,” says Jordana.


Footnote: If you have gone through a situation similar to Andreas and Jordana’s or want to read Levi’s whole story, feel free to check out  www.levigideonslegacy.com.

måndag 13 oktober 2014

time to celebrate!

so much has happened since july. suppe and i have been able to share and testify to God's goodness, healing, and greatness on several occasions now, and as much as we hope to bless others in the process, our hearts are always left overflowing!

it feels like my belly is also overflowing at this point, and that's a good thing. i'm now 27 weeks pregnant with baby j, and God is filling my heart with joy with each new kick and movement, and i am so thankful. in order to celebrate our joy, my precious sister offered to do a photo shoot with us when we were home in north carolina at the end of august/beginning of september, and we were thrilled that she asked! as happy as i am to be able to document this new season in our lives, i was so pleased with how well the photos of levi's little elephant hercules holding baby j's ultrasound pic turned out.

as much as my heart still hurts when i think about the fact that levi should have been with us celebrating his little brother's upcoming birth, he was. his sweet memory is with us daily, and his tiny footprints on our hearts have changed us forever...for the better.

thank you to each of you who has chosen to take this journey that is levi's legacy with us through prayer, support, and all kinds of encouragement. you have enriched our lives in ways you may never know about on this side of heaven, and we are grateful and so very, very thankful.

if you missed seeing the whole celebratory photo session on facebook, you can check it out now. and if you're interested in finding out more about my sister stephanie's work (or hiring her if you're in the hickory, nc area!!), you can check out her page here.

love and peace and grace and joy from above,

jordana & suppe

p.s. an article has just been written about levi's legacy in sweden's biggest Christian newspaper, "Dagen," and it's coming out tomorrow!!! so stay tuned for that link and translation (as it's written in swedish) :).