Sunday, November 3, 2013

Worried about me?

I am excited that I finally long for Heaven - even on my best of days (which are by far happier now than they ever have been)! For my whole Christian life I have always struggled with loving earth so much that the idea of praying "thy Kingdom come" or "Come, Lord Jesus" have never made since to me.  The only time the subject of Heaven brought any comfort was when a believing loved one passed away or when I was incredibly depressed.  I don't think I'm the only one who has felt that way, as a matter of fact I stumbled across this quote by Randy Alcorn (who was quoting a pastor) this morning...

"Whenever I think about Heaven, it makes me depressed. I’d rather just cease to exist when I die. I can’t stand the thought of that endless tedium. To float around in the clouds with nothing to do but strum a harp … it’s all so terribly boring. Heaven doesn’t sound much better than Hell. I’d rather be annihilated than spend eternity in a place like that.”

I've never even felt quite that strongly :).  Of course, that is not how I picture heaven.  I know it is going to be amazingly wonderful! Joy, Health, Vitality, Laughter, Strength, Rest, Peace, Fellowship, Creativity, Knowledge, Wisdom, an unhindered friendship with God.  These are just a few things that come to mind...and I bet they are just the tip of the iceberg.

So, for those of you who are worried about me because I mentioned a longing for heaven after an argument with my husband - please, don't be worried.  I wasn't longing for heaven because I was sad.  I am thrilled to be longing for heaven - and it started months before that argument :).  I am so thankful that my relationship with God has finally gotten to a place where I can't wait to be with Him.  I am also thankful that right now I am here on earth.  I absolutely love my husband, my children, my extended family, my friends, my home and the beauty of creation all around me.  Thankfully, as far as I know, I am healthy. If I was to find out that I didn't have much time on earth, it would definitely be a struggle.  There would be many tears.  So, no worries, I promise I am in not even close to being suicidal (nor have I ever been) - as a matter of fact you would probably crack up if you could see the goofy grin I have on my face right now as I think about the way words can so easily be misunderstood.

Words are so powerful.  And just so you know, so I've told you with my words - if you are reading this, I am incredibly thankful for you.  What an incredibly opportunity it is to be able to share my heart with you!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Flesh, Mistakes, Forgiveness, & Heaven

In case I gave the impression in my last post that I regularly submit to the voice of the Spirit and not my flesh - my husband can attest to the fact that that is definitely not the case.  Actually, on the very day that I chose to listen to the Spirit and stop writing for a time - I also chose to listen to the flesh and say one of the most cruel things I have ever said to my husband.  It hurt.  It hurt him and it hurt me.  And in a way I think it proves the point of my last post profoundly.  If I had listened to the Spirit and not gotten angrily defensive, how much lighter the burden would have been - for both of us.  The incredibly challenging part of "being crucified in Christ" and "dying to ourselves" is the choice in itself.  The giving up of what we want in a particular moment.  The results, however, of listening to the Spirit instead of the flesh are so much easier and lighter.  So much better.  He knows what we need more than we do.  Just as I know that letting my children eat all of their Halloween candy in one night, as much as they would like that, would bring much more harm than good,  so He knows that screaming what I am feeling in a particular moment will have devastating results.  I will never be able to take back what I said to my husband last night.

Now, for the good news.  Here is when I get to "proclaim His name" and "tell of His wonderful acts" (Psalm 105:2).

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning!!!!!! (emphasis mine).

As much as my words hurt my husband, as sorry as I am that I said them and for how incredibly sinful I was in that moment last night - I am forgiven.  I am loved.  And I know it.

This is what Christianity is about.  It has nothing to do with me being better than anyone else.  It has everything to do with the incredible love and forgiveness I am able to experience (though I don't always take Him up on it) on a daily basis.

Praise God, He is going to continue to work on those of us who let Him.  

Phillippians 1:6 says "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus"

And hopefully as I mature in my walk with Him I will learn how to hear his voice, listen to His Spirit instead of my flesh, and bask in His incredible, grace-full love.  And perhaps, I will make less incredibly hurtful (to others and myself) sinful, prideful, defensive mistakes. 

On this side of heaven, it will always be a battle, though I do believe it gets easier as we live more for Him and less for ourselves.  But, Oh how wonderful it will be when there is no longer a battle and He fulfills his promise to us -

"He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.  Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:16-17

Not only will he wipe away our tears, but he'll wipe away the tears we are responsible for.  We will experience peace, delight, and rest.  What a wonderful day that will be.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dying daily & an easy Yoke?

"Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.  Sing praise to him; tell of his wonderful acts." Psalm 105:2

New born babies can't talk.  And even if they could, they are pretty much concerned with their own needs.  They literally can't see more than a foot in front of them.  They are treasured.  Loved.  Delighted in.  But, they don't even realize it.  Most of the time, their mommies care for them so much that they would give their own life to protect them.  But, as babies, they haven't grown up enough to tell the world how amazing their mommy is.

I am tired of being a baby believer.  For years I believed.  But, I couldn't see past my own needs and wants.  And sadly, whenever I grew just the tinyist bit (or thought I did), it quickly became easy to see other peoples' rough edges.  Often I was much more aware of their rough edges than I was of my own.  Although I've spent years beating myself up and not feeling good enough, I probably spent just as much time - if not more - pointing the finger.  As if somehow, that would make me feel better about myself.

I'm afraid so many of us are stuck in this spot that we've given believers a pretty really bad name.  So, not only have I been afraid to "proclaim His name" because I was too wrapped up in my own world to see Him, I have also been afraid to make him known "among the nations" (or even among my co-workers) because I was ashamed to associate myself with finger pointing papooses.

I've come to realize lately that although Christians are often seen as big-headed, critical, disapproving, bigots (and lets admit it, we can be some times), these things are exactly the opposite of what a Christ follower should be.  As we grow in Christ we become more and more aware of our sin.  And, as we learn to come before the Lord to be washed clean daily, we are more and more - humbled, thankful, amazed & awe-struck that he gave his life for sinners such as us. 

But, it gets even better than that!  He didn't just die to forgive us for our sins, his Spirit actually resides in us.  And, if we let Him, he will change us in extraordinary ways - on a daily, hourly, moment by moment, second by second basis.   Our temptation, and the enemies biggest ploy, is to keep us focused on our needs and wants - instead of on the Spirit's still small voice.

As I have been asking God to help me differentiate between my flesh and His spirit working in me, I'm continually blown away.  For example, stress.  It is a normal, natural, human, unchangeable fact of life, right?  You know what I'm talking about - you feel it at work in your body before you even recognize that something is wrong.  Perhaps your shoulders tense, your throat swells, your stomach churns, your head spins.  It is of the flesh - yup, downright sinful.  The flesh (body) is rebelling against the Spirit.  Instead of trusting the all-knowing, all powerful, most loving, perfect and sovereign God, the flesh is trying to control the moment.

Consider the following verses...

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Matthew 16:24

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
Romans 12:1

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:30

 How does being "crucified with Christ", "deny themselves", "take up their cross", "present your bodies as a living sacrifice" relate to His "yoke is easy and my burden is light"?

Well, here is the incredibly exciting thing, dying to ourselves is SO MUCH EASIER AND LIGHTER than continually fighting for what we want.

What does this look like in real life?  Lets talk about this exact moment.  It is 7:08.  My kids get up at 7:30.  I really would LOVE to get this blog post done before they wake up but I have SOOOO much more to say.  I feel my shoulders tensing even now because I WANT TO FINISH THIS.  The physical sensation of my shoulders tensing is a red flag.  It opens my eyes to the fact that my body, and mind wants something.  And there is a good chance it isn't going to happen.  So I have a choice.  I can rush like a mad woman to say all that I want to say,  and more than likely end up angry and frustrated when my kids get up.  Or I can say, 

"Not my will, but yours be done"
Luke 22:42

And leave it at that - at least for now :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

For the record...

     I've been praying for the ability to discern what thoughts, desires & inklings come from my flesh (meaning my say, cravings), which ones come from my soul (mind, emotions etc...) and which one's come from my spirit (which, praise be to God, includes the Holy Spirit who lives within me).  I'm hoping to get better at following the leadings of my spirit and less likely to follow the leadings of my body and soul.  Tonight, I am not sure if the writing of this post stems from the spirit (which, I am surely hoping) or from the body (as I gave into my ever-tempting desire for multiple pieces of dark chocolate).  Either way, here I am - fully awake at midnight - with words pouring from my fingers.
     I just climbed down the ladder of my three year old's loft bed.  He and I, we had a rough day - and I just wanted to be near him.  To reassure him of my love (though, I'm not sure if he even knew I was there), to pray over him (something new to me, I'm ashamed to say) and to beg God for wisdom.  Those of you who know me well, or maybe even just barely, have probably heard me say more than once that I have found parenting four kiddos easier than I found parenting two.  That over the years, God has been working on me and changing me, and that I like who I am now so much more than who I was a few years back.  Today, however, I wasn't feeling that way at all. It was definitely one of those I CAN'T DO THIS kind of days.  A day where, more than once, I was dumbfounded, begging God for wisdom and guidance, and wasn't sure I got a response.  A day that I struggled with anger, discouragement, disappointment, and doubt (wow, that was a lot of d's).
     To be honest I am not sure exactly where I am going with this...other than perhaps, for records sake, to admit that I have these kinds of days.  Sometimes I feel like when I am chatting with other moms and I casually say that I've found four kiddos easier than two, it may come across like I've got it down.  Like, I'm put together - and that perhaps, some day they can join me on the "I've got it all figured out" side of things.  I don't mean to sound that way, and I definitely don't feel that way - but I just thought I'd put it in writing in case somehow it has or ever does seem like that is what I mean.
     There was one moment today where I found myself questioning the "blessing" of the tough times with my precious middle child.  I mean, I KNOW that he is a blessing - beyond a shadow of a doubt.  As a matter of fact, his heart is so big and his love is so deep that I am often amazed we share the same genes.  But, if I am honest, certain moments with him FEEL like a curse rather than a blessing. Thankfully though, the Holy Spirit reminds me ...

"2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4"

     And I remember that my precious boy is not the only one being parented here.  God is parenting me. These tough times, they are probably some of the biggest blessings of parenting.

     A friend recently reminded me that if you help a butterfly get out of his cocoon, he dies because he is so weak.  That the struggle of getting out of the cocoon is what gives the butterfly the strength to fly.  Today, I wanted an easy out.  I didn't want to struggle.  But, now that I've had some time to reflect, I'm thankful that God is strengthening me so I can learn how to fly.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Muddy faces

For those of you who read my last post, "not my cup of tea", I am curious what you thought my main point was? After re-reading it a few times, I realized that it may have come across that I was pointing the finger at people who point the finger when I often struggle with pointing the finger. You might have to read that line a few times :) I'd like to take a moment to clarify the heart of my message.  It is not so much that I want to come down on people (including myself) who sometimes struggle with "the log in the eye" syndrome, as it is that I want to encourage each of us to constantly hold the things that we feel the most strongly about before the Lord.  You just might find, as I did even yesterday, that God often changes our hearts & mind on the very things we find ourselves pointing at.

Consider this verse for a moment
James 1:22-25 
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."

I'll be honest, I've never really "gotten" this verse.  But, wow, yesterday - it spoke volumes to me.  After writing my last post, I randomly (yeah, right) found myself reading a couple of articles about a subject that I have felt very strongly about for many years.  The article was incredibly convicting, despite the fact that the author came from a perspective that was completely opposite of mine.  Instead of defensively attacking the author (in my own head, not literally), I brought the subject before the Lord.  At first the enemy got involved too.  I began to question and beat myself up for "doing it all wrong", and messing things up for good.  I had already gone down the "am I even a Christian" path a few moments earlier after reading James 1:27

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."


So here I was, spending time with Jesus and feeling like a complete loser.  I KNEW/KNOW that we are not supposed to come away from the word of God feeling condemned, but that is exactly how I felt.  I decided to get real with the Lord and ask Him to take away these feelings of condemnation and somehow fill me with peace despite the fact that I am SO INCREDIBLY FAR from being perfect (or even good).  The "mirror verse" came to mind.

God's word is a mirror.  The easiest thing to do is read it quickly (or maybe not at all) so we don't see the dirt on our face.  Or, maybe if we dig just a little bit deeper, we see the dirt and are so incredibly overwhelmed by it that we throw our hands up, walk away from the mirror and forget what we saw.  Or, and this is my temptation - we STARE at the dirt.  We get right up close, like eye-brow plucking close, and focus all our energy on the disgusting muddy mess.  Then, because we are so disgusted, we walk away and purposely forget about it.  But, oh how much more the Savior wants for us.  As believers, He is inside us and He is so incredibly, perfectly beautiful.  He wants us to look in the mirror and see what is underneath the dirt - a new creation.  Justified. Set apart. Beautiful.  He doesn't want to stop there though.  He wants to lovingly wipe away the mess, so we can see Him more clearly.  He is there.  He is working.  He is calling us to come before Him and allow Him to purify us.

This word picture was so freeing for me.  I was then able to say, even though I have not figured out how to "look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep myself from being polluted by the world" and even though I may have been wrong on an incredibly important issue, I am beautiful because He is in me.  And, He is not finished with me yet.  I am simply looking in the mirror, looking past the dirt, seeing Him and asking Him to clean me up.  I want Him to purify me - and that is half the battle.

And wanting Him to purify us (even those parts of us that we are completely convinced are right...and often find ourselves judging others about), was the heart of my last post.

No matter how strongly we feel about a particular issue, no matter how loudly our culture screams, no matter what our peers think, lets bring EVERYTHING before our perfect Savior.  Ask Him for HIS best.  Ask Him if there are areas we are blind to.  Ask Him if there is any attitude, belief, theory or idol that we cling to too tightly.  When we find ourselves tempted to judge people who have come to different conclusions, ask Him to help us focus our energy on our own purification.  Because we all have mud on our face.  And, as believers, we all are BEAUTIFUL.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Not my cup of tea

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which the subject of large families came up.  When I mentioned a new arrival (baby) to an already large family, her response was - "that is not my cup of tea."  I already knew that and it was/is ok with me, but for some reason the "not my cup of tea" statement as a reaction to someone else's news bugged me.

I was thinking/praying about it and I found myself visualizing an actual ladies tea party.  Imagine if instead of each lady enjoying their own cup of tea, they spent their time arguing (or perhaps just thinking negative thoughts to themselves) about what everyone else was drinking.

"I can't believe you like decaffeinated, how unfortunate!"
"What, you take yours black?  That's disgusting."
"That caffeine is killing you, you know!"
"Tea isn't even tea if it doesn't have at least 3 tablespoons of sugar."

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to go to that party.

Why is it then when it comes to controversial topics, we are so quick to look at what others are drinking - instead of what we are enjoying?  I am not pointing the finger here, there are times when I am tempted (and give in) to do the same thing.

It is easy to get so stuck on the "issues" that we don't see the primary issue - are each of us coming before the Lord and asking our Savior how He would like US to drink OUR OWN tea?

More and more I feel like the Lord is asking me to hold EVERYTHING in an open palm -to take my every desire/belief before Him and ask Him to reveal truth to me.  I have been asking Him to help me recognize the difference between idols and gifts (sometimes I find myself calling my idols gifts and my gifts idols) - to help me let go of anything and everything that is not of Him, and cling on to anything and everything that is of Him.

I truly think He asks each of us to hold EVERYTHING in an open palm.

So when those controversial subjects come up, you know what I'm talking about...

public school/private school/home school
stay at home/go to work
planned families/quiver full
babywise/attachment parenting
pampers/cloth diapers
the list could go on and on...

Enjoy your cup of tea, hold it out before the Lord regularly (with a truly open mind) and ask Him to reveal if He can make it better.  And when it comes to your friends, love them - enjoy them - and stop worrying about what they are drinking.  I will try to do the same :)

Monday, July 22, 2013


1949. Being on the other side (well, almost anyway) of a trial
1950. Friends, family & even strangers - sacrificially loving and blessing our family in our time of need
1951. Not having to cook for almost a month
1952. My mom "just so happened" to live in Maine when I got my hip replaced
1953. Recognizing that every moment with my family is a gift - especially after coming closer to losing those moments (at least here on earth) than I expected to
1954. The ability to walk
1955. Extra love & attention poured upon Teal (both by those who babysat him recently & by his mama)- our fourth little guy got to be like our first little guy for a few weeks
1956. Time to work on our website
1957. Missing my family
1958. Quiet days
1959. Returning to the norm - Loud days :)
1960. People who donate their blood
1961. Doctors who save lives
1962. Picking up Avonlea
1963. Three weeks worth of help with our children...and it all coming together so smoothly
1964. Ugly/Beautiful - allergic reactions to tape...I'm not sure what the beautiful is/was - but ALL is grace
1965. Ugly/Beautiful - low blood pressure = no pain medicine after major surgery...again, I can't see the beauty - but HE does
1966. A calm, confident, Christian nurse who so patiently worked with me during my roughest hours
1967. Home health care
1968. Insurance
1969. Ugly/beautiful - deductibles
1970. My mom's cabin
1971. A friend of my moms de-tangling my hair
1972. Concerned phone calls & emails
1973. Snail mail
1974. Flowers that last forever - thanks GiGi :)
1975. My dad encouraging me to get this surgery
1976. Being able to get in my vehicle without using my hands to pick up my leg (for the first time in years)
1977. Medical equipment (walkers, crutches, canes, grabbers etc...)
1978. Attaching Teal's car seat to a walker so I could push him around mom's house
1979. A kind, sweet, perfectionist surgeon
1980. A comfortable chair - and a friend so close that I could ask her to borrow it (right out of her living room)
1981. Being able to nurse Teal through it all
1982. The ability to drive
1983. Middle of the night oxycodone visions...and my mom's expression when I told her that my future self was trying to communicate through my rash
1984. My own fridge
1985. A smooth transition back into family life
1986. My sister's visit and her help (even though she wasn't feeling so good herself)
1987. Cousins
1988. Ugly/beautiful - cousins fighting
1989. Boys climbing walls - literally
1990. Avonlea's language development - Bwake, Teawy, Cowe, Dolly (dowwy) - putting words together & imitating everything she hears
1991. Snuggle bugs - Avi & Cole
1992. Flip flops - all 10 pairs that Matt brought home for the boys...and the fact that somehow they still can't find a match when its time to go
1993. The kids playing outside
1994. Putting toys away - and realizing/remembering that less truly is more
1995. Two sweet helpers coming out of the blue to help me get a bit more organized
1996. Ugly/beautiful - unwanted goodbyes/a God who comforts & proctects
1997. Two beautiful baby boys - neither of which I've been able to meet yet, but hopefully will soon.
1998. Our first vegetable garden, Blake - a green thumb, who knew?
1999. Eating our own lettuce
2000. TWO THOUSAND BLESSINGS - and thousands upon thousands of those left uncounted!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mr. Mom

I've always been one of those "oops, I forgot to buy the orange juice" kind of moms.  I'm typically so busy chasing the kids around that I can't quite wrap my head (or hands) around all of the things that need to be done to keep the house running in an organized fashion.  So, we often run out of toilet paper - or use some random condiment on our steak (rather than the preferred A1). Matt has never quite understood what is/was so difficult about being organized and efficient.  And, to be completely honest it has been a source of contention.  Here's the thing though, I have always thought - "if he only knew how much energy it takes taking care of the kiddos all day, every day - he would understand that sometimes the other things take a back burner".  Well for the past three weeks (as I have been recovering from my hip replacement) Matt has been Mr. Mom.  I got home on Friday night and expected to find the house in complete disarray and in major need of my competent (or not so competent) hands.  When I first got home I headed to the rest room - and, I'm telling you, I don't think I've ever seen so much toilet paper other than on the grocery store shelves. The soap dispensers were filled,  the fridge was fully stocked, the pantry was organized, the basement was vacuumed - and even the kids rooms were tidy.  At first I thought, oh he must have spent all day yesterday getting the house ready for me to come home.  What a sweet heart.  But then, I asked him about it.  "Oh, I've kept it this way the whole time you were gone."
     "Even the kids rooms?"
     "Yeah, I just had them tidy up whatever they were doing before they moved on to the next thing"
Do you know how often and how hard I try to keep my kids on top of their chores?  It is a constant battle.  I feel like I am chasing tornadoes around the house all day long.
     I am not sure exactly how to respond to the fact that my husband is better than I am at home making.  My first response was/is to make excuses.  Well, he didn't have to feed the baby every three hours, or he didn't have to cook meals (friends and family have been bringing them) or he was at work all day and just had them in the evenings (he did have them two full weekends).  But, if I am honest with myself - I'm pretty sure that even if he had to do all of those things, he would still do them better than I do.  So I am humbled and not exactly sure what God is trying to teach me through all of this.  There is a part of me that wants to compete - to show him that I can do it too (even though I'm hobbling around on one leg), another part of me that feels a bit defeated and kind of like a failure, and then of course the part that is incredibly proud of my husband.  I have been talking to God about it some and the only thing I've come away with so far is that I need to admit my weaknesses and accept His unconditional love.  I am going to continue to try my best and ask God for help, but more than likely I will continue to fall short.  God loves me where I am at, though - dust and all. He is still using me...and hopefully my strengths are bringing other less obvious, but just as positive things into our home.  I try to keep our house in order because I know it is important to Matt and it has become important to me too - but, keeping our house in tip top shape is not my utmost priority.  My priority is my children's hearts, their minds, their bodies (healthy cooking etc..), their walks with God (not to mention mine) - and though I am far from perfect even in those areas - I'd much rather the tupperware fall out of the kitchen cabinets than let my children's hearts slip through my fingers.  Somehow, Matt was able to do both incredibly well - and my temptation is to prove that I can too.  But, right now I don't think I can - and, I'm asking God to help me be ok with that. I am praying that He will continue to strengthen my in my weak areas, but remind me consistently that He loves me right where I am...and even more importantly that "His strength is made perfect in weakness" 2Cor 12:9

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reflections & big boys

It has been two weeks exactly since I went under the knife.  In some ways it feels like it has been so much longer and in other ways it feels like it was just yesterday.  I am definitely doing better than I have been in my  last few posts.  I'd say 75% of the time I'm doing pretty well and 25% of the time I'm fighting of bouts of discouragement.  On Saturday, I spent some time with Matt and the kids and I felt like I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but of course I overdid it and on Sunday I felt like I was back to square one.  The rash is starting to clear up because I removed every last bit of tape.  The wound, however has gotten worse - I'm thinking because it has been more exposed...and because the staples need to come out. My friends, family and readers have been super supportive and I've never felt so loved.  I've gotten lots of phone calls and emails which have meant the world (even though I've hardly called or emailed anyone back). People have driven for hours to babysit, delivered meals despite their own challenging situations and even contributed financially towards our deductible. My husband is doing an INCREDIBLE job playing Mr. Mom despite the fact that he is truly exhausted.  I am so blessed!
 In my last post, which I wrote in the middle of the night, I was a bit discouraged and felt like I had nothing inspirational to offer, but as soon as I opened my eyes the next morning I knew that had changed.  That night I had tossed and turned and couldn't get comfortable.  I had tried laying on  my back, laying on my side, sitting up.  I'd moved to this side and that side of the couch and just couldn't get comfortable. After what felt like hours of discomfort, I finally picked a different spot on the couch and settled in for the night.  Earlier that week I had noticed that when I looked at my mom's television from my bed I could see a beautiful reflection of the trees and waterfront.  It was almost as good as looking out the window.  I thought it was a blessing.  Well, the morning after that incredibly uncomfortable evening, I opened my eyes and noticed the view immediately.  It was not a reflection.  It was the real thing.  I was now looking directly out the window and it was absolutely gorgeous.  I was once again reminded that during those difficult times when things feel like they couldn't get worse, our Father is at work.  He is moving in our lives and bringing us to a better place.  He's bringing us to a place where we aren't just seeing a reflection of Him.  He's opening our eyes and revealing who He really is.  Those rough days, painful seasons, and seemingly meaningless moments are all coming together and bringing beauty and peace.
One such challenge for me right now is Blake's (my five year old's) heart.  I guess I thought my kiddos would miss me tremendously while I .was gone.  In my naivety I pictured them counting down the days until mommy came home.  Well the past few times I've visited , Blake has made comments like - why are you here? Or, is time for you to leave yet?  Between the babysitters and daddy time, Blake has been entertained, had extra screen time and eaten things I'd never even think of giving him.  Thinking of mommy coming home is kind of like the end of the party for him.  Now, of  course I am an adult and I realize that if I was a kid I would probably feel the same way - but, I can't help it, it still hurts.  Not only that, but the way that he is speaking to me and acting around me reminds me that he is no longer a toddler - but a boy.  His sinful nature (that we all have, of course) is showing up in more clear, tangible ways.  I don't feel ready.  I had kind of gotten the toddler thing down, what am I going to do with this real boy?  How do I point his heart toward His Savior?  Will he see Jesus in me?  Oh, how I hope that I reflect God's love and that he will be drawn towards it.  How do I respond to the attitudes of his heart rather than the more obvious direct disobedience issues (which, of course, we still have some of those too).  Many of you have said that you were thankful for my blog because it helped you know what to pray.  I'd love prayers for my re-integration into the family.  Please pray that I will go back home renewed, refreshed and with a clear vision for my family.  Pray that God would protect me from the lies of the evil one that whispers (and sometimes screams) things like, you can't do this.  Or, you are not cut out for the "big-boy" stage.  Pray that we quickly get back into a routine that brings order, peace & education (not just brain education, but heart education).  Pray that somehow I can reflect Jesus, even while I am still recovering.  I am so thankful for each of you, both those of you I know & those of you who have just stumbled across this blog.  Having an outlet has been incredibly important to me on this difficult journey.  I pray that even as you read this God is pouring out blessing upon you and reminding you that you are loved and the He is not finished with you yet.  Oh, how thankful I am that he is not finished with me!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Tornados & blood pressure

It's 3:30 am - I'd usually be nursing Teal sometime between now and 4:30 am. But he is not here. I can't sleep because I can't seem to get comfortable. Between my poison oak like rash (actually an allergic reaction to the medical tape), the dull ache of my leg, and the many positions I'm not supposed to be in, sleep seems to be a lost cause.  I am trying to muster up the energy to plug in my enormous cow maker (breast pump) so I can stay on Teal's schedule.  But plastic doesn't compare to precious half asleep eyes, or soft mohawky hair...and especially not dimply (tiny as they might be) smiles.  This missing of my baby and children is so strange.  On the one hand I long for them, on the other hand I am scared of returning to them.  This is one of the tough moments of this journey.  There have been many positive moments as well.  I quickly transitioned from a walker, to crutches, to one crutch.  I  can pour myself a glass of water - and even take a shower. Don't know that I will anytime soon though because I made the horrible mistake of spending too much time in the hot water last night (trying to soothe the rash).  My blood sugar is still too low and my pulse is still to high and for some reason the shower sent my heart rate off the charts. It started beating so fast that for the first time I was literally a bit scared for my life.  It took me a good 45 minutes to calm down.  Then, even though my heart was beating slowly, it still seemed to be working extra hard. I'm glad to be past that.  Remembering it makes me thankful for this tough moment.  Every day I wake up feeling like I have so much time on my hands and excited about what I might be able to get accomplished (I've been hoping to re-work our web site while I have a lot of extra down time).  And every day I end up frustrated because the simple things like getting dressed, exercising, keeping Teal fed (here or not) etc...take ten times more energy and time than usual.  I end up with only an hour or so of productive time.  I know, I know, I shouldn't be trying to be productive right now.  But the web site is something I enjoy doing and rarely even have a second to work on when I'm with the kiddos.  Yesterday I did a little bit better of recognizing my stress as seeking my will instead of God's.  I tried to hand it over to Him as much as possible.  When I'd start getting frustrated that I couldn't do what I wanted to I would pray, Father show me what YOU want for me for this moment.  Forgive me for clinging to what I want.  Change my heart.  And, nine times out of ten he did.  But the process was (and is) continual.

I've had some pretty bad dreams lately - I am now completely off the pain killers (other than Tylenol) so perhaps they will ease up.  But one that keeps popping back into my head was so scary, and felt so real.  Our whole family was in a pick up truck (how we all fit, I have no idea).  We started to get out of the truck.   I had Avonlea with me and Matt was walking around the vehicle to get to the boys.  We started feeling a strong wind.  It got stronger and stronger and I had to cling to Avonlea with all of my strength.  People and vehicles around us started to be pulled into the storm. It was a Tornado.  Matt was being sucked away.  He was screaming and reaching out for the kids.  The boys were by themselves in the truck begging for me to come to them.  I couldn't fight the wind.  I couldn't get to them. The truck started spinning, the kids screamed louder - everything in me wanted to be with them.  I knew we were going to die - I just wanted to do it together.  I woke up completely soaked with sweat - and even more thankful for my precious family.

I feel like my blogs have been nothing more than rambling lately - they don't really have an obvious point or theme.  But I want you to know that your sweet comments and messages about how much you are enjoying them have been a soothing balm and an inspiration during this difficult time.  I started this post with tears streaming down my face - I couldn't seem to pull it together.  And now, after simply sharing my heart I feel at peace and ready to get back to work...bring on the plastic.

Thank you for being an integral part of my healing process.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Visions & pain

     "It hurts so bad, can I have some more pain medicine?!  Please!"  "Hello?  This really hurts I need something else for the pain.  Someone, help!"
     "Maam, you lost a lot of blood.  We've had to do multiple transfusions.  Your blood pressure is too low.  There is nothing we can do for the pain until you are more stable."
     "Please, please - pain medicine, please!"
     "I'm sorry, Maam - you are going to have to wait."
This conversation repeated itself over and over again for  hours and hours after the surgery. I'm not sure exactly how long it was, but it felt like FOREVER! When they finally got me stabilized (thank you, Jesus) they were able to send some relief my way. But, it was a little bit too late emotionally. I had definitely entered the, oh no, what have I gotten myself into, mindset.  I was scared. Tired. Still in pain (though thankfully not quite as much) and regretting my decision.  I don't remember exact details of the next couple of days. I do remember being curled up in a ball posting desperate facebook messages pleading for prayer.  And being glued to my cell phone as the encouragement came pouring in message after message. I have a love hate relationship with facebook, but let me tell you - this week, I LOVE it.  I don't know what I would have done without that encouragement. I was constantly praying "God help me" kind of prayers, but the tangible words and prayers of friends and family were like medication to my soul.
     Matt had to leave the hospital around 5:30 am, but not too long after my mom was by my side.  The next few days were spent trying to get my blood levels back to normal and relieve my pain.  Each time my pain would start to feel better, my blood pressure would go down and they'd have to make changes with the medication.  It was a continual cycle.  I got lots of encouragement from friends who were watching my kids - sweet photos of their happy smiles - emails about how well they were doing and how sweet they were.  I clung to these little things.
The surgery, which was estimated to take four hours, took eight hours.  They had a hard time getting the titanium rod (from my fall off the cliff) out of my femur and had to be incredibly aggressive.  But it all came together in the end and the surgeon is happy with the results so far.  I'm glad he is happy. I haven't quite gotten there yet.  I don't regret the decision anymore, I know it will be worth it.  But if I think beyond the moment it is easy to be paralyzed by fear. So, I'm trying really hard not to think beyond the moment.  "God is my God and I will ever praise Him.  STEP by STEP He'll lead me and I will follow him all of my days"
     This week I'm staying at my moms house with our five month old, Teal.  My mom is an incredible blessing and is taking very good care of us.  Friends and family are still helping with the three older kids.  Nurses and physical therapists pop in and out and encourage me to exercise and be on my feet (with a walker) as much as possible.  I try.  I keep my mom entertained too.  One night at three in the morning I woke her up in a panic. 
"Mom! Mom! Come quick!"
"What is it, honey?"
"Mom, please don't think I'm crazy, but my future self is trying to relay a message.  Come, look - she is sending messages through this rash on my leg"
She looked at me completely dumbfounded and said something to the effect of "are you serious?"  Then she made her way towards me wondering if I had completely lost it.
I was 100% serious (I'm guessing it was the Oxycodone).  I had an allergic reaction to the tape they used on my surgical wound and my entire leg was itching and oozing and killing me. I needed her help with the rash and we ended up calling the nurse.  After she helped me sooth the pain she asked me if I remembered what I said about my future self.  It came pouring back.  I truly thought she was going to find a message written in the wound.  She and I laughed uncontrollably for a good 15 minutes...which would have been great if laughing didn't hurt so much.
     The next couple of weeks/months will probably be filled with interesting moments - I'm hoping to record as many of them as I can.  I would definitely appreciate continued prayers as I am realizing more and more how long of a road this is going to be.  I have to admit I'm nervous about next week.  How am I going to continue to recover when I'm surrounded by my little ones?  Will I be able to be a good mother?  A good wife? What if my amazing friends and family get sick of helping?  I'm surrendering these questions to my Maker on a regular basis. I have absolutely no idea how people get through these type of things without a relationship with Jesus.  He is my rock. Hopefully I'll find the energy to start spending some quality time with Him.  At least for now I've got quantity time.  He is with me always.

Old hips & new hope

     It is 5:30 am, the perfect time for me to spend some quality time with Jesus - but, I don't want to.  So, I'm writing this blog post instead.  You know what?  As I typed that I heard a still small voice (hopefully the Holy Spirit and not the Oxycodone) say - "I am with you always."  So, I guess officially I am spending time with Jesus...and my blog.  I thought I'd take a few moments to record some thoughts about the journey I'm walking (well, actually NOT walking) through in regards to my recent hip replacement. 
     The few weeks before the hip replacement were quite intense.  I had no idea how much time and energy it would take to figure out what to do with four kiddos for two weeks. You would probably laugh if you could see the size of the spreadsheet labeled "Hip Surgery - Kiddos".  There were soooo many needs.  God is pretty incredible though!  Every day either someone would come to mind or call me out of the blue asking what they could do to help.  And almost every time I had an answer for them.  Wow, it is humbling being needy.  But it is also so incredibly faith building.  God sent so many helpers.  Family, friends, and even people I'd lost touch with for years and years stepped up.  I have never felt so loved.  Because God was working so miraculously, my attitude was beautiful.  Those last few days I treated my husband with utmost respect and loved my children like never before.  NOT.  God would literally fill in 10 blanks on my spread sheet and I would thank Him by allowing my my stress level (and voice level) rise another 10 degrees.  I'm so thankful that I have a husband who, like my Heavenly Father, will never leave me nor forsake me.  Cuz, I'm guessing that month it might have been pretty tempting. 
    The week before the surgery the pain in my hip intensified 100%.  It was a strange feeling.  There was a part of me that was bummed to be experiencing so much pain and this other part of me that was thankful that my decision to have my hip replaced was being verified so clearly. I spent so much time that week physically preparing for my surgery that there really wasn't much time or energy left to prepare myself emotionally.  Riding to the hospital felt surreal. I went back and forth between trusting God and asking Matt to turn the car around.  The surgery was scheduled for 11:00.  We arrived around 10:15 and they immediately whisked me to a room without Matt.  He waited in a waiting room while they poked and prodded and asked questions and got me prepared.  I wasn't incredibly impressed (not with the care, but with the fact that my husband came to be my support and yet he had to do it from a room hundreds of yards away).  About an hour after we arrived they let him back in  and told us that it was now time to hurry up and wait.  They said that Dr.Brown was scheduled to be done around 11, but probably would be a few hours late because he was a perfectionist and wanted to make sure that every single surgery was done as perfectly as possible.  I was thankful to hear that and glad to wait for my perfectionist doctor - I was the next one on the table after all. The next couple hours Matt and I felt like we were on a date.  It was peaceful - truly. At one point I watched a slide show of my four precious blessings and tried to keep the tears from falling as I hoped and prayed that I would wake up and have the wonderful opportunity to continue being there mommy.  I reflected on their unique personalities and quirks and once again was overwhelmed with thankfulness for the blessings that God continually pours upon our family.
     I just realized this post is turning into a novel, so I'm going to go ahead and hit  publish and then write the rest of the story.  If you want to read the rest this morning, it'll probably be done in about a half an hour or so.  Thank you for your incredible support over the past few weeks. The emails, phone calls, facebook messages, and offers to help were and are an incredible blessing!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fear & trust

I ended my last post with the following paragraph - 
"I am really thankful that I am starting to recognize that choosing stress and worry is like kicking God of His throne.  I hope and pray that each time I find myself heading in that direction, I will say - not my will but yours be done.  Please, Lord - stay on the throne of my life.  I KNOW you'll do a much better job than I could ever do!"

And yet tonight - I am having a hard time trusting Him.  I'm, well - scared.  A week from today I'm having my right hip replaced.  I'm not sure exactly what the source of my fear is...I think it mostly has to do with being away from my four children for more than a week.  They have never been away from me for more than 2 days.  

Who's going to tickle Cole's neck, back & legs (in that order) as he makes his way up the stairs to his loft bed at nap time?  What will Avonlea think when I just disappear (I've tried to explain it to her, but she's only two).  Will I be able to make it through the whole thing without losing the ability to nurse our five month old?  Blake is SO CLOSE to reading...what if I miss the moment it all clicks?  

What if I feel like jogging after the surgery - they say I can't.  What if the kids act up more than usual while I'm gone?  What if I never wake up?  Can I sit in a bean bag (I heard something about not being able to sit in low positions). ? How long will it take to get back into our daily routine - which I've finally figured out how to enjoy (most days)?  What will my house look like when I get home?  What if one of the babysitters has to cancel?  What if my kids get sick?  What if I get sick? How long will it take us to pay the deductible?

Is this pain really going to go away?  Will I feel like an old lady? Can I dance? 

The questions linger...and I'm tempted to stay in this place.  But, for this moment - I'm going to choose a different path.

Join me?

Father God,
I am so thankful for all that you give me.  Thank you for saving my life all those years ago when I took a nose dive off a twenty foot cliff.  Thank you for allowing me to carry children.  You are a life giver.  Help me trust you with mine.  You are here with me this very moment and won't leave me (or my children) as we go through this challenging time.  Thank you for the wonderfully supportive friends and family you surround me with.  Please, Lord - help me focus on what you give and not what might be taken away.  May I rest in you tonight Father.  May the person reading this who is struggling with their own difficult circumstance, feel Your presence this very moment.  My they (we) know beyond a shadow of a doubt - that you are there.  You are loving.  You are faithful.  You never EVER give up on us - and you'll never leave us or forsake us.  May they (we) never take a single moment for granted, but learn to see You and all that you give.  I love you, Lord - help me to love you more.  Amen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dishwashers & presidents

Remember that kid in grade school that wanted to be the next President of the United States?  I didn't (and still don't) relate in any way. I can't imagine shouldering that kind of responsibility.  I am thankful that the economy, our troops, our health plans, and the many other decisions that lie on the presidents shoulders, don't lie on mine.  I seriously can't imagine the stress involved.

I am also incredibly thankful that Jesus Christ sits on the throne in Heaven - and in my life (on the days that I let Him).  Lately, as I have been asking God to teach me how to pray, I keep coming back to the Lord's prayer.  I pray through it slowly every day and am amazed how relevant it is in every area of my life.  Recently as I was praying through it and asking God to ease some tension I was feeling, I realized that giving in to stress is pretty much kicking Him off the throne.  On this particular day I was replaying a conversation and hoping for my desired outcome.  What if it doesn't go my way?  If _______ happens, it will all go downhill.  And it hit me - it isn't up to me, THANK GOD!  He is the one who shoulders the responsibility of the details.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we don't have to make responsible decisions or submit ourselves daily to Him.  What I mean is that if we are truly submitting ourselves to Him - begging God to do His will and not our own, then we can rest in Him even when things are going exactly opposite of what we think is best.

This morning as I was reading the book of John, this verse caught my eye.

"As he (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

I imagine that if I was the parent of the blind man mentioned in John 9, I probably would have been praying for a totally healthy baby from the moment I knew I was expecting.  I would have done everything in my power to make sure that he or she was healthy.  And, I probably would have spent at least some time worrying about what would happen if he wasn't born healthy.  I would have been devastated when my precious baby was born with such an extreme condition.  I would have been begging God for healing every second of every day.  Not only that, but I would have been beating myself up wondering what I did wrong to make him this way.  If I am completely honest, I have done this myself in regards to my daughter Avonlea - who's eyes were totally crossed at a very young age.  Did I eat the wrong things during pregnancy?  Was she not getting enough milk as a newborn? Did I miss a few too many prenatal vitamins?  Even after numerous doctors told me that it had nothing to do with anything I did or didn't do, I still tried (and sometimes still do) to shoulder the blame.  Could it possibly be that "this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in (her)"?  Avonlea wasn't miraculously healed - although, praise God, she was able to undergo a surgery  which has helped tremendously.  But in faith I believe that God is going to use her precious eyes (and any other weakness - known or not) , to bring glory to Himself.

Then, there are the smaller things.  Like broken dishwashers.  They never seem to break after you've put everything away - but typically after you've had people over for dinner and couldn't possibly cram another dish in if you tried.  It probably sounds silly, but when our dishwasher broke last night I asked God to heal it.  I believed with ALL of my heart that he had the power to do so.  I woke up excited to see what he had done.  And, guess what - the dishwasher was totally full of water that wouldn't drain.  For once, I am not upset.  When I prayed last night I said "God, if I was on the throne I would fix this dishwasher overnight. And Lord, I ask that you fix it - and believe that you can.  But, I am not on the throne - so, if there is some reason why it is broken, then I will choose to trust you anyway."  So this morning, I am excited.  What does God want to do?  Is there a plumber that needs to hear that Jesus loves him?  Am I going to find a you tube video that teaches me more about my pipes?  Is He really going to help me trust Him - even when things are going so different from what I hope and expect?

I am really thankful that I am starting to recognize that choosing stress and worry is like kicking God of His throne.  I hope and pray that each time I find myself heading in that direction, I will say - not my will but yours be done.  Please, Lord - stay on the throne of my life.  I KNOW you'll do a much better job than I could ever do!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

1918 - 1948

1918. Friday night guests, breakfast for dinner & conversations about cows

1919. Sun following rain
1920. Bell the Cat, gluten free sandwiches & heart to hearts with my mom
1921. Knowing Avonlea's just around the bend, cuz of the adorable sound her chunky little feet make as they land on our wood floor
1922. Avonlea saying "hi" to anyone & everyone...and meaning "hi" or "bye"

1923. Fruit basket rainbows
1924. Accidentally walking in on Matt and the boys making Mother's day gifts
1925. 3 moms, free Mother's day lunches, & a quick stroll through the Botanical gardens
1926. Cole's dance of excitement as he examined his new helmet (looking right past his new bike)
1927. Ruby red grapefruit & kiddos that love it
1928. The quiet that summer brings (my boys spend more time outside than in)
1929. Medical technology, hip replacements & looking forward to much less pain
1930. Mohawks

1931. Invitations, introductions & visits with new friends
1932. My Nokia Lumina 928 phone, my mom who watched the kiddos while I drove to Augusta to get it & of course my husband who works so hard & lets me indulge myself in the technology world.
1933. The incredible photos & video the 928 takes - and the fact that I always have it on me (since it's a part of my phone)
1934. A sweet mentor who is encouraging me to sing, write, play my guitar and declutter my heart & home
1935. A dear friend driving all the way from Georgetown, introducing me (and a few friends) to Norwex, & most importantly the fact that her cleaning products have are revolutionizing my kitchen (I've actually mopped 2 days in a row!)
1936. Dancemainea & boys who LOVE watching their cousins dance recitals
1937. Sunday drives
1938. The timing of Teal's explosive (up to the neck) diaper - though I'd usually be grossed out, I found myself thankful & prayerful (as a good friend with a struggling baby had recently asked for prayers for her little one's digestion)
1939. Sinus infections - ALL IS GRACE
1940. New pantrys
1941. Messy basements - ALL IS GRACE
1942. Blake - READING!
1943. Cole writing his name on everything - sometimes with the letters in the right order.
1944. Trying to think of a few more Ugly/Beautifuls (ALL IS GRACE) & not being able to
1945. Teal's giggles & babbles
1946. Healing prayers of praise over children in church pews
1947. Front facing cameras

1948.  Seasons of peace

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Donkeys and chocolate

I've always been the type of person who wants to do things perfectly.  I figure if I try hard enough I can eventually get things right.  One area that I've failed at though -again and again - is spending regular quality time with my Savior.  I've tried lots of different methods - The Bible in a Year,  a Proverb a day, topical studies, prayer journals etc...but as hard as I tried I kept coming up short.  I'd miss a few days here and there, feel guilty and give up.  A few weeks later I'd tell myself, this time I'm going to do it.  I will make myself wake up early...or stay up late - I will do this thing.  But there was a big problem - I didn't really care about the word of God.  I didn't really want to pray.  I was doing it because every sermon I ever heard said that if you want to get close to God (or at least feel close to Him, cuz He is always with you) you have to pray and read the bible.  Last year, a pastor and friend delivered a sermon that really changed the way I looked at "quiet times".  He said, if you are struggling with spending time with God - DON'T TRY HARDER.  If you tell yourself that you are going to read the bible every day and/or pray every day, you have already failed.  Even if you make yourself do it (which never lasts long) you will be doing it in your own strength.  Where you start, he said, is by asking God to give you a desire for His word...and a desire to spend time with Him in prayer.  That is too simple, I thought to myself.  There is not way it can be that easy.  But because every thing I had ever tried had already failed, I gave it a shot.  I started begging God to make His word come alive to me.  I asked Him to help me want to read it.  I asked Him to help me crave it.  And, I'm still in a bit of shock, but I am so excited to say - he TOTALLY answered my prayer.  Even the old testament has come alive to me.  Even verses about donkeys.

1 Samual 9:3 
"One day Kish’s donkeys got lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants and go look for the donkeys.”

Isn't that one of the BEST verses ever?  

I think so, and here is why.  Saul's dad sent him on a hunt for his lost donkeys.  I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing both Saul and his dad were probably a bit peeved.  "What a waste of time", "I can't believe those dumb donkeys took off again", "There are so many better things that I could do with my time than look for silly donkeys!"  But they (Saul and his servant) didn't have a choice, so they looked, and looked and looked.  Eventually they found themselves in the town of Zuph.  They had been searching for a while and were about to give up, but Saul's servant suggested that they should visit Samuel.  Samuel was a prophet and perhaps he could tell him where the donkeys were.  Little did they know that Samuel had something to tell them that was much more important than where their donkeys were.  He would let them know that Saul was going to be the King!  

Did the donkeys just happen to wander off?  Was it just coincidence?  I don't think so!  I think this is just one of thousands of examples of God's sovereignty and how He is truly at work in all things.

So, when I can't find my cell phone anywhere - or I get lost on my way to an appointment - I have a choice.  I can get totally stressed out and angry, or I can ask God to remind me that He is at work and that there is a reason for EVERYTHING.  I am finding this especially encouraging as I raise my little ones.  There are so many times when I am trying to get an incredible project done, like my laundry pile...or, the dishes :), when one of my little ones falls down and starts bawling.  Or, even a bit more likely, 2 or 3 of my little ones start fighting over a toy.  Though my temptation is stress and/or frustration, I am finding when I focus on God's hand at work (usually teaching me about His will verses mine), my shoulders relax and I begin to trust Him a little bit more.

Even this blog post could be considered an example of God's sovereignty.  As I mentioned in another post, I really struggle in the area of sugar.  I quit for months at a time then I backslide.  Well, last night I backslid - pretty majorly.  I bought two dark chocolate bars (72%, so thats good right?) and planned on eating just a few squares.  Well, um, that totally didn't happen.  I ate both bars.  We are talking 800 calories in 10 minutes!  Not to mention the caffeine.  I ate so much that I literally felt sick to my stomach.  And, the caffeine kept me up ALL night.  But you know what - if I was able to sleep I wouldn't have written this blog.  And, perhaps there is someone, somewhere who needs to hear that God is at work in and around them despite (and even through) their weaknesses, their dire circumstances and/or even just their lost keys.

We serve an amazing God.  If you struggle, like I always have, with spending time with God on a regular basis...I want to encourage you  - STOP TRYING HARDER!  Just start BEGGING Him to give you a passion for His word and prayer.  He will answer - and perhaps, you might find yourself inspired by donkeys - or, at least verses (that you usually would have rushed right by) about them.  And maybe, the next time you spill your orange juice, you'll remember that if God can work through lost donkeys, He can work through spilled juice.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fill in the blanks

Lately, I've been pondering a few quotes a friend of mine wrote down as we were discussing how overwhelmed I get with too much STUFF.

"What you NEED is buried underneath what you THINK you have to have."

"GOOD things are the enemy of the BEST things."

These quotes are helping me tremendously as I strive towards de-cluttering my home.  But, I think they have pretty amazing spiritual implications as well.

I'm going to try a little experiment.  Quickly, without too much analyzing (like that is really possible...this is me we are talking about) I am going to fill in the following blanks:
 ___________ is buried underneath ____________
 ____________ is the enemy of _______________
with the first things that pop into my head.

Whoops, I said I wasn't going to analyze...but I'm analyzing so I want to provide the following disclaimer before you write me off as a friend:

These thoughts are not coming from a standpoint of judgement.  And, I am in no way planning to quit all of the GOOD things in my life.  I am just pondering what I want my primary focuses to be on in this mega short life.

"What you NEED is buried underneath what you THINK you have to have."
 ___________ is buried underneath ____________ 

REST is buried underneath BUSYNESS
PEACE is buried underneath CONTROL
NUTRITION is buried underneath MY SWEET TOOTH
GIVING is buried underneath FEAR
SOLACE is buried underneath LACK OF TRUST
FORGIVENESS is buried underneath PETTINESS
FRIENDSHIP is buried underneath INSECURITY
RESPECT is buried underneath PRIDE
TIME is buried underneath CLUTTER

"GOOD things are the enemy of the BEST things."
 ____________ is the enemy of _______________

TELEVISION is the enemy of READING
BOOKS are the enemy of the WORD
THE TELEPHONE is the enemy of PRAYER
(Focusing more on my face/body than my heart)

If you'd like to fill in a few blanks - feel free to comment.  I'd love to hear from you.

1889 - 1917

1889. A BOY on his bike (without training wheels...and Oh, so excited about that)!
1890. Bibs bigger than the baby they are on
1891. Baby baths in kitchen sinks
1892. God's sense of humor...just after I scratched "baby baths in sinks" down onto paper, I was blessed (ALL IS GRACE) with a very large stinky mess to clean out of my sink!
1893. Lego crosses
1894. Boys fighting over kissing Teal (ALL IS GRACE)
1895. Fun, old restored vehicles - and the fact that my eyes are open and searching for, I took the time to notice a couple of particularly incredible ones and allow God to bless me through something I have honestly NEVER even noticed before.
1896. Triangle kisses - I kiss Avonlea, Avonlea kisses Cole, Cole kisses me
1897. Cole laughing so hard that he could hardly believe - especially since I was getting him tucked in for nap
1898. All of the times there are tears at nap time, instead of laughter - ALL IS GRACE
1899. Three shades of yellow on one piece of corn
1900. Painting paper plates
1901. Cole praying at the concert of prayer (most people would have thought he was just talking to himself...but he was sweetly thanking God for everything he could possibly think of...mostly involving things with wheels)
1902. Teal's dimples
1903. The softness of an infants skin
1904. The determination and concentration and dirt on Blake's face as he FLEW on his bike across the Belfast foot bridge
1905. Puke in my hair - ALL IS GRACE
1906. Pink, Blue and Green sippy cups lined up in our window
1907. Wild flowers on my kitchen table - the fact that they lasted almost 3 weeks, and even more than all that the sweet friend who gave them to me
1908. Forgotten asparagus still fresh in my fridge
1909. Boys fighting in the bathtub - ALL IS GRACE
1910. Morning fog moving over a beautiful pond - and being able to SEE it out our kitchen window.
1911. Squirrels dancing
1912. Boys naming gifts
1913. Celebrating new life at a baby shower
1914. Hurting, hoping, praying and missing a friend who's precious baby has quite a few hurdles to jump over
1915. Her faith
1916. Her Father's strength
1917. Mothers day. My mother. My step-mother. My mother in law. My grandmothers. Being a mother. My friends (both near and far) who are wonderful mothers - even though they probably don't see that they are!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Losing Bear

On our way back from Florida we lost "bear".  He was Blake's lovey - and he was very, very loved.  Blake got him as a gift when he was a baby - and had snuggled with him every day since.  He lost him on his fifth birthday.  I cried.  I mean really, really cried.  I felt like I wasn't just saying goodbye to bear - but to my little boy.  He is big now.  I mean really, really big.  He is riding his bike, swimming under water and playing baseball (ok, ok Tee Ball).  I begged God to help us find him, to work a miracle, I KNEW God had the power.  We lost him on an airplane - he could be anywhere.  But I begged and begged God to send him back.  One morning, while once again begging God to help us find this precious lost bear I was totally and completely convicted.  I have never once begged God so passionately, so fervently for a lost soul.  I mean I shed some serious tears over this furry little creature and I can't remember shedding a single tear for a truly lost soul.  I can't remember BEGGING God for someone's salvation.  Actually, I do remember praying for a few specific people when I was a young child...but when those prayers weren't answered, I think I kind of gave up.   We never found bear.  But I am praying with all of my heart that God will fill me with deep, passionate, heart-felt, faith filled prayers for people who are lost.  That they will find Him.  That they will know His love.  That they will come home.

1845 - 1888

1845. The fact that there is absolutely, positively NO WAY I can even begin to number the incredibly large amount of blessing He has poured out on me in the past few months...and that the following list is just a teeny, tiny, tip of the iceburg
1846. Friends who encourage me to blog
1847. A dear friend who reminded me how life changing the book One Thousand Gifts was (by asking me about it) and encouraged me to read it again - and the words (well, God working through them) continue to touch my heart and change my days
1848. The verse "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and the fact that he gave me enough strength (and help) to take four kiddos on an airplane to Florida
1849.  Prayers answered doubly (specifically in regards to our trip).
1850. I asked Him for an extra seat on the plane, He gave me two extra seats.
1851. I asked Him for an extra pair of hands, He blessed me with two extra sets of hands (two of the sweetest ladies in the world)
1852. I asked Him that the baby would be content at least most of the plane ride - the baby either slept or ate the WHOLE 3.5 hour plane ride
1853. I asked Him that if He would rather work in me to teach me something or encourage someone by NONE of those other requests being answered that I would be willing and obedient and have a good attitude.
1853. He gave me that opportunity on the way home - we missed our plane.  Though there were a few tired tears involved, I was able to come around and trust Him.  I ended up getting 3 more precious days with my sister.
1854. My sister who I love and cherish more every day
1855. The ability for my children and I to spend time with my dad and stepmother, even though sad circumstances almost made it impossible
1856. Cousins chasing bubbles
1857. Cousins coloring Easter eggs - and finding them
1858. Stolen moments with my sister (ah, gotta love nap time)
1859. A wonderful evening with her at the Outback Steakhouse- sharing delicious food and our hearts
1860. Cousins crammed in tight spaces
1861. Chick Filet
1862. Chick Filet.  Yes, I wrote it twice.  It deserves it :)
1863. Cousins bouncing - on trampolines, on bounce houses, on couches
1864. Cole chasing Kolbie Ann and repeating, "where are you, my friend?", I'm going to get you, my friend" over and over again
1865. Avonlea cooking in Auntie's plastic kitchen
1866. Changing trash bags
1867. Cousins playing in fountains
1868. My sister's photography
1869. Cousins climbing trees
1870. Cousins arguing - all is grace, right? :)
1871. My sister's beautiful home...that felt like a retreat.
1872. Celebrating April birthdays - lots of them
1873. GiGi's party
1874. Late nights reading God's word and other books that encourage my walk with Him
1875. Snuggling with my kiddos before their cousins woke up
1876. My sister - who cooked, changed diapers, rocked babies, took kiddos swimming, took kiddos on walks - gave me time, wonderful, quiet, time
1878. Curls
1879. Talking with Matt on skype
1880. Matt's answered prayers
1881. Cousins making muscles
1882. Matt and my mom, and their projects
1883. Shiny floors
1884. An incredibly creative and space saving desk for Blake and Cole (under their already amazing loft beds)
1885. A new table - sort of.
1886. A new friend.
1887. Losing "bear", all is grace.
1888. My next blessings post - cuz if I keep going on this one it'll be WAY too long :)