Apr 22 2014

“Singing” today

God’s timing is always amazing, isn’t it? This morning after spending some time in prayer, I was feeling like singing… but felt conflicted, not knowing what kind of song my heart and lips needed to pour out at God’s feet. I felt hope and joy colliding with doubt and fear. And then I remembered that something I wrote was being published on a blog today, titled “Singing.”

I wrote, “I often sing through my tears and in my confusion. This is one of the reasons that I have been drawn to the songbook of the Scriptures—the Psalms. The psalmist David encompasses such a vast variety of human experiences and emotions in his songs, and I cling to that example with thankfulness and relief,” and today the Lord used my own words to speak to myself and remind me to sing.

So I sang with the man after God’s own heart, I sang of His law, of my love for Him, of my trust in Him, of my fears of stumbling blocks around me. I sing because I can, because I need to, because I want to, because He commands me to, because He loves me to.

Psalm 119:165-176

Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble.
I hope for your salvation, O Lord,
and I do your commandments.
My soul keeps your testimonies;
I love them exceedingly.
I keep your precepts and testimonies,
for all my ways are before you.

Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
My lips will pour forth praise,
    for you teach me your statutes.
My tongue will sing of your word,
    for all your commandments are right.
Let your hand be ready to help me,
for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and praise you,
    and let your rules help me.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant,
for I do not forget your commandments.

Please take a few minutes and visit Expecting With Hope, which is a subdivision of Mommies With Hope, a ministry where I am a contributing writer online, and sing along with me because “even when we are speechless, the Lord gives us His book of psalms to bring us back to singing.”

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Apr 21 2014

Tangible Resurrection

I am so humbled that God gave me the incredible gift of little humans that show God’s incredible power, His love of drawing straight with crooked lines, His miraculous ways of bringing forth life ~ how good and gracious God is to give us these treasures to enjoy here on earth and that He entrusts them to us. May we live out the Gospel of Easter before these sweet children this week and throughout our lives, amen.

Such tangible and eternal reminders of life after death, of resurrection light following deep darkness, of joy after grief, of miracles we just didn’t expect. :happytears:
Looking at my kids, I simply see “Easter” written all over them. Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Thanks be to God!

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Apr 17 2014

Easter Outfits

As I was just getting Easter outfits set out and prepared for this upcoming weekend, I was remembering back to just a handful of years ago when I was anticipating Easter. I remember how painful it was to pick out clothes for Gabriel ~ and nobody else. How he was my only one to dress up. He wasn’t a stairstep kid. He didn’t have siblings on earth. I couldn’t put bows on his sisters’ hair, because I can’t reach all the way up to heaven. I didn’t get to pick out matchy-matchy stuff for brothers, or even think about finding coordinating things. Sometimes he got to coordinate with his cousins (thanks to Grandmama’s excessively good taste and love of filling out the grandkids’ wardrobes), but sometimes that was more painful than fun for me.

Easter of 2011, I was raging with pregnancy hormones and new drugs, painfully aware that the baby in my womb may not survive to the next Easter. Going to church on Easter to celebrate resurrection almost made me feel like a fraud. I was stuck in death and waiting… it didn’t feel real to celebrate new life and resurrection. I went through the motions, but it felt fake. Forced. Habitual. I saw families at church with coordinated outfits. I saw little girls everywhere with bows and hats and patent shoes and purses and flowers and plastic bead necklaces.

I remember feeling like I was surrounded only by shattered dreams. And I remember that depth of anguish.
I simply can’t forget.

But here I am, just a few years later. And oh God, how merciful You are to me, a sinner… You saw fit to come down and lift my downtrodden state… You gave me stairsteps, and You even gave me a daughter. Oh God! I cry at the thought! Why would You do such merciful things for me?!

So today I cried as I laid out two little plaid shirts, grey pants, white bow ties and suspenders… and a poofy flowery dress, patent shoes, tiny tights, a big white bow… and my own THREE miracles, my little darlings I dreamed of but nearly despaired of ever holding in my arms… they will sit in the Easter service singing and praying and eating candy and shouting “He is risen, indeed!” in their matchy-matchy outfits, nearly stairstepped in size (Gabriel is like the landing on a set of stairs, haha).

And this mercy is not lost on me.

Nor is the pain that my joy could be causing someone else.

So I will pray for infertile women, suffering mothers, bereaved mamas, single women. I will pray for hurting hearts that will throb and bleed when they see my own little brood of Resurrection-Life children. They may not know what a miracle it is that I have been given this gift… but I know.
I simply can’t forget.

And so on Easter morning, I will look again at these miraculous children… these gifts of life that followed so much death and so much waiting… so much sitting-at-Christ’s-feet… so much crying to God why-have-You-forsaken-me… and I will feel mercifully, undeservedly, bountifully blessed. And I will shout with tears in my eyes as I think of all eleven of my beautiful children, “CHRIST IS RISEN!!! ALLELUIA!!!”

Christ came. He conquered. He lived. He died. He rose again. He gives us hope.
Hope even for a woman who is raging with hormones, dealing with awful drug side effects, grieving for a daughter I don’t get to hold again… hope that resurrection has happened, and it will happen again.

That’s what packing Easter outfits did to me today. It reminds me of broken dreams, and of dreams come true.
Death inevitably follows life, but for those of us in Christ, life follows death. Hosanna! Alleluia!

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Apr 11 2014

The Fleeting Moments

Sometimes it is the fleeting moments that are the hardest for me to enter into with my children (aren’t they ALL fleeting though?) ~ specifically things like reading books or imaginative play. Somehow I have always found it easier to incorporate my children into my world than it is for me to enter into their world. It’s difficult to remember that reading The Bobbsey Twins may be even more important than cooking dinner; playing “hide & tickle” may have more eternal effects than having freshly ironed shirts & folded socks; going on hikes in the woods may teach more important lessons than accomplishing page after page in certain textbooks. These fleeting moments of wide-eyed wonder and full-on joy are not always easy for me to grasp, they slip right through my fingers while I sit here saying “just one more minute” ~ especially as I look up and see that suddenly an hour has passed. An hour of my children’s lives that I will never get back.

I don’t want to miss out on reading those books, feeding those imaginations, tickling those round bellies, chasing those rippling strong legs, holding those tightly gripping hands, answering those never-ending questions.

My mom and my grandma are constantly reminding me of this quintessential poem (which applies to every child, not just the fifth, of course).

Song for a Fifth Child

    by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

So what are some of the ways that I have learned (and am continuing to learn…) to better embrace these fleeting moments with my children??

Going to the library.
It really helps to have new materials to keep minds engaged (especially Mommy’s…), to spur new conversations and new questions, so I try to keep our library bag constantly filled but also continually changing. Storytime at the library (I go to the preschool geared storytime, as it is sort of a happy medium for the age range of my kids currently) gives me an hour each week to simply sit with my kids and let someone else do the reading, and it inspires me in my own reading with my kids too.
After being at the library, we often have a good excuse to stop for french fries or milkshakes, errands at a grocery store where they have fun little cars attached to the carts, or a romp at a park. It is good to be faced with out-and-about things once a week. :)

Getting chores done consistently.
When I am consistently staying on top of dishes, laundry, cleaning, and other such piddly things that are basic necessities of being a housewife and homemaker, it is easier to be willingly interrupted. Doing the dishes takes less than ten minutes after each meal, but if I don’t stay on top of it, it can wind up being an hour if the sink is piled-high (same principle applies to other areas of my home work). Staying on top of my chores, and involving the children in it whenever I can, is a wonderful way to stay more consistently available to embrace fleeting moments with the little ones.

Being a homebody.
Being at home the majority of the time, not always on the run, gives me many more opportunities to slow down and embrace the kids and their lives.

Saying YES to my children.
When someone asks me to come play, to please read books, to sing songs, to go outside, to pull out board games or dance around being silly… saying yes is the best thing I can do. I don’t always do it… in fact, only about half as often as I would like to… but God is giving me grace and helping me grow this skill. With each year that flies by, I feel like I improve on saying yes to my children. May God grant me continued and deepened grace so that YES is my most frequent answer when these fleeting moments show up on my lap!

Embracing the day, or even rather, the hour.
Looking at the big picture is often overwhelming, even saddening. Embracing little moments as they come is not only more joyful for me but more profitable in the big scheme of things. It’s sunny? Okay, let’s go plant flowers and go on a walk right now ~ sweeping and ironing and changing bedsheets can wait for another hour. It’s rainy? Okay, let’s build blanket forts and eat snacks by dim flashlights while listening to books on tape ~ we can always have leftovers or nachos for dinner if I don’t get around to making a well-balanced freshly cooked meal because I’m took busy embracing little moments with my children!

Remembering Ecclesiastes.
It’s all fleeting. The housework, the yardwork, the correspondence, the educations, the playtime, the bellies that need fed, the diapers that need changed, the lives that are being lived. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to embrace it all and do it with gracious, God-given gusto. That’s exactly what Solomon in his wisdom suggests. Life IS fleeting. But LIFE is exactly what we are supposed to do. I need to remember this as I work, live, and play with my children. It may be fleeting, but it is wise to blow with the wind when I know I can not embrace it and keep it as it is.

Looking back.
Nothing gives me perspective on the rate of my babies’ lives than looking back at photo albums. How quickly they change! How fast I forget! How little a time I get to have them with me in the daily grind! Remembering and reminiscing is a huge reminder to me that embracing the moment is key in my calling.

Looking forward.
Hope for the future, confidence for what lies ahead, joy for what God is working out & working in ~ this takes faith in Him and His sovereignty. What really matters? Yes, they need clean undies and beds with sheets tucked in; they need to learn how to read and how to perform arithmetic; they need nourishing meals and bubbly baths; they need naps and bedtimes… but the way these necessary things are communicated to them is even more important. The children need hugged, tickled, read to, played with, laughed over, tousled. My children need to know that I love what matters to them, what goes on in their heads; that what bothers them, bothers me; that I’m in their corner; that my life is for theirs; that being their mommy is more than simply having given them life and sustaining that physical life ~ that being their mommy is in the big things, the little things, the necessary things, the icing-on-the-cake things, the physical and spiritual and emotional things.

So this is my prayer, my hope, my desire.
That I would be the kind of mommy God wants me to be, so that He is molding me into the kind of Grandmommy He wants me to be, so that I can best be a honed tool for the Kingdom work that He wants me to do. Life is fleeting ~ my life and their lives ~ and I want to be diligent, obedient, joyful, and embracing in the midst of the mist that is the gift of life.

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Apr 08 2014

Glimpse of a New Corner

Published by under Blogs,Links,Thoughts

Beginning this month, I am a new contributor for a (mostly) online ministry called Mommies With Hope. My first post is scheduled to be live in a couple weeks, and I’ll post the link when it comes out. In the meantime, take a look around Mommies With Hope, and please pray that the group of Christians there would band together to increase God’s glory, hallow His name, and to further His Kingdom through the ministry of coming alongside others suffering infertility and babyloss.

This is just a little glimpse of a new corner where I get to minister, and I’m pretty excited to see what God’s great plans will include.

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Apr 08 2014

What Was, Would’ve Been, Is, and Will Be

I am seeing God’s kindness and mercy in so many details of life right now. But things are still hard, nonetheless. It has been 9 1/2 weeks since I held Heritage in my hands: ten weeks yesterday since we found out she died. Gabriel continues to talk about her, and it is really beautiful to listen to him regarding his baby sister, and he asks us to try explaining what God has done, and what we’re praying He will do next.

I am remembering my tiny baby girl and what she looked like both on the ultrasound screen and as she laid so peacefully in my hands, thinking about what it would have felt like to feel her kicking and hiccuping from inside my womb, and wondering if she will have the chance to be a big sister sometime in the future…

And I miss her all over again. What was. And what would’ve been.
Meanwhile trusting that God knows, and controls, every single what is & what will be in our future. :pray:

Isaiah 45:7
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 115:3
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

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Apr 02 2014

Spring Cleaning…

At least in theory, I want to do some spring cleaning. Certain things need to be done: the flower bed needs a little help before sunshine does its thing, the hose needs brought out, the Christmas lights need taken down, the porches need swept off, and the outdoor furniture needs a good spray & wipe. Other things would be a good idea: washing all the windows, thoroughly cleaning the kitchen, giving curtains & bedlinens a good washing, making sure the pantry & other storage areas are well-ordered & well-stocked. Other things sound like brilliant ideas but are probably not realistic in my here & now: wiping down all the wooden trim in the house, dusting lightbulbs, anything that requires scrubbing with a toothbrush, etc. In my dreamworld I would love some more trim up in the house, especially so I can add some curtains to a few more key rooms: but again, not certain that this is the year that will get accomplished, and that’s totally okay. It is good to know what things should be done, what might be icing on the cake, and what is not realistic for me right now with where God has us today. :)

So right now I’ve got my oven self-cleaning, the coffee maker and the dishwasher each running a vinegar rinse, and I cleaned the sink with a good borax soak earlier while I took the kids to the library & out for lunch.

I have great plans to throw some other things in the dishwasher and washing machine as the day goes on… and perhaps I will get the kids involved in helping me do some spring cleaning/prep outside on the porches this evening.

I love to have an organized and tidy home (if not always clean in that “spotless” sort of way… I mean, I do have little kids and live in the country, after all!), not because I want to be fussy but because I want to pursue a good balance of beauty & functionality. I want my home to be a place of rest and refuge for my family, and also for our friends.

So what are YOU doing to freshen up your home this spring? How do you get the whole family involved? What things do you find worth doing versus unnecessary? And how do you make sure you stop spending too much time glancing around the internet for ideas, and actually get off your bum to accomplish some of the said tasks?! ;)

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Mar 26 2014

Fun as a Family

Published by under Family,Life,Quotes

Sometimes you just have to have some fun with the people you love most, no matter what other crazy things are keeping you busy or distracted. :)
And that’s what we did recently, as our little family went out on a bowling & pizza date! We had a blast, and it was wonderful to embrace some “now” which is fleeting and sweet.

We’re about to go down some really big roads, which are going to be flanked by some great giants. I expect many of them to be taunting me, throwing things at me, maybe even grabbing at my hair or tripping me with unseen sticks. But even in the midst of walking a road flanked by giants, I want to make sure that I am focusing on some marvelous things: like a delightful husband, and three little children whose lives are inexplicable miracles (that’s redundant, but too true). Time is flying. And I want to enjoy life now. I want to laugh. I want to  be thankful. I want to make a difference. I want to effect kingdoms and generations through the lives I shape now. I want to leave a wake. Lord, help me. Help me to see what you would have me to do, and take my eyes off the giants and focus them on You, Your kingdom, Your people, Your work given into my feeble hands.

Clichés are true.
Time flies.
You can’t take it with you.
You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.
Dust to dust.
In the ground, we all have empty hands.
Enjoy life now.
And now.
And now.
Before the nows are gone.
See the gifts. Savor the food, knowing that you will have to swallow.
~N.D. Wilson, Death by Living, p109~

Classy shoes Gabriel bowling Asher bowling with Daddy Evangeline helped Mommy bowl; or took the blame when I missed all the pins! Steven loves bowling... precious little miracles, having fun with Mommy My sweetest biggest boy! Asher's turn, with Mommy and Evangeline to cheer him on!

Drink your wine.
Laugh from your gut.
Burden your moments with thankfulness.
Be as empty as you can be when that clock winds down.
Spend your life.
And if time is a river, may you leave a wake.
~N.D. Wilson, Death by Living, p117~

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Mar 19 2014

I’m not interested in corpses & tombstones

Published by under Faith,Links,Quotes

“Liturgy without life is like putting makeup on a corpse.
Doctrine without this same life is like spelling everything right on the tombstone.”
(Against the Church, p. 42)

When I read this quote here today, I was reminded to pray for this kind of LIFE.
I’m just not interested in corpses and tombstones, and this serves as a reminder that the counter to that is precisely found in praying for life.
May God continue to grant me the courage and the strength and the joy to actively pray for and seek this life for His glory.

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Mar 12 2014

Giant-Killers

Published by under Quotes

David comes into this story as a glorious type of Christ. Goliath was a giant, but he was also a serpent, a dragon. The Hebrew word for his armor means scales, which made him a gigantic reptile, like a dragon, and David topples him with a wound to the head (Genesis 3:15). David fights him with the same weapons that he would use in fighting wild beasts. When he is done, he takes Goliath’s armor and places it in his tent (1 Samuel 17:54).
This is precisely what Jesus does when He came upon the strong man. He attacks, like David did. He is victorious, like David was. He strips the armor (panoply), as David did. He partakes of the spoil after battle (Luke 11:22). Jesus is the greatest of all giant-killers. He gives victory to His people . . . and He awakens the envy of any who would be great in Israel on their own terms.

~Douglas Wilson, blog~

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