My own sweet Steven was asked recently to give a short sermon at our church, and he preached this last Sunday. Our normal sermon length is over 40 minutes, but Steven split the time with a missionary to the Alaskan bush that our church sponsors, so he had roughly 20 minutes to preach. He spent 2 1/2 weeks diligently praying, studying, preparing, writing, getting wisdom from men he respects, etc. and then confidently brought the Word of the Lord to the congregation on Sunday. I will admit that I cried twice during the sermon, mostly when thinking about how we come to Zion in our corporate worship, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect ~ it is the closest communion I have with my seven children who live within those celestial gates, and when I participate in worship, I am participating with them and it brings my mommy-heart to all kinds of humbled, thankful, and overwhelmed feelings. :happytears:

I have to say, I was so proud of my husband’s perseverance, diligence, and dedication in this. Gabriel and I helped by praying for him a lot and by giving him long quiet evenings by himself to do his study, prayer, and preparation. πŸ™‚

Please click here to take a listen and see how the Lord would encourage you through Steven’s sermon on Hebrews 12:22-24, where he expounds on how the blood of Christ speaks in our worship.

Hebrews 12:22-24

But you have come to Mount Zion
and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God, the judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

my vineyard

This morning in church, I sang a meditation based on Habakkuk 3:17-19. The Scripture reads,

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.”

The words of the song read,

“Though the tree shall not bloom,
and the vine bears no fruit,
Though the field shall fail and yield no food,
Though the flocks are cut off from within the fold,
And though all is destroyed both young and old…

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
Yes, I will be joyful in God my Savior,
I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior,
I will rejoice in the Lord; I will rejoice in the Lord.

Though the winds rise up
and the rivers roar,
Though the thunder may crash and storms destroy,
Though the mountains may fall and the seas rush in,
And though nations invade by the hands of evil men…

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
Yes, I will be joyful in God my Savior,
I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior,
I will rejoice in the Lord; I will rejoice in the Lord.

And the Sovereign Lord is all my strength
And He makes me to walk upon the high place!

And I will rejoice in the Lord,
Yes, I will be joyful in God my Savior,
I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior,
I will rejoice in the Lord; I will rejoice in the Lord.”

You can listen here to a clip of the song by the composer/arranger Nathan Clark George, but when I sang it for the meditation today I slowed it down, did it acapella, and in general tamed it a little bit for the conservative nature of our church. πŸ™‚


It was an interesting start to the day. Steven and I memorized this song last winter, shortly after our little boy died. Incidentally, today was our Hosanna’s due date. It’s the first time (since after Gabriel, with my six back-to-back losses) that I have reached a due date without having another miscarriage in the meantime. I can’t tell you what a balm our Baby Nine is. Heartbeat and kicks and general sickness have been sweet reminders today of this balm that God has so generously gifted to our family. This life doesn’t replace Hosanna (or any siblings), but it does somehow balm the pain. My arms may not be holding a newborn today like we had hoped, prayed, and thought they would be… but my womb is not empty and our hope is not completely gone. The Lord’s mercies are still new every day. We still have the privilege of anticipating heaven. We still have the unique blessing of having extra sweetness to look forward to when we reach heaven; because not only do we get to see Jesus face to face, but we get to see our children again.

Anyway. Singing the Sanctus today was hard too. Singing “hosanna” at the top of my lungs, knowing that covenantally I too was praising God in the midst of His glorious sanctuary, lifted up by Christ into the heavenlies in corporate worship with all the saints who have gone before ~ including my own Hosanna Praise. I was meditating on a verse today in honor of our Hosanna boy and praying it to our Father even in church, Psalm 106:47 “Save us, O LORD our God… that we may give thanks to Your holy name and glory in Your praise.”

Plus it was Father’s Day. Two years ago, our Promise died the day before Father’s Day, so last year her birthday/anniversary was on Father’s Day. This year on Father’s Day we have the bittersweetness of Hosanna’s due date. And for once, our church actually mentioned the Hallmark holiday numerous times (usually we don’t emphasize Hallmark holidays at all at church; we reserve such acknowledgments for holy days on the Church calendar). It actually pained my heart more than Mother’s Day this year. Why, I’m not precisely certain. But I think it did. Because of my history and because of my exposure to so many many hurting couples (who experience various forms of infertility and loss), it just ached in my heart. I hurt not only for my husband who has had to bury seven of his beloved children (and who has had to watch his wife suffer such grief, which has been such a burden for him to bear), but also for other men I know who ache to have children and to hold their babies on this side of heaven. But Father’s Day was yet sweet for us, too. It included a special meal (steak and potatoes and wine, to boot) and gifts and fresh cherry pie as one way to honor my husband, the father of my sweet little brood of nine. While they can’t all smother him in kisses, scribble him Father’s Day cards, or climb into bed for morning tickle games before church, I am quite certain that every one of these children honored and loved their daddy. I don’t know if they could possibly know how much he sacrificed for them… but I know. And it grows my respect and love for him all the time. Watching him father and parent these nine children has been a true privilege (if not bittersweet), and I am thankful that God has given such a precious gift to me. I can’t imagine mothering these little saints beside anyone else. The Lord is merciful indeed!

But okay, back to my original thought. Habakkuk 3:17 talks about unfruitfulness, barrenness, things that ought to grow but aren’t. And yet in the midst of that fruitlessness (when, in fact, we may have been not only hoping for but truly expecting much fruitfullness!), it emphasizes praising the Lord and rejoicing in Him. It doesn’t say that we need to rejoice in the barrenness. It says that despite the barrenness, we rejoice in the Lord. How beautiful!!

The mention of “vine” also made me think of Psalm 128. Of course that’s Gabriel’s favorite psalm right now, and he sings it a dozen times a day on average. πŸ™‚ We even sang it at our wedding four years ago. We sang it at one of Gabriel’s baby showers. And we’ve sung it in our home countless times during our life together. But the words are always bittersweet to me. I have wondered how I could be called a fruitful vine (Psalm 128:3 says “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table”) when my womb has failed to bring forth fruit season after season after season. Of course everyone consoles me with the idea that “fruitful” doesn’t just mean “fruit of the womb” (although in the context of that verse, it certainly seems connected, doesn’t it?), but it means fruitful in service, in ministry, in wifehood, etc. In so many areas that aren’t limited just to motherhood. Okay fine. But you know what? As far as the womb goes, my fruitfulness has been so different from what I had always expected it to be!! In the postmillennial view of things where heaven is what matters I have been incredibly fruitful. πŸ™‚ More fruitful than I ever planned on being! We certainly weren’t thinking I would be the mother of nine children. So in that sense, God had planned way more fruitfulness for me than I had imagined! But in the short-term sense as far as life and ministry on earth, I have been so much less fruitful than we had expected. To have my body physically incapable of carrying seven of our children to term is incredibly deflating, to say the least. It makes me feel way beyond fruitless. It makes me feel like a dead, rotting vine that spreads disease to any grape that dares to try to grow upon it.

And that feeling can be very debilitating to me sometimes. (more than sometimes…)

But you know what I was reminded of while singing the meditation this morning? In some sense, fruitlessness doesn’t even matter. If the fruit is not on the vine, blessed be the name of the Lord anyway. I don’t have to find joy in my lack of fruit on the vine, but I can still find joy in the Lord regardless of my lack of fruit. Despite the recurrent miscarriages that have plagued our home for years, the Lord has been our joy. He has, indeed, caused us to walk upon His high places! Even in the midst of incredible grief, He has lifted us out of the mire and sustained us.

And that is beautiful. That is worth shouting from the rooftops to the entire world. I may not have had the best harvest off my vine over the last couple years, but the Lord has been praised in our household anyway, by the strength of His sovereign grace.

So, friends, as I remember my children today ~specifically our little Hosanna boy~ and as I honored my husband (and our fathers) and as I welcomed the balming presence of Baby Nine on this day… I rejoiced in the Lord, for He is faithful in all circumstances, regardless of whether there is fruit on the vine.



At a special restaurant overlooking a river & waterfalls, enjoying a fantastic four course meal with my sweetest boys.

This is how Gabriel feels about going to a fancy restaurant with Daddy & Mommy! (or at least how he feels about his own special dish of ice cream…)

Lavish Grace

My husband writes excellent posts. I find him incredibly profound, and yet somehow easy to read and simple to understand. I am very fond of my head. πŸ˜€

He recently has written up a few posts expounding on principles that Mr. Wilson spoke on at a conference we attended in April. One of them discussed the emphasis on grace that we need to have with our children, just as God has with us (His children). Steven and I have constantly gone back to this theme of grace, grace, grace ever since the conference, and I feel like it is changing not only my parenting, but also many of my relationships in general (I posted this last fall, which is another great reminder of grace spilled into relationships). It is beautiful. It is freeing. It is powerful.

In this post Steven wrote emphasizing grace in parenting, he talks about how God lavishly dumps heaps of grace upon our heads, and how we need to imitate that by lavishly dumping it upon our children as well: “We should overflowingly spill grace to our kids.

Steven and I have discussed, on occasion, different ways that we spill grace to our Gabriel (and to our other babies too). Diligent, consistent training & discipline is one way we spill grace (one of our imitations of God). Teaching & indulging curiosity about God’s created world. Reading extra books at bedtime. Having a cookie picnic on the kitchen floor just for fun. Laughing over spilled milk instead of crying. Allowing jolly messes to be made (I’m thinking blanket forts, fingerpainting, and trucks in the mud) and joyfully cleaning them up. Adding bubbles to the bath. Not exasperating. Playing silly games over and over and over. Showing them how to use the vacuum. Teaching how bread is made, how to chop onions, how to pour lemonade. Taking them places, even if it’s just to the bank. Jumping in mud puddles, and following it up with a lesson on laundry while drinking hot cocoa. Singing, praying, going to church together. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper together.
This list could be endless, and I could go on & on — which just reiterates the point that we have endless opportunities to overflowingly spill grace to our kids. Especially because, as Steven says, faithful discipling & disciplining of our children is the first & foremost way of spilling grace upon them — and we all know that there are countless times in every day where we are able to spill that particular grace! πŸ™‚

But what I really wanted to share here was a simple yet profound statement my husband said to me when we discussed this a few days ago:

  • Showing grace to our children isn’t just entering into their world — it is that, but it is only partly that. It is also allowing them to enter ours.

Isn’t that profound? And isn’t that excellent? How God-like!! Just as He enters our world, He allows us to enter His as well. In part now, and in fullness yet to come.
All honor, laud, and glory be to Him.


Rejoicing in God’s bittersweet providences today.

On this Father’s Day, we are honoring my darling Steven, the father of our quiver’s seven descendants.

Proverbs 17:6
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.

Proverbs 23:24
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

And on this June 20th, we are remembering our precious Promise Anastasis, the fourth arrow in our quiver.

Psalm 119:76
Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.

1 peter 1:3-5
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy,
He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Thursday May 27, 2010

Today marks the third anniversary of the day that my Steven and I covenanted before God and 90-some witnesses to become one flesh. For better or for worse. In some ways it feels like so much longer than three years. They’ve been pretty packed full. πŸ™‚ But in other ways, it feels like just yesterday that I slipped into that gorgeous Cinderella gown, and waited for the veil to be lifted so my love could kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is better than wine. (SOS 1:2) Wow.

I was thinking this morning about how Song of Solomon (8:7) says that “many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it.” I feel like the rainstorms of our life are trying to quench us, and they are failing. Hurray! God is good. No matter how the storms may thrash, and no matter the floods that pool around us (trying so hard to cover our heads), our love will not diminish – it will only grow. Even in the downpours of devastating grief & pain. Because we are God’s. And we are one another’s.

My broken heart is far from happy today. But my heart is held by my husband, and that does make me happy. So very, very blessed. God is good. I am indescribably thankful for my husband. May the Lord graciously allow us dozens of more years together to celebrate His goodness, and to combat whatever rainstorms face us. Hand in hand.

I love you, Steven. Always.

Saturday April 17, 2010

  • Sleeping in and relaxing under the covers with husby.
  • The fact that my coffee tasted better today, thanks to running vinegar through the coffee maker yesterday.
  • Watching my husband take dominion of our yard all afternoon.
  • The smell of freshly cut grass.
  • Talking to my mom on the phone.
  • Taking dominion of my home, as well as my body and mind and heart.
  • Planting herbs, and watering the flowers I planted yesterday.
  • Gabriel, when he dumped the watering can over onto himself & was scared out of wits because he was suddenly sopping wet.
  • Gabriel, because he has been living in just a diaper along with socks & shoes ever since that incident – he did not want more clothes on.
  • Weather warm enough to actually have the screen door open today.
  • Baking, baking, baking! Blackberry bars, chocolate bundt cake, and stromboli.
  • New recipes: a pork chop & sweet potatoes dish from last night, and stromboli for tonight.
  • My dad, driving up in my brother’s beat-up old truck with a bed full of sheep manure.
  • Watching my father and husband haul barrow after barrow of manure back to my eagerly awaiting garden plot.
  • The bulbs Steven planted for me last year: the daffodils and hyacinths are gorgeously blooming, and the tulips look about ready to burst into bloom, too.
  • Reading bits from: The Loveliness of Christ, Toward Jerusalem, One Year book of Hope, and Womanly Dominion.
  • Sunshine and a cool breeze.
  • Anticipating having some old friends from college over tonight for dessert.
  • Playing piano & harp, and singing; preparing for worship tomorrow.
  • Anticipating having family over for dinner tomorrow after church.
  • Dilly, curled up on my legs while sitting here on the floor with my laptop.
  • Remembering that God is faithful, and that I am His daughter. And His wife. πŸ™‚

Monday February 15, 2010

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

While I do think that this holiday is much over-commercialized and over-emphasized to a large extent (I suppose that’s mostly personal preference, so don’t whack me over the head ~ we’re all entitled to our own opinions on these types of things)… I think marital romance can never be over-emphasized.

Now, of course, I happily married a romantic. He’s not the type of block-head husband who needs See’s and 1-800-Flowers to remind him to show me how much he loves me. We don’t need a specific Hallmark holiday to remind us of our passionate love for one another. Or of our tender love for one another. Or of our enduring love for one another. We live it out in our daily lives together. And we are so thankful for God’s blessing upon our marriage, and for giving us our love for one another. We give all the praise and glory to Him for the beauty in our marriage!

But, regardless of how beautifully we live a life of marital romance on a day-to-day basis, it is nice to have a few yearly opportunities (a poke with a pin, so to speak) to really go out of our way to show each other something special. Something unordinary. (Again, my husband & I do this kind of thing on days other than Valentine’s Day and our anniversary — we’re not limited to twice a year — but we also don’t neglect those days for reminders.)

I have previously posted about our real-life romance. How we don’t need fancy, expensive dinners out. Or weekly movie dates. Or a dozen roses delivered on special days. Although all of those things are undoubtedly nice and delightful, and we do indulge in such things on occasion.

But Valentine’s Day in our home is homey. And private. And lovely.
And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This year it included (but was not limited to): Steven writing me a poem, he made me dinner, I made dessert, we lit candles, looking at our wedding pictures, and we spent hours in one another’s company just being reminded of the beautiful thing God gave us when He covenanted with us on our wedding day.

So, sure: Valentine’s Day is over-commercialized & unnecesssary.
But I would never say it isn’t lovely & worthwhile.

I love it. πŸ™‚

Husby grilling in the rain.

A port reduction sauce he concocted.

Delicious grilled lamb chop! The marinade was excellent.

Adding the finishing touches.

I turned the lights up for the photo, but we ate by candlelight.

Unfortunately this is the best pic we got of us together! Ack…