He Yet Lives for God’s Glory

It has been brought to my attention three separate times over the last ten days or so that not everybody knows how Nate Wilson’s surgery turned out and how his prognosis is at this point. My bad! 🙂 Life has been busy to the point of chaotic-with-good-things. And, to be fair, nobody posted anything in the comments section on that post asking about he was doing, so I just kept forgetting to take the time to update y’all. But since I have been asked three times in person recently, I am finally taking time to let you know, Nate’s surgery was successful, he lives, he is continuing to heal & recover, he is pretty proud of his amazing scar & titanium plate, and we can turn our prayers into praises lined with requests for Nate’s continued improvement (for relief from headaches, for improved balance, for victory over an infection) and for his resuming of life as normal (is there such a thing?) as a sharper, finer, stronger image of God.

Here is a video from N.D. Wilson himself, to give you the best update details.

https://www.facebook.com/ndwilsonbooks/videos/10154328893827133/

Praying for Nate

This morning, we continue in our prayers for one of our Christian brothers. The son of the pastor who baptized me twenty years ago. A man who married a girl from Santa Cruz, whose family and mine intersected about thirty years ago through our churches under the California sun. A man who has broadly and deeply blessed my home through his writings. Nate Wilson, known as the author N.D. Wilson… which, by the way, he took that signage practically on a dare from his sisters when he was a teenager, and because his favorite authors also went by initials (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton…).

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Nate’s nonfiction books Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl and Death By Living have made a huge impact on me. If you have not read them, you seriously need to pick up copies! Of course, my children would tell you that you have to read Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards and Boys of Blur and Ashtown Burials and Outlaws of Time. My boys were thrilled to be able to hear Mr. Wilson talk at a conference last month, and then the next week to attend a lecture he gave at a local Classical Christian school. Each boy even got their own copy of Outlaws of Time autographed by Mr. Wilson, and then they both spent the rest of the day devouring their books and becoming fast friends with Sam Miracle.

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But now their beloved author (right up there with Shel Silverstein and J.K. Rowling for Asher & Gabriel respectively) is undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor… in fact, at this very moment he is under the knife in Los Angeles… we have been praying daily for him over the last couple of weeks. The boys wanted to send handmade cards and a banner they made, so we were able to share tangible reminders for Nate, Heather, & their 5 kids that they are brought to the Lord by many people during this trial.

I was able to listen to this podcast for a beautiful testimony from Nate himself (along with his sisters) about “Steve” the tumor and how this new trial has impacted their family life, their faith, and challenged the Wilsons to live truthfully & without hypocrisy. I think my favorite line was something to the effect of, if we will accept chocolate chip cookies from God’s hand, I need to also be willing to accept things like brain tumors.
And this morning the kids and I watched this video where Nate spoke about Steve (the tumor!), the gnarly scar he will bear around the left side of his head, and his gratitude for the trial & for the particular type of tumor it is. I wish I could tell you how it blessed my sons to see Mr. Wilson’s demeanor. Asher was touched deeply by Nate’s humor, and Gabriel was encouraged by his blatant bravery.

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The hand of the Lord has done this
in whose hand is the life
of every living thing
& the breath of all mankind

He uncovers deep things
out of darkness

& brings the shadow of death
to Light

~Job 12:9, 10, 22~

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We will continue praying lots today for this Christian brother of ours, for his family, and for the testimony God is giving him in this new way. Won’t you join us today in praying for his surgery? And in coming days for his recovery? Let’s gather around God’s throne and remind him constantly of His image-bearing son N.D. Wilson. Nate writes trials and suffering and challenges into his stories for the characters he creates… and now he is embracing his own trial & suffering & challenge as a character in God’s story. Let’s cheer this man on as he rests in Christ, riding this bull with grip & glory, drinking in Living Water while his branches groan.

If life is a story, how shall we then live?
It isn’t complicated (just hard).

Take up your life and follow Him.

Face trouble.
Pursue it.
Climb it.

Smile at its roar like a tree planted by cool water,
even when your branches groan.

~N.D. Wilson, Death By Living p83~

…and just for fun, I am going to show some financial support to Nate’s family today by padding his paycheck today via Amazon, and getting some books to keep for gifts ~ I encourage others to do the same, if you are able. You won’t be disappointed…

Long-distance and Long-time

Five years ago right now, I found out I was pregnant with my ninth baby, who came on the heels of six consecutive miscarriages.
Five years ago right now, we began the process of building a home out in the country.
Five years ago right now, a friend of mine emailed me a crazy idea.

Boy. That was a busy year.

I now have a four year old Asher to show for that year.
I now have lived in this home, which we had built out in the country, for four years.
I now have participated in sharing a Pregnancy After Loss devotional, our free ebook download, for four years.

So many big things were obviously going on back then, and honestly, they continue to. Sometimes it is hard to see the growth of such blessings. It felt like so much big stuff back then, but when looking through the proper lenses, I can see that God is continuing to do great big things with those very seeds from five years ago. My friend Kristi reminded me this week that it was four years ago that R&R went live. What an exciting day that was for us! And today, she shares a little here about the growing process of our Rainbows & Redemption devotional to give a little special insight to the planting, blooming, and pruning progression.

Later this month, I will get to see Kristi in person for the second time ~ the first time was three years ago. I’ve known her long-distance for 5 1/2 years, as God has taken each of us on similar yet different journeys. We met online when we were both pregnant-after-loss, once: she was pregnant with her little Kyria, I was pregnant with my Peace. Neither of us were having a good time of it at all. We ended up delivering our precious little first trimester babies, three thousand miles apart, that November, in 2009. We have both had more pregnancies since then ~ my Asher and her Caleb were in our bellies while we wrote and edited R&R, so we shared wild roller coasters for months at a time. We have each called one another in moments of panic, straight from our own home bathrooms… because we were either starting to miscarry or had gotten less-than-encouraging blood test results or were worrying our brains to a fritz psycho-analyzing every little twinge and symptom and dream while PAL.

How good it continues to be to know that I am not alone.

We may be separated by basically the entire United States (she is at the SE corner while I am in the NW corner), but we are still there for one another, especially when it comes to specific niche topics. Things like miscarriage and related babyloss topics. Writing, specifically when it comes to words of encouragement. Homeschooling. Rainbow babies.

I hope to continue sharing life, prayers, and writing with Kristi as time goes on ~ my long-distance and long-time friend.  God grows beautiful things from little seeds. Like babies. And friendships. And books. Blessings.

Savoring Friendship & Cookies

It was obviously an early day of spring.
Grey clouds and blinding sunshine danced together.
Robins were bouncing happily around outside while it rained.
The fire roared in our living room stove, schoolwork was spread on the table,
the baby was fussing, and the big kids were doing anything but focusing on their books.
I was fighting a headache with Tylenol & caffeine to no avail.

Grasping for a lifeline of sorts, I popped off a quick note to a dear friend,
the kind of friend who is more like a sister than not,
to ask her to pray for me.

She wrote right back.
She thanked me for sharing my needs and expressing my heart.
She gave suggestions that were rooted in love.
She jumped into a gap for me and filled it with prayers, love, compassion, friendship.

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I shared a list of things with her that was making me thankful.
Across a distance of 375 miles, she gave me a virtual hug and a shoulder to lean on.
Together, while apart, we sought the Lord as well as praised Him.

She in her kitchen, surrounded by her little blondies.
Me in mine, surrounded by my wee gingers.

Friendship is acting out God’s love for people in tangible ways. We were made to represent the love of God in each other’s lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God’s love for them. Friendship is an opportunity to act on God’s behalf in the lives of the people that we’re close to, reminding each other who God is. When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life. We get to remind one another about the bigger, more beautiful picture that we can’t always see from where we are.
~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p49

Then I noticed she sent me something else ~ a link to a recipe.
“If you need something sweet to eat today, here’s a link to a recipe we are making,”
she said, along with three pictures of her children helping her
stir batter, eat batter, and put trays of cookies in the oven.
“I wish we could share hot cookies and ice-cold milk with you this afternoon,” she added.

That’s when I decided it was time to stoke the fire,
strap the baby onto my chest,
put away the schoolbooks,
and take three sticks of butter out of the fridge to warm on the counter.

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“Butter is out to soften!!” I told her,
declaring that we would make the best of it,
and we would join them in the baking efforts of the day…

and we spent the next hour or two occasionally popping messages to one another
on our progress in our own little worlds of flour, sugar, aprons, and children licking their fingers.

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My children and I were able to not only connect with one another and savor our relationship,
but we were talking about these far-away friends & taking pictures to show them,
connecting in creative ways with these friends even when distance separates us.

When joy and grace are shared, it multiplies in ways indescribable.
When friendship is savored, it builds bridges undeniable.

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The short of it is that you really just need to click here and try the recipe out for yourself.
And then, once you have, share the link with a friend.
And share pics of doing the same thing as one another, even if separated by miles.

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It is good to savor friendship.
It is good to find unique ways to share life together with those you love.
Even if it is two mamas with their little ones at their sides, separated by 375 miles,
we can still share life & friendship & motherhood & cookies.
Creativity can be both warm and delicious.
Just like friendship.

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In our own unique way, my children and I
shared hot cookies and ice-cold milk
with the dearest of friends ~
our hearts were encouraged
while souls were fattened
and tongues rejoiced!

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I know of no other recipe for making a good-bye bearable than the promise that the God who goes with us and stays with them will be the bridge connecting us, no matter how far or long the distance.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Surprised By Motherhood, p95~

True Friendship

Friendships are vital to the life of the Body of Christ. They warm the heart, rejoice in victories, and give empathy, understanding and support in trials. Friends are great to chat with and to have fun with but my best friend must be God and after that my husband. Nurturing the children comes next. These are the priority relationships that the Lord has given us, and these are the ones that we will have with us all of our lives. After God, husbands, and family comes the church. We are to extend hospitality to other believers, edifying each other. If our friendships are taking away from those priorities, then we have adjustments to make. Don’t let other people take precedence over your husband and children.
~Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics, pg91~

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True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves. We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect. We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are, they’ll leave. But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us.
~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p50~

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Friendship is about risk. Love is about risk. If we can control it and manage it and manufacture it, then it’s something else, but if it’s really love, really friendship, it’s a little scary around the edges.
~Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p50~

the goodest of friends

We got to share meals and space and time and conversation with some of our “goodest” friends (in my son’s words). The kind of friends that you do not get to see more than a couple times a year, but who never feel like you’ve lost time with during the in-between. They are the kind of friends that you want to grow old with, and swap grandkid pictures with when we’re grey, and take annual summer vacations with, and create traditions with. This is a family that is like family to us. We are so indescribably thankful for them, and how God lets us cross distances to stay close.

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…There are things you can’t know,
and questions you can’t ask,
and memories you can’t recover via email and voicemail.
It was about the being there,
about being there to really see
what’s exactly the same and
what’s totally different about each one of us.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p63~

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Share your life with the people you love,
even if it means saving up for a ticket
and going without a few things for a while to make it work.
There are enough long lonely days of the same old thing,
and if you let enough years pass,
and if you let the routine steamroll your life,
you’ll wake up one day, isolated and weary,
and wonder what happened to all those old friends.
~Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p65~

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Good friends are like breakfast.
~ Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet, p65~

Saturday May 22, 2010

Isaiah 45:5-7
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides Me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know Me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides Me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Calamity. In my home. Where we grieve the death of our youngest baby.
And calamity. In the home of my friend. Where she grieves the death of her baby girl today too.
We stand with them in their grief.
We weep together for the deaths of our covenant children.
Perplexed at the calamities around us.
Certain that God is good, and equally as certain that He is terrible.

Psalm 6:2-3
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD— how long?

Saturday February 20, 2010

My long time dear friend Erin of EAdams Designs sent me a lovely birthday bouquet (it’s so nice to receive flowers for a happy occasion now & then, too!), which arrived this morning while we were eating brunch as a family. Gabriel was excited to hear the doorbell ring, and equally thrilled to help Mommy open the newly acquired box.
Inside was a beautiful bouquet (don’t you agree?!), and I was so thrilled by the bright flowers and cheeriness that I couldn’t stop smiling. It was such a sweet offering. Thank you, Erin!! I wish I could hug you right now. 🙂
 

In the enclosed card, along with birthday wishes, she (who is likewise a bereaved mommy) included a beautiful quote of encouragement:

The Lord does not measure out our afflictions according to our faults,
but according to our strength,
and looks not to what we deserve,
but what we are able to bear.
~George Downame (1560-1634)

Thursday February 18, 2010

Thank you, Jaclynn & Samantha, for the lilies you sent us last week. They are delightful. It has been a pleasure to watch them open and flourish, one by one.

Matthew 6:28-29
Consider the lilies of the field,
how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.