Beautiful crying forth

As I contemplate my thirteen precious children today, on PAIL (pregnancy and infant loss) Remembrance Day, I am praising God for His beautiful crying forth of ideas which created each one of them.

I still daily get to set my eyes on four of them, and I am daily blown away by His imagination in how He formed each one. They are absolutely spoken magic, woven into flesh.

But there are nine other ideas of His which were spoken into creation by His Words. Although my eyes do not see them, nor my hands get to hold theirs, and my days are not filled with teaching & instructing them; and although their beautifully cried forth souls have flown from their woven bodies of flesh; they are still spoken magic. Fully alive. Glorifying God.

How stunning.

God, thank You for giving me so many children.
Thank You for lending some to me for such a long time.
Thank You for balming my heart when You took so many of them to Your heavenly places.
Thank You for crying forth such beauty even through my broken womb.
Thank You for showing Yourself faithful to me in grief.
Thank You for hearing my prayers.
Help me to show my children how beautifully & imaginatively spoken they are by You.
I believe Lord, help Thou my unbelief.

Walking in the Way

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Come, sweetheart… come for a walk with your mama. It was not long ago that I carried you every time I went walking, but then you grew a bit and began to stretch your legs. Another little one came along then, and I carried him in my arms while holding your hand tightly in my grasp. Keep you from tripping, stumbling, sidling into the ditch or losing your boot in a puddle.

But today my arms are swinging, my palms holding nothing but the breeze. You are walking on your own, but not too far away. The little brother is having his first ride in the stroller. Big sister pushing. Mama’s eyes constantly on you both, giving direction and correction, gently guiding without grasping.

Parts of the path are smoother than others. When you walk along the smooth parts without the dips, the bumps, the stray gravel, things feel more carefree. The burden of the stroller is easier to push. Isn’t it fun to run and laugh and feel that sunshine all around?

Other parts of the path are muddy… watch out, don’t get stuck there… dig your heels in, really use those muscles, push through. If you go helterskelter through the muck, it is going to splash onto you, stick to your boots, cling to the hem of your dress… better to have diligence and self control and constancy as you work through the muddy puddly parts. Keep the little one protected from the muck. If you get too messy, it’s likely that it will slosh onto him too. Get that burden through the puddle and onto the other side.

Yes, I will help you… take it? okay, this time I will… I can see you are weary. I’ve done this before, I know this walk and I recognize the muddy puddle to. Take my hand, I’ve got you. Let me push the stroller for a little while as you catch your breath. It’s good to know you don’t walk alone, isn’t it? I love to feel your hand in mine, see you smile up at me, little image of who I once was, the one urging me on toward who I am becoming. We go together along this path, at the same time, hand in hand, yet in different places. I started along it sooner, I will stop before you do. Until then, let’s keep walking.

Oh yes, sure, you may have the stroller back. I’ll let your hand go again and keep my eyes on you as you continue pushing that burden ahead.
I love to see you delighting in the world around you, my girl. I love watching you take it all in, observe, indulge, taste and discern.

Why do you keep looking backward, glancing behind you with a look of fear? No, there is no car coming on our little path. No, there are no mountain lions here. How do I know?… oh… um… I just do.
Things are getting a bit wobbly now, sweetie, keep going forward and watch where you are walking. I know it’s fun to make zigzags and loopy lines along the way, but you must be careful not to stray. Mommy is not holding your hand… oh sweetheart, can I take the stroller now? Can I hold your hand? Will you stay closer and walk more carefully with me? I worry you may trip… don’t stumble… what if I can’t catch you?

You are running forward while looking behind… you are forgetting to care well over the burden you are pushing… look out! a ditch!
Silly little girl I love, look at the wheels, stuck in the stones, baby nearly toppled over, you slightly scraped your knee.
Do not run from Mommy, do not fear what is behind you, you do not have to fret so.

There we are, let me help you back onto the path. Let me settle the stroller wheels for you in the right direction. Hold firmly to the burden while you are moving forward, and keep your eyes focused mostly on where you are going. There, that’s it. Good job… much better! Doesn’t it feel good to keep set on the right way?

Oh, do you see those puddles up ahead? How will you prepare to meet them? Is there a wise way around them? Is the only way through them, with steady step and a firm grip on the burden you are pushing along? What did you say? Oh, yes of course I can help you push it through this set of puddles. That was a wise way to work through them. You saw the trouble coming and knew to ask for someone with a firmer grip and more experience with the puddles and the path and the burden. Well done. Keep your hands on it and your gaze fixed where you need to go… I will simply add my hands to yours and give you the confidence that you don’t have to do it alone. Together, we have more strength, more solidity, more stalwart tenacity. Companionship does ease the burden. I would rather laugh with you and cry with you than do either one alone.

You did well, my sweet. Look at you, smiling in the sun and making your own breeze with your speed. Yes, your eyes are facing where you should be going, I see the skip in your step, your face to the sun, your hair blowing like a veil. Yes, I see those beautiful little flowers growing there beside the path. You’re right, they are lovely. Would you like to stop for a moment to enjoy this expression of beauty? Shall we pick one to tuck behind your ear, carrying with you a token of delight? You are bringing some mud along the way, it would be a nice counterpart to have a sweet violet also.

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What’s that you say? Why yes, I do see that patch of bumpy gravel. Yes, you may try to push through it on your own. Remember, I am here if you need me. I will encourage you with my words unless and until you need me to give you a boost with my hands. I think you’re prepared for this. Your eyes are focused on what is coming, your hands are gripping the burden. You have traces of both past difficulty and past ease… on your hem, tucked behind your ear… determination in your eyes, fire in your soul.

Don’t forget the little one you are caring for! It’s not just about you anymore. Be watchful and take care over that which has been entrusted to you.
Yes, you came across the bumps without falling to the side nor losing a handle on the burden you carry. You were watchful, careful, alert. Continue steadily on, yes, you are doing fine. I’m watching you, the same path beneath our feet… I am slowing down, you are moving on ahead…

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Oh my sweet little girl, yes… yes, I am proud of you… we made it to the end of our walk for today. You did well. You proved true. You did faithfully.

And tomorrow, let’s walk along the way again, shall we? I’ll stay near to you again. We will face the same walk with possibly different terrain. Perhaps there will be rain, with more mud and deeper puddles and sticky ruts. Perhaps the sun will burn our necks, and the path will be so dusty we can’t help but cough. The violets? Hmm, I don’t know… keep your eyes open for whatever beauty pops up along the way, because often there are different beautiful flowers at different times in different places… simply watch for them, and when you find them, recognize them and delight in them… and yes of course, do remember to carry some of that fresh beauty with you.

We will continue walking together as the days go on. I will enjoy it while we have it. Each other. And the way to walk. Together.
I no longer carry you, but I walk beside you. I’ll still be near.
The day is coming all too soon when you will be making the walk on your own.

Christ Died

While we were yet sinners.
Christ suffered for us.
Died for me.

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He was stricken. Smitted. Afflicted. Forsaken. Dead in a completely gory trauma.

 

And there was darkness.
Despair.
Agony.
Unknowns.
Hell.

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Many Questions

What about that tree–
the one that would be
sawn asunder,
its limbs
lashed to a T
to brace his
bruised body?
Did he plant it?
Give it water?
Did he bless
or curse it
like the fig?
As a sapling
did it foresee
a day when nails
would join
its marrow,
its meat,
to the hands
and feet
of the Lord?

One Answer

They made my sturdy limbs
a party to their mutiny.

Forgive Man, Lord,
and me.

~Nikki Grimes,
“The cross is often referred to as a tree – a poetic reference perhaps,
but a tree did provide the material
from which the cross was made.
According to John’s Gospel,
Jesus was the Lord of Creation.
Among other things, that means the tree on which he hung
owed its life to him.
I was intrigued by the idea of relationship
between Christ and the tree.
The first poem led to the second.”

Arise, Shine! Our Light has Come!

Christ was born! He fulfilled the prophecies!
The Incarnate King! God with us!

This last Sunday we celebrated the naming and circumcision of Jesus,
His presentation in the temple where Simeon (my son’s namesake) sang,


And today we celebrate the Magi coming to worship Him.
It’s Epiphany!

This day is our day. My day.
This day reminds me that Christ came for me.
May His grace, His light, reflect through me and over me
so that He is glorified and His Kingdom expanded!
May I arise! May I shine! May I praise Him with joy! May I offer gifts of highest value!

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He is the Light of the world.
He is the King.
He is my Lord.

Lord Jesus
may your light shine our way,
as once it guided the steps of the magi:
that we too may be led into your presence
and worship you,
the Child of Mary,
the Word of the Father,
the King of nations,
the Saviour of mankind;
to whom be glory for ever.
–Frank Colquhoun

Pregnant with a Rainbow, Part VII

To give you a smaller, easier-to-get-through glimpse into my second PAL ultrasound with Sweet Teen last spring, here is a lens I call Second Glance.

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~…~…~…~

Second Glance

I am just as nervous as last time,
my bladder isn’t quite as filled.
Walking into the hospital now
makes me anxious rather than thrilled.

I hold my husband’s hand so tight
and bounce my knees as I sit,
waiting to hear the nurse call my name,
praying we’ll soon know everything’s all right.

The same sonographer is ready for me,
we recognize one another from before—
I breathe deeply, follow her steps,
lie down on the table, squeeze hubby’s hand some more.

The questions are asked, the gel squirts out,
I scrunch my eyes, too afraid to see—
But, there it is! I hear my hubby say,
So I glance up: there you are, bouncing & wiggly!

My eyes fill with tears, my breaths quicker now,
trying to grasp with my brain, things look good!
My fears and anxieties give ‘way to relief
as I look at my baby, as thankful as I should.

How can this be? that our dreams might come true?
Suddenly I wonder, as I look up at you,
so small on that screen, but with fingers, even toes!
How did this miracle ever happen? Oh, God only knows!

We’re sent away with pictures
to take home to other kids,
we leave with happy goosebumps,
ear-to-ear smiles, tears in eyes, and one more kiss.

I dream of you, my tiny baby,
whether my eyes are open or shut,
you are with me every moment,
and in my prayers unceasingly yet.

What a comfort to see you today,
in the secret places our Creator only knows,
to know your heart beats steadily,
your body’s form and functions grow.

With joy we update family and friends,
and toast your precious life,
we praise our God for giving us
this glimpse of hope and light!

~…~…~…~

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Generally, I err on the side of verbosity.
Today, I think less is more.

This journey, this roller coaster, continues ~ and my hands are up in the air. My heart still races, my hair still flies, my flesh still gets covered in goosebumps…

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.

Smoke, Sky, and Sea

A filmy western sky of smoky red,
Blossoming into stars above a sea
Of soft mysterious dim silver spread
Beyond the long gray dunes’ serenity;
Where the salt grasses and sea poppies press
Together in a wild sweet loneliness.

~from “Twilight in Abegweit” by L.M. Montgomery~

Sharing With You

Some pictures:

A Scripture passage:

Colossians 3:1-17
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

A prayer:

Worker of wonders,
Continue to make my [family] righteous, so that [we] may have peace, quietness, and security forever. O Lord, be gracious to [us]; I wait for You. Be [our] arm every morning, [our] salvation in the time of trouble. For You are exalted, for You dwell in high; fill [us] with justice and righteousness, and be the stability of [our] days, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; let the fear of You be [our] treasure. Arise, O Lord, lift Yourself up; be exalted in [our family].
Help [us] to become [a family] who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes [our] hands, let they hold a bribe, who stops [our] ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts [our] eyes from looking on evil. Then [we] will dwell on the heights; [our] place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; [our] bread will be given [us]; [our] water will be sure.
Let [our] eyes behold You in Your beauty. Be with [us] in majesty, for You are [our] judge; You are [our] lawgiver; You are [our] king; You will save [us] (Isaiah 32 & 33).

~Andrew Case, Prayers of an Excellent Wife~

A quote:

“Our whole relation to God is rooted in this: that His will is to be done in us and by us as it is in heaven. …[O]ur first object ought ever to be to ascertain the mind of God.”
~ Andrew Murray~

A poem:

As the misty bluebell wood,
Very still and shadowy,
Does not seek, far less compel
Several word from several bell,
But lifts up her quiet blue–
So all my desire is before Thee.

For the prayer of human hearts
In the shadow of the Tree,
Various as the various flowers,
Blown by wind and wet by showers,
Rests at last in silent love–
Lord, all my desire is before Thee.

~Amy Carmichael~

First Day of Spring

Of course it’s a winter wonderland on the first day of spring. Hehe. 🙂

When my leaves fall, wilt Thou encompass them?
   The gold of Autumn flown, the bare branch brown,
The brittle twig and stem,
   The tired leaves dropping down–
Wilt Thou encompass that which men call dead?
   I see the rain, the coldly smothering snow;
My leaves dispirited,
   Live very low.

So the heart questioneth, white Winter near;
   Till, jocund as the glorious voice of Spring,
Cometh His “Do not fear,
   But sing; rejoice and sing,
For sheltered by the coverlet of snow
   Are secrets of delight, and there shall be
Uprising that shall show
   All that through Winter I prepared for thee.”

~Amy Carmichael~

What Utter Joy

It is often hard to put one’s experience down in words, and even more difficult is the task of penning one’s innermost ponderings. Not just what I have experienced, but how that experience has molded me and what I retain now from the experience.

Asher is three and a half months old already. I have posted pictures and happy updates during that time. Our happiness is broadened and our joy is immense. The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13) is a truly marvelous thing. The utter beauty and joy I find in the daily grind of repetitive, monotonous, and largely thankless tasks is nothing less than wonderful. To have turmoil turned to peace is an experience that I am unable to pour into words. Instead, it just usually pours out in tears.

God heard us and sent relief. His  mercy is abundant and the gladness in our hearts & home is immense, let me tell you.

Psalm 4:1, 7-9
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.
There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

But that may yet be only part of our story. The saga will continue. It does continue even now. Life and sanctification, joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, sunshine and rain, diamonds and dust ~ it continues with each breath we take.

Wouldn’t you think it would be easy to move from sorrow to happiness? Yeah. Me too.
And it IS easy.
And yet it isn’t only easy.
As He has long sustained us in the past, so our Father yet sustains us now. He will continue to be faithful, for He can be nothing less than perfectly faithful. No matter where He leads us on our journey.

Long is the way, and very steep the slope;
Strengthen me once again, O God of Hope.

Far, very far, the summit doth appear;
But Thou art near, my God, but Thou art near.

And Thou wilt give me with my daily food,
Powers of endurance, courage, fortitude.

Thy way is perfect; only let that way
Be clear before my feet from day to day.

Thou art my Portion, saith my soul to Thee,
Oh, what a Portion is my God to me!

~Amy Carmichael~

We are so thankful for the children in our home. I still catch my breath when I say, write, or hear that word. Children. Will I ever get used to it? Will I someday take it for granted? Will the novelty of life eventually give way to the normalcy of it all? God forbid.
Yes, the Lord has given us great things. But we clearly remember what He brought us before He delivered Asher to us. And it seems beyond possible to me that we could ever take our sons for granted, or life in general, or medical science, or fertility, or romance, or a godly spouse for granted. And yet, but for the grace of God and the Spirit’s stirrings within us, we would quickly take His goodness and mercy for granted. We are sinners, and grossly imperfect.

This afternoon I have been meditating on Psalm 16. Some verses have particularly popped out at me and are repeating over and over in my heart. Not only has the Lord been good to us, causing our lines to fall pleasantly of late, but He is the One who has given us counsel. He is the One that has been our Captain and King through all of this! He is the One whose arm is mighty to save (Isaiah 63:1, Zephaniah 3:17)!

Psalm 16:6-9
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;

My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will rest in hope.

In Scripture, I love how “night” is often a metaphor for more than simply the dark hours of a 24-hour cycle. It can imply inner darkness, such as sorrow or grief. So when David says that his heart instructs him in the night seasons, I give thanks that we can proclaim the same. The Spirit inhabits our hearts, and as we remain faithful to the Father and set the Lord always before us, He will instruct us even when our path leads through terrible darkness. Amen! God has been our Sovereign Lord through our recurrent miscarriages, through treatment trials, and eventually through a full pregnancy and delivery of our son. It is because of Him that we have not been moved, that our faith has remained strong, and that He has been glorified.

We ARE glad! We GREATLY rejoice! And we DO have hope!

What kindness.

This is one of those things that I just can’t adequately describe in mere words. I try. And I fail miserably. Every time.

A young lady at our church who competes in speech and debate tournaments around the country interviewed me a number of weeks ago, in order to compose an interpretive speech about my “story.” Her speech would be ten minutes long, once it was finely honed. The fact is, at first I wondered how in the world she would find enough solid material to fill up ten minutes. And then I started to wonder how in the world she could ever capture the height, depth, width, breadth, and spirit of my story in just ten little minutes.

As the days move on, I get to find joy and gladness in cleaning, cooking, laundry, hospitality, playing trains, reading Frog & Toad, drinking tea by the blazing fire, watching Bald Eagles perch in a tree right behind our house and then swoop down to feast on something (along with a coyote, no less), washing diapers, making silly faces, singing psalms, answering countless “why?” questions, kissing away countless tears, soaking in dimples and smiles and new red fuzz atop my baby’s head.
And at the same time, I remember. I remember seven little sweeties who so quickly stole their way into my heart. I see their seven little boxes lined up on top of a dresser in our room. I see their names hanging from arrows in a hunter’s quiver. I wear those names on a necklace, where they rest right near my heart.
I still have shadows of scars from injections. I have a shelf full of leftover medical supplies. Certain smells, certain feelings, certain places ~ and I’m right back there again.

Grief.
I no longer live in grief. Now I live with grief.
It isn’t who I am, but it has shaped who I am.

When I see our boys, my Gabriel and my Asher, I feel like I can see pieces of our other children in them. I wonder if Hosanna would have had his brother’s steely eyes. And I wonder if any of their sisters had their long eyelashes and cuddly natures.

The perspective and thankfulness we have as we raise these boys for the glory of God and for the furtherance of His Kingdom is a blessing. It was painfully won, but it is a reward we reap.
We get the privilege of teaching, training, disciplining, discipling, and catechizing these boys.
We get the pleasures of playing, reading, wrestling, singing, running, cuddling, exploring, and living with these boys.
We get to clean up their messes, listen to their laughs, dry their tears, feed their bodies, fill their souls, and shepherd them for their life both on earth and for eternity.

What. Utter. Joy.

Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying;
We are praying for our children.

Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril;
Father, hear us for our children.

From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them;
Father, hear us for our children.

From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father, Father, keep our children.

Through life’s troubled waters steer them;
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them;
Father, Father, be Thou near them.

Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.

And wherever they may bide,
Lead them Home at eventide.

~Amy Carmichael~

Thanks be to God. I know some deep sorrows of motherhood. But I also know deep pleasures. I know the faithfulness of God during the day as well as the night. I have been sustained by Christ in all things. And I glorify Him, offering my hands and my home, all that I am and all that I have, for His glorious service.

Not pretending that I have even begun to truly scratch the surface ~ but realizing that now I get to go live out what I am writing, as I go away from the laptop and back to the beautiful boys God has given me and the beautiful tasks He has put before me.

Selah.