Monday, July 28, 2014

For Keeps

I folded the poem entitled "Day Twenty" and looked up, with tears brimming, at my husband of twenty years. His eyes were moist too and suddenly, twenty-five years of knowing one another culminated in this moment. Through sickness and health, through beginning with little and paying off debt, through four babies and sleepless nights, through misunderstanding and anger and passion, through fierce and protective love, through living in apathy as Christians to trying to seek God with our whole hearts, we've traversed together. Our mutual gaze was wrought with memories and a deep knowing that this is it--we're playing for keeps--and only by God's grace have we been kept.
Every evening for twenty days leading up to our anniversary, Terry had written a silly or romantic poem, coupled with a gift that signified his love for me, us, or our family. The gifts were sometimes tangible, a couple were  activities, or something he'd do for me. But, each one was thoughtfully planned out and greatly appreciated by me. He clasped my hand. Tonight was the grand finale of that anniversary planning and he desired to celebrate our forgiveness toward each other which is the beautiful act commanded by God that is part of His keeping grace we've experienced. All the gifts, all the poems and all of the thoughtfulness could not have matched the reality that our hearts were truly entwined because of our great God and His plan for us. We could see it so clearly. And celebrate we did!

Friday, July 11, 2014


I'm a promise-breaker. I told the Lord last week that was it, I was going to quit being impatient, that I was going to make a real effort to practice self-control over that sugar addiction and rise early regularly to read my Bible. I failed in each of those areas, almost immediately. Thankfully, God is not a promise-breaker. He said that His Holy Spirit would complete the work that He started in us. He said we wouldn't have to do it on our own. In fact, going it alone often results in the exact opposite of what we're trying to accomplish. God desires that we depend on Him and recognize our weakness and need for Him. What a contrast to what the world tells us--that we are only successful when we are fully independent and strong. God, the Promise-Keeper, made a covenant with us specifically so we would rely on him and then we would know His great love and care for us. True success would derive from that powerful relationship.
When it comes to promises, I'm so thankful I don't have to be dependent on my own efforts. I would always get only so far before I would slide back into my previous habits. I see progress though. Slowly, but surely, He's moving me toward growth and change... because He's not finished with me yet!
(photos taken a few nights ago of a full-arched, double rainbow that blew us away for about half an hour)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Baby Of The Family

Girlie-May is what her Daddy adoringly calls her. After those rambunctious twin boys, he's melting more than ever. My sister, Holly, gathers wet clothes, cuts cucumber slices and rocks a whimpering Clara after a tumble. She has this routine down to a science with her little ones and it's inspiring to watch. But this tiny person God gifted to our family... this soft and smiley baby is the one my kiddos are all chattering about as we drive to their home almost an hour away. They stake their claim on who gets to hold her first. They take photos with their iPods and post videos of just them and Clara. She's a small package tied with a pink ribbon after five years without more cousins on my side of the family. She's welcomed with enthusiastic love.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dear Children

Dear Children,

The days seem long, don't they? But you'll be growing up and you'll look back and feel like childhood was actually such a small piece of your life. You'll have responsibilities that are big and important. You'll be venturing out on your own and caring for others through your work, your ministries, and your own families. You might wonder where the carefree days disappeared to as you struggle to understand a suffering world and how you can be an agent of change for God.

(hand-holding as they walk? unprompted and unaware of me--love it)

As your mother, I'm endeavoring to lengthen your days, teaching you to drink life in, worship the Creator and notice the tiny details of His world. Our life isn't perfect but you're learning to love each other and to remember Who is guiding you. You already have compassion for others. I'm thankful for that. I love these times we are living through together, and so I jot down your funny sayings and your inquisitive conversations with me. I snap photos of your growing bodies and changing faces. I want to remind you one day how blessed and lovely these days were--the preparatory days.

The Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. I'm praying that you will always have a healthy fear of Him, that you'll hear His voice and obey it--that I'll obey it, as I walk this road with you. I'm so grateful for Daddy, who also joins me in creating a loving and disciplined youth for all of you. When you see me mess up this parenting thing, know that I'm human and flawed and that I still love you and am seeking forgiveness from the Lord and from you, to begin again. It's that wisdom from Him that leads me to be able to do this.  

I pray that mentors will come alongside you as you journey. The Lord sent me many, and if I humbled myself to take their advice, my path seemed so much easier. One such mentor was my mom, your "Mama". She taught me to have a relationship with Jesus and to love people fiercely. Embrace this heritage and that of your other grandparents too and you won't lose your way. God gave them to you as examples of how to carry out His purposes and to help your fellow humans. They do this well.

When life gets tough, and it will, remember we were never promised things would always be easy, only that God would carry us in His arms. If you never let go of that knowledge, you'll feel Him, actually feel His arms tangibly around you when you're unable to understand why you're encountering hardship. I know this because I've been there. I believe I could feel Him in moments of despair because of my history of practicing prayer, worship, writing down thanksgiving and answers to prayer.  I was taught to remind myself when life was easy that God is good. As a result, I simply knew it as truth when life wasn't easy. 

I love you, my "babies". You're growing up so quickly. Sometimes I stop in my busyness and just stare at you and whisper gratitude that you're mine. I'm sorry I don't always articulate this to you, but it's true. You're talented, beautiful, kind and already fulfilling your purposes on earth, as God reveals them to you. Young people are valuable and being used by God too! May you always love the Lord with all your hearts and love your neighbor as yourself.

I adore you, every one of you.
Love, Mommy

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tour Of Africa

When a zoo is making great progress and winning awards as it saves endangered animals, we know it's more than a location solely focused on entertainment and education. That's why we love our African Lion Safari. We took a tiny train ride, mini boat trip and drove through the reserve to get a close look at the species we'll be studying in September for our Africa unit. It brought to life what we can normally only read about in books or search for on the internet.
Utterly amazed by God's creatures!