Friday, December 30, 2011

Wintry mix

Today we drive home. Our van and our waistlines are weighed down with blessings.

We stop in Indy to visit the sister in Christ who is expected to die any minute.

Is it unique to the pastor's family? ...the way our joy is mixed always with sadness and our sadness with joy?

We wait in the waiting room of the heart center. They play with little things new while daddy prays with a weary one old.

I am happy to be married to the man who does this.

But I see how he also "catches" some of the weariness.

Pray for him with me, will you?

Tend to Your child, Your under- shepherd, who must always be pouring himself out for those around him who have such great needs. Continue to fill him up, that he may have something to pour.

Ditto for all pastors everywhere.Amen.

bounce flowers

This was a fun craft for grandma!
Bounce flowers!

All you need are dryer sheets, pins, and pipe cleaners!
We dyed a few blue with food coloring and water, but that is not necessary.

1. Cut the dryer sheets in squares.
2. Pick 3-6 squares and stick a pin through the center.
3. Wrap the green pipe cleaner around the pin.
4.  Decorate "petals" with crayons or markers, if desired!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Joy in the snow

From where I'm standing I see...
  • my first baby
  • a young lady in bloom
  • a little brother with cold ears
  • footprints from the other kiddos
  • a girl about to get tackled with a snowball (by me!)
  • a picture daddy loves... and I remind myself to tell him to tell her that, because she is getting to that age when it is so good for a little girl to be told by her daddy that she is lovely.
I feel...
  • birthday snow on my cheeks
  • cold feet from soggy boots
  • joy in the first snow of the year
  • delight in watching all six of my little snow playmates
  • happy that I snapped this moment
  • ready to put the camera down and frolic with them!

Monday, December 26, 2011

sympathizing with my food

All pretty and ready for Christmas!

And then, the feast.

And the after-feast crash.

I feel a little bit like this gingerbread house today.

I'll be going light on the blogging this week :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Whether your Christmas is pure joy,
and childlike delight,
or you are feeling the ache of sadness,
and even this day feels like night,

May God bless you with heavenly joy in Jesus,
The Light who shatters our darkness.

Have a blessed Christmas everybody.

(Photo from The Nativity Story. Movie highly recommended.)

Source: via Karen on Pinterest

Saturday, December 24, 2011

a moment stolen: Christmas Eve

I think the Christmas Eve program will always be emotional for me.  Those children up front, in their fancy clothes, singing their songs (maybe).  Me, in the pew, crammed with all the other adults and craning my neck, not wanting to miss one minute of the cuteness.

My standards are low.
If they smile and sing, awesome.
If they go up front and just stand nervously, great.
If they stand and stare at their feet all night, good try.
If they get weak-kneed seeing all those people and hide their faces in my lap, oh well.

I will sigh, and shrug, and think, "at least nobody has to be carried to me like Aggie was that year."

She had practiced with her sister all week long.  She even submitted to a fancy dress and hair-fixing.  She waited with all the other children, wiggly with nervous excitement.

And then, a seizure stole her moment.
It wasn't the first she'd had that day, or the last, but it was a bad, exhausting one.
It deflated her enthusiasm.
It turned her into a sad blob on my lap.

 It's almost the only thing I remember about that night.

Now it is 2011.
Different aches and pains.
Same Hope.

But this year... she sings.

(Her story, Weak and Loved, now available!)

Friday, December 23, 2011

generosity: the messy kind

What you see: a fresh cup of coffee that my 5-year-old son brought to me with a proud smile.

What you may not be able to see: the blobs of peanut butter from his hands all over the handle.
I tried not to see them either...trying to focus on the kind heart behind the messy gift.

I am praying for "selective seeing" during this week of Christmas break.

Lord help me to be blind to the mess and disorder in my home today!  Help me to see what it is important, and make me blind to those things that are not!   Thank you God for this messy, overflowing life!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

does this count as a gift?

From the big kids to the little ones: 

"For 2-year-olds and under"

It was not well-received.

They do love the little ones.
They just want to contain them.

I know the feeling.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

generosity: out of control

In my infinite wisdom and quest to teach my children to love each other, I came up with a little activity.

Secret gifts.

I had a box of little junk that would pass for gifts.  I told the girls my plan, let them pick a toy for each brother, and had them hide the presents around the house.

See how cheap I am?
I even made them wrap the gifts in newspaper!  (Nobody cares!)

The gifts were supposed to be given anonymously.  "Somebody loves you!" we told the boys, and they needed no more explanation.  The girls loved the giving, too, and the delight of the secret.  

Well, at least for a few minutes.  Before long the secret was out.
Then, the boys wanted to give something back.  So, they went downstairs and found some old boxes, picked up some of their old random toys, and gifted them to their sisters.
Then the sisters gifted some random toys back.
Then the boys did it again.
The girls, again.

Pretty soon then they started running out of old random stuff... but that did not stop them.
They started giving away their precious toys.  Their buddies and blankets.
With strings.
One has a fish that he gets to sleep with for 24 days.
Another has a blanket that he can have for one week.
One has a teddy bear that he has to share on alternating nights with the giver.
Another has part-time use of a elephant.
Or something.
I think I have some bears and a hippo doing time in my bed, too.

Now, I have no idea whose buddies are who and what belongs where for how long and when.
But, they got to spread some generosity... and that was the point, right?
Not a clean house...

I have a box full of little junk I was planning to let them wrap and hide for each other throughout advent, but it has been two weeks since this first attempt. 

I just don't know if I am ready to start another flood of chaotic generosity all over again!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

generosity: who are the teachers?

From a reader:

"At one of the schools where I teach, the free and reduced lunch rate is a around 90%. Most of our students live in poverty, many deal with extreme poverty and homelessness. For the next few weeks, the kids are doing a canned food drive. I'm not sure if the kids realize that many of the people whom the food drive services are their classmates. One family was so glad that the kids are learning lessons about helping others that they sent $20 to school with their fifth grade child to help with the food drive. When the classroom teacher told the class about the donation, another girl walked to her backpack and handed $10 to the teacher. Her mom had told her she could spend it on what she wanted; she decided to use it for others instead of buying herself something. Sometimes it seems like we, the adults, need to sit back and learn these lessons from kids."

So true.

I love those moments when generosity flows out of a child's heart just as naturally as laughter.  One of my children is unique in this way. She is the one who lives-to-give.  I think she may be related to Santa Claus somewhere down the line.  She honestly thinks giving to others is better than chocolate.

The other day the child that has been voted "most likely to join the mafia" (in an unofficial poll) had one of those such moments.  His two-year-old little brother was about to walk out in the rain, and he was carrying his precious blanket, letting it drag on the ground.  My tough guy noticed the problem, said "Oh no! Blankie! Let me help you with that!"  He followed behind the two-year-old, carrying the tail of Blankie like it was the train of a dress.

Such a small thing, but it left me stunned.
Source: via Janice on Pinterest

I pray God opens my eyes to catch these moments in all of the children. In between the fits and the fighting, these are little signs of growth. This is truly the work of God, who alone performs the miraculous work of growing hearts and teaching them to love.  Lord, help me see!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bad goat.

I put my head down like a goat and I barrel through my day.  

I blame the list: that list, that TOO LONG list, of things I need to get done!  When the list is too long I feel overwhelmed, and I try to accomplish more things more quickly. I focus, and I go, and go, and go... working toward that magical point when I am caught up enough to finally relax.

Though I work all day, still I do not reach the peace of a clean list.  Things get in my way.  
People. Little people.
I don't get caught up.  
But I keep barreling, and before I know it, we are just surviving.

Until, by the grace of God, I realize what I am doing.  Last week, it was the words of a friend that reopened my eyes:

"Don't let survival mode take over.  Take time to breathe and enjoy each day."

I have had this conversation with myself before, but I am all the time forced to learn the same thing again.
Look up!
Open your eyes to the grace all around you!
Don't miss it in the rush of "getting stuff done!"

Source: Uploaded by user via Kyle on Pinterest
Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

See?  Even a goat can look up!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


From where I'm standing, I see...

A blur

  • a dancing, spinning child uninhibited and joyful
  • a girl seizure-free for 2 1/2 years so far
  • tangled hair.  It's always tangled
  • a girl who, in my mind, still wears a label on the right side of her head (Prognosis: Uncertain)
  • little notes in the tree from siblings to siblings
  • a precious, fleeting moment
  • fleeting childhood, fleeting everything
  • a brain that works perfectly, without its tumor
  • light, life, and grace
  • a reminder to keep my eyes open and to be present, right now, today.

Friday, December 16, 2011

advent posts recommended

Great post here on Death and Advent, especially for those of you who are noticing the ache of the hole where someone should be right now...
Remember, "God has not promised that you will ever feel better about such death in this world."
It will not always be this way.

Sinking? Doubting? Shaky? Overwhelmed?
Wondering what hope there is for you? What hope is there for your children with such a MOTHER?
Please, do not miss this post: He Has Swallowed up Death

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent Ache

I sit on the kitchen floor with my back against the fridge, rocking my two-year-old little boy. I should take off his gross clothes, I think, but I keep rocking.

Near my feet the contents of his stomach lay splattered.

I am too shaky to worry about it yet.  Right now, I am just relieved to see no signs of pills ingested. I hold the hands that opened the bottle that could have brought him death. 

We rock, and I am amazed that he is soothed by me, the very one that was causing him to cry a moment ago. I stroke his hair, and my finger aches from where he bit me.  I would bite too, if someone were shoving their finger down my throat and I couldn't understand why.

I curse this world that threatens and tortures even the little ones.  I shake the fist of my heart at death and his continual harassment.
Sometimes I hate this place.
I thank God quietly.  I am shaky even in relief.  I cower, too, before my God Who giveth--the God Who has every right to take away.

But He giveth, even now, in this slimy breathing child curled up on my lap.
I am not entitled to even one more moment with any one of these sweet babies, and yet, He giveth.

Grace upon grace is this child in my lap.

It will not always be this way, God gently reminds me. He lifts my eyes and teaches me to hope for that day. The darkness is passing away.

I am soothed by the same God that allowed me to cry a moment ago.  He came, and He still comes, into this filthy place, and He is making all things new.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I put my own words to this song some times, singing AYO

I am not sure if this is me being all things to all people, or just me being unwilling to grow too mature for silly pop songs... but this is me.

Source: via Nikki on Pinterest
I confess. I like the song Dynamite.

Not only do I like it- but I dance to it. I belt it out. The kids join me. And if I'm feeling really immature, I make up new words to it.

(I am going to have SO much fun embarrassing them when they are teenagers!)

This song is so versatile!
A sampling, for your enjoyment...

personal hygiene
I put some toothpaste on my brush sometimes...

I put my baby on my hip sometimes...

making light of frustration
I make my mama lose her mind sometimes...

chore reminder
I put my homework in my bag sometimes...
I put my dishes in the sink sometimes...

teaching manners by gentle teasing
You put your fingers in your nose sometimes, singing AYO, stay away-O

gentle reminder of authority
I send my babies to their rooms sometimes, singing AYO, I told you No-O

celebrating my favorite part of the day!
I put my boys down in their beds sometimes, Saying AYO, you better STAY-O
(so mom can PLAY-O...)

Apparently, I am not the only one who does this....

Source: via Becky on Pinterest

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Generosity is hard.

It is one thing to give to hypothetical poor kids.  It is another thing, entirely, to give to the people in your own house.

Please do not misunderstand- compassion for the poor is extremely important.  God's love compels us to help not only the people we know in need but also those far-away suffering people that seem more like statistics.  We must help, and we must teach our children to do the same.

But sometimes, I think a burst of goodwill towards a far-off person is less of a strain than the challenge of pouring goodwill on those inside one's own house.

I have in mind the child who will gladly donate his fire truck to the poor kid, but closes his fist in a confident air of entitlement when his brother asks for a piece of his cookie.

I also have in mind the wife who cheerfully cleans the entire house for her book club, but is wracked with deep feelings of injury when her husband leaves his boots in the living room.

I have in mind the reader of my blog who said this:
How to make kids be more generous and giving....I just can't think of anything suitable for your website.  I yell at my son and tell him to be more kind to his sister, that she would give things to him so he should be more like that.  TREAT YOUR SISTER WITH KINDNESS as I slam the door and stomp around all ticked off at how selfish my child is ...which he totally inherited from me, the queen of "how am I feeling??Are my needs being met??How do I feel about this?? Why doesn't everyone do what I want them to??  

Who am I to teach THEM how to be generous?
A sinner teaching sinners! The blind leading the blind!

His ways are not my ways, and my love is nothing like His love.

Fill me up with those things I do not have that my family needs.  Grant me a heart full of generosity, and hands willing to serve.  Teach me to work diligently and cheerfully in service to those around me, not keeping score, but overflowing in gratitude.  Fill me up, and fill them up, too.  Fix our eyes upon You, Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, and the giver of all our goodness.

Like I need ONE MORE THING to pick up!

(Read this post for more annoying truth about your own ridiculous claims of entitlement.)
( and stay tuned to hear about an exercise of sibling generosity that got out of control, as so many things do in this house...)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Grace and healing

Bump and his princesses April 2006
Grandpa is healing.
He is doing better each day.
He needs lots of sleep.
His grandchildren seem to move more quickly than they did last week.
He still does not remember that day.
He gets bad headaches if he thinks too much.
He has been told not to drive.
His wife is still watching him for seizures.

I remember watching for seizures.

In fact, I have not stopped watching for seizures.
She has been seizure-free for over two years now, and I have not stopped watching.
I probably never will.

I don't like it when she sleep walks.
I hate when she bumps her head.
I get nervous when she looks tired.

I call her out of her daydreams.  She probably hates it, but I can't help it.
I just need to make sure she can still hear me.

She can.

I can't wait to share the rest of her story with you.  Our story of grief and grace and epilepsy.

Coming soon.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Things I should not have to say, and yet, I have said them

There's a moment when whatever-it-is comes out of my mouth, and I think, "Has my life really come to this?"

I know that being a mother means being a teacher, and I do love that part of my vocation.  I love their curiosity, (usually) and they way they are so eager to sit by me, to read with me, for hours if I am willing.

But some things, I did not think I would have to teach them:

Just look at the dead frog. DON'T try to eat him.
Don’t hack in the silverware drawer!

No, you can’t wear your pirate patch to Sunday school!

Paper airplanes are not for eating!

If you're thirsty, tell me! Don't suck a marker dry!

Honey, you can’t just eat handfuls of flour!

It is ok to pretend to be a dog, but PLEASE don’t really lick each other!

Don’t swing from the fridge door!

NO!!!  Not on your brother, in the potty!

Tell me, what have you said that you should not have to say?


Friday, December 9, 2011

craft and therapy

Snowmen with cotton balls. 

They are on clothespins so that they can be clipped on presents or goody bags.

The best part?  Notice the hats...  this was great therapy for my PTSSD!!!

(This just in- a neat solution for PTSSD from "Lazy Mom!"
Lazy Mom Tip #49 ~ I'm A Lazy Mom....)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

from where I'm standing...

I see...

  • A boy who does not want to let go of Halloween for Advent.
  • A hole in his tights, "from fighting Captain Hook."
  • A dagger, purchased by grandma, who also made the costume.
  • A boy who thinks the huge Christmas tree painted by his sisters makes a perfect hideout.
  • A hole in the wall, leading to the laundry room. They think it they are so clever when they yell through it.
  • Pillows from the hand-me-down couches that have been handed down again, from us to our kids. And the dog.
  • The  box from our new Christmas tree. That box has been a boat, a baby pen, a car, and a bed so far today.
  • Peter Pan, who will morph into Popeye and ask for spinach at lunch.
  • A child who will pout when told he cannot nap with his dagger.

Your turn! 

Take a picture,
list what you see, 
and link up with me!  

from where i'm standing...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

our turn

The girls and I were making cotton ball snowmen in the basement.  Pastor-daddy got a phone call, then called to us in a firm and strange voice, “Everybody, upstairs, now.” 

My first thought- the boys (out with Auntie looking at Christmas lights) 
Oh God please no.
Not the boys.  
Larry.  Bump. 

A car accident.  
The truck was totaled.  
They had to get him out with the jaws of life. 
He's on his way to the hospital.

Wide eyes. 
Tears, Heart pounding. 
I'm grabbing for something, everything, anything. “We need to pray,” I said, and I held the girls tight to me. Josh prayed with broken voice, and my tears fell with his.

Fruit of the view

If I could obstruct the view, I would.
But now I am starting to think that would be unwise.

Sometimes daddy-pastor's phone rings in the evening.  He gestures for quiet, always.  Sometimes his gestures are combined with a pleading look towards me that says "this is REALLY serious, I need them to hush. Now."

Words like "surgery" or "I'm so sorry" or "funeral" may drift into the dining room.  Even the younger children notice a seriousness in the air, and in their (cute, pathetic) little ways they try to reign in their wild joy of living for just a moment.

Monday, December 5, 2011

This view.

I didn't realize I'd signed up for THIS when I married a pastor.

Mommy, what are all those people doing at the cemetery?
I was raised in the Catholic Church, and never heavily involved there either.  I didn't know what pastor's did... or pastor's wives...or pastor's children.  I really had no idea that we were entering into a new lifestyle, and not just a job.

This way of living.  
This family of sinner-saints.
This constant flood of joy and sorrow.
This grace-filled, cross-filled life.

My children are not shielded from these things.  They hear and see sadness beyond their years.  

Standing with my not-so-innocent children at the window, facing again a cold reality I'd rather deny, I speak the words of comfort that they have come to expect.  

Lord, fix our eyes upon You.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Generosity: collecting data

First, we must assess the current level of generous goodwill in the hearts of our children.  I humbly suggest the following experiment.

Read a heart-tugging book or tell them a story.  Let them look at you wide-eyed while you tell of need and hunger and little match girls.

Then focus their wide eyes on the plenty that surrounds them.  Point their gazes to the boxes full of toys, the shoes spilling out of closets, and the full dresser drawers.

Then bring out the big box labeled “DONATE.”  
Fill it up kids!

Encourage them unto love and good deeds.

Hypothesis:  If you have more than one child, you will likely have more than one type of heart exposed.  A sampling of those under my own roof:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I always like the Angel Tree project.  I remember being a small child, giving mittens, and imagining how sad it would be to be a child with no mittens.

So I walked by the Angel Tree yesterday.  I saw a request from a girl my daughter’s age:

DSI games

DSI games?!  This is what the needy children in our community NEED?

I am glad my daughter was not with me.  She would have had to hear me rant and grumble and change my mind about doing the Angel Tree. 

When actual needs, food and shelter and clothes, are met in abundance, what else is there to do but to turn “wants” into “needs?”  I am not just talking about the “career welfare” folk. 

We do it, too.  My kids do it. I do it.  I “need” naptime and coffee and internet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

technology that brings the family together?!

I am the girl that rolls her eyes at her husband all the time because of his interest in technology.  But now and then he finds something that impresses me, too.  Like this ap, google sky.

A mild November night, a clear sky, freshly-hung Christmas lights, and six excited children ready to enjoy all of it, and an ap that tells us exactly what we are looking at...

Amazing. All of it.

Wow daddy, is that really Jupiter?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I can’t always see what is in front of me.  I have two working eyes, but my vision gets cloudy sometimes.  Worry overshadows beauty.  Tears of suffering make things blurry.  Depression darkens everything.

Deep wounds, those that bring questions and anger and defiance, might even cause me to squeeze my eyes shut for a season, refusing to believe in God’s goodness, asking “Why should I even bother looking?”

Yet relentless grace pries them open again.  Sometimes it even comes through my ears when my eyes are shut tight.  A Word, a child’s laugh, a song; a tincture of goodness, enough to soften my expression, and I dare to take a peek again.

Like a child stepping outside, I gasp in wonder as snowflakes sparkle, and the very air tastes like grace.

For a moment I see, I really see, and I am amazed.  God is so good to me.

Today I give thanks, for eyes opened to softly falling grace.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A great 'tween idea

This is an idea I simply must share.

Recently I joined some other "tween" mothers to discuss the book "Six Ways to Keep the Little in Your Girl."  The book was good.  The conversation was fantastic.  I will post more on this topic, but for today- just one idea.

It is so important to stay connected with our little girls!
and also,
It is so HARD to stay connected with my little girl!

Here is one fantastic idea (from Lisa at the PCC- thank you so much for your great work Lisa!)

Mama and Me Journal

She told us of one mother who had a terrible time trying to get her daughter to open up to her.  The little girl did not want to talk about anything that was even mildly uncomfortable.  But the mother was determined to stay connected with her daughter and to be there for her during the awkward changes.  She wanted her to be comfortable coming to her with questions.

Since talking failed, mom tried a journal :  mother-daughter journal.  A secret mother-daughter journal, for writing in whenever you want, with questions or thoughts or anything at all.  Mom would write in it and sneak it under her pillow.  Days or weeks later, daughter would reply.  Slowly the daughter found courage to show pieces of her heart and even ask her mother questions that she would not have asked her in person.

What a great idea!

I already know my daughter likes to write.  I knew she would love this idea.  I am running with it.  I am keeping it simple, allowing it to be imperfect and even sloppy (which is absolutely necessary if I am going to be handwriting anything!)  I presented it to her on Sunday, along with other "gifts" to celebrate this next season of her life. I think it was a hit.

This is inside the front cover:

Then I wrote her a little note about how I love her and want to be there for her, etc, and I started off with an easy question: Who is your favorite school friend, and why?

I think this is going to be the beginning of a super-fun, super-secret mother daughter bonding experience!  Because it is super-secret, I will not be able to divulge much more information.  But I know my sweet darling will not mind if I show you this:

... maybe big kids can be pretty cool after all...

Mama and Me Journal

You can download this great label for the cover at this location:

Monday, November 21, 2011

a new season

              My first baby, I wonder if you will remember this day?  It is a major milestone for me.  We are having a “talk,” I hope the first of many, about what is to come as you grow into a woman.  

           Will you know how far out of my comfort zone I am going with this?  Will you believe me when I tell you “I am so excited and happy to see you growing into a young woman,” and when I say “There are so many great things about this next part of your life!”  I do believe that, a little...but I am also a mother looking back, remembering our little years together, wishing we could stay in the safe and warm preschool years for just  a bit longer.  I am a mother who sees your enormous heart and is bracing for the inevitable wounds it will receive.  I am a mother and you are still my baby--and I don’t want to let my baby go out into the elements.  There is so much danger.

The Flower Grow Pictures, Images and Photos
Grow, flower!
                But there is no real choice to “let” you.  You will grow and go whether I “let” you or not.  I am praying that God makes me into a mother who “lets,” who grows with you, and who opens her hand to receive what He has in store for our futures-- together, and separately.  

Jesus, hold us close to each other, 
and close to You.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why it is pointless to write my list in pen

I start the day, full of coffee and hope, ready to use my manifold talents to bless the world.

But where to start?  

I could bless my children with books, thoughtful questions, and intellectual stimulation.  
I could teach them to look outside our home with kindness, and we could bake cookies for a neighbor.  
We could go to the museum.
We could schedule a play date.
We could create art with leaves and acorns.

Or, I could undo some of the damage they have done in my home. 

Like this:

A bottle brush tangled in the mini blinds.  

Really? Seriously?  How does this stuff happen? (among other unhelpful thoughts I think at a time like this.)

Again, I am reminded, that I am not really in charge of the day's activities.

I rebel.  It has been there for two days.  Nobody cares.
But I must take care of it sometime, at least before we host the Christmas party.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The way of things

This is the way of things. 
This is the lot thou hast given them, 
because they are part of things which do not all exist at the same time, 
but by passing away and succeeding each other they all make up the universe, 
of which they are all parts. 
For example, our speech is accomplished 
by sounds which signify meanings, 
but a meaning is not complete unless one word passes away, 
when it has sounded its part, so that the next may follow after it. 

(Who hears the beginning of a story,
the "Once Upon A Time," and is content to stay there?
Me, with my babies, though it makes no sense.)

Let my soul praise thee, in all these things, O God, the Creator of all; 
but let not my soul be stuck to these things by the glue of love, 
through the senses of the body. 
For they go where they were meant to go, 
that they may exist no longer. 
And they rend the soul with pestilent desires 
because she longs to be and yet loves to rest secure 
in the created things she loves. 
But in these things there is no resting place to be found. 
They do not abide. 
They flee away; and who is he who can follow them with his physical senses? 
Or who can grasp them, even when they are present? 
For our physical sense is slow because it is a physical sense
and bears its own limitations in itself. 
The physical sense is quite sufficient for what it was made to do; 
but it is not sufficient to stay things from running their courses 
from the beginning appointed to the end appointed. 
For in thy word, by which they were created, 
they hear their appointed bound: "From there--to here!"

Augustine, Confessions, Book 4 Ch X, public domain

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What's so great about babies?

God knows how to give good gifts to his children, and the gift of a newborn is one of the best.  

I'm in the mood for a list.  Will you think on this with me?  Maybe together we can encourage some aching mother, swollen with baby, who in her own burden has forgotten or does not know the joys soon to come.

Maybe, as we reminisce together, we will remember, and re-rejoice in His great works in us and through us as mothers.  (This is my version of the facebook thanksgiving list- or, 1000 gifts of motherhood!)

What IS so great about babies?  What is so great about growing them; meeting them; loving them in that first year of life?

I'll start the list.
In no particular order...  

1.  That first moment, seeing the wrinkly, angry face, and thinking, "Hello, stranger! So YOU are the one who has been making me so uncomfortable!"
2.  Soft and sweet-smelling skin
3.  Clothes that seemed ridiculously small- actually too big!
4.  That pathetic cry that sounds a bit like a goat
5.  Setting baby on my tummy, marveling, "How did this kid actually fit inside of me?!"
6.  Being able to touch my toes again! (I usually celebrate with postpartum toenail painting)

Please add your own thoughts and check back often- I'll be adding to it all week!

Monday, November 14, 2011


It doesn’t happen often anymore, but I did it last week:
I picked up a sleeping baby.

I was tired, and there were still a thousand things on my list, but I quit.  The complaints of things left undone in my home were drowned out by my own loud thoughts: children growing, milestones whizzing by, lightning quick changes all around me.

My snoring baby didn’t need me.  I picked him up anyway, and we rocked while he snored.

Birth pains are nothing compared to growth pains.

Oh God, these children!  They bloom, just as they should; they grow, just as You will.  How can something so wonderful be so sad?  Tonight I feel so heavily the ache of the never-agains.  

I know, God, I know you are changing me.  I know the ache of the never-again will melt into a gratitude for having had at all.  I am only dragging my feet as you lead me towards peace.

It will happen.  But right now, I sit heavy with memories, and I linger in the rocking chair.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I couldn't have said it better.

                 I knew that if we were going to make it to bedtime that day, we needed to get out of the house.  Our home felt small and congested with conflict.  We escaped into a gorgeous October evening.  "Yes, of course we can open the windows," I said, suddenly cheerful.  The air was warm, and the smells of autumn flew around us.  Fields of dried corn waited quietly for the harvest. The sky was heavy with the rich colors of evening. 

            We drove down the road, eyes wide, as if entering another world.  The strong, warm wind scattered leaves into the sky, and the wind seemed to be carrying us along with it.  I took a deep and grateful breath. 

            Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another one sharing my joy.  In the seat behind me sat the baby.  For this moment, he had forgotten to complain about the straps of his car seat.  His eyes were closed, and his hands were in the air.  His palms faced forward, and his fingers were wide apart, as if he were trying to reach far enough so he could embrace the beauty of Autumn.

            You could almost see his heart expanding as he received the gift given him in that moment.  God knows how to give good gifts, and little babies know how to receive.  With open hands and arms, baby Peter took in the joy of that moment.  It overflowed into a smile and then a sighing, sweet, wordless baby song.

            How is it that a baby --who can speak no words-- can so perfectly express the feelings of my own heart?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

the opposite of help

A diligent mother may successfully banish certain bad words from her vocabulary.  But tell me mothers, are not those banished words simply replaced by other equally unhelpful words?

And really, what's the harm in letting out a little frustration?  Maybe I FEEL like being ineffective and counter-productive as I manage my kids today.  Maybe I LIKE giving them one more reason to tune out the sound of my voice.

Oh, you don't know what I am talking about?  Well then, I have started a list for you.  Store these words in your brain (pile them on top of the curse words,) and use them next time you sit on something wet, or find yourself in the kitchen with 100 squawking children on your ankles, or hear the 100th scream of the day and it's only 9am... 

Emily's list of unhelpful sayings

That did NOT just happen.

If I had a magic wand, I would use it, but I do not, so you will just have to wait.

Do you LIKE getting hurt?

Didn't I just feed you?

THAT is the opposite of help.

WHY is everything so STICKY?!?!

Didn't I JUST change you?

Where IS your daddy anyways?

Are you kidding me?

Do you LIKE disobeying your mother?

(shrill voice) What were you thiiinkiiiing?!?!?!

What would you add to my list?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

on success and failure

How do we define success and failure?
How does God define success and  failure? 

(We discussed this at our Bible study group last week, as part of our study on What Women Fear by Angie Smith.)  

When we consider this question in light of the Scriptures, we will see that our natural way of thinking about success bears little resemblance to God's.  Our priorities are not His!

When I say I had a successful day, I usually mean that things went smoothly; or, if they didn't, that I feel like I handled it well;  or that I got many things done that I wanted to get done. 

But what about the days that do NOT go smoothly?
Is it possible that some of those days could actually be, from God's perspective, our better days?  Could those days actually be more beneficial to us or the people around us than the "good" days?

 The truth is, we know little about God's greater plan.  The biggest success of my life may have been a sentence I spoke to a friend ten years ago.  Or, it may have been the time when my faith was almost gone, and I was crying out to Him in the chapel of a children's hospital.  It may have been a time when His strength upheld me in my weakness. 

Forgive me Lord, for worrying too much about my own achievements!  I do not always know what is best, and I certainly do not always choose what is best.  Yet, You give me daily grace with my daily bread.

 We are called to do the works of love that are in front of us.  Even though our best works are stained with sin, we trust that God in Christ who has had mercy on us will continue to have mercy on us.  Not only that, He can and will use His imperfect children to show His mercy to other people as we live out our vocations. 

He is a God who delights in showing mercy.

 Let us set aside thoughts of success and worries of failure, and let God be successful in His work of the salvation of His children.

Let us pray, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."

And then, let us hold on to Him tightly through our whole lives as He does just that.
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