"Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, His wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven." Psalm 107:23-30

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's all an illusion.

Pain and loss, disease and war, none of these are laughing matters. None of these things are creations of our Lord, none of them exist in creation as He intended.

So, today, as I see the headlines of America going crazy on "black Friday", my heart may be sad for the brokenness, but it is not afraid. To fear something means there is uncertainty in our outcome. But these are but birth pains, and all things are under the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. The mess is not a creation of our Lord Jesus, but all of creation is subject to Him, thanks be to God. So, there is no fear, because we are His.

Therefore, sometimes it helps to just turn off the news, put down the phones, and go build legos with the boys, or put your hands to something beautiful. He is coming soon. Amen, come Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Get that ball rolling

         In late spring the kids and I tagged along with Daddy to his pastor's conference. We love going along because it's a small free vacation, albeit without Daddy because he's in conference all day. The kids and I enjoy relaxing in the hotel and sometimes exploring local museums or kid centers. This hotel happened to have an indoor pool with floor to ceiling windows all along one wall that looked into the hallway directly outside the room where the pastors were all having the presentations. They often left the doors open into the hallway so that as I sat watching the kids (and holding my five month old), I could also peek into the conference room. And, when Daddy had breaks, he could wave into the pool and come in to see how we were.

It was during one of these breaks that he told me he was sitting next to one of his classmates from his DMin program at the seminary. This classmate happened to be deliberating a call, two actually (three if you count his then current call). One of them was to overseas missions. My husband was completely engrossed in this conversation and in hearing every detail of this classmate's application process and then contemplation. His classmate happened to be really struggling with his overseas call because he had gone through the months-long application process and, after all of that, how does one then turn down the call even if it is not right? But, as Adam talked about his friend's struggle, my husband was strangely excitable. I was too busy tending to 5 kids in a hotel to pay much attention so I listened to him go on about missions the entire conference, it was a fun break from normal kid conversation, to talk about adventures unknown while out of town.

We went home and life returned to normal, or so I thought, but that week is what I look back on as starting the ball rolling on this crazy adventure we've been on since that week in early spring. (Though, if I'm being honest, a lot longer than that because of all the people that had approached my husband about this over the past three to four years.)

Fast forward 7 months and my husband is currently deliberating a call to Africa. I won't give specifics here because this is a public blog, but this is an adventure I never in a million years would have ever, and I mean EVER, pegged for myself.

This call is the hardest thing we have ever had to decide. It is downright heart wrenching to think of leaving our church, and the members have reciprocated the same feelings during this time of contemplation. And yet, we cannot ignore the ways God has worked during these months of talks with regional missions directors and the work God is doing in foreign lands. I see the gifts and talents my husband has, and I look at his two calls, and I find myself thinking I wish we could do two things at once!

We have been deliberating his two calls (the one we currently serve and the one overseas) for a little over a month already. Missions is being very patient with us and we have another two and a half weeks before we have to give our decision. We are hoping to have an answer before that because this deliberating stuff is like waiting to go into labor while 40 weeks...or..maybe it's like being STUCK in labor!! It needs to end. Will we continue to live our lives here in a beautiful city in America where life makes sense and we have more blessings than we could ever thank God enough for, or will we embark on the journey of a lifetime to perils unknown...with our 5 boys in tow? Lord have mercy and guide us!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Curve ball

   I had no idea what to name this post. I've been wanting to share why I left this blog for awhile but could not until a few weeks ago, and then I was not ready. I started to name this post "a year of growth" because that certainly defines what we have been through, but during these weeks of deliberation, it feels much more dramatic than that, the Lord threw us a curve ball we never expected.

Anyone who has read this blog long enough knows that after having four beautiful boys (and one child in heaven) in 6 years and living in five states, my husband and I were blessed with another child and lost her early in the second trimester. That began a year of losses, five in all, before the Lord blessed us again and we had a beautiful fifth son. Our fifth son was born October 30 of '14 and we rang in the new year enjoying our family and settling in to our new normal. Life felt good, my husband and I were both finally in our 30's and out of the "tumultuous 20s", and we started the new year off right by taking a Dave Ramsey Financial Freedom seminar.

Dave Ramsey changed our lives. For our first 10 years of marriage we thought we had a grip on finances. We used credit cards "responsibly", lived within our means, and put extra towards debt to get it paid down faster. And yet, we were ALWAYS IN DEBT. Every year we knew by July we would be sunk in credit card debt. Our tax return the following year was always to bail us out again before we began the march towards stacking up even more debt. See, we THOUGHT we used credit cards responsibly, but since we didn't have an emergency fund, we were always sunk in debt at the slightest unexpected expense. Dave Ramsey changed that. We had been avoiding him like the plague because we were worried about things we had heard. Dave Ramsey would never let us buy anything ever again and we would have to live like poor people. Except that wasn't true. And now for the first time in our lives we not only have the freedom to spend, but we have not had one ounce of credit card debt all year long. To top it off, we have an emergency fund with more savings than we ever knew possible.

So, we began the year feeling the glorious freedom that comes from a plan that WORKS to get rid of debt once and for all. We were feeling like adults, settling in for that stage in parenting that flows between family play time, school lessons, church, and meals around the table. These are the good years right? And then came our curve ball...

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A tiny jewelry box

Two and a half years ago I found myself at Target one night thinking, for sure, everyone knew what creepy mission I was on. It felt like I was branded with a sign that read something like "incompetent" or "failure". I was there to find a box to bury my two inch long daughter in, the daughter my body had let go...the daughter my body was supposed to grow into a full sized baby and deliver safely to the font. But, of course, my body does the bidding of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And His will is perfect and beautiful even when my human heart wants so desperately for things to go my way. And so I wandered the aisles. The kitchen section? The storage section? Where on earth does one look? As I wandered around an end cap caught my eye...jewelry. Of course, a jewelry box. After all, my baby is a treasure.
My apple tree snowing delicate petals towards our babies' garden this spring. 

This past weekend my family all began to fall ill. We had unknowingly been exposed to an awful flu virus just as we were supposed to be preparing to go out of town and I was feeling pretty angry about it. I began praying, "Lord, please don't let..." before I could even get the selfish request out, I chided myself mentally. What is He? A God vending machine? Sigh. I wrestled with my thoughts as I hung up shirts on my husband's side of the closet. "Lord, I don't know what to pray. We can't get sick now...Lord, teach me how to pray. How should I pray?" I hung a few more shirts while the baby on my back kicked and grabbed at my hand. The baby on my back....I have a baby. I thought back over that awful year...Anastasia...Amadeus...Alleluia...Mercy....Noel...my Genesis (screen name only). Why did the Lord let him stay? Why after all those losses?

But look at all the good. I won't dare selfishly proclaim that I know why the Lord gave and received home those 5 children or pretend that those children going home have anything to do with a timeline that allowed other things in my life to play out as they have. God does not use children as pawns like that, they are just as important as my life or any other's. No, but He DOES work all things together for the good.

I tried my prayer again. "Lord, I really do not want to be ill right now. My family needs me. And I don't want my children or husband to be ill, we really need to get through this trip. But, Lord, you know all things, you know what is truly for our good. And if it is your will for me to be ill, please help me bear it with...endurance?....strength?...yes, and even thanksgiving and...(gulp) joy. Help me to remember that you are my Great Physician and, according to your will, lift us back up in due time and restore our health. Amen."

The baby on my back squealed and yanked on my hair while kicking me in my hip. "Yea, help me to tolerate that too, Lord," I laughed. And suddenly I thought back to my elementary school history lessons..."Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness..." I snorted. For the Christian, there is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness. It is a lie and it actually serves to steal our joy. If happiness is felt, it is something to give thanks for, but to set it as our focus and to pursue it ignores that life is not, and never has been, about pursuing happiness. I learned that the year I watched 5 babies go home to Jesus. Sometimes the reason hard things hurt so badly is because we think we deserve them and that to not have them is an injustice to our happiness. But life is about love. Life is about service. Life is about the least of these. Life is about dying in order to live.

Monday, January 19, 2015


We've been in the swing of things around here since I was two weeks postpartum and returned to full time babysitting. With lil miss here we have to be on a routine so that I'm not trying to nurse my baby, bottle feed her, and feed my four big boys all at once. It's nice.

Lil baby is about to be 3 months old in 11 days. He's a fantastic baby. He's slept through the night since the night he was born. Seriously. Now, my definition of sleep through the night is 10-4. Pretty good no? There has not been one night that he has not had that routine. OK, sometimes he wakes at 3:30 instead of 4. :) Then he goes back to sleep until between 6:45-8.

When he's not sleeping he's happy. He likes to just lay in his rocker or swing and just watch the chaos. There's always a brother talking to him or trying to carry him around. He nurses well and is growing fast.

So, I'm not sure if it's something having to due with January (bored from not being able to go outside? Feeling cooped up?) but I've been on a huge purge spurt. Maybe it's a postpartum thing. Regardless, I'm going room by room, digging in dark corners, cabinets, drawers, etc etc and purging. It feels SO GOOD to take bags and bags of stuff to Goodwill and to the trash. I want to take a complete inventory of every single thing in the house (no, not written, just mental) so that "every item has a place, and everything is in its place". That is so important to me.

These days the minimalist lifestyle is huge. You can't scroll through Facebook without seeing ads for the "tiny house" or the recycled "shipping container house".  The funny thing is how grand they try to make them look on the inside, because even if we're living in a shipping container we want to feel rich and spoiled. But, I read THIS fantastic article on why the minimalist lifestyle is a TERRIBLE idea for a large family. I was so relieved to have words for the uncomfortable feeling I had whenever I was tempted to "go minimalist". The thing is, as responsible and frugal parents, we can't afford to just run to Goodwill for an appliance and then donate it right afterwards. People try the "own 100 things" challenge, but what they don't tell you is they are constantly paying for things they use once and then get rid of.

So while minimalism will never have its place in our 7 member family due to finances alone, I do insist that if an item does not have a place, it shouldn't be here.

So, we're cleaning, purging, reorganizing, and really enjoying a much cleaner house. The work is never done. By the time I get through the whole house it will be time to start right over again. But, if my work were ever done, I would have no vocation. Work is constant and that is good, it is good to set our hands to work, it keeps us humble and repenting as we fight against the dirt, decay, dust, and broken things in our lives. It reminds us every second of why we need Jesus.

On that note, it's bed time. Christ keep you.

Monday, December 15, 2014

When Divine Meets Death

Yesterday as my children and I walked up to the rail to receive the Lord's Body and Blood, I was caught off guard by an unexpected sight.  The third Sunday in Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, or, the Sunday of rejoicing. On this Sunday in Advent we turn slightly from the somber repentance that is the Christian's focus while contemplating our Lord's second coming and judgement day, and we rejoice that for those in Christ His second coming brings peace and eternal life. 

So, imagine my surprise then when, adorning the floor area in front of the chancel, I saw three beautiful funeral arrangements. I remembered that the day before the church had held a funeral for a member who just went home to the Lord but, found myself instantly captivated by the sight....and by the irony. In my church the Sunday of rejoicing is not only met with the pink candle on the advent wreath being lit but the entire church bursts forth the decorations of Christmas and, later in the afternoon, the choir shouts forth beautiful hymns of advent in a concert for the entire community. So, there I knelt, staring at two 25 ft tall evergreen trees decked tip to stump in Chrismons and twinkling lights, and...funeral flowers. 

My eyes trailed to the altar and, for some reason, my eyes were caught by the edge of the white altar covering and the pole that holds it in place running through its side. Suddenly my mouth went dry as I thought back to the previous Holy Week and the stripping of the altar. I could still see in my mind Pastor pulling the rod out so the covering could be gently folded up and removed, leaving the altar naked and bare. 

I looked from the flowers to the trees over and over and it hit me, the life of a Christian truly is constant irony. It's black and white, sinner and saint, weeping and laughter, repentance and absolution, Christmas and Good Friday, Good Friday and Easter, death and life. 

Suddenly I loved those funeral flowers. They made a very bold statement that I do not think was intentional on the part of the person who left them. We hold hopeful, expectant vigil as we await our Christmas feasting but on this side of heaven Lent will come once again, as will Good Friday. It will come in our lives too...suffering, sickness, depression, misfortune, destruction, torture, war, death...but there's a reason we adorn caskets with flowers. It's not some kind of departing "thank you" note to the deceased, it's a testimony of life. 

"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." (Matthew 6:28-29 ESV)

Those flowers are a testimony of a promise, a declaration of faith. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ WILL come again, and when He does, He is taking us home. 

I wish I could arrange for there to be funeral flowers on the third Sunday in Advent every single year. Gaudete Sunday was the first Sunday after my Dad's deadly plane crash. I remember thinking then how ironic that was, and yet, how wonderful. We rejoice even in death because Christ is coming for us, and when He does, oh Happy Day!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

In a Pinterest world

A couple weeks ago I officially joined Pinterest. At least I think I did. As soon as I was done putting in my information and received an email that said something about "congratulations" on joining, well, duty called. My newborn woke up as he blasted breastmilk poop up his back and began squalling the most pathetic cry. I can tell he's the baby of the family right now because he has the "feel sorry for me" cry mastered.

I have not been on Pinterest since. I am sure it is amazing and I am sure it is super helpful and I am even sure it would revolutionize my world. Pinterest would probably solve all my mommy problems, make me the envy of my friends, and make me sparkle and shine.

But the thing is, I am too tired for that. Nor do I have any desire to sparkle. And honestly, this little glowing journal is about the only place I desire to be online these days. It is my little haven in the darkness.

At 3:30 this morning the tiny person who shares our bed decided it was a good time to spray me with breastmilk. It ran down my chest, into my v-neck shirt, and into my sleeping bra where it puddled in all it's warm sliminess. I cringed and reached for the cold wipes to clean myself up while I picked up the baby with the other hand to comfort him and clean him up. I put him on my shoulder to burp him  and the hand that was supporting his bottom felt a wet warmth. I slowly took my hand away, almost afraid to look, and there was a smear of yellow on my hand. I bit my lip, which lately has become raw from all the chewing, and grabbed a diaper and a change of baby clothes. Two diaper changes, 45 minutes of nursing, and three outfit changes later (one for him, two for me), we finally slipped back to sleep.

The greatest part was, I didn't cry from exhaustion and was somehow even able to smile and talk sweetly to my little man as I took care of his needs. I am needed. And he is super cute.

One day my 8 year old son asked me, "Mama? What is the meaning of life? I mean, if we can't stop sinning and be perfect, why does God leave us here instead of just taking us home where we can be perfect and live with Him?"

First I laughed inwardly that my little child could not realize the question he asked probably has more books written on the topic than any other subject and is debated more heavily than perhaps even politics, then I responded simply, "The meaning of life is love. God wants to make us rich in service, rich in our vocation, because when we are rich in service we know love and we know Him because He is love."

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."
(1 John 4:7-12 ESV)

I have 4 little boys that I am homeschooling and their newborn brother, 1 little baby girl that I watch full time for her working Mama, and 1 giant dog that is nearly as tall as my husband. He really is more of a horse. And he is an indoor dog. And lately I am a lot more careful about going out in public. I suppose I am something of a spectacle. I understand this and I understand the frequent comment, "Do you know what causes that?".  Kids are an insult to our sparkly, dignified, and intense need for a perfectly fake persona. Why do we try so hard to fool ourselves? I suppose it goes back to my 8 year old's question. "What is the meaning of life?"

Look, I don't have kids because it makes me sparkly or because it's fun or because then I can impress you with my Pinterest mothering skills. I understand that we will make you uncomfortable as I walk through the store and perhaps have not showered and my kids are wearing their unmatched outfits they picked out themselves because I was too busy cleaning up the kitchen and running loads of laundry. I am sure it will be a huge inconvenience to your shopping experience if one of the babies starts screaming and I have to scold the toddler or chastise the school age children. I do not have it all together, my kids are real kids with real emotions, I am a real person with real emotions, and I know you are probably thinking that if I just knew what caused this I might stop it already so that I can put myself together more and stop embarrassing myself.

In 9 years I have been pregnant 11 times. Six of those 11 times I have hidden away in my bathroom to shed my blood as my babies went home to the Lord (which also insulted plenty of people). The other five for now are mine. But I cannot stop it. I cannot stop procreation because it is not I who put them there. The Lord has called me to marriage and therefore to a one flesh union in marriage and as a result I receive the fruits of that marriage as He desires to give or not give them. A + B = C. It is God Who calls and God Who gives.

Every day I am rich. I am rich in opportunity to serve and to love. I am rich in my vocation. I go to bed exhausted from head to toe, I have more jobs than I can accomplish in a day...or a week, and I am needed. And in my kids' need for me I am reminded of my need for Christ. When I am frustrated, overwhelmed, alone, and haven't even had opportunity to think of myself in hours or even days, I think on Christ who came to earth without my asking or even knowing that I needed Him in order that He might die, for me, and for all.

My kids need me because they are weak, helpless, often dumb or at least ignorant, and rebellious to anything that is good for them. They choose the worst possible moments to misbehave, act foolish, get sick, and make me face sin in front of everyone I wish I could impress. But, instead, I am left facing my own complete lack of control over not only their sin, but mine. I am left completely broken. But there's a certain freedom in being broken. When you have no one left to impress (and know you never can anyways), all that is left is to live to die to my own desires, to my own selfish ambitions, and to my own desire to be applauded and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be raised up to serve in His love, mercy, and grace while we wait for His return. Come Soon, Lord Jesus.