Wednesday, March 30, 2011

yay! for a friend

Several ladies from the infamous Class of 1995 have thoroughly enjoyed renewing our friendships, and really growing them way beyond what they used to be way, WAY. Back. Then. And no, I won't go into why we are infamous {right, girls?}. Several live away, scattered about the South mainly {Erika, does deep Florida count as being in the South?}, with only two of us around here. This has happened thanks to the good Lord {friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them - can you hear it?} and facebook. That's right, God can work through facebook. And it shouldn't surprise you!

We keep up with the goings-on of the other families, are able to watch the little ones grow up in pictures, pray new little ones into life, help each other grieve over death, and pray. And pray. And pray for each other. What a neat thing we have, girls! I'm smitten with each one of you!

So, one of said friends, Tamara, just opened a brand new Etsy store. Yay! It's called CrazyMamaCreations. You need to go check it out for sure, but here's a little sneaky peeky:


I may just need one of these for my #1 t-ball player. {He really is #1 y'all!}


I have so enjoyed being able to witness Tamara's growing passion for God in recent years, and have loved reading of what she gleans from the Word, especially Lamentations and Isaiah. She has a way with words anyway, but add that to a heart seeking the Father. How lovely it's been. That's why I love the pendant below. It's scripture is from Isaiah 60:5 which says, "Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy." See, each pendant has a scripture reference handwritten on the back. And this radiant one has caught my eye - I want to be radiant because of Christ. So does Tamara, and the rest of the girls from way back when.


So, check out my girl at her blog and at her neat store. You'll be happy you did!

Monday, March 28, 2011

giving thanks

It's been a long Monday. I am worn down because of the littlest's need for four of five pacifier replacings during the night for the last several nights. I am ready for the warmth of the bed, ready for several hours straight of sleeping. Not expecting it. But first I sit, open my notebook, and share my gifts:

7. How Miles still wants us to walk him up to his classroom at school.


8. The tiniest kiss {hearing his breathing in my ear} he gave me last Friday, just outside the classroom.

9. Ella's worn out ballet slippers, sweet new ones waiting to dance.

10. Biggest brother holding littlest sister during church.

11. Milla's laugh, and those sweet baby eyes that search for her momma.

12. Hearing a song, feeling like He is singing it to me, over me.
               "My love is a light, driving away all of your fear. So don't be afraid, remember I made
                a promise to keep you safe..."  {from Keep You Safe by JJ Heller}

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

5 years it's been...

since my dad breathed his last of this life. I remember the last whisper in his ear, "Go and rest. I'll love you forever." The next morning he finally let go of this life, just as we had to finally let go of him. It was then that the hard part began.

I miss Dad daily- not a day that goes by that he's not on my mind, in my heart. I wonder if he knows about our lives. Has he seen Elijah grow into a small version of himself? Will he watch as Miles plays his first season of real t-ball soon? Is he head over heels for Ella, and does she remind him of me when I was little? Is he as smitten over Milla Jean as the rest of us are - his last, spoiled, adored grandchild? Has he watched as my mom has learned to go forward without him at her side, because that's all she can do? Does he know that my brother has moved his family back here, and that he has it hard at times feeling like he has to fill Dad's shoes? Take care of us in Dad's stead? Has he seen me struggle and seek and pray and wait, find more of my Father... and ebb and flow, ebb and flow in that relationship? Would he be proud of who I am, who I've become since he died, because he died? Does he know of our leap of faith, Jonathan's work, the very work Dad was so hoping would happen over five years ago?

I like to think that somehow, at least from time to time, he is able to see what happens to us, the left behind, the still journeying. I like to think that not only Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses and the rest listed in Hebrews 11, but also others who have gone on, are in the cloud of witnesses spoken of in Hebrews 12:1.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Once again, I am in awe of the love my Father has for me, because as I started to think about this post, I just so happened upon a link to a Tim Keller sermon entitled "Suffering: If God is Good, Why is there so much Evil in the World?" So I listened and took notes and was ministered to and loved on by my Father. Still, there is no succinct  answer all wrapped up neatly, but truly like the answer to all questions it is this: those who believe have hope. Below are notes I furiously typed as I listened, and he says it so beautifully:

"In Jesus Christ God became vulnerable and subject to suffering and pain and even death... on the cross, to our astonishment we see... if you've lost a loved one, we look up on the cross and see the Father losing His only Son... and Jesus screaming out in pain "why? why?"

At the cross we see how far God went to be with us in our sufferings. The cross can tell you that it can't be that he doesn't love us or that he doesn't care... he plunged himself to... infinite degrees beyond anything we will ever suffer so that one day He can end evil without ending us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.   1 Peter 1:3-12

A living hope (verse 3) is a power, a dynamism, something that really gets you through that furnace (speaking of our individual trials as our own personal fiery furnace) inheritance kept in heaven... the foretaste of it is the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. That's the promise. The resurrection isn't compensation for the life lost, it is restoration of that life... this world, your body, your loved ones, it comes back... pure, unfading, imperishable, unspoiled...

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]
 55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
   Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.   1 Corinthians 15:50-58
And we shall be changed... death has been swallowed up in victory.

The experience of losing them made the experience of having them infinitely greater. The experience of losing them had been swallowed up by the experience of having them, so that it was infinitely more precious. If Jesus Christ's resurrection happened, and it did...then it means everything sad, everything horrible is going to be brought up into our future glory and resurrection and make it infinitely better than it had been if we've never had any of those experiences and that's the final and ultimate defeat of suffering and death. Everything sad will come untrue and yet the resurrection will be infinitely greater for it having once been true, all that suffering and all that evil.

Keller quoted Dostoyevsky:
"I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, for all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov) BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Hebrews 12:  for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross... and Isaiah 53 shows that the results of His suffering He will see and be satisfied - you are His living hope, you - beautified, unspoiled, unfading, in His arms... The thought that you are His living hope will make Him your living hope.

Look into the gospel the way the angels do {1 Peter 1:8}, see in new ways what He has done for you, and you will rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, and if you do your griefs will be taken up into His story and turned to gold."

I know these notes may seem sort of pieced together, but I wanted the words to be Keller's and not mine. To hear the entire message click on this link:

Suffering: If God is Good, Why is there so much Evil in the World. by Tim Keller

If you are still reading this, bless you. It's been long I know. These words have spoken such hope into my heart, and articulated ideas I had perhaps begun to have, but not nearly so beautifully and well thought out. My heart is so heavy as I write this. I am missing my dad. What I'd give to have those arms around me at this moment. But I have hope that I will see him again, when it is my turn to cease the striving. I have hope in the cross of Christ that makes death not the end but theTrue beginning. I have hope that "everything sad will come untrue and yet the resurrection will be infinitely greater for it having once been true."

I have hope, and so I have enough. And more than.

{Still loving you, Dad... your doll-lady}

Monday, March 21, 2011

giving thanks

"...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20

I remember well the first time this scripture really sprang from the page and was written all over my heart. And really, it kind of got all over me, and I wasn't sure why. Just weeks earlier Dad had died, and I just could not wrap my mind around "always giving thanks...for everything" in a season of why's and deep hurt and the intense missing. But the verse just keep after me.

Soon, I discovered I was pregnant with my Ella, and Miles was yet to turn one. After the calling to my mom, crying and in shock, and after some days, I realized that this is why the verse spun around in my head like it had. It began a work in my heart. It began the long process of teaching me to "always give thanks...for everything." {A process that continues today.} I quickly became thankful for my unexpected gift {being pregnant}, because of life growing inside, and life to look forward to. I saw, not unlike Job although with much less catastrophe, that He gives and takes away. And finally, finally, after a long time, learned to be thankful even for my dad's death. How? Thankful that his suffering ended by the most wonderful healing possible, healing at Home. Thankful that his striving could cease. Thankful to have had him in the first place. Thankful because God makes good come from bad and turns ashes into beauty and turns sorrow into joy. Yes, thanks be to God.

It's not easy, this "always giving thanks...for everything," and so I am reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts to find some encouragement in the trying. I was planning to read the entire book and then start writing my own list of gifts. Enter the sewing of the Easter dresses, the schooling, the decisions, the every day whatever and I have not finished the book. I'm determined to pick it up again, actually in just a few minutes, but I no longer want to wait to begin my list. I have no reason to wait to be thankful. If I learn to look for them, there are gifts all around, every day.

So as I keep reading, I'll start writing:

  1. Freckles reemerging on little cheeks and noses.
  2. The hard-working man, sitting at this moment working. He'll be up late tonight {again}. 
  3. Sunday afternoon nap with my baby girl, after watching her sleepy eyes finally give in.
  4. photo(11) 
  5. Blurry but sweet picture taken by Miles as Milla played with my hand and I talked to my mom.
  6. photo(10)
  7. Laughter with friends.
  8. Reading a book to Miles {and thinking of the thinks we can think if only we try}.

I'm linking up with others making lists, counting His gifts:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

what I've been up to.

1. sewing. And I may have bitten off more than I can chew this time. I'm attempting an heirloom lace dress for Milla for Easter. This pattern has to be one of the easiest lace dresses to make ever, but it's kicking my tail. After this one, I'll move on to Ella's, which hopefully will be easier because Swiss eyelet lace is less delicate than the French lace on Milla's. Now I understand why these dresses cost so much to purchase already made. Yikes.


2. eating green ice cream. Actually I've only done this once and it was to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day at a local eatery. Elijah and Ella went for the plain chocolate, but Miles and I braved a chocolate and green swirl. Yum.


So, to recap... I've been sewing {and sewing and sewing and sewing}. It's taken my efforts away from most everything else {except the basic care of my children, of course}. The laundry and dishes are piling up. But this dress will NOT defeat me, so something has to give. Right? And one time I had green ice cream. The end.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

my four babies...

at six to seven months in each picture. See some similarities? Can you tell who is who?


Mercy me, how I love these four.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


here I am again. Writing about the issue of school. Again. After much prayer {fretting and general worry on my part}, the boys have been invited to enroll in the school we applied for. And while Jonathan and I both feel that God has brought us to this point, to this place, for a purpose, I still find myself feeling a bit torn. It's the loss of control that I find myself fearing. And then my wise husband reminds me that I have never truly been in control anyway, and that honestly, the feeling of wanting control does not come from God. And you know what? Fear isn't from Him either.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Now, we also believe that God did in fact call us to bring Elijah home for this season. This time has been challenging, precious, faith building, maturing, and a time of growth {for Elijah and me!} all at once. We have seen Elijah's confidence grow as he was able to learn in a way more suited to his needs. We tried to walk this path without medication for his ADD. It was hard, and for reasons more than academics, we prayerfully decided to try him on medicine. God never said we journey through this life on a straight path, did He?

So we are now feeling the leading to this place, this specific school, for our children. A place where Elijah can receive the attention he needs due to small class sizes, and where he can safely learn to cope with the challenges he faces due to his special way of thinking. Those with ADD obviously have academic challenges due to the inability to focus {particularly on what they find to be boring}, but there are also social and emotional issues. And while keeping him home feels so good and safe in that I can keep close watch over him, there will come a day when I can't be right there. He needs the chance to learn even now how to handle his challenges without me always right there to fix things. I think a large part of that is allowing him to be responsible to someone other than me for his academic learning.

And for all of the children, because Ella will follow in 2012, this school feels right as it sets as it's primary focus to come alongside us as we disciple the children for Christ. Academics serves as the means to that end. As I see it, and feel we've been led on this {crooked} path to this point, this sweet school is going to bless our children, our family, as it prepares them to grow in wisdom and in stature. In academics, but most importantly in the Lord.BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop And just maybe God will also work through us to bless the school, and others through the school, as well.

So, we are still praying about this being the right choice. We feel that it is and that God's hand
has been all over this process. We have to let the school know our plans by April 1st. Will you pray along with us? And who knows? Even if this is the path for now, maybe one day God will have me bring them back home... He seems to want me to stick to that "Your Word is a lamp to my feet" idea. In following His direction, I have a bit of light for the next step, not a flood light for the next one hundred steps. He's wanting it to be day by day around here. Maybe one day I'll {finally} accept that.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:8
This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow." Isaiah 48:17
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

Elijah and I in front of the Tanenbaum screen at the museum of fine arts. Taken a couple weeks ago. Where has my little boy gone?