A Daddy’s Day

I wrote this on Father’s Day a few years ago. It’s still one of my favorites…

 

Once Upon A Time…

There was a little girl and her Daddy. And they went burshin’.

Burshin’, you wonder?

Well, the little girl was only three and that was the best she could do. Fishin’ was what she was trying to say.

They took their little jon boat and went burshin’ and caught all kinds of bursh! Big ones, little ones. Some they kept. Some they didn’t. They were hooking worms and eating sandwiches when all of a sudden…

BIG GIGANTIC  SNAKES!!
Lots of them and they were coming out of everywhere!
Some were hanging from trees and falling in the boat. Some were swimming down the river right towards them!

Well, that little girl of three wasn’t scared at all, cause she had her daddy with her and she knew that he would protect her.

Sure enough, he grabbed his handy dandy pistol that he must have kept in his boot and started shootin’! I mean he shot that snake right OUT of that tree! And the ones swimming towards them, poor things didn’t have a chance!

POW! POW! BANG!

Her daddy was the best shot on the Ashepoo River. No one could match him.

She wasn’t even worried about the one that fell in the boat. Her daddy yanked that thing right up by it’s tail, flung it around his head a few times and threw it down the river!

She was so proud. But not surprised. Because, simply put, he was her hero.

They counted their fish like nothing ever happened and drove their little jon boat off into the sunset towards home. Just another day on the river with Daddy.

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I have told this story for years. Fondly reminiscing, bragging slightly on my brave daddy, sharing my childhood memories with family and friends. Never realizing until just a couple of years ago that the events of the story were not actual fact, but instead exaggerated imaginings of a three-year-old little girl.

My daddy really did take me fishing in a little jon boat and I’m sure we ate sandwiches. But there were never any snakes or cowboy acrobatics, not even a pistol stowed away in his boot, since he was probably wearing flip-flops.

I had pretty much made the entire thing up in my head and not only believed it to be true, but shared this story as unadulterated fact!

Mom and Dad corrected me as I shared it around the family table a few years back. I was completely clueless to the fact that I had been telling lies!

We all had a pretty good laugh that night.

But deep down I was a little devastated. I had really believed it to be true and it was like I woke up from my dream, only to realize none of it was real.

I thought about it all for a while, wondering how I could have imagined such a story and believe it to the point of telling it as truth.

Where had those snakes come from? And the heroic actions of my father?

I believe they came from the place inside of my heart that believed my daddy could do anything. That place inside of every little girl’s heart that wants to hold tightly to the belief that daddy’s can do no wrong, that they will always protect their little girls and will always be her hero.

But that really isn’t true either, is it?

I think maybe that is why it was so hard for me to except the fact that the story I had believed to be true for so many years, wasn’t.

No matter how good our daddies are, they will disappoint us.

But that’s ok.

Everyone needs permission to fail. No one can live under the weight of perfection or idolization. Eventually a chink in the armor will give and parts of their weaknesses will be exposed.

And when that happens it can be really painful. Devastating even.

But only because it exposes more about us than the other person.

We have been given an insatiable need to be wanted, protected and fought for. And sometimes we see hints of that in this life and how sweet that can be. But mostly it’s just a hint.

Because we are broken people who need Someone much bigger than us to be our Rescuer, our Protector, our Provider.

We get confused sometimes and place that responsibility on the people living around us. Instead of accepting their propensity to fail us and loving them anyway.

It’s a great thing having a good daddy. I am thankful for that gift. Thankful for a man who has always loved me and been a constant in my life. I’m even thankful for his failures too. Because they remind me of my own and my need for a Heavenly Daddy who has made a way. A way for grace, a way for rescue, a way for forgiveness and a way for this little-girl-heart to never stop believing in a Daddy who will always be her hero.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you. And thanks for taking me burshin’.

Just What We Needed

I know I’ve not shared much here over the last several months. But I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me for that, right?

Writing is an emotional thing for me I’m learning. And I think I’ve been slightly emotionally depleted these past several months. Writing asked more of me than I could give, so that’s why I’ve been quiet. I’m trying to work through it. I’m pushing through. I’m not giving up on this thing I love.

Every now and then I guess we just need a breather.

A rest. A break. An opportunity to renew and refocus. A sweet breath of fresh air.

Like that salty breeze that hits you hard and only comes from the place where your toes sink into the edge of the ocean. Eyes closed, arms outstretched, hair whipping wildly, and you standing there welcoming in that long awaited relief.

Ahhh… It’s great living by the ocean.

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These last days of December 2013, that’s just what I’ve needed.

The last few years have come to a close, ending with such a heaviness. I’m starting to think that this just might be the new norm. Life is hard. But is it always SO hard?

I have watched dear friends lose dearly loved ones. Three friends lost their sweet baby girls. Another lost her husband. Another her brother. And just a few short weeks ago another friend said goodbye to her 19 month old baby boy. He was Judah’s friend and it is just so close.  There have been so many other heart wrenching stories I have heard of as well. From friends of friends and members of our church. There has been so much loss. Just so much.

We know that heaven is sweet and there is absolutely no other place we wish for those we love the most to be. But this earthly grief and separation stabs deep. And it leaves us without breath as we watch from the outside completely helpless.

Nothing else has ever taken me to this dark place of questioning. I have never been afraid of God, not like this. I have never spent so much time on the floor, completely powerless to stand. I have never, never felt this helpless or out of control. And I have never seen faith in God acted out like I have in these few short weeks.

I’ll never forget when I was 13, my brother was 10 and he was high in a tree, held by a rope swing and the rope snapped. The pressure was too great, the rope too thin, the tree bark too sharp and it just snapped. He fell and landed hard. I watched, helpless as his eyes bulged and he gasped for breath, but the air would not enter his lungs. There was panic in his eyes as he willed his lungs to work those long minutes that felt like hours. There was panic in my screams as I watched him suffer from the impact of the blow. The air was hit hard out of him and there was nothing. anyone. could. do.

I have been that 13 year old girl. Panicked and helpless. Screaming, willing for air to enter.

There is a story that I listen to often. A story I have referred to many times before. A story for children God has used for this weary heart. A story of A Horse and His Boy. The boy was seeing Aslan for the first time and it was all coming together for him. HE had been the lion who had pushed him through the waters to the violent man who raised him. HE had been the lion who had chased them through the desert. HE had been the lion who had slashed his friend wounding and causing her deep pain… How then could he be GOOD?

I have been Chasta, the boy. Asking God, how could you have allowed these things? This deep pain that takes away the ability to breath, which causes such heart ache you almost wish it would stop beating. The ache and the empty and the grief that crashes like waves, threatening to drown. Why, God? How, God? Why like this?

Like the lion Aslan has been described, God too, is good, but He is not safe.

I want to think that He IS safe. That nothing ever bad will happen to his children. That we can walk in ignorant bliss through this life and never be touched by grief. This is what I want.

But like we can ask of most things we want, is it really what we need?

What we need is Jesus. And only Jesus.

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Through this deep grief and loss I have been deeply convicted of where I place my hope and trust. While processing through this I have shared with several friends, that I have not wanted to place all my eggs in one basket so to speak. So I have placed hope-eggs everywhere. In my husband, children, relationships, finances, my house, my church, things… oh yeah, and Jesus too.

Jesus is important, but He has not been my first and only hope. Other things have taken his place, or rather, I have given His place to other things.

This was the prayer of an 8 year old boy about to say goodbye to his baby brother, “Jesus, you are our only hope… please help us to trust your will.”  When I heard this, I was brought hard to my knees. Jesus told us to look to the faith of little children. To follow their example and lead of a blind and simple faith. They accept it. They believe it. They embrace it.

As we grow up, we lose that kind of faith and trust. We push ourselves through this weary life relying on our own strength and trick ourselves into believing we have control. And then get angry with God when he tries to bring us back to a simpler, child-like acceptance of His sovereign hand over our lives. It is not safe, but it is always for our ultimate good.

I have asked over and over, “What is the good?”

I’m beginning to think that our ultimate good is to always see a clearer view of Jesus. It is not through the easy times that our view becomes less foggy. No, it is often through
times of pain, of loss. Of grief so sharp it leaves a heart-wound and that is what sharpens our view of Christ.  We are forced to stop. Forced to question. Forced to decide and take hold of what we believe about God. Only then does our verbal faith become an action faith. When everything seems to be falling apart. When reality turns into our worst nightmare. When nothing makes any sense and half your world is gone. And you still choose to believe that God only gives us good gifts. That He is never changing. That His love endures forever. That He still sees. That He still hears. That He will carry you through.

That is when He becomes your only Hope.

I am thinking of the story of Hagar. Her troubles had forced her to run into the desert. She was afraid for her life and she had come to her end. But God. But God met her there… at her end. When nothing or no one else could rescue. God could. And God did. That is where she saw Him; stripped, completely helpless, at the very end of herself. He is the God who hears. He is the Living God who Sees. (Gen. 16) And He wants us to see Him, clearly, and only Him.

I have been deeply shaken. But I know that I am settling. Settling in after much wrestling, many tears, and loud screams. My eyes burn and my throat aches, my heart throbs and my head hurts. But I feel certain my vision of Jesus is slightly clearer.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1Cor. 13:12

For my friends, there will be many, many days of grief ahead. I ache for them. I want to take away their suffering, but I know that I can’t. I would be robbing them of the great work of God in their lives. And as painful as that work can be, I know that not even our tears are wasted.

Even in the midst of such grief, I know that God is here among us. There is still much hope.

I wasn’t sure how to do Christmas this year. It felt almost wrong to celebrate. But singing the Christmas hymns, I realized that Christmas is the perfect time to see anew the true hope we have been given.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

As I sang quietly, the tears fell. My hands raised slightly opening in surrender. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…

Our world is so weary. Yet He gives us sweet hope in the midst.

I felt this in a tangible way Christmas night. The best surprises are those you never see coming.

Sitting in the midst of the Christmas chaos, a combined 6 children squirming and squealing, opening presents from aunts and uncles, Baba’s and Dadada’s, I felt a slight shift in the atmosphere. It wasn’t loud or obvious, but I turned my head just the same.

I looked over at my mom who was holding a partially unwrapped package, her eyes staring. The contents were still concealed but I could tell they held great meaning. I looked from her to the gift bearer and back again, desperately trying to discern what it meant.

Their eyes were wet and Mom whispered, “Really? You are?”

I jumped from my seat. I’m not really sure why, I just reacted to the surge of hope within me, and I jumped.

“Really. I am.”

It was quiet, but it resounded loud within me. A baby. A life. Hope born.

The tears were immediate as I yelled, “YOUR PREGANT!?!?!?!”

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My logic couldn’t believe it, but my heart screamed that it be true. When I saw her nod, my arms flew open, engulfing my brother and his wife. Hunter, a dad. Amy, a mother. A moment I really thought I would never see. I was completely overcome by shock and joy and laughter and tears. I rode the wave of emotion, letting it wash over me. Everyone joined in at this point, each family member coming into realization. A baby. Sweet hope of life reborn.

Looking around at each person there, I knew this was what we needed. I’m not the only who has screamed for answers this year or begged God for mercy or felt the burden of grief weigh heavy. None of us are alone in the weariness of life.

It was then I felt the cool breeze of relief rush into my soul. A lightness entered that had been absent for a long time. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…  I looked around and marveled as each one took turns congratulating, wiping tears, and embracing one another.

It was a moment in time that will be forever frozen in my memory. A testimony to the Living God who Sees. Who is forever faithful. Whose love endures to the very end. He, who is our Only Hope.

With that, I will take courage and welcome a New Year.

“Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raised the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us…” 2 Cor. 1:9-10

Goodnight Moon

It’s one of my favorites. That little book. I used to have it memorized, now it’s only parts I remember.

Bedtime has always been my favorite time of day.

It’s still a favorite. But I think my reasons have changed.

Before it was because I was tired. I mean, really exhausted. Mommy was done. I had been going since my feet hit the floor. Giving, giving, giving. There were battles over bowls and cups and the right color. Toy wars had ensued. Sometimes I came out the victor. Sometimes. Discipline had been accomplished. Spankings, timeouts, no t.v., no snack, come inside NOW!

We may have gone to the grocery store, if we absolutely had to. That meant one car seat captive in the back of the buggy, a walking 20 month old beside me and the older 3 year old in the front seat of the buggy. Believe me, this was how it had to be, as funny as it may have looked.

I endured the stares and comments… My you have your hands full! …You must be military, he’s home just long enough to get you pregnant! (really, do people have no couth these days!?) …God bless your SOUL!  I repeated my rehearsed replies, Why yes I do and I’m so thankful! … No, I’m not military, but am so thankful for their service to our country, military wives included … God HAS blessed me, yes. That shut them up, most of the time.

After several melt downs along the way, the kids included, we would arrive home. It was usually nap time by this point. I would quickly deposit the kids in their nap locations, some on my bed with books, others in cribs. Then I would tackle the bags and bags of groceries, which would hopefully last more than a week. This is why I didn’t need to go to the gym.

I would try and take advantage of the quiet to get dinner started, but usually got distracted at some point while putting things away. I’d end up cleaning behind the dryer or something and would later wonder why my back hurt.

By the time dinner was well under way there was usually someone on my hip and another one clinging to my leg. I had the other watching Cinderella for sanity purposes.

Daddy would come home. We’d try and have a conversation while inhaling our food over the high volume level of little ones and in between the 20 times I had to get up and go back to the kitchen for something. I’m sure someone had spilled something or picked that time to want to try and go potty and don’t forget about the nursing baby who’s internal radar senses the precise moment you sit down to eat.

Bath time was essential after dinner. Mashed potatoes were now in ears and caked over eyebrows and they smelled like whatever chicken dish I had haphazardly thrown together. I couldn’t risk a tiger picking up their scent in the middle of the night. We would all be wet by the time it was over. But they were clean and smelling so good and I would just breathe them in.

Some nights we would rock and sing and read books before bed. Most nights we would. I would pray over their fuzzy heads as I laid them down in their beds, 1, 2, and 3.  I would sigh a huge sigh of relief as I tiptoed out of their rooms, crossing my fingers in hopes of not having to return sometime in the middle of the night.

Walking down the stairs I felt satisfied. Another day done. I had survived it. A smile would creep over my potato crusted face. I would get to that later. For now, it was the kitchen that must be tackled and then the slippery bathroom and the 10,000 toys that seemed to multiply by themselves which were scattered across the floor, just beckoning you to come and step on one. It may be quiet, but the work was not done.

Many hours later I myself would crawl in bed. I may have tried to read, but wouldn’t get very far. The book would have fallen across my chest. I would turn off the light after waking around 2am. I’d make sure the monitor was on. I may have traveled up the stairs just to make sure that tiger hadn’t found them and would again revel in their stillness.

During the rest of the night my mind and body would be renewed by precious sleep. Unlikely uninterrupted, but precious all the same.

I would wake again the next morning to more diapers and tantrums and laundry and spit up and… well you probably get the picture.

I’m not proud to admit the survival-mode mentality I lived with in those first few years of mothering. But I was a different person back then. A different mother. I was in a very different season of life and I’d like to think that I’ve seasoned over time and matured just a bit. Just like with every other thing, I’ve grown better at mothering the more experience I’ve had.

Many have commented on how differently I’m doing things with number four. Again, it’s a different season, I’m a different mommy.

Tucking them in at night is different too. I’m still tired at the end of the day. They are still loud and still fight and we still battle through the grocery store. But my perspective has been tweaked just a bit. I’m not always in such a hurry to end another day.

If you combine all of my kid’s years, then we have celebrated 22 birthdays so far. That’s a lot. And I can’t believe Judah’s first is next month! The more years that flash by, I think the more a Mama realizes just how fast it really goes.

You also realize that no matter what mess or catastrophe may happen in a day, you will survive it. Even if you’ve been up all night with a sick one, you know you will sleep again. You know the crying will stop and the food throwing and the booger wiping (well, maybe) and the constant bickering and running through the house with muddy shoes… one day we will all have clean houses and we will hate it.

There will be an end to this crazy season of ‘mothering’. We will never stop being mothers, but will stop the mothering part. And we will stop tucking them in at night too. They will grow too old for Good Night Moon and I Love You This Much and all my other favorites. Some of mine already have.

That’s what I think of when I tuck them in sometimes. So I don’t mind laying just a bit longer and snuggling a bit closer. And don’t mind giving one more kiss or hug or listening to one more thing that happened in their day or meeting the challenge of tickle me too! They just love that. But I think I love it more.

So as we say good night to our young ones, let’s remember that we will one day say good bye to these precious days. We will heave a sigh of relief I’m sure, but I think we’ll miss it more. This shouldn’t make us sad. Great things and great hope come with every season of life. But maybe it will help to give us a better perspective as we fight off the temptation to rush things and wish it away.

In the great green room there was a telephone
And a red balloon and a picture of–

The cow jumping over the moon

and there were three little bears, sitting on chairs
and two little kittens and a pair of mittens

and a little toy house and a young mouse
and a comb and a brush and bowl full of mush
and a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”

Goodnight room goodnight moon
goodnight cow jumping over the moon
goodnight light and the red balloon

goodnight bears goodnight chairs
goodnight kittens goodnight mittens
goodnight clocks and goodnight socks
goodnight little house and goodnight mouse
 
goodnight comb and goodnight brush
goodnight nobody goodnight mush
and goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”

goodnight stars, goodnight air

goodnight noises everywhere

He Built a House

It’s taken me too long to write this post.

I started it almost a year ago and had to stop. I realized I couldn’t just write about the house. I couldn’t write about the house without writing about the man who built the house.

And I realized I couldn’t write about the man who built the house without writing about why he built it.

This is a big story. A sad story. And it’s really not mine to tell. I had to ask permission. But I will still only tell it from my perspective.

The man we are talking about is my Daddy.

The house began with a dream. And this is what I remember of the beginning of that dream. I was a young child so there is a chance that my childhood lens might be a little clouded or rose-tinted, but this is how I remember it.

I remember making the drive out to Seabrook. It seemed like such a long drive. We’d come out just to look around. It was fun.

There was this big white house with double porches. It looked like one of those really neat houses that you see in movies. I dreamed of living in that house. There were two other white houses across the street. They were smaller, but just as pretty. They looked like family.

There were railroad tracks.

And old buildings that once were special to this small town. Had it really been a town?

There was an old post office that people still used. What fun it would be to have your own post office box! And a key to match it and to have to ride your bike to get your mail. I dreamed of having a post office box.

There were other old buildings that I wanted so badly to explore. They looked so intriguing.

And there were pecan trees. So many pecan trees. What I eventually came to understand was that this used to be a pecan orchard and some of those ‘other old buildings’ were the packing sheds.

The neighborhood smelled of onion grass and it made me want to reach my hand down under the earth and pull a small bunch out and take a bite. It smelled so delicious.

There were two matching silos. Had those been used for the pecans too? I wondered.

There was a dock that you could fish off or swim off or go crabbing off of. But you had to live there to do those things…

And we didn’t.

That was the dream.

Mom and Dad would drive out there and imagine all of those things too. I’m sure just as I did, including wanting their very own post office box.

It was always a little sad when we would drive back home. To the house we knew and the busy street we lived on. Not that we didn’t love that house too, but it just wasn’t part of the dream.

I remember going to Park Day with our homeschooling group. We met at a house that was in Seabrook too (ironically this would one day be my family’s house, my one-day-husband’s family). As we turned left to go home, we would all longingly look out the car window to the right and say, “Maybe one day we will be able to turn right to go home…”

It was strange when that day came. I was 13 when we moved out here to this quiet little neighborhood. The roads were still dirt. The houses far apart. There were woods everywhere. Oh how we loved all those things.

Playing manhunt with friends became a favorite. Climbing trees and picking pecans off the ground to eat was another. Staying outside til after dark and taking long walks down to the dock that we could finally call our own, well it was a dream come true for my family.

We eventually moved into another house just down the road from the first one. I loved that house. I used to babysit for a family that lived in that house and now we did. It was strange at first. But it would eventually become our own.

I left that house to go to college. I remember the night before sitting on our porch swing. A favorite place. I cried. I had just said good-bye to my then boyfriend, who would become my husband. I didn’t want to say goodbye to anyone else. Not to my parents or brother or sister. Or to my house where I felt so safe and at home.

I came back often to visit. I just couldn’t stay away for long. I was sooo homesick.

I got married in that house. Well, in a church, but you know.

After that my parents decided to build a house in the neighborhood.

That decision didn’t come easy.

I wasn’t living at home anymore. I had my own house somewhere else. But that place was still so special to me. The thought that they wouldn’t live there forever was a strange one for me. That I wouldn’t be able to come sit on the porch swing made me sad. But things were happening out of their control and they knew they had to do something.

They put that sweet little white house up for sale.

I knew it was just a house. But it had been my house. I grow attached to things easily, so it was hard to let go the day they closed on it. It was so hard for many other reasons too.

My parent’s world was starting to crumble. At first it was just small pieces. But then the pieces started to get bigger and bigger. We would later learn how big.

I remember watching my Daddy build this house. It seemed to take a really long time. So much was happening in his life and I remember thinking, building this house is what’s saving him.

And I still believe that it did.

We don’t really talk about that time much. It’s almost like we aren’t allowed. My parents have never said that. But it still feels that way. There were so many people involved. People we still know. People we were so close to.

That’s just it. We were so close to so many and then we weren’t.

How do you recover from that? I mean fully? How do you talk about it? How do you share honestly without causing further pain to others?

I don’t want to do that. Not anymore at least. Maybe that’s why I’ve waited so long to write about it. I’m not bitter anymore.. I’ve extended grace and forgiveness even when it wasn’t reciprocated. I’ve moved passed the consuming anger, even if I still get angry.

Even though I would never want to cause further pain to those involved, I think it’s important to acknowledge the hurt. I think it’s ok to say, wait a minute, I’ve been left wounded.

Watching my parents go through that was excruciating. And still is at times. Knowing there was nothing I could do to take away their pain. Nothing I could do to help them regain their life as they new it before. And learning how much had truly been lost… the relationships, their identity and occupation, the good standing in their community and church, their reputation.  If it had just been money. If it had just been a house. If it had just been a job. If it had just been a friend or two.

But oh, it was so much more.

It was devastating and baffling and confusing. Almost like being side-swiped by a car. It just came out of nowhere and left our heads and lives spinning. The damage left us totaled, but mostly mom and dad.

But the hardest thing was to remember there used to be light in his eyes and there isn’t anymore.

I know things are going to happen. I know that no church is immune to problems. I know that people are imperfect, that they make mistakes. It is foolish to expect anything else.

It’s one thing to make mistakes. It’s another to pass over someone lying in a proverbial ditch with a gaping heart-wound. That’s just not ok. That’s what it felt like.

But I guess in a way it is ok. Because nothing happens out of God’s control. Nothing goes unnoticed by Him. Nothing happens in a person’s life unless He deems it right and good and for our ultimate holiness and His ultimate glory. That’s why we can forgive and move on and look to the future with hope.

If nothing else, (and there is so much more) I’ve learned that people are fragile. More fragile than we think. Sometimes we can’t recover and wont until we reach heaven. Sometimes people smile when they really wish they would just die already. Sometimes their hurt runs so deep that several generations are effected by it.

People can’t be looked at through a lens of black and white. We are so much more complex than that. And so our problems. I wish it wasn’t so. I wish you could use a Bible verse like a bandaid. Or what worked for you. I wish we could expect people to give the right answer when they are hurting. But that’s impossible when they still haven’t found it yet.

You can’t expect people to stand up and walk without a limp when they have been so badly crippled.

I’ve also learned that it’s ok to talk about it as hard as it is. To share the pain. Not to inflict more pain, but in hopes of find healing for yourself and for others.

In giving us our stories, God never meant for us to keep silent about them. He meant for us to share them with speech seasoned with grace, as it were with salt. Sometimes salt burns. But sometimes that’s needed for healing to take place.

So when I walk into this house that I now call home, it’s sometimes weird to think that this is where my parents used to live and now I live here. I never lived here with them.

But I love that I live here now and that they live just behind us. At first I thought it would be hard to be so close. But after a year, it has only been good. So good.

So good to see my Daddy’s house being used. Being filled with lots of grandchildren and noise and messes. That the table he built twenty plus years ago is still being dined upon by many who love him. Who know the man he is and used to be. And who only wish for his happiness and healing.

But even though it makes me so happy to be living here. I sometimes get sad too.

I get sad when I look at the concrete floor in the living room. I remember seeing it right after it was poured. I remember seeing my dad looking so beaten down. So discouraged and confused and hurt.

I remember the long hours he would be here. To escape. To survive.

I remember worrying so much. That he would fall or get hurt when he was by himself. That no one would know to come help him.  And no one really did know to come and help.

I remember watching Mom up so high on the scaffolding white washing the walls that turned out so beautiful.

I remember the question in her eyes. What’s happened? Why?

I remember the isolation we all felt. And still feel at times. Knowing that people were innocently wondering and talking and not knowing how to treat us.

There is so much good represented in this house. There is so much pain too. Because it represents a time in the life of my family that is hard to remember. Hard to look back upon and see the good.

But we are choosing to see the good. And we are thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on our family. Not everything was lost. And so much was truly gained. Understanding God’s grace over my life has been one of my greatest joys. I don’t know if I would have otherwise.

I hope a year after living here wasn’t too soon to share this story. I hope you understand my heart in this. I hope you see my family differently. I hope you see our fragility. But more importantly, I hope you see the strength of my Heavenly Father. And that His grace is all sufficient in our lives, no matter what course it may take. That you can be left standing!

Thanks, Daddy for the privilege of living under a roof that you built. It brings me so much pride to brag on you and your beautiful workmanship. You are one of the most gifted and talented men I know. I love that we are neighbors and that we share a yard. I love that your grandchildren run on floors that you laid. And that I cook in a kitchen you made. I love that you aren’t perfect, that you make mistakes and that I can love you anyway. And I love that you love me the same. You and mom have come so far. God has given you a story. A story that is meant to be shared, so that His glory isn’t wasted.
I love you, Daddy.

Why We Decided to Homeschool… And Then Changed Our Minds

I have been very slow at posting posts lately. I have had several in the works and for whatever reason, well I could probably name four,  have not been able to finish and publish!

This has been a very difficult one for me to actually write. I’ve literally started it more times than I know.

I think it’s because homeschooling has been such a part of my life since I was in 5th grade. It has played a huge role in shaping the person, wife and mother I have become (good and bad!) .

I love so much about it. I hate so much about it! It can definitely be a topic of one of the most emotionally charged conversations you will have. I know from experience. I think that is because so many have such strong convictions about it. Which is important and can be a good thing. It can also build walls and burn bridges. Both of which I have been a victim of and participator in.

Yeah, I’m so sorry.

Well, to catch those of you up who are not on facebook… We enrolled our sweet Livie Rose in a private Classical Christian school after Christmas.

Surprise!!

I have been asked a lot of questions since then. And I want to take the time to explain where we are coming from and what brought us to this point.

Many of you already know this, but Dustin and I were both homeschooled as children. And when it came time for us to decide what we were going to do for our own children’s education it was a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I had always assumed we would homeschool. I was a staunch believer in it. Quite legalistic even. I had pretty much made a blanket decision for all of humanity that homeschooling was the best and only option if you were to produce obedient, God fearing children.

In college I even wrote a few research papers on the topic. Home Schooling Vs. Public Schooling was the title of one. I think I’ve burned it since… at least I should if I haven’t already done so.

But isn’t that how it usually is? Most pre-parents have a lot of preconceived notions of how raising children will be. They have it all figured out, until the doctor places that sweet baby in their arms. Can’t you envision their panick stricken faces?? Or are you just remembering your own?

See, I began to see homeschooling as a Biblical mandate. When we apply Biblical principles as
though it were a Biblical mandate, that’s when things start to get fishy.*

We LIKE rules. Yeah, we really do. It’s our nature… the nature that God gave us. He has written His moral code on each of our hearts. We were given the Ten Commandments. The Law. And whether we follow that law or not, we like to make sure others do!

You don’t have to dig very deep to see this. Just sit in a room of 2 and 3 year olds for a few minutes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. We do not have to be taught this. Again, it’s in our nature.

Unfortunately, there is also sin in our nature. So any bit of ‘good’ qualities we may have are often and quickly warped by sin. And this area is no exception.

We hear a really good Biblical principle and find a really good application of that principle and we automatically assume that EVERYONE should ALWAYS follow suit. (I remember learning in a counseling class I took in college that ‘extreme statements’ are NEVER good. EVER!)

I am so guilty of this and not just on this issue.

When Olivia was a young toddler I remember talking to a friend who had children in elementary school. They were having a hard time and she said, “Education is the hardest thing about parenting. It’s just so hard.”

I thought she was overreacting. I mean, really. Education is easy. You just homeschool them! I so unfairly judged her because she had her kids in a brick and mortar school. Sure, you will have hard days and it wont always be easy, but bring your kids home and all of your problems will be solved! Thankfully I didn’t say that to her, but that’s what I was thinking!

The closer the time came to make that decision for us, the more doubts I had. A lot of change had taken place in my mind and heart regarding this issue. And I wasn’t so sure it was always the best option for every family.

I began to understand that I had become super legalistic about a lot of things. I wasn’t really looking at people (or myself) as individuals with individual needs. It had become more about fitting into a certain mold so that I would be accepted by my peers, the leaders of the church, even God. I realized I had become more concerned with what others thought about what I was doing than what God might think. Our decision was being motivated by fear. Fear of man.

There was another kind of fear that was a huge motivator. And I think this is pretty common among many (and sometimes justified). Fear that if I didn’t homeschool, than I would ‘lose’ my kids. That they would ‘fall away from God’. And ultimately, that I would fail as a parent.

Yes, by putting your children in an anti-God environment 8 hours of their day, you take the risk of that happening. No question. Especially if you are not combating that at home with intentional, Biblical teaching.

But I began to take a closer look at the many homeschool families that I had grown up with. What I found was a little confusing to me. I found that if all of those children were put into a basket and you reached your hand in and grabbed a handful, half would come out following God and the other half sadly lost. They didn’t seem to know who they were or where they were going, much less who God was or what He meant to them.

How could this be?

So it wasn’t the ‘fix all’ answer to our problems after all. It didn’t come with a guarantee that our kids would ‘turn out alright’ or that I would even get the ‘perfect parent’ award.

So maybe it wasn’t the best option for every family.

We hesitated.

Things had been so clear before and now we were left with a whole lot of questions that we couldn’t find answers to. It’s hard trusting God when you can’t see the outcome.

To make an already long story a bit shorter…

We ended up enrolling Olivia in preschool at The Parish Church of St. Helena when she was three with much hesitation and trepidation. I was nervous at first. But it turned out to be a wonderful experience for all of us. Especially for my sweet, very rambunctious, very strong-willed three year old, who really did need more than I could give her at the time. I also had a 2 year old and a 6 month old at home and life was really busy for me. Hard even. Very hard.

She ended up staying at that little school for 3 years, including her Kindergarten year. We loved it. I assisted in a preschool class one of those years and had my boys in the preschool program as well. We were all there together. I got to see them on the playground and in their classes. It was so fun.

The following year they were not offering first grade. I wasn’t sure what we were going to do. I wasn’t ‘afraid’ of school anymore, the brick and mortar kind that is… Or was I?

I was so comfortable with the situation we had. We were all there together. I loved the environment. Olivia was thriving. Could I put her in a public school?

We explored many options and prayed A LOT! By the end of her Kindergarten school year I was almost beside myself. We were still undecided and I had no idea what to do.

Finally God offered clarity through my husband. Oh how thankful I was for him. He sat me down and said, “This is crazy! You are going crazy! And it’s making me crazy!!” He went on to say that he felt God was leading us to homeschool.

At that point I didn’t care what he told me to do. I was just glad to finally have an answer and be able to move forward.

That first year was quite challenging. Even though I had been homeschooled I had never actually home-schooled! It was tough, especially since I’m not the nurturing, teacher type. I don’t do lesson plans. I find no joy in coming up with fun crafts. Explaining how to add numbers made me feel a little loony at times. And being in a small space with three little ones all day took some major adjusting (attitude adjusting that is)!

It was tough. But I soon found myself learning to love it, if not parts of it. I didn’t feel like it was something we had to do to earn God’s approval or man’s approval. I wasn’t doing it out of fear (well, maybe a little). Mostly we were homeschooling because that was what God had lead us to do that year for that child. It was such a relief.

The next year came around and it was still hard. But I felt more confident and everything was just a bit easier than the year before. I added a kindergartner. We were finding our groove and I was enjoying the routine.

Maybe we’ll become a homeschool for life family after all!

We were approaching our third year of homeschooling. I was expecting our fourth child. For some reason I just wasn’t that nervous about it. It was the first year that I attended our local homeschool conference and didn’t burst into tears upon entering the building!

I had a plan. I knew more of what to expect. I knew which curriculum we were going to use. I had adjusted to being with my children all day every day and had come to love it. And I was excited!

The start of our third year was the best by far. It was fun even! Even with a newborn and schooling an additional one (a total of 3) I didn’t feel too overwhelmed.

And then…

Wham!!

It stopped working.

It had never been easy. We had our usual ups and downs and ruts as most homeschoolers can relate to. So I think my expectations were realistic as far as that goes.

But it became very apparent that we had hit a wall. I don’t know how else to describe it. Other than to add it was extremely intense.

I woke up dreading the day. We couldn’t even make it through a devotional. It was emotionally and mentally draining. And I didn’t know how to move passed it.

That was the thing. We couldn’t move on. I had to stop and that meant getting more and more behind academically. And we were getting absolutely no where relationally either. This was the part that disturbed me the most. 

To sacrifice your child’s education for the sake of bettering a relationship makes sense to me.
But sacrificing you and your child’s relationship for the sake of homeschooling is stupid and prideful.

That’s what we were doing.

I know this sounds a little backwards. If I hadn’t experienced it for myself I don’t think I would have believed it. Homeschooling is supposed to have the opposite affect. If you have a strained relationship with your child and you are able to focus more on them and their heart through the flexibility of homeschooling, then your relationship should be mended! It worked for me as a young elementary-age child and I had seen it work in the heart of Olivia as a first grader.

So I was genuinely caught off guard when the opposite began to take place. The harder I tried, the further I pushed her away. Is it a heart issue vs. a behavior issue? No doubt. Was I aware of that? Yep. Was I taking intentional steps to address that and not just the behavior? You betcha. Did I have the capability to change her heart? Absolutely not. Never will I ever have the ability to change the heart of my child.

I can do my best to foster an atmosphere of repentance through prayer and teaching and heart focus. But it is ultimately up to God if actual heart change is to occur.

The approach we were taking just wasn’t working and her overall spirit was taking a rapid decline. We had to make a change.

A change was needed for other reasons as well.

I have never believed that education is everything. Especially class room education. I truly believe you can produce healthy minded, well rounded, intelligent children in a home education environment. I have seen many encouraging examples of this.

I have also never taken the stance that “It’s just third grade” as I’ve heard many say. I believe it’s important. No matter what grade. Each year you are adding to the foundation of education that will take them throughout their entire educational career! If that is not a strong foundation it wont continue to get stronger on it’s own. It will get shakier and shakier and will make things much harder for them in the end.

So although education isn’t everything, it is VERY important and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

During this time of my life a lot was being demanded of me. And maybe the emotional strain was making things ten times harder than it should have been, but I just wasn’t doing my job as home-educator well – enough.

Things were falling through the cracks. There were many days that I just couldn’t get to everything… or to one of my kids at all. I had a HUGE cloud of guilt hanging over me. I don’t need my children to be academic geniuses. But I do want them to have a fair chance and to receive a good education.

I wasn’t providing that for them.

I also wasn’t providing an atmosphere of learning for Olivia that was suited to her needs. Instead I was squelching them. She is a very bright child. Very artsy if you will. Creative and fun and simply put, beautiful. Gosh, I love this kid. But I am sooo different from her! I admire her abilities and wish I could be more like her and enter her world better than I do. But the fact is, God created me to be who I am… with limitations. I was not cultivating the atmoshpere of learning that she needed to thrive in. In fact, as I mentioned before, the opposite was taking place. None of us (including her brothers) were able to thrive educationally, emotionally or spiritually.

So something had to change.

Some might be thinking, “Well the change needed to happen in you (me) not your educational choice.”

Ok, so now’s my chance to address the home-schooling Mom, thanks for bringing that up!

I think there is a tremendous burden placed on us home-schooling Moms. By others and by our own selves.

It is ingrained in our thinking that we can be and must be everything to our kids. And when we find ourselves failing in some sense we start viewing ourselves as just that, failures, instead of simply overburdened human beings who, wait for it…  have limitations!

 It’s an unfair burden we place on ourselves and others. And it’s also unbiblical.

Only Christ can be everything to our children. And that is not conditional on your educational choices. Christ is so much bigger than that.

I’m so glad that I don’t have to be omni-present in my children’s life to ensure that they will turn out alright. I’m so glad that I can trust a much bigger (than myself) God who cares infinitely more for my children than I will ever have the capability of. And I’m so glad that I don’t have to fit a certain mold in order to have God’s blessings over my life. In our absolute worst state, God chose that moment to bless us with the most incredible mind-blowing blessing – forgiveness and freedom.

I will finish with this.

It was very scary for us to make this step. It kinda happened fast and unexpectedly, although a lot of prayer went into it. I never would have predicted enrolling one of my children in a school mid-year. This was not the plan. But really I guess you could say it was the plan… I just wasn’t aware of it. God had planned this all along.

And I can say that with honesty and assurance and excitement.

I am watching my girl thrive in ways that I’ve never seen before. She is meeting the challenge. She is loving making new friends. She LOVES her teacher (yes, I’ve had to deal with some jealous feelings when I’ve read the “I love you” notes she’s written to her). And she is blossoming as we prayed she would. There have been tears. It has been a huge adjustment for all of us. But overall it has been one of the best things that has happened to our family. I have even seen a huge improvement in my boys, who I’m still homeschooling. The tension is gone and they are thriving.  I have more time for them and the difference is undeniable.

I am so thankful for this confirmation.

I know this is really long, but there is probably a lot more I could say on the subject. But I don’t want to kick a dead horse.

Just remember, no matter what educational decision you make it will never come with a guarantee that your kids will turn out perfect.  As long as you do your best and what works for each child and stay accountable to God instead of man, well, that’s all you can do. And that’s simply what we are trying to do.

We are taking one year, one child at a time and trying to be flexible to the changes that are needed. And we are finding freedom in that.

I see now that my friend of long ago really wasn’t overreacting at all. Education IS one of the hardest things about parenting. You have to do it! There is just no way around it. But it doesn’t have to cripple you either. God really is bigger than you think He is.

*Thanks Russ for helping me put words to my chaotic thoughts. Not that you would ever read my blog, but thought I’d say thanks anyway!

12.12.12

I just have to post something today. Since we’ll never see another date like this one in our life time!

(Kelli, it would be a good day to have a baby! Just sayin’)

We are a bunch of sickies around here and trying to get better. So not much to report. But how about some pictures from the last couple of months…

 
Judah took his first plane ride! Olivia, Judah and I went to see a friend get married the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was exhausting, but he did great and it was so good to share in the fun of that day!
 
 
Olivia and I had the wedding. The older she gets, the more she looks like me!
 
 
What can I say, he has his daddy’s ears.
 
 
We’ve had some cold days scattered amongst the warm. Judah is wearing his very warm, hand-love knitted sweater from a sweet friend, Lara! Thanks friend!
 
 
While at the play ground, Deke lost his second front tooth (literally)… we never found it!
 
 
 We have been working hard at finding some food that Judah will actually eat. He pretty much hates everything. But after a month I think I’ve finally figured it out. Rice, peas, and chicken broth. Strangest baby so far!
 
 
Olivia wanted to be a Piratess for the Fall Festival.
… and this is why she’s not allowed to wear makeup – ever!
 
 
While in Iowa, we had several very rough nights (waking up 5-7 times!) This is how we ended up by morning!
 
 
He loves his little polka-dot giraffe!
(and yes, I have a white wicker changing table!)
 
 
Deacon found a snake and we made him our pet. Sadly though, he made his escape (in our house) and is still MIA to this day… yeah.
 
 
Elijah loves Judah. It’s so sweet. He just can’t get enough!
 
 
Levi was so brave to attempt rock climbing at the Fall Festival this year. Although he didn’t quite make it, he gave it his all!
 
 
This is my favorite.
My 82 year old grandmother called me the day before Thanksgiving and told me that it was about time she teach me how to cook. She was serious. And so this is her showing me how to make mashed potatoes. I played dumb and she felt important. She doesn’t eat salt, so they tasted terrible.
 
 
She had us retake the picture too, with us looking at the camera. =)
I can’t help but love her!
 


On the way home from the airport a deer hit us. Yes, it ran into us. They ended up totaling it the van. So we had to get a new vehicle. We decided on an Excursion and I love it.
 
 
 
 It’s even a diesel!
 
 
Levi was a little too excited about getting a hair cut. I really almost had to cut this out!
 
 
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!
 
 

 
 
 
At the Christmas Parade down town.
 
 
And I realize that the pictures are a little unbalanced… pretty heavy on the Judah side! but here’s one more of our cute boy.

 
Judah is 6 months now. That is so hard to believe! It really does go by so fast. We have been thankful every day, even through the hardest moments.
 
Today he is working hard at cutting his first tooth
Going to sleep on his own in his own bed
Sleeping through the night
Eating food
Sitting up
and rolling over!
It’s a fun time and we are loving it.
 
Happy 12.12.12!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Family Photo Shoot

I’m obviously getting caught up on posting pictures. These were taken back in March. Baby Judah was still tucked inside, but present all the same!
My s-i-l of course was the photographer this day as well. She does amazing work. We don’t pay her enough! =) You can check out more about who she is and what she does on her blog the dirt life. She has like 5,000 followers so she must be up to something cool!

May I Introduce

David “Judah” Qualls
Born May 23, 2012
at 6:26 in the morning.
He weighed 7lbs. 1oz
and was 21 inches long.
Our hearts are beyond full. And as his name Judah tells us to, we are praising the Name of the Lord!

He sure took his time on deciding to make an appearance. But once his mind was made up, he was done wasting time. He got down to business and so did his Mama.

I woke up around 3am to a couple of hard contractions. But didn’t take them too seriously until a little after 4:00 when I decided to call the midwife. We made a plan to meet at the center at 6:00 since it takes an hour for us to get there. Shortly before 5:00, the time we had planned to leave, I suddenly felt an urgency to get there. We quickly threw the rest of our stuff in the van and peeled out of the drive way. I was thankful to have my mother-in-law riding in the back with me. Her presence and her arms and hands were an amazing support to me.

The hour in the car was quite intense to say the least. I was praying we would just get there.

Ten minutes or so before we arrived, I knew something was changing. Denise, calmly encouraging me, said we would be there soon. I was so relieved at the the thought of the car ride being over. But before I could rejoice for long, my contractions began to roll over into another with hardly a pause in between. I knew it had to be soon. Just how soon would be the surprise of my life. 

As soon as we made it into the center, the midwife told me I was 8cm dilated. We ‘walked’ down the hallway. I tried to stop and breathe through the contraction, but I think Jill knew there would be no time. She and Dustin taking each arm, hoisted me to the back, as my feet shuffled to keep up. In my trance-like state, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just stop.

I heard voices telling me to do this and that. Get up on the bed? Is that what they said? But I was only allowed to do what my body told me to do. “I want to get in the tub, ” I told them. She said no. “There’s no time.”

I found myself up on the bed surprised by the sudden change that was taking place in my body. The concentration and focus took every ounce of my energy. And I had to push.
This being my first unmedicated delivery I was surprised by the intensity of it. I had no choice. There was no stopping it.

Jill, my amazing midwife, was not caught by surprise. She answered my surprised, “I have to push!” with a calm, “Do what your body tells you.”

And I did…
With the aid of one midwife and his daddy and before you could say lickety split, Little Man was HERE!!

Fifteen minutes after arriving at the birth center, Baby Judah joined our anxiously awaiting family.

I have found it amazing each time we have had a child that you don’t have to try and love them. It doesn’t take any work at all. It just happens. It’s so natural. Easy. I love that. Your heart swells to another size. Just. Like. That.

I knew I wanted to name him after my Daddy. David means Beloved of God and my Daddy is beloved of me, so it fits nicely.
But we will call him Judah. I wanted the name of this baby to represent where God has brought us and the amazing work he has done in our hearts. I hope Leah of Genesis doesn’t mind us copying her. We tried other names with similar meanings. But Judah is what my heart settled on from the very beginning. It means to Praise the Lord.

We aren’t just surviving through life, through marriage, through parenting. We aren’t roommates or cellmates or mates for life because we have to. We are walking together hand in hand, because we want to. And we are praising. With our hearts, with our lives, within our marriage and young family.
Praising the name of the one who has brought healing and hope. Granted forgiveness and renewal. And now another one of us as testimony to all He has done.

David Judah,

What a special blessing you are to us already. Even the thought of who you would be 9 months ago was enough blessing to make this Mama weep in praise.
And you are here now. And oh how deep our love runs for you.
I am loving getting to know you. How precious you are.
I love you, my sweet son. My heart overflows.

Lost and Found

Do you lose things easily?

Some people are just more prone to losing things. Keys, wallets, cell phone, kids…

Generally speaking, I’m not one of those people. I’m pretty organized, therefore, I pretty much know where everything is. Now I will admit that every now and then, my memory lapses and I can’t remember where I put something. But I know it’s in a good place, I just have to remember where that place is!

So when we lost our cat Purrl during our move, I was truly devastated. I mean, this wasn’t a set of keys or a box of decorations or even a photo album or two. It was our sweet kitty. And we had lost her.

She had gotten into the moving trailer at our previous house and without us knowing, rode all the way to the new house roaming around that big scary trailer! By the time she got to the new house (a 30-40 minute ride) she was beyond scared. She was spazzing. As soon as the door was lowered, she bolted. Never to be seen again.

When Dustin told me what happened, he knew I would take it hard. He took me into the bedroom (away from all of his cousins and brother!) and gently told me that something bad had happened to one of the cats. My first thought was that she had been killed. But then to my utter dismay I realized that this truly was far worse. She was alive, but lost.

She was alone, scared and had no idea where she was. And I had no idea where she was. I immediately began walking the neighborhood calling for her.

There was no trace of her. It seemed she had just vanished. We talked to neighbors, posted pictures but to no avail.

Our hearts where heavy. There were tears, nightmares and sleepless nights and many, many prayers.

After a couple of weeks I knew it was still possible to find her, but I began losing hope. Three weeks. Four weeks. I had finally accepted that we would never see her again. I imagined her with another family instead of the other possibilities. And I encouraged my kids to do the same.

But they just wouldn’t let it go.

They were still praying. They still talked about her as if we would find her any minute. They still asked me to drive slowly through the neighborhood with the window down calling her name. So we did.

I felt silly. And I was really sad for them. They really just needed to put this behind them. We could always get another cat. But it wouldn’t be Purrl, they said.

Then the craziest thing happened one morning last week. I answered a call-waiting call. I don’t always answer these phone calls. I mean, usually I will just call you back.

But I answered because I saw that it was my neighbor. And I knew that she had taken on finding Purrl as her own personal mission.

The details are a little fuzzy, but the conversation went something like this:

Teresa – “I’m so glad you answered your phone! I think I see your cat!!”

Me – “What!?”

Teresa – “Yeah, Cady and I are on a walk and I think I see your cat!”

Me – “Where are you??”

Teresa – “Just around the corner from you.”

Me – “I’ll be there in a second!”

I hung up and jumped up from the couch (well, jump is now a relative word when you are 8 months pregnant, but you know what I mean).

I screamed for the kids. Grabbed my keys. Ran (another relative word) and got the cat carrier. Made sure we were all in the car and flew down to where Teresa and our cat was.

As I made the short drive I was praying that this would actually be her. What if it wasn’t? What if my kids were once again disappointed? I was envisioning driving them back home slowly with tears of disappointment streaming down their sweet cheeks and me trying to explain that God sometimes answers with a “No” but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care or love us and that for the rest of their lives they would be faced with situations like these, but we are still called to trust and believe that He is good and… Yeah, I can get carried away very easily.

I didn’t have time to rehearse any more of my speech, because we were there. There was Teresa, her sweet Cady and she was pointing.

“There, under the van.”

I looked and immediately knew, it was our Purrl. She was crouched underneath a van, she looked wary and scared. I walked very slowly up to her, talking my kitty talk. I knelt down in front of her and reached my hand out to her. She came right to me and began rubbing my leg. I was so happy she knew me. The kids, watching from the van, now ran to us. They were loud and excited and I tried to hush them so that they wouldn’t scare Purrl. That was silly. How can you hush such celebration!

We put her in the cat carrier and quickly deposited her in the van. I turned and hugged Teresa and thanked her. There were tears streaming down my face. She began to cry some too. I turned and looked at my children, they were crying too. But these were tears of gratitude and thanksgiving and rejoicing! Not the tears of disappointment that I had braced myself for.

We cried all the way home and so did Purrl, poor thing.

I put her on the floor of the laundry room. I let her out to get familiar with her new surroundings. She immediately crawled up into my lap, put her paws on my shoulder and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed me, purring her loud purr. She remembered.

It’s funny, my kids didn’t seem all that surprised. They knew she would come back. It was just a matter of time.

So can you guess what God taught me through this?

I don’t often lose the things that I have control over. But when I lose control, I often lose hope.

Watching the faith and expectancy of my kids challenged me to once again grab onto that child-like faith. I was worried that I would have to restore their faith in God if things didn’t ‘work out’. But that is such a grown up problem, isn’t it? They just simply believe. They don’t have preconceived notions of how God should work or how He should provide or how He should answer. They just keep praying, keep believing, keep expecting.

What a challenge for us all.