Five Minute Friday: Friend

I’ve always needed one. I haven’t always had one. But God has always provided what I needed when.

Through the different seasons in life… when I didn’t know up from down, saying ‘I do’, holding my first baby and all the moments in between and after.

God has never left me alone.

I think of this season of ‘now’ and how things have changed and the friends that hold me up and carry me through. And I just don’t know what I would do without you.

You talk to me and you listen.

You make me laugh and laugh at me and with me and it’s what rescues this recovering Pharisee.

And even though we are miles apart, you are holding me.

Your words, they bring healing and clarity. How are you so stinkin’ smart? You’ve saved my counselor endless hours and he doesn’t even know it.

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be able to give back to you what you have given to me and I guess that’s what makes this work.

You encourage my deepest hopes and calm my crazy and point me to the Lover of my Soul.

We don’t hide behind masks or hide our struggles or even the things we disagree on. And sometimes our differences make us wonder if we should even be friends.

But of course we should. Because God knew what we needed; He knew I would need you.

I thank Him often for His prompting that day long ago when you picked up the phone and ignored my distant tone. You didn’t give up. And I will never be the same. This road we walk is far less scary because we have each other.

Friend, I love you.

Five Minute Friday: Glue

Trying something new and linking up with Lisa-Jo today. She does this neat thing for bloggers called Five Minute Friday. Where she encourages them to write unfiltered, unedited for five minutes, then courageously publish their five-minute-musings. I will be honest and tell you I didn’t follow the rules exactly, (in other words it took me a little longer than five minutes, mostly because my kids are on spring break and I don’t have to explain to you what I mean by that) but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?  The topic for this week is: Glued.

Go

There is so much that is broken. So much that hurts. So much that needs binding.

There is so much left empty. So much undone and untouched, loose
and lost.

And what do we do with all of that?

When you see the friend grieving or the sister who is lost. And you are forced to let go and nod your ok to God to be God.

How do you keep walking down this rocky road of life, with all the jagged and jarred, broken and scarred?

You are left helpless and hurting for the hurting. Desperate for a balm to ease the stinging, the burning, the raw.

Just something that will keep it all together, from falling apart. For the thread is thin and breaking and you hold your breath, bracing for the fall.

And you search, deep within yourself, sifting through pockets and purses, under couches and cushions. Hoping upon hope your hands resurface through the crumbs, finding just what is needed. But you are searching blindly and your hands, crumb covered, come up empty.

Empty.

There is so much that is left empty.

It shouldn’t feel heavy, but it does. And it makes you wonder if it should really be like this, look like this, feel like this. You wonder and you hope and you search.

And you remember there is One that has hold of you. The One who keeps you from slipping through that ever growing crack. Who binds you fast to Himself along with the sister and the friend.

And the three walk together, eating Rocky Road, as they walk that rocky road. And lean deep into the One who binds them up.

Holding fast the broken, filling the empty, recovering the lost.

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

#FiveMinuteFriday

Sometimes

Sometimes I see you and I’m just so glad to see you.

Sometimes I wonder how you’re really doing and what’s really going on.

Sometimes I ask you.

Sometimes I don’t and then I wished that I had.

Sometimes we talk and we really talk.

Sometimes life is too busy or the kids are too loud and we try, but we can’t.

Sometimes we just don’t try hard enough.

Sometimes I’m honest and I tell you what I’m really thinking, what I’m really feeling.

Sometimes you do too.

Sometimes it’s powerful, that kinship we have.

Sometimes it can change our path.

Sometimes distractions get in the way.

Sometimes we are discouraged and don’t know how to keep going.

Sometimes we are stuck and need each other’s help to be freed from our bondage.

Sometimes we just need to cry together or dry the eyes of the other.

Sometimes there’s joy and it over takes us and spills out over all and all over the other.

Sometimes there’s pain and the pain threatens to drown us and we ride the wave together.

Sometimes I’m afraid to say what I think is true, because what if it hurt you or what if it changed you?

Sometimes we walk away from each other never knowing, never seeing, missing the most important.

Sometimes we see and we really see and we meet the need.

And sometimes, just sometimes, we are true friends, sisters who would give up anything to see the smile of the other. To know they are doing ok on this road called life, or to be there to answer the call when they’re not. Sometimes God has us be His hands and His feet.

Sometimes and we will never be the same.

Toiling.Hoping.Waiting.

It’s amazing how you set out to do certain things in a day. Important things, because, well, they are important. And then in an instant it all changes. And none of it is important anymore.

It is amazing how your heart can feel, well, normal. And then in an instant it is hurting. It’s swollen with grief and you grasp it, holding tightly willing it to keep beating.

It’s amazing how you have no need for the tears resting just below the surface and then in an instant, they are there streaming down your cheeks, running down your neck and you are gasping in anguish.

This, my friends, was the start of my day yesterday. But so much worse for my dear friend Rebecca and her sweet family as they received that call in the middle of the night that told them that her brother, their son, was gone forever.

We are reeling. Me from a distance, watching the tornado wreak havoc on their souls. Them caught in the middle and being pushed and torn and battered by fresh grief.

In moments like these I am forced to wonder. Understanding escapes me and I am left with a gaping wound of wondering. The heart is bleeding out and you look up to heaven seeking the pressure to stop the flow.

My eyes have landed on James 5. God has been using this sweet book in so many different ways to bring me comfort and healing and conviction as of late.

 
Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.
Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it,
until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts,
for the coming of the Lord is at hand… Behold we count those blessed who endured.
You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings,
 that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful…

We are toiling in this life. We are farmers planting things, plowing, digging, pulling, aching, hoping. The crop has not been guaranteed us. We wonder if the rains will come or if the hail will come first. We do our best, we work hard and often we are disappointed, because our efforts did not grant what we had hoped it would. It doesn’t make sense, because the formula should work. You prepare the soil, you plant the seed, you water the ground… it should then produce fruit.

But often times we do not account for the scorching sun, the wreathing winds, the crushing storms that devastate us. And how do we recover from those?

The how is in the …compassion and mercy… of our God.

And in the knowing that this is not the end… strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand

I was listening to a Focus broadcast just a few days ago. They were talking about heaven… how timely. Have you ever said, “When I get to heaven I’m going to ask God…”? Randy Alcorn, author of the book, Heaven, said that really, we wont have to ask. Just seeing God face to face will make it all clear. Just the sight and full, unfiltered presence of the Lord will quiet our questioning hearts, will silence the “what if’s”, will reassure our doubting wonderings.

In our unglorified state we do not even have the capability of understanding the dealings of the Lord. The why’s, the how’s.

That is why he tells us to be patient. There will come a day… there will.

In the meantime, there are tears and toiling. The grief cuts us open leaving us raw. We ache for truth and for healing. And I ache for my sister who has ached for me in this real-life friendship we share.

I will go to her tomorrow. I will cry with her. I will listen. I will bear her burden as if it were my own. I will pray and beg for healing. These are the important things now.

And I will be patient as I eagerly await the coming of our Lord.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Dear Olivia

My sweet girl had a birthday last week. We celebrated her 9th year. It’s surreal almost, how fast this life goes by. While in the middle of it, it sometimes feels like it’s moving sooo slow! And then you look up from your day dream and stinkin’ 9 years have blinked by!
 
I know you all experience it and I’m not alone in this. But every birthday is just seems to catch me off guard – again. Maybe one day it wont, but I’m not going to hold my breath!
 
Here’s my birthday letter to my girl…
 
 
 
 
 
When I look at you now, I no longer see my baby. Although, you will always and forever be my baby girl…

 

I see a beautiful young girl, blooming into womanhood.

 

How can this be?

 

When you were asked if you felt older the day of your 9th birthday and you said “Yes, I do” I believed you. You seem to look older even.

 

It’s almost as if you are starting to shed your ‘locust’ shell and are climbing into the unknowns of growing up.

 

I loved watching you become a big sister again this past year. You love to be a little mother. And Judah thinks you are his mother sometimes I think! You are so sweet to him and helpful to me. What a good big sister you are.

 

You are in 3rdgrade this year! You are writing in cursive and reading bigger books and learning your multiplication tables. And now that you are going to Holy Trinity, you are even learning Latin and Astronomy and Greek Mythology! I am so proud of you, sweetie. You have been so brave these past few weeks starting in your new class. You made friends your first day and are working so hard. You are like a bright star in the sky, shining brightly wherever you go. Don’t ever be afraid to shine your light, the light of Jesus.

 

I was so excited for you when you started going to your new school. Even though I knew you were a little scared. I just knew that you would love it so much and do so well. And you do and are. Sometimes things change and we change and because of that our plans change. But just because those kinds of things happen, it doesn’t mean that God changes. He always stays the same, no matter what. And He always knows what’s going to happen, even before we do, so nothing is ever a surprise to Him. That’s part of why we can trust Him. Because He always has things in control and always uses the things that happen in our lives for His purpose and for His glory.

 

He has such great plans for you, sweet girl. Because you are so special to Him. He had you be born on the exact day and in just the right family, and oh how glad I am for that.

 

So when you have moments of doubt. When you aren’t sure of your way or you wonder why things are going the way they are. Know that God knows exactly what is going on and what it all means and why, even. And He hasn’t forgotten you or why He placed you where He placed you.

 

We all have moments like that, especially growing up like you are. It’s tough sometimes and we don’t always understand what we are feeling. But that’s ok. It’s just part of it I guess.

 

Mom and Dad will always be here to help you through it. We don’t always do it perfectly, but you already know that. We still wonder what’s going on sometimes and what it all means! Even Mom and Dad. That’s why we all need Jesus and to be reminded of His love and grace and that He is always there leading and guiding us.

 
 

My favorite times is around the table doing our devotion. I’m glad we are still able to do that even though you are going to school. I love that you love the Bible and are learning it.

 

My other favorite time is at bed time when we snuggle and tickle and giggle and get too rowdy and Dad has to calm us down. I love running my fingers through your hair and kissing your forehead and cheeks. I love feeling the top of your head just beneath my chin. You are getting so tall. And soon you will be taller than me! But most people are, so just remember that!

 

Yes, you are a beautiful young lady. But always remember the most important side… the inside. Your heart. We all have to do heart checks because that’s where everything we say and think and do comes from… our hearts. It can be a beautiful place and an ugly place all at the same time.

 

So as you become more aware of your outside and wanting to look pretty, don’t forget about that inside that can start to look ugly sometimes to. Going to Jesus everyday will cleanse your heart and reading His words will renew your mind.

 

I am praying for you sweet girl. Every day. As you grow up and go to school and love your brothers and help mommy. It’s a big job, but you do it so well. And I’m so proud.

 

Happy Birthday, Livie Rose.

 

I love you.

 

Love, Your Mama

Missing You

Gosh I miss this!

I just can’t believe how busy I am these days and that I can’t sit here and type like I used to.

Having #4, homeschooling 3, directing music at my church, hosting this or that, cleaning and keeping up with my arch nemesis (laundry) has my head spinning. And my writing chair sadly empty.

Some people laugh at us bloggers I guess. But they don’t understand. And maybe I don’t understand either.

What is it about sharing your words, your thoughts, your life, your pictures with the world? As small as your world may be.

For me, I think it forces me to be honest. Honest with myself and honest with my world. God has given each of us a small piece of the world. And He’s given/giving us a story too.

It’s important to share that. Whether you blaawwgg or not!

I love typing my thoughts and ponderings out on this white screen. I love what happens to my soul when I push that ‘publish’ button. And I love when you share your thoughts about my thoughts. That’s just plain fun.

I never imagined that I would still be ‘at it’ after two years ~ this all began when I was preparing to go to Ukraine. Or that I would come to love it so much. To depend on it for therapy. =) I just never imagined.

I never used to read other people’s blogs either. Who cares? (I so foolishly thought!) But since I entered the world of blogging, my world has exploded! I’ve even made new friends. And I’ve learned so much about people and moms and their lives. And I really love that.

There is so much to say. So much to share. So much to learn from one another.

So during this season of Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful for you all in blog land. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to share in it. But man, I’m sure missing you all…

Refuge

We are finding refuge this week.

For last week was a very long, difficult week.

We moved.

We lost a cat.

We buried the daughter of  dear friends.

We are finding refuge in a new home and in the arms of the Father.

We aren’t claiming to understand. We aren’t claiming to be strong. We aren’t even pretending to be happy. We are sad, grieving and exhausted.

We plead with you to pray for our friends, who without any warning were forced to say good-bye to their sweet baby girl the very same day they said their first hello.

Once again, we are reeling.

And once again we are seeking refuge under the wings of the Father.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
3my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
     my stronghold and my refuge,
my savior; you save me from violence.
4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
2 Samuel

Seeing the Good

I have been aching to write this post.

Before Olivia’s letter, I left you with a heaviness. It is where I am and have been yes, but it is not ALL of where I have been or where I am.

There is so much more to it.

I feel strongly the importance of facing the hardness of life and the goodness of God and how they work together. I feel strongly the importance of talking about it. Being real and honest. Not pretending that there isn’t, excuse my crudeness, crap to deal with on a daily basis. Such as difficulties in marriage, raising children, disappointments in life, sin ever-invading…

But I also feel strongly the importance of sharing the good that God has brought from it or is bringing. The gifts He gives us in the daily. Where and how He blesses. We are all so different, therefore the blessings look a little different.

We should never live in the past. But what a waste it would be to not learn from it. To appreciate the good, to recognize the blessings. To give thanks for what He has given. And to share with others.

Isn’t that what we work so hard to teach our children? To be honest, to give thanks, to share?

So here is my sharing of some of the gifts God has given me this past year and my choosing to see them…

#1 I must first begin with my husband. Please understand, I am not trying to be predictable.  But I must say these words to him and I must share my heart with others, because I believe it’s important.

I was reminded through my mother complimenting Dustin over New Year’s, of how I just don’t say it enough.

I think life gets in the way too often and we focus on the stresses and the not fast enough’s and the not as I would have done it’s… And we miss the heart behind the man. Our men. And instead of complimenting and showing appreciation, WE fall short and nag instead.

I’m not a huge ‘nagger’ (at least I wouldn’t say so), but I do too often stay quiet on the other side of things. I just don’t say thanks enough.

So, I am saying it now.

Thanks, Babe, for all you do for me and for the kids.

I know you say you don’t do much, but you really do. A lot is found in the little. Especially over the last several months when I was down physically or emotionally. You stepped up, you took over and you didn’t make me feel bad for it. You were the support I needed when I didn’t feel like I could stand anymore, or take yet another blow. You stood up for what was right. You prayed with me. You took the kids, you made us dinner, you cleaned up the kitchen and did the laundry and put them to bed, so I could do what needed doing or not do. I don’t think I would have survived well without you.

In the past, the stresses of life had a tendency to tear us apart, to divide, to cause strife and trouble between us. I am so thankful things are different now. Instead, we have come together and acted as a team. I am so thankful. You are one of my biggest blessings, and you shone brightly in the midst of so much darkness. And I thank you.

#2 I have been struck hard by the significance of the church in a believer’s life. ‘Church’ has always been an integral part of my life. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t involved in a local church. It’s just the way it was. It was never a fight or a drudgery. I loved it. It was important to me, I wanted to be there, even as a young child.

But I don’t think I truly appreciated how vital it is to a believer’s soul.

When our pastor left, we were devastated. I think I mentioned before that I just wanted to close the doors for a while, take some time to mourn, recover in the silence, in the darkness. I was frustrated when the very next Sunday we were there, sitting on the front pew, singing, worshiping, and yes, crying. Can’t I do this alone? On my bathroom floor??

I wondered how our assistant pastor was able to give the sermon he did that day. How the singers were able to lead the congregation without falling apart. How people walked about smiling and chatting, talking together as if nothing had happened. But that wasn’t true. Not a single person in that sanctuary didn’t feel what had happened.

Over the weeks that followed, as my mind continued to process and grieve over our loss, I began to see more and more. I began to understand.

It was something our assistant pastor said early on… “This isn’t our church. These aren’t our ministries. They are all God’s and He doesn’t need us to hold them together. That’s His job.” (or at least something close to that)

While I was laid up on the couch dealing with pregnancy sickness that one verse from Colossians kept coming to my mind.

He is before all things, and in HIM all things hold together. 1:17
And something else that struck me as I later opened my Bible to let that one verse roll over me, was the very next verse.
And HE is the HEAD of the body, the church; HE is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything HE might have the supremacy. v.18
There it was, all neatly packaged together. For me on those days of sickness and doubt and grief over my church. Christ was still at work and even working through our suffering body. Just as He was working through MY suffering body, knitting together new life inside.
#3 I have also been so encouraged by the true friendship and the sisterhood we have in Christ. Making friends has always been a hard thing for me. But last year I was determined to lay aside my insecurities and give it all I had. To share my life with others and be welcomed into theirs. What a difference it has made.
At my lowest points I was able to pick up the phone or shoot an email, to let someone know I needed prayer. And I knew they were praying. I was able to share in our Play and Pray group and I was encouraged and refreshed.
Recently my children and I did a short study on the different gifts God has given each of us. Spiritual gifts and what that means. It was fun hearing their thoughts on what kinds of gifts God gives us… We eventually made our way to the Bible to find out what these gifts were really all about. As I was looking through my Bible trying to find that one passage, I came across verses like these…
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ… 1Cor. 12:12
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. vs. 14
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. vs. 26
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. vs. 27
Again I was struck. Mostly by the simplicity of the picture of a working body, with arms and legs, head and shoulders, and yes, knees and toes… When a part of the body suffers, the whole of the body suffers, over compensating for the wounded area, protecting it and sheltering it from further damage. The smallest of cuts can evoke a sense of greatest awareness. We tend to it, we are more careful, move at a slower pace.
I was so thankful for the opportunity to see the working body of Christ. To experience those coming along side of  me. Picking up where I had to leave off. Tenderly caring for my wounds. You all have my deepest gratitude.
#4 Another true blessing was the gift of family. Like all families we have had our up’s and down’s. There have been times of pain and growth, hurt feelings and grudges, things left unsaid and things that should have been left unsaid… We all have those times (right?). We have not gone without our struggles.

 

Letting my sister ‘go’ caused a pain I hadn’t before experienced. Oh there has been pain before, but this was different. It wasn’t like a spouse or child or parent pain. It was a sister pain. But thankfully, good is coming from it.
The night before Javier, Cally and Elijah left, we all got together for one of Cally’s favorite meals of mine… Beef Stroganoff and homemade bread. Javier wasn’t quite sure, but I think he ended up liking it!
After the meal Javier started to speak. We were all taken by surprise at the intensity of his voice and the words that were coming from his mouth. They were words directed towards his family… his American family. These words did not come without reaction or response, because these words evoked healing. There were tears shed, understanding took place, forgiveness given and accepted.
Would it have happened if I had not been required to say good-bye to my sister?
The same night we were asked to release a sister, we embraced a brother.
God has a way of doing that doesn’t He. Taking something, but then replacing it with another. So how can we only grieve? How can we not choose to see the good that comes from the deep pain…
#5 The little things.
And there are a million of them.  So I will spare you and not list them all here. But they are in my heart and in my book.
I am glad I can be thankful for-
Being able to do dishes, or having someone else do them for me when I couldn’t.
For puppy-dog-boys
Words like “Bu-cept” (except)
Simple meals of macaroni (the gourmet Kraft kind) and carrots for dinner…
…and not having a husband that complains!
A girl who is eager to help and is really a help!
medicine for indigestion
Like I said, there are a million and I could go on for days. All these little things add up to great big things that are so helpful when you are trying to ‘make it through another day’.
I just couldn’t leave you (or myself) hanging on that one post… because it just wasn’t all of the story.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:35,37

The Big Reveal

We are doing a lot of things differently with this baby #4.
Such as previously mentioned, NOT stressing, for one. Waiting until 16 weeks to see a doctor, going to a birthing center/midwife instead of a hospital/obstetrician, starting out seeing a chiropractor instead of waiting until halfway through, thus avoiding much of the pain I usually have. Also, being able to truly relish each moment of pregnancy during this season of life. It’s almost as if this is our first time. There are so many first’s this fourth time around.
But one thing we couldn’t do differently was finding out the gender. We talked about waiting, but quickly realized there would be no way for us to be able to. We are just so excited (and impatient!). But we thought it would be fun to do a ‘big reveal’ with our families instead of just sharing the news over the phone, as we have done in the past.
We had the ultrasound Tuesday morning and had the US-tech put the results in a sealed envelope. We then handed them off to one of my besties, Rebecca, who came all the way up from Geneva, Florida to help us celebrate. We threw a big party that night and all found out together, except for Rebecca who was the first to know! =)
So even though this wasn’t a first, it was very much a first!!


Here are some pics from the night of the Big Reveal!!
Pink AND Blue balloons
GREEN punch
It was so fun talking with Cally and Jav and seeing baby Elijah.
I was so glad they were able to participate from so far away!
My girl, Rebecca. Thanks so much for ALL you did!

We had everyone take a vote by way of cupcakes.


Pink if you thought girl, blue if you thought boy.
(there were A LOT more pinks than blues chosen!)
Alissa, Rebecca’s 4 yr. old sweetie, very much like a cousin to my kids.
About to present the results!
 I hide my excitement well…
Can you tell what it is??

Maybe you can tell by the way I am consoling Olivia…

She really was trying hard



Here is a video in case it’s still unclear.


Hormones or Heroines?

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic as of late. Yes, a little emotional too.

I watched Sarah, Plain and Tall last Sunday afternoon with Olivia and cried the entire way through it. Thankfully she didn’t notice.

It’s amazing how much pregnancy hormones will effect every aspect of your life. Not only your stomach (queasy anyone?), joints, hair and nail growth, a protruding abdomen, etc… but also your ability to make it through a movie you can almost quote, without bawling like a baby.

There has been a lot swirling around me lately. A lot of pain and grief. But also much joy. Sometimes it’s hard to sort through the feelings… deal with the grief yet celebrate the joy, living life at the same time.

It has been a hard season, these last few months. But we are good and holding on to the promises we have.

Recently I was reading the blog of a dear lady who has meant a lot to me through my life. I was reminded of the faithfulness of God and how He ministers to each of us during the different seasons we find ourselves in.

I thought back over my life and was filled with thankfulness, for all those God placed in my life at just the right time. Sometimes I wasn’t even aware of their presence until after. Sometimes it was in the isle at Wal-mart, in the hall way at church, learning geometry, sitting in Sunday School, eating chicken salad, drinking hot tea… I know God has shaped and molded me through those precious women, encouraging me along the way. I wish that I could say thank you to each one, to tell them what they’ve meant to me, how I changed because of their influence and how I still remember.

It would be impossible to name them all.

I wish they could see my tears even now, hormones and all, for they would see my deep gratitude.

And then I can’t help but remember the 3 precious women in Ukraine. Those I feel I left behind after too short a time of teaching and instructing. The 3 who put their life on hold for a few days to seek healing. Who were scared, who didn’t want to but knew they had to. Who risked everything to come partake in God’s Word with two American girls who really didn’t know what they were doing. My thoughts never drift too far away from them, wondering where they are now and the ways God has found them, how they really are. They are my true heroines. And will forever be. The women who have lost so much, yet risk it all to become whole again.

I have been so blessed to have known so many women who have in some way changed me. I pray my own daughter will be as blessed. There’s only so much (and oh how much) a mama can say. We women need the words and lives and examples of other women, throughout our lives.

So thank you, you have all meant so much…