Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What a gift!

On this last day of May (5 months gone already!!), I spent some time looking at pictures from our busy month.  In precious years, I was quite good at snapping pictures to create memories, but as kids kept coming and life got busier, I got more forgetful about my camera (and a lot of other things, too!) and the wonderful tool that it is!  But I am making extra effort lately to remember to get out my camera and take photos, or at least, give it to one of the girls to take them for me! 


Tonight, my heart overflowed with gratitude as I looked at the photos from our vacations this month.  First, we took our first group camping adventure, camping with our homeschool co-op friends.  It was different than camping as a family, but I was reminded as we were in the midst of the craziness of 6 families together, how special that time truly was!  We are so blessed to have such good friends who can spend time in that setting together, enjoying one another, encouraging one another, helping one another.







These are cherished pictures!  Me, My grandmother, mom, and daughter.
Then, my grandparents with the littles!  We really enjoyed our time with
these two!
Right on the heels of that trip, we loaded up and drove to SC.  What a joy it was to be with family and friends!  We were intentional to carve out time to be with my family.  We are there is infrequently that I wanted to make all the time count!  We are not promised tomorrow so I am learning to make the most of today,  I am thankful for my family and the time we had to be together!


My cousin and his wife drove an hour after work to hang out with us in the rain.  With no siblings of my own, I especially appreciate and value this family!  Look at that sweet and sassy pair! 

I love these two girls!!  They are special friends!  And they gave Sarah her wish- to ride on a horse!  Even though it was rainy, they got out a horse and let her sit on it while they walked it around. :)



Finally, we had a day at the park with the kids and my mom.  Fun times!







Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Confidence

I love the Psalms!  I can connect with the heart behind so many of the beautifully penned words that I read in this collection of songs and poems.  This week, I have been thinking over Psalm 9.  I am struck by the confidence of David.  He makes so many declarations, even in the what seems to be a difficult, troubling time for him.  He makes clear in this Psalm that His confidence is in God and His salvation.
Meanwhile, I am also reading 1 Samuel with the boys and today we read chapter 13: the story about Saul waiting for Samuel, but then making the sacrifice himself because Samuel didn't come quick enough and time was pressing!  We talked about what a tough situation Saul was in and how easily it was to justify, according to our fleshly thinking, his choice (and our choices), especially when the stakes are high.  And I realized as we talked about it how important confidence in God really is.  Already, Saul is waiting on the Lord.  He really is attempting to do what he thought God would want.  But his confidence wavered.  Thinking that the army was deserting him and that they were already so grossly out-numbered, he made the decision to push forward, despite the clearly defined rules set up by God.  He pushed aside what was right for what seemed logical to his fleshly mind.
And here is the thing: We cannot think primarily with our logical mind.  We are called to trust, to know, to stand with confidence.  Often, trust in God must defy our logic.  It seems crazy to wait for Him in some circumstances.  It can be painful to cry out, when it feels like He is slow or absent.  However, real joy, breath-taking salvation, long-awaited breakthrough, the stuff of miracles, comes when we, with confidence, position ourselves in trust.
And this takes us back to Psalm 9.  Saul threw out faith for sight.  He looked at the circumstances and panicked.  He let fear rule.  He forgot what God was really like, or maybe he never really knew.  But in Psalm 9, I read that David declared boldly his confidence in God, even when life circumstances were overwhelming, hurtful, discouraging.  Check this out:

I WILL praise you with my whole heart:  (wholehearted is what I want to be when so often I am half-hearted)
I WILL tell of all your marvelous works. (he's going to remember and talk about God previous goodness)
I WILL be glad and rejoice in You. ('Cause He is reason to rejoice!)

WHEN my enemies turn back,  (When, not if.  Hear that confidence!) 
They shall perish and fall in Your Presence.  (No enemy of ours will stand when God shows up!!)

Those who know your name WILL put their trust in You; For You Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.  (This is David- one who knew God and put His trust, His full confidence in Him, knowing that he would not be forsaken. And this is a promise to each of us)

Have mercy on me O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death that I may tell all of your praise...
I WILL rejoice in Your salvation.  (Even though it cannot be seen right at this moment.  I trust, I know it is coming!)
verses 1-2, 3, 10, 13-14

We are called to look unto our God, who is a very present help in times of trouble (Ps 46), to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12).  We must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 4).  And faith is confidence that God WILL come through, that what I cannot see with my eyes, I know to be true (Heb 11:1)!   Confidence- believing that God is Faithful, that Jesus is my Redeemer and Savior, that He will answer when I call, that He is strong and He is good, that I am safe in His Hands!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Resurrection Life

Photo by Abby

We just celebrated Easter, the defeat of death, sin, and the grave!  The victory of life, grace, and redemption!  Increasingly so, I love this time of year.  It is a powerful, sobering, life-giving time.  Here are some of my recent meditations on the death and resurrection of Jesus and what it means to us as Jesus followers:
~Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4  (Romans 5-6 is one of my very favorite passages of Scripture! I could read it and think on it day after day!)
~He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to dins, might live to righteousness... 1 Peter 2:24
~And that well-known, but never too often read passage in Philippians 2:5-8 about how Jesus humbled himself to become a human, then to death on a cross.  "Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

He did die, all for love and mercy and justice, and glory to God, He did rise "on the third day."  And with every passing year, I long more for the day of His triumphant return, to watch and be part of the sea of people who will bow in worship to Him as He deserves.  His death and resurrection give abundance, purpose, and joy to life now, and hope for life forever with God and without the hindrance and snare of sin and the pain and sorrow of death and loss.  How my heart overflows with praise to Jesus!  

Sarah getting a flower crown by Abby's friend.  She loved it so much.  Also, she has been talking about Jesus "raised up on the third day" a lot the last couple of weeks since one of her Awana memory verses was from 1 Corinthians 15 and included those words!  Amazing and beautiful.  Out of the mouth of babes!

We had the privilege of hosting these 3 of Rachel's friends from U of L.  They are so great!

Just look at these two!  God has done great things!  And continues to do so!

Finally, I have to include this.  There are not many pictures of these two together since she doesn't live here anymore.



Monday, April 10, 2017

Rooted and Grounded in Love


       "And I pray that God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the width, and length and depth and height- to know this love that passes knowledge..." Ephesians 3

I've been thinking over these words for years! God's Word never gets old!  Yes, there are times I am tempted to say to myself that I have read this story or passage soooo many times, there can't possibly be any reason to read it again.  However, when I go to Word with fresh eyes and a heart yearning to know Jesus, I am not disappointed!  So when I read this familiar prayer again a few weeks ago and spent some time pondering it, a picture of a flowering plant rooted in deep, rich soil came vividly to mind.  And I said to God, "What if we did that?  What if your people were so strengthened in you (strengthened with might through His Spirit) and Jesus was so at home in us (Christ dwell in our hearts), that we were like plants with our roots so deep in Your love!!"  And I began to ask God to make me and make His Church to be rooted and grounded in His love.  That we would receive our nourishment, our sustenance, our strength, our everything from God's great love.  What would the fruit of our lives look like if we were truly rooted and grounded in His love?  Wow!  So I drew this (kind of sorry) picture in Bible to remind me.  It was a vivid image from the Lord and not one I want to quickly forget.  Rooted and Grounded in His love.  Drawing it up into me; Being held firm by it; All my thirst quenched by it; It becoming what flows out of me- my scent, my beauty, my color, my characteristics. The soil makes all the difference. No matter the season around me, all I need is found in Jesus!  
More and more I am convinced that we as the Church are living low!  We are not living as God intended, not stepping into the place bought by the extravagant love of Jesus by His blood.  Let us stop living by our own strength, for our own glory, fueled by lust and worldly passion.  Let us stop being distracted by the details of life, wooed by the praise of others, allured by fleshly desires.  Let us be rooted and grounded in His love... so that together (that word is implied in this passage, but its meaning is clear!!) together, we can know, comprehend, experience what is truly unknowable, surpassing our ability- just how high and how long and how wide and how deep is the love of God.  Let us not be content to know a little, to stick a finger or a baby root in His love.  Let us, together, dive into His great ocean of goodness, mercy, and love.  Let us take the time to let our roots sink deep in Him.  Let us become "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Little Blessings of Life

These two love, love, love their little brother.  He actually may be the most loved little brother in all of history because all of his siblings love him so well! :)  It makes my heart so happy!

This is Silas doing his math.  Math used to be his favorite subject.  Then it started to take more time and concentration.  Now it is his most procrastinated subject. This does not make my heart so happy.  But I am still thankful for the privilege to homeschool!

In February, we celebrated Micah's birthday.  He likes to be in the kitchen so we decided to do a kitchen creation party.  We had the kids in teams, gave them certain ingredients, and had them create something yummy.  It was really fun!

Before Abby left for Ecuador, she had some girl time with Sarah.  She did their hair the same, complete with a daffodil, then painted nails, before going outside to play.  So sweet!  Sarah has it made; two older sisters to help her along and keep it girly and a whole gang of boys to romp with and be protected by!

And I couldn't resist this little picture of my girl's true nature.  All pink and frilly, with the tough look and Batman cape!  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Simultaneous Frustration and Deep Gratitude

     "God, I look to you.  I won't be overwhelmed.  Give me vision to see things like you do.  God, I look to you.  You're where my help comes from.  Give me wisdom, for you know just what to do... Hallelujah, Our God reigns..."
     After a slightly bumpy start to the day, and after a difficult few days of parenting, this is how we started our school day!  Usually, after breakfast and the usual too many reminders to get chores done and stop rough-housing, we gather in the living room for "focus time."  Focus time has shifted with the seasons of our family's life, but the main point is to look first to Jesus, before any other study is done.  This year we have been slowly walking through Mark's Gospel, as well as studying and memorizing Ephesians 6 (with our homeschool community).  But this morning, David read to us from his newest devotion book, and the theme was consistent with some other things I felt God has been speaking to us.  So we put on the above song and just gave God a few minutes of our attention.  It was so good for my soul!  And those words were just what I needed! God, I look to you!  You reign in complete control, seeing all, a very present help!  So I don't need to be overwhelmed.  My help comes from you!  Hallelujah!  God, you reign!  Over this world, my heart, my home, family.
     The parenting part was still hard, especially with one in particular.  But God, in His great faithfulness, when we ask, he gives!  And this week, I have been asking for strategy, wisdom with this kid.  And today, I think I got some.  For this, I am thankful, though I am bracing myself for the difficulty of new disciplines, both for myself and for this one. This one, who one minute is so sweet, thoughtful and helpful one minute, and angry, rude, and apathetic the next stretches me, breaks me, exasperates me, and causes me to fall at the merciful feet of my God and this child's God!
But all day long, as I help and watch my second born prepare for a trip to Ecuador, my heart has spontaneously rejoiced in God!  Oh, He is so faithful and kind!  My oldest girls are and are becoming some of the best young ladies I know.  I could gush about them for pages!  But I will not, for the reader's sake.  Rachel, in her first year at University of Louisville, is excelling. She is rocking her school work, which I never doubted she would.  She is driven, focused, overly so on most days!  But what thrills my heart more than anything, is that as she flys on her own wings, she is doing so with her heart, mind, and will fixed on Jesus!  She is finding Him faithful personally; She is exploring His great glory and goodness; She is searching for heavenly treasure!  And she calls me!  She talks to me.  We are friends. And Abby?  This time last year, she was so, so broken and angry.  Her sweet friend died was too young, and it crushed her.  And this mama watched, heart breaking, praying!  And in the last several months, I have seen a resurrection!  She is walking out healing with Jesus.  She is alive again.  And my tears flow, and my heart sings!
     I am sure I did some right things as I parented them.  I prayed.  A lot!  And that is the success!  I also made lots of mistakes!  I didn't know what in the world I was doing with these sweet souls.  I was learning to love Jesus and they came along with me.  And miraculously, God's faithfulness makes up for our lack.  And He is so, so kind!  How my heart rejoices!
So, as I wrestle through hard days with the younger kids, I look at what God is doing around me!  And it gives me so much hope and confidence! "God, I look to you.  I won't be overwhelmed!  Given me vision to see things like you do!"  Amen.

Laughter is Good for the Soul


video
This is for you, mom! And In-laws and anyone else who would want to see this sweet baby laughing.