The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Snow

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. (Luke 1:45)

The house is silent now. All I can hear is the hum of my computer. The glow from our Christmas tree creates just enough light revealing the remnants of Christmas morning. I see a red barn partially open. There's a large Star Wars box torn in half. A shaker thing with bells awaits a baby's hand. I see a lonely battery and a slipper missing his mate. There is playdoh on the kitchen table. There are six empty stockings hanging by the fireplace. The ever-so-long awaited Christmas morning has come and gone. Gone in time, but will forever remain in my heart.

This was the first Christmas I've ever spent apart from my parents. It's the first Christmas I've ever spent outside the state of South Carolina. It's the first Christmas Chris and I have EVER spent in our own house. It was a lot of firsts for us. First time I cooked a beef tenderloin. First time I made monkey bread. First time I got to attend a Christmas eve service in our home church. And first time my children experienced snow on Christmas morning! Yes, this was going to be a different Christmas. We weren't supposed to be here this Christmas, so we thought. It was difficult for me at the beginning of the month to go in the attic and unpack ALL my Christmas decorations and china. Once again, a reminder that I was supposed to be having Christmas somewhere else, so we thought.

This year I reread the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias. I'm such a Zacharias. Even when I'm convinced that I have experienced an encounter with the Lord, my flesh desires 'proof.' I want every affirmation I can get... and even when God is so gracious to grant it to me over and over again, I'm STILL like...Are you sure, God? Can you just send me one more sign?

Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain?".........The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words." Luke 1:18-20.

Mary just believed. She asked a very logical question.. "um..but I'm a how exactly does that work?" I mean, that's not a question of unbelief. She believed and she accepted. I've thought a lot about her over the course of this month. I thought about how I hate traveling pregnant. I thought about how she was probably in the nesting phase and getting her house in order when Joseph said, "we have to go to Bethlehem and you may have to deliver there." I thought about how, after I FINALLY would get over that "blow" and disappointment of having to deliver far away from my home, I would resolve to at least find a nice hotel to stay at. I thought about what could have been going through her mind when Joseph came back to her and said, "They don't have any rooms left." I would have immediately shot back, "Well, why didn't you call ahead and make a reservation! you knew EVERYONE would be coming to Bethlehem for taxes!!!" And I can't even imagine walking into the barn and sitting down. God, is this where you wanted your baby to be born? God, are you there? I can't imagine having a baby on the floor where animals had trampled. We don't get any insight into her thoughts other than that she first believed, accepted, treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.

So this Christmas, finally, I have come to acceptance. I'm finished playing Zacharias. I want to be more like Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

Life is filled with the unwanted, unexpected. I'm learning that a lot of the disappointment we struggle with is the reality of our unexpected. We feel abandoned when it's hard. Mary was favored. Throughout all of the "unexpected" she experienced during the course of those nine months, do you think she felt favored by God? I would have felt much like I do, now, when life delivers something unexpected and unwanted my way: forgotten. But out of the difficult, God brought deliverance. Sometimes, while it seems as if He is withholding, really He is in the process of redeeming.

I had just taken the Monkey Bread out of the oven when I spotted the first snowflakes; on CHRISTMAS MORNING! I couldn't believe it. It was a picture. It was a miracle. It was MY miracle. I felt the lump in my throat begin to swell, bringing with it happy tears. My first thought, "Oh God, we wouldn't have this morning if we were somewhere else. It's beautiful, God."

I felt a pat on my leg. And in the most precious of precious voices I heard, "See Mommy, it's Christmas. I told you it's Christmas when it snows." Emma Faye's chocolate eyes staring up at me with a matter-of-fact look on her face. "Yes, I guess you were right." My daughter had been telling EVERYONE that it's only Christmas when it snows. Even her teachers were saying she was arguing with them about it when they were telling her it might not snow or it doesn't have to snow. But in her mind.. it snows on Christmas day!

More tears. Because with every snowflake it was as if my precious Heavenly Father was saying, Why did you think I wouldn't give you Christmas? Why did you think you would be lonely? You are loved. I am your home. Look at my beautiful snow. Everyone told your daughter that it never snows in the south on Christmas. I can do anything. Enjoy this time. TREASURE this time.

So that's what I did. I treasured today and I'm pondering tonight. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with dear friends and an absolutely wonderful day with our family playing in the snow and really spending time together. Josh came up to me tonight and said, "Mommy, thank you so much for all of my Christmas. I've had the BEST Christmas! But Mommy! I was having so much fun, I forgot what Christmas was really all about. I forgot about Jesus!"

So did I, Josh.

I forgot I have a kind, loving Savior who desires the best for me; and what he gives, IS my best. I had forgotten that. I had forgotten that I am NEVER forgotten.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If He isn't sovereign over EVERYTHING, He's sovereign over NOTHING!

I don't have many words tonight. I just returned from spending time with one of my best friends in Charleston, SC. He daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. I can still hear her quivering voice speak, "I never knew my heart could hurt like this."

Like I said, I'm processing. I have little to say. I spent the majority of my trek back to Birmingham praying for her and their family. I do know that God is sovereign. If He isn't sovereign over EVERYTHING, He's sovereign over NOTHING.

God, you are a mystery to me... you are a mystery.
How you chose to give and take.. it is a mystery.
What you allow... it is a mystery.
How you perfect our faith through our unbelief is a mystery to me.

But I know you are great and awesome. I know your love for us extends far beyond our comprehension.

Therefore, I choose to accept the unknown in order to be fully known by my Creator.

Our simple joys in this life are but a flavor in your eternal feast. When the longing for YOU is stirred there becomes a loosening of all I hold precious... my family, my friends, my safe home... my husband... financial comforts....even my children.

Help me believe, in my unbelief, that YOU are even greater than these. Christ, YOU, are my forever!

Help me relinquish my treasures into your hands.
Help me return to YOU that which was never mine.
Oh God... help me trust in Your good and perfect love divine!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas, for me, is about the beginning of a story

We scrambled to get in the car.
"Ok, Josh, it's time to go!" I said as I placed a giggly Thomas in the car seat.

Josh immediately finished velcro-ing his shoes and I watched him stuff a wallet in his back pocket much like his daddy does. A few weeks ago he had literally cleaned the entire upstairs for me and I payed him some money. This was the morning he had been waiting for. The moment he could go into a toy shop and buy something with the money he'd earned.

We walked into the store and were immediately greeted with joyful Christmas music singing all around. An employee offered any assistance we may need. Toys upon toys sparkled from beautifully displayed shelves and galvanized bins. There were boy sections and girl sections. There were toys on display for children to sample. There was a woman singing Christmas songs in the corner with her guitar. It was like an excerpt from a movie. Really, it was.

Emma Faye found herself seated at a dollhouse and began rearranging the furniture to her liking. Josh began browsing. His eyes fixed on a small little black dog in a red gingham basket.

"Do I have enough for this, Mommy?"

"Yes, you do sweetheart."

"I want to buy him all by myself." He emphatically requested.

"You can do that." I answered.

Josh walked up to the counter, pulled his money out and handed the puppy to the cashier.

"There you go , sweet guy. Enjoy your puppy," she said.

I gathered my crew and we were off to pick up Will from school. As we were driving, I heard Josh talking to his little dog in the back of the car.

Hey little puppy. I got you... and I bought you with my own money.. and now I get to bring you home. I can't WAIT for you to meet your family. You are going to love our house.

Over the speakers in my own car the song "You Came Down" was playing.

You came down. .... to a stable and a manger.. not a kingdom or a crown... you came down

Tears filled my eyes as I listened over and over to my little boy talking to his new prize. I couldn't help but see the parallel in what Christ has done for me. I thought about Christmas. I thought about Jesus as a little boy. I thought of my boys. Jesus was 7. Jesus was 5. Jesus was 7 months. He breathed our air. He walked around on the ground we trod. He saw sunsets. He rode on our waters. He came as a baby. He was born. He was born to save us.

Christmas, for me, is about that little boy. The little boy who walked into a store with every intention of purchasing a prize. Except his treasures weren't packaged in pretty boxes on fancy shelves. The toys were broken. They were missing pieces. Some were ugly. Some were unrecognizable of what they once were. Some were bruised. Some were mean. But this little boy found in them delight. Christmas, for me, was when He saw me in the corner on a broken, dusty shelf, packaged in a torn box; His heart full of love. He carried me to the counter and bought me with his life. Christmas, for me, is about the beginning of my story. The story that began when a little boy carried me out close to his bosom, much like a shepherd carries a lamb, all the while speaking:

I got you...I bought you... and now I get to bring you home. I can't wait for you to meet my family. You are going to love our house.
Christmas, for me, is about the beginning of that story.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Walking on Water

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you, " Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "you of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:25-31)

I used to read this passage when going through difficult times. I always interpreted it as "Every time I take my eyes off Jesus, I sink. Jenny... get more faith... keep your focus.... you can do this." Me. Me. Me. Is that what you gather from this passage? If there is anything I'm learning about the Gospel is that it is only by Christ we are "getting" anything.

Lord, save me!
This is where my heart rests. These very three words. These are the important words. What do we do when we see the wind and the waves? Because, let's be honest, the wind and the waves sometimes physically block our view. We are deterred. Paul speaks about the storms and the evil one literally and physically keeping him from reaching his desired destination. Did he lack faith? Was he not focusing on Christ?

Lord, save me!
This is what we often fail to say when we are sinking. I forget to cry out a prayer of rescue in challenging moments. Why? My lack of faith that He is able to actually rescue? Was this what Christ was referring to when he said to Peter.."you of little faith." Was Peter doubting at that moment that Jesus could actually rescue him? When Jesus engages with us amidst our suffering and fear, we are able to see him as the Great Rescuer He truly is. We must be willing to walk out on the water, even if we can't see his face.

May today it not be about me and my abilities. Oh God, as the wind and waves swell in the mundane and chaos of my life, may I cry out Lord, save me! And most importantly, give me the faith to believe you can and will and do. Engage with me today in the storms. Call me out onto the sea, so I may experience you deeper.

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:32)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

He's doing Fall.

"Mommy, it's doing Fall!"

I can still hear Emma Faye exclaiming this news to me across the playground. Her hair, a tangled mess, was forcing her to balance on the swing clinging to a single chain with one hand while the other brushed the whirling strands away from her eyes.

"See the leaves? It's Fall today!"

This statement made me laugh. Only in the south can you literally have a week of Summer followed by one day of Fall. It was humorous to me that she had perceived this on her own. Josh was running in a soccer field screaming at the top of his lungs.

I laugh again. This is Josh. And he would be doing this same exact activity inside our house during this very moment. I was thankful for the wide open space. Today in this hour, there was provided for him an appropriate arena for his favorite activity.

I kept re-playing Emma Faye's words. It's doing Fall. Hmm, "It". No, I thought. He. HE is doing Fall. As much as I have longed for Fall days, I can't make them happen. Only HE can. I thought about all the things that the Lord controls; that He does. There are so many choices we are given in this life. We live in a world of options. But there are areas we are allowed no access. We can't turn the ocean tides. We can't create life. We can't make a heart beat. We can't make the sun rise and set. But He does. And as long as the sun rises and sets, we know He is doing it. He is working. There is hope in the knowing that He's still doing it. He's still making life. And He's still working in lives. We can't force His timing. We can't skip over His steps. Sometimes we just have to rest in Him while we wait for our seasons to change.

(I was reminded of a poem I wrote during this time a few years ago. Thought I'd share.....)

My Invisible God

Who is this invisible God? Who is He?
Though invisible, I still can see.
Did the blade of grass find his brilliant green?
Was his colored crown not given from His king?
Did the lumpy pumpkin paint his own skin?
Who thought orange was perfect for him?
Who tells Fall when to bring the cold air?
Who tells Winter how long to keep it there?
Who has opened a woman’s womb?
Who has set eyes on the fullest moon?
Who has heard the infant cry
in perfect hands and toes, nose and eyes?
Who has seen the changed man?
Once prideful or cruel, now broken stands?
The very Invisible God, is He!
Whose very hands have a hold on all we see.
Though invisible, still He is visibly seen
in all, and through all, and all in between.
--jenny pruitt

Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being, ” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 66:1-2)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Straight from the Lion's Mouth

He rescues and He saves;
He performs signs and wonders, in the heavens and on the earth
Daniel 6:27

"Here's your Night-Night, Josh. Here it is!" Emma Faye squealed in delight.

"I know," Josh replied. "I don't want it right now."

Ah, the Night-Night. Josh's little lion he has slept with since he was a baby. Although, one would never know he was a lion. It's missing eyes and hair, and his fuzzy tail is completely gone. It's mane is a ring of matted fur balls. But he's still smiling. Why wouldn't he be? He had won the heart of a little boy.

Lions. I've had my mind on lions today. I suppose it's because I am in Daniel and spent some time in the lion's den this morning. I love this story. I think it's amazing how the Lord closed the mouth's of those beasts. The king's call to Daniel on the morning after so resonated in my heart today...

"Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?"

I remained on that question. It's a good question. It's a GREAT question for one living in doubt or overwhelmed by daily tasks of living and running a household. Has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?

I am preyed upon by the mouths of lions everyday. The voices of fear. The voices of "not good enough." The lies. I hear the whispered what-ifs and the if-onlys. Lions, I tell you. However, I have begun to realize that my real problem is not battling the lions. It's battling the lions, alone. I can't do it by myself. How strange it would be for Daniel to walk into that lion's den and think he could defend himself against their strength. He trusted in something greater. So often, I approach my trials first and foremost by looking for ways to deliver myself. I am frantic and filled with hopelessness. The impossible task becomes just that...impossible. That's because I wasn't meant to rescue myself. That's what Christ did on the cross. What would my day look like if I would pray in faith for the Lord to rescue me from situations. From loneliness. From sorrow. From discouragement. From sleep deprivation. What would it look like for me to trust in Him to rescue me, instead of me coming up with my own remedies. Instead of searching facebook for friends to connect with. Instead of feeding my pain with chocolate. Instead of injecting my body full of caffeine to make it through another hour. What would it look like for you? Have you asked yourself the question? Do you believe this God whom you serve continually can really rescue you from your lions? Does the way you handle hardships in your life expose this as truth?

What's so beautiful is that He wants to show you. Let Him. Why as women, and even men, do we need to be so strong that we can't allow ourselves to be saved. We call ourselves "saved"- for those who believe in Christ Jesus. But we don't allow ourselves to be saved day in and day out. Jesus talks about faith, as small as a mustard seed, is able to move mountains. For me, faith in the small things is harder than the big things. If it's something that I can somewhat handle or control on my own, it's a struggle for me to relinquish that to Christ. But I know He cares about me. I know He loves me. I know He wants to carry my burdens. He bore my sins on the cross. He desires to lighten my load.

Lord, help me allow you to rescue me. Help me serve you faithfully and when I must walk into those lion dens, strengthen my faith. You are strong enough to rescue me as I place my hope in YOU.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Full Day, Full Heart

We were in a stare off. That is, my daughter and me. It had been a horrible morning. I was already wearing a "mood." Chris had signed up Josh with a new speech teacher and we were to meet this lady downtown- at 10am. This involved getting everyone in the car at 7:40am to get Will to school. Come back. Feed Thomas. Dress Emma Faye. Dress myself. Help Josh find his shoes. Wait for Chris to email directions. Wait for Chris to email directions. Get back in the car and leave the house no later than 9:15am.

After construction traffic, detours, and 5 minutes of looking for a parking space, we found ourselves in front of Clinic #2's reception area, out of breath and 6 minutes late. whew. Needless to say, this was the last place I wanted to be with three of my four children. I was so angry that everything takes so long. I was just SO irritated. They took Josh back and I was left in the waiting room, happy for the TVs blasting the Disney Channel. I didn't want to have to entertain anyone or even talk. I just wanted to "zone out." Emma Faye was happy. Thomas- well, he's always happy. I began to retreat into my own world.

But Emma Faye, in her "happiness", kept lifting her dress over her head and elbowing me in the face during the process.

"Emma Faye, please stop doing that. We don't need to show our panties. You're bumping into me. Please put your dress down," I said in such a cool and calm "Mommy" tone. Instructive, yet kind.

She did it again- as if she had forgotten what I had said.

"Emma Faye, what did Mommy say? Please stop lifting up your dress." My tone was a little more stern.

This time she looked at me and lifted up her dress.

"Young Lady.. DON'T YOU DO THAT AGAIN!" (when the 'young lady' or the 'young man' s come out, my children tend to pay more attention to me)

But Emma Faye stared at me. She had dropped her dress, but she kept her hands on it as if she were about to lift it up again. I was watching her. We were now in a stare off.

I remember thinking. I'm just going to look away. I don't feel like having to deal with this. We are in a public place. I already notice the parents watching all of this. What would they think if she does it again? They've totally heard me put my foot down. Oh, Emma Faye please don't do it again. Please don't. I'm going to look away. Then, I won't see what she does. Yeah.. look away. I'm looking away.

And I stopped myself. God never sees our sin and looks away. He stares down right to the bottom of our heart and brings it to our attention. He addresses it. It is NEVER ignored by HIM.

Praise the Lord God Almighty that He never looks away. He never gets fatigued by our rebellious hearts. He ALWAYS strives to grow us and teach us. He ALWAYS follows through. He is strong. He doesn't care what people think. He is truth. He is righteous. He cares about our sin. He never "zones out." He loves us. He is truly FOR us.

I have no idea why that thought occurred to me. But I was thankful and in that moment, empowered as a mother. Sometimes I get discouraged as a parent. I've read so many books. I've looked to so many different people for advice and input. What an excellent parenting teacher I have in my Heavenly Father. He is slow to anger and so quick to love.

Emma Faye never lifted her dress again. Josh came out soon after and we headed back to the car. As she was screaming on the way home because her older brother was kicking her seat, I passed an old church sign. It read, "Love is Patient." I smiled. Thank you sweet Jesus for teaching me two lessons in mothering today. Thank you for reminding me that you are patient with one of your own particular daughters..... me. We picked up Will from school and headed home. With a car now full of four precious children, my heart was overjoyed; my cup, overflowing.

The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Make your face shine upon your servant
and teach me your decrees. --Psalm 119:130-133, 135

Sunday, September 5, 2010

wherever I am

This weekend has been a bittersweet one for me. This was the weekend we had reserved my parent's beach house for the Labor Day holiday. It was supposed to be our trip (just the six of us) to celebrate this past hectic spring, the birth of Thomas, the move, the new job, the new school - our new life in South Carolina. But we didn't move. Of course, the trip from Birmingham was too much to travel in such a short time, so we canceled.

This morning, while a sick little Thomas rested in his crib, I stayed home from church and sat out on our back patio and felt a little sorry for myself. I should be sitting on the beach right now. Instead, we are here and I'm having to stay home from church, which I so desperately need because my child is sick. I did mention I was feeling sorry for myself, right? :)

I opened my bible. My reading was in Ezekiel and the gentle morning sun cast it's light on this particular passage...
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone. - Ezekiel 11:16.

After this past year, I don't believe in coincidences anymore. I know everything has a purpose and I know God has purposed plans for those He loves. He knew I needed to hear these words this morning. He knew my heart; and He knew my heart was feeling scattered and far away from home. My bible commentary went on to say, "God was a sanctuary for the righteous remnant..... the faithful exiles, even though they were far from home, would be protected by God." God's entire purpose of the Babylonian captivity was to bring back the hearts of His people.

I'm not saying that staying in Birmingham was some sort of punishment for our family. It is SO far the opposite. It has been such a blessing. Chris and I have seen God move in powerful ways in our marriage, in our parenting, and even in our relationships with friends and family. It was His precious grace that awakened our souls and opened our ears to His voice and guidance. It was a decision we never saw coming, but glad we stepped out in faith and made. We know God wants us here right now. He has been so kind as to affirm it again and again. But it doesn't replace home. Home feels far away this weekend. It just does. But I want to be where Christ wants me to be. He has grown all of us closer to Himself during this process. It has been good.

I don't know what you are feeling far from tonight. Perhaps your life is far from what you had imagined as a young dreamer. Maybe your family dynamic is far from lining up with your ideal. Maybe you thought your husband would be home every night for dinner. Maybe you thought you'd be married by now. Maybe you thought you'd be making more money. Perhaps your children are far from perfect. Maybe YOU are far from perfect and you think you should have had it all together by this point. Aren't we ALL living far from something? Do we allow that distance to keep us from all Christ wants to redeem? I am constantly amazed and astounded by the great links Christ goes on our behalf to return our lives to Him. Sometimes, His sending us far away becomes the means by which He keeps us close. He is my sanctuary.... wherever I am.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Grace By 5's

"Why does that say Great Job, Mommy?" Will asked in a frustrated tone. "It's not great! It's not a great job. See my fives?"

I didn't know what Will was talking about. I had just gotten home from picking him up from school. It was one of the days where I had all the kids in tow, so I was trying my best to get everyone in the house as quickly as possible. I wanted to give Will my complete attention. Finally, with everyone settled and munching on a snack, I found Will sitting in our den, bookbag open, glancing at a math sheet he had completed during class. I was actually shocked (and to be quite honest, proud) by all of the math problems he had gotten correct. I knew from homeschooling him last year that he was very gifted in math, but had NO IDEA he knew how to compute THIS well. As I was fighting back every prideful and boastful "mommy-ism" due to my son's achievement, my firstborn could only focus on two little backwards '5' s circled in red on the page. Beside them was written the word 'practice' with a little smiley face in the margin.

"See Mommy, it's NOT a great job!"

I was a little frustrated at first. Could he not see every other single problem he got right? And not only got right, but wrote right? That's hard. I couldn't even begin to explain to him that some kids his age wouldn't even know where to begin on this page, but HE got them ALL right. He only wrote the CORRECT answer with a backward five. The teacher didn't even see this as a huge problem. Why is my son such a perfectionist? How do I break him of this? God, how do I teach him it's not about perfection?

And then it came. As if in an audible voice inside my heart, the Lord whispered.

This isn't about teaching Will about perfection. It's about teaching you.

How often I ONLY see the red circled 5's on my pages of life. I don't see all the things I DID do right. All the times I DID teach and model for my children biblical truths. I don't focus on those things. I stare at the red circles. I never see the Great Job. I never BELIEVE the Great Job. Oh what would our lives be like if we were able to embrace the grace God gives us- really embrace it. If at the end of the day, we could lie in our beds and recall all the things we did right and thank God for those moments. Those glimpses of our growth in Christ and His grace poured out on us. What would that be like?

I tell you, this week it's been humbling. It's so humbling that Christ continues to pursue me. He cares THAT MUCH for me to learn and grow. I have my own share of backward fives. I want not to become discouraged as I practice through them.

Tonight, I'm going to go to bed and think about all the good in my day. The moments of pure blessing. Like having lunch with my husband outside Edgar's simply because he wanted to take me out. Like watching Will's beaming face run towards me after school. (my son truly loves me) Like hearing Emma Faye say to me this afternoon, "Mommy, I hope I can grow up and be a mommy and have a baby just like you one day." Like stepping into an immaculate little boy's room and hearing Josh proudly say, "Mommy, I wanted to clean this up for you so you didn't have to ask us." Or peeking over the rails of a crib, and hearing a baby's squeal of delight at the first sight of his mommy. These are the good things. These are the great jobs; supernaturally accomplished by the grace of God--and He gave them to me. He's stamped them right up there on my page. I must mean something special to Him. I do. We all do. How it must break His heart when we fail to recognize His daily encouragements.

Friends, embrace His grace! Live in the Great Jobs.

......then practice the backward fives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

As You Are

I've finally decided to jump on over to the "" world. With a new school year starting and all, it just felt right to begin a new blog location. After all, my family seems to have found ourselves in a new location spiritually despite our decision to remain in Birmingham. God has a funny way of transporting our lives while keeping us stationary. My heart stirred when someone shared this verse with me

"Like an eagle that stirs up it's nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions." Deut. 32:11.

It's been the theme of my year as Chris and I were wrestling with things Christ was asking of us. The eagle makes her nest uncomfortable so her babies will desire to leave it; so they will desire to fly and do all the "eagle things" for which they were created. How this SO resonated with my soul this year. Our nest was VERY uncomfortable, forcing us to face scary canyons and wide open spaces, but we found Christ at every one of our failures, picking us up and carrying us as we continued our journey of growth. I LOVE how what we see as difficult and uncomfortable, God uses to build our faith upon. It's beautiful. It reminds me of a recent incident in our house.

The day after we had painters come and paint the boys' room and Emma Faye's room, I was met at the top of our stairs by my sweet husband. He was sort of blocking my way as I was heading in the direction of Emma Faye's room to put some freshly laundered clothes away.

"Um, you don't want to go in there," he said referring to our precious, innocent little angel's room.

"why, what's wrong?" I asked.

"Um, Mommy, I'm sorry I drawed on the wall."

I immediately knew why my husband didn't want me to go in her room. Her NEW room. The room I had saved up for to decorate. The room I had stressed over what colors and themes. The room she had now adorned with massive pencil lines and swirly swirls and loopity loops all over the wall that was NOT coming off! She seemed remorseful and we talked about how that was wrong. I forgave her and moved on, trying to figure out when I was going to repaint over the "artwork". In her defense, I had left her ALONE in her room coloring so I could get some laundry done.

Flash forward to this past weekend. My parents were visiting. And yes, I still hadn't erased the graffiti.

"Emma Faye, what is this on your wall?" my mom asked in a very non-accusing manner.

"Um, I drewed on my wall," Emma Faye, head lowered, answered quietly.

"Why did you do that?" my mom inquired.

(long pause)

"um... 'cause I'm an artist," she replied.

Of course my mother was laughing telling this story later, as well as Chris and me. What a positive word for her vandalism. It did, however, grab my attention.

I began thinking about some of the traits I see in myself and in my children as negative. The day-dreaming, the tempers, the lack of organization, the rowdy behavior and extra energy. There are times I see these as handicaps in my children. Problems. I see them as personal failures within myself....but in Christ, they are a tapestry of beauty; a blank canvas on which to create.

I'm so often torn between the mother I am in Christ and the mother I'm tempted to be. I want to be the mom "put together." I want to always be on time. I want my children to always look clean and tidy. I strive, strive, strive for that perfection. This is my greatest temptation. This is the mother I'm tempted to be. The mom I am in Christ is the mother who missed the first song in worship because she wanted to look into the eyes of everyone of her children and tell them good-bye as they entered their Sunday school class. The mom I am in Christ is the mother who brought her daughter to church with a jelly stain on her dress because she didn't feel like fussing at her 3 yr old princess because she dropped some jelly off of her toast this morning or rush her upstairs to change and then our the door(because what 3 yr old can eat a piece of jelly toast and not get it on her?). The wife I am in Christ doesn't dismiss her husband's compliment of how nice he thinks she looks because SHE doesn't think she looks nice. I could go on and on.

I just needed to be reminded today that Christ wants our everything. I needed to be reminded that Jesus loves us as we are. Satan wants us to be discouraged in who we are. He wants us to constantly wrestle with our personalities and convince us our faults can NEVER be of use for the Kingdom. Christ wants to take our faults and show us how He can redeem them. Beautiful.

This probably is WAY too long for a first entry of a blog. I will close this post with a poem I wrote awhile ago. I actually wrote it about a year after Emma Faye was born- before she wrote all over her wall. :) I love my daughter unconditionally. I am a daughter of the King, unconditionally loved.

As You Are

From the moment I held you in my arms,
I loved you without a minute spared.
It was as if I’d had that love all along,
Or perhaps God suddenly put it there.
I loved you as you were,
Nothing less and nothing more.
I love you now as I loved you then ….just as you are.

From the moment you asserted your will,
I saw a temper born.
The rant and raves, the crying fits–
Yes, I watched the entire storm.
But I took you as you were,
Nothing less and nothing more.
I cradle you within my arms…..just as you are.

You’re growing every day,
and learning so many things.
Your personality brings such delight
as you laugh, and dance, and sing.
I laughed with you as you were,
Nothing less and nothing more.
What joy you bring to my heart….just as you are.

Life will bring it’s failures,
and the world will carry it’s pain.
My sweet child, you will NEVER be perfect
for Perfection bears no name;
But only as Christ, our Lord and Savior……Our healer with ready arms,
Embracing every one of his children… those near and those far.

He knew you before He gave you to me.
His love runs deeper than my heart.
Leave my arms and run to His…..exactly as you are.