The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Read this today and it ministered to me......

"I watch over My word to accomplish it."  Jeremiah 1:12

Jesus entered earth's atmosphere quietly one night in Bethlehem's stable, and the promise You had first spoken in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) was fulfilled.  A promise You had renewed through every generation.  A hope and expectation that You kept alive in your people.  All the time, You were preparing the way for the promise, laying the groundwork for its fulfillment, readying the hearts of Your people.

Jesus, You are the proof that our God is a God whose promises are sure.  When it looks to me as if You are neglecting Your promises, let my heart see You, the Promise, lying incongruously on a bed of hay, transforming the ordinary into the holy.  My soul waits for the fullness of time.   
 {Pursuing the Christ by Jennifer Kennedy Dean}

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Story of the Orphaned Lamb

There once was an orphaned lamb who had wandered into the wood.  She was wounded.  She was fearful.  She was alone.  She was lost.  She heard nothing but the sounds of pine straw crunching 'neath her feet along with an occasional snap of a fallen tree branch as she walked aimlessly in circles.  It would be night soon.  "Where should I go?"  she thought to herself.  Just then she felt strong arms of a human grabbing her, lifting her into the air.  She struggled, but her broken, wounded body could not free itself.  She surrendered and was slung over His shoulders.  She then recognized His face.  He was her Shepherd.  "Don't be afraid, now." he said in a quiet, warm tone and carried her through the wood, through the pasture full of grazing sheep, and into His house.  He began to care for her wounds.  He set out food for her to eat.  He washed her dirty coat.  He spoke gently to her.

He seemed kind.  He probably could be trusted, but the little lamb chose to fear.  She didn't know where she was.  She had never taken food out of a bowl.  She had never had bandages wrapped around her legs.  She had never felt this clean.  She felt trapped.  She felt fearful.  She felt alone.  She glanced out of the farmhouse window watching all the other sheep happily grazing along the far hillside.  All the little lamb could do was think about the other sheep out in the pasture.  She wanted to be with them... for what was most familiar, felt most safe.

She stayed for quite some time in the Shepherd's house.  Most days she would try to escape, but the Shepherd was much too fast and clever for her.  She could never be free of Him.  "You aren't quite ready sweet girl.  You need to heal, darlin'.  Trust me little lamb."  He would say.  She grew to detest His words to her.  She didn't like being here.. alone.. with just Him.  "But I don't understand.  Why do you have me here!" she would tell him.  "One day, you will understand.  One day, you will," He would reply.

The day finally came when the Shepherd brought the orphaned lamb outside and turned her loose unto a different field.  There were other sheep, here.  She was curious, thankful to be out, yet still disappointed.  Some of these sheep couldn't walk very well.  Some seemed very weak, but they were kind.  They greeted her tenderly and welcomed her into their flock.  She still pinned for other pasture.  Reluctantly, she entered into the fold which was extended to her.

"But I don't understand.  Why did you put me HERE!  You know where I want to be.  I'm ready.  Can't you see?"  she pleaded again to the Shepherd.

"One day you will understand.  One day, you will.  I promise."  He replied.

With each day her strength grew.  She walked around with the other lambs in her flock.  Some had been orphaned, too.  Some had been severely broken and beaten.  Some had been attacked by wolves, but ALL had spent time in the Shepherd's house.  All had eaten from His bowl - fed from His hand.  All had been washed and bandaged and loved on by the Shepherd.  Some had shared in her frustration of feeling held captive at first.  Others were extremely thankful.  All were encouraging.  For the first time, the orphaned lamb did not feel fearful.  She did not feel wounded.  She did not feel alone

And then it happened!  The Shepherd called for her.  "I think you are ready, sweet girl," he said smiling.  "Come on, let's go on with the rest 'em."  She followed Him as He led her out towards the open field.  She was finally going with the other sheep. "There ya go," and just like that He set her free.

She watched Him standing guard in the sunlight.  A full grown ewe, now, she had remembered as a lamb seeing Him, but never really seeing Him.  She never paid much attention to Him.  He was always someone poking and prodding her to move on from where she thought she wanted to go.  He looked different to her today.. and she understood ~ just as the Shepherd had promised.

He rescued me.  It wasn't good for me to be out with the other sheep, for I was wounded and small and weak.  I was an orphan.  So out of His great love, He brought me into His own house...not His barn, not in a pen by the His bed.  I didn't know how to get my own food, so He fed me. I couldn't walk well, so He carried me.  I couldn't keep up with the healthy larger sheep, so when I was strong enough, He surrounded me with sheep that, too, had been wounded.  Sheep that had shared in a similar story as me, in order to bring me encouragement.  And all the while I wanted to be away from Him.  I felt He was being cruel.  No.  He was being just the opposite.  He is a Good Shepherd.

The orphaned lamb couldn't keep her eyes off of Him.  She watched His every move... noticing when she was venturing too far.. anticipating His calling for return to the stable. Though at times she still wandered, the Shepherd was faithful every time to bring her back.  She had forgotten all about the other sheep in the bigger pasture.  She realized that her Shepherd meant more to her than life itself.  He was the reason she was alive and well.  It mattered no longer whether she lived in a barn, or house, a backyard, a tiny field, or an enormous green pasture... as long as she was with Him.  As long as she was near Him, the little orphaned lamb was not fearful.  She was never alone.  She was content.  She was joyful.  She wasn't lost anymore; she belonged to Someone.  She was no longer an orphan.

When other sheep noticed her contented, joyful heart, they became curious.  "Why are you never fearful?  Where do you find your joy?" the little lambs would ask.

Then she would tell her story...

...and other sheep came to know Him as the Good Shepherd, as well.


I once was lost, but now I see ~ "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It was freezing today.  Snowflakes mixed with rain fell from cloud covered skies.  It was gloomy.  So was my heart.  There was a war zone going on.  I washed the little outfit that Will wore when he was dedicated as a baby.  Thomas wears it now.  I've washed it several times, but today I just looked at it until I could no longer see through my watery eyes.  Seven years have passed since my baby first wore this.  SEVEN.

I struggle with the day to day difficulty in mothering.  I fight my fleshly desire to retreat... to long for the day to end... to idolize "me" time... alone time... to disengage with my family.  My flesh feeds on lies that vacation makes things better, being close to family makes life easier, having a husband that doesn't work often is the answer.  I selfishly pine for days when I can sit in on days like these and watch Little Women in silence.  All lies.  All lies, because this is not what I truly want.  Because those lies are not grounded in reality.  We only have today.  Today matters.  We can't change our past.  Our future is full of dreams that may or may not occur.  But Today, Today is what counts.  Today is happening.  I want to live in the now.  Stay engaged.  I desire only a pause from the chaos, really.  Just enough to catch my breath.  In frustration,  I dare ask, "Is that too much to ask, Lord?"

I went running.

As I prayed, I realized, that I have my Pause.  I have my Rest amidst the chaos.  I need to learn to rest in Jesus in today.  He is here.  There is good around me.  There is good in the disciplining of children.  There is good in the labor for contentment.  There is much good in the longing for Heaven... in the realizing that nothing here will ever satisfy like Jesus.  No money, No time, No perfect body, No perfect child, no perfect job, no perfect house, No perfect yard, no perfect party, no perfect pet, no perfect furniture... NOTHING.  All will leave us empty and dry.. except for Christ.

I looked out the window of my gym.  The rain was still coming down.  Images of water brought to mind scripture references of living water, fountains, river of life.

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37-38)

I remembered the words of a song I penned a few months ago.  They ministered to me more today.  Our rest is waiting for us.  There IS a fountain.  We must come and drink.  We must come and rest.  We must come and take our contentment He promises to give.  Oh, JOY!  There IS joy here in this place.

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
it's okay to be weak
my water strengthens, renews, replenishes
come to the Fountain, come and drink

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
wounded heart, do not fear
my river deepens faith that has weakened
come to the fountain, I AM here

I AM the Lifter of you head
I AM the Lover of your soul
I AM healing your broken
I AM the One making you whole

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
leave your dirty, thirsty shore
my shower cleanses, my drink, it quenches
come to the Fountain, thirst no more

I AM lifting up your head
I AM loving your soul
I AM healing your broken
I AM making you whole

Come to the Fountain, my beloved
here your TRUE salvation lies
come and wade in, oh come and bathe in
come to the Fountain, come and find

beloved, you are mine

There are days we feel so empty.  We may feel we have lost a little of our faith.  But I believe, it is in THESE moments, that Christ is in the process of digging for us deeper wells in which He will pour MORE of Himself into.  The more the empty, the more room He has to inhabit.  The fact is, He is not just the Lifter of our head and Lover of our soul once in a while.  In all things, He is loving our souls.  I believe this.  It has taken me years to believe this, but I know it now.  The water He gives us is meant for our good.  Always.  Today, it just happens to be in the form of a freezing rain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

..but it was all worth it to them....

"Mommy, why is everyone getting ready for Christmas?  It's Thanksgiving.  Are they just skipping over Thanksgiving?"  my oldest questioned while observing the lighted snowflakes lining the street.  "That's so sad.  Thanksgiving is so important.  All those pilgrims traveled all this way.  They died.  They got sick.  But it was all worth it to them... so they could worship the one true God."

Oh my heart skipped a beat.  I, too, had forgotten.  I, too, was already thinking of pulling my Christmas stuff out to be ready to decorate our tree over the weekend.  I, too, had forgotten the meaning of Thanksgiving.  I kept replaying his words... those words from an innocent, honest, child: but it was all worth it to they could worship the ONE TRUE GOD.

Where in my life do I walk through suffering and see that it is WORTH every bit.  Where do I risk my life... my reputation... what people will think of me... and boldly walk forward in obedience.  I don't have to journey across an ocean to make such sacrifices for Christ.  My sacrifice can come in kindness toward my husband.  In patience with my children.  In selfless giving and even CONTENTMENT in where He has me right now.  When HE is worth more than saying biting words....than proving I'm "right." 

Oh, Father, have mercy on ME sinner that I am!   You ARE worth it.. no matter the lies.  No matter the immediate gratification my flesh craves.  There is justice and there is reward in following HARD after YOU.  May I live in such a way that never compromises my faith....that never settles for less than YOU are asking of me.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May you spend this week thankful of those who found HIM to be worth every mile of suffering and pain... may you join them in their journey..

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Highlights and Deep Thoughts from our Disney Vacation

This post is mostly for myself.  As I have been forced to jump back into "life", I want to NEVER forget some favorite moments and quotes from our Disney vacation.  So here goes my quick recap.  We had one of the most blessed times.  It literally was as if our Heavenly Father was smiling on us in delight as we awaited the next gift He knew was coming.  I am TRULY thankful for all of these blessings... TRULY all good gifts come from above.

1.  After we surprised our "big three" with the trip, we started walking to the car to leave for the airport, Josh turned back and gave me a big hug.  "Thank you so much Mommy.  This is the best day.  I've always wanted to fly in an airplane and go to Disney World again.  Mommy, will we go to church on Sunday in Disney World?  Because I want to thank God, too."

2.  We board the plane and Josh says, "This is the best Friday through Tuesday of my entire life!"

3.  We taxi up to our spot in Orlando and Josh looks out the window, "What?  Oh man, we are right back where we started!"

4.  As we walk off the plane into the Orlando airport, Emma Faye says (so loudly making those around us laugh)  "Well, Disney World, sure was fun."  (thinking our adventure WAS the plane right...)

5.  On the ride over to our hotel the moon was a large orange.  Breathtaking.  Gift from the Lord.

6.  There was a mix up with our hotel room, therefore Chris said the manager said, "Dr. Pruitt, I think we've solved our little puzzle with your room.  We have up-graded you to our club-level.  I think you will find your stay here to be very magical."  (blessing.  this included our own private lobby stocked full of snacks, catering, and our private concierge)

7.  Amazing weather.  Low crowds at Magic Kingdom.  No waits.  (blessing)

8.  Stopping as we entered Magic Kingdom to look at a squirrel Emma Faye spotted.  I love how she is fascinated by the simple things in life.  And if I hadn't stopped her, I really believe that squirrel would have let her touch him.  The thing wouldn't move.. which made Emma Faye say,"Mommy, it's like how Belle talks to animals, the animals aren't scared of people."  :)

9.  Riding Carousel with Emma Faye and her saying, "Mommy, I'm pretending this is a horsey race."

10.  Riding Space Mountain with my boys and hearing them scream in utter delight.

11.  Kissing my husband every morning and saying "thank you for working so hard for us so we could take this vacation."  (the one day I forgot, was the one day things got a little difficult)  ;)

12.  Slow to anger hearts and quick to forgive hearts from everyone.  Blessing.  (no, everyday wasn't perfect.. but every day was redeemed.)

13.  Watching fireworks over castle from awesome spot.

14.  Chris buying Emma Faye her treasured Tinkerbell balloon.  (sweet moment)

15.  Dinning at Cinderella's castle.

16.  Laughing so hard with my husband at some extremely absurd moments... laughing at ourselves.

17.  Front row seating at parades.  Electrical parade was amazing.

18.  Spending time with Emma Faye while the guys road all the rides and really NOT minding.  Enjoyed hearing her heart and listening to her imagination.

19.  Will getting to ride Mission Space at Epcot after hearing him talk about how he really wanted to do that!

20.  Aerosmith roller coaster at Hollywood Studios.  Awesomeness.

21.  Josh wanting to ride Tower of Terror.. me scared out of my mind.. and listening to him belly laugh during it's duration.

22.  Friends' prayers for our trip.  We felt them!

23.  Josh saying to me, "Mommy, is Pluto real, or a person dressed up?  Because when I went to hug him, I felt a zipper."  :)

24.  Watching my boys fight Darth Vader.  Video coming soon.. hillarious!

25.  Emma Faye riding Dumbo... and then getting to ride it again.  Her laugh is contagious.

26.  Mama and Papa staying in Birmingham and keeping Thomas for us. Next time little man.... your day is coming.  :)

And my ALL time favorite thing:

27.  Watching Chris lead us...He had a plan everyday.  It wasn't hectic or drill sargent-ish.  He was flexible.  He made decisions...revised plans.  He came up with GENIOUS solutions.  Like when we had trouble sleeping because of hotel noises.. he looked up "sounds" on his computer and found a "white" noise sound and we just ran that at night.  (isn't that genius?)  He figured out the matrix of fastpass times and when to see what.  He organized from Touring Plans each night our path for the next day.  He orchestrated strollers and who was to ride in them.  He maintained order with the kids.  He didn't allow the fact that we were on vacation meant the kids would walk all over us.  He disciplined with grace... and the children responded.  He was patient with me and ALL of my weaknesses.  He truly set the pace of our days.  Even when one day he urged for me and Emma Faye to leave a park to take a nap.  I didn't want to, but surrendered.. and SO thankful I did.  Had a GREAT evening with the family.  (He knew his girls were exhausted).  He walked us through airport security and lead us to the gate.  He even had forethought to grab a fastpass for me when I returned to park, since I had not be able to ride anything.  Got to ride a roller coaster by myself.  I was hesitant how we were going to do a buffet for one of our dinners, but he stated we were all going through it together and he made himself a plate and two other plates.. while I did mine and another.  (genius)  He was a hero.  I know not by a lot of people's standards, but it was so relaxing to have someone plan for us.  I simply followed and helped the children follow.  They knew Daddy was always in front and Mommy was in the back.  It was a great system.  I watched my boys begin to model the leadership they witnessed from their father.. grabbing bags, reaching for Emma Faye's hand...helping me on a ride... opening doors... and holding open exit gates.  Beautiful.

I am sure I will remember more as the days pass and as I begin looking over our pictures.  It really was Magical.  Not necessarily because it was Disney (although, I am always amazed when I am there)... but just how the Lord showered simple blessings on us every day.  We had an amazing time.  We made amazing memories.  And no, we were not perfect.  Our family had our moments.  We had our disputes.  But EVERY DAY was redeemed.  There was no wasted time.  Even as Emma Faye melted down on the floor in The Land at Epcot screaming that she just wanted to go to Heardmont Park (which is a small park right down the road from us), I found the humor in that.  I decided a long time ago that this trip was going to be about the kids.  I was going to use the phrase, "hurry up" as least as possible.  This proved to be wise.  They were able to enjoy their vacation at their OWN pace.  I discovered that children don't need to be impressed and wowed.  They long for the simpler things.  It was enough to walk around and look at the beautiful flowers at the hotel as long as we were walking together and talking about them.  Perhaps this is why Jesus asks us to come as little children.  We, as adults, think we need to be impressed.  We want to see God move in amazing ways, when really, it's amazing enough that the leaves can change from green to bright red as Will always mentions in amazement almost every other morning as we drive to school.  "I just love red trees, Mommy.  How does God do that?" 

Disney World is great and vacations are great, but our kids don't need that.  They just want our time.  It's sad that adults forget this.  We feel we have to leave to provide that uninterrupted attention.  This is what I have taken from our trip.  As we head into this Thanksgiving week, we aren't going anywhere.  I am thankful.  My heart is overflowing with gratitude.  I am going to enjoy time with my family of six.....  and it, too, can be magical.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Tree of Thanksgiving

"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving"  (Psalm 116: 12, 17)

October blew through our house.  I can hear my children counting down, "Only one more month until Christmas!!!!!!"  

Only one more month.  November.  What about Thanksgiving?

I feel all too often our culture frolics through all the hay rides, pumpkin patch visits, planting of the mums and apple picking October has to offer. We celebrate all month long the beautiful weather, school parties, and football games all leading up to the great climax of The Fall Festival... Trick or Treating..  the giant reveal of our costumes.. or better yet.. our children's costumes.  We enjoy running through the streets at night all the while filling our bellies of deep laughs at our costumed selves and WAY too much candy.  Then what?

November is greeted about as well as the empty candy wrappers lying on our street, come November first morn.   It's welcomed and pondered maybe only a little more than the tootsie pop I cleaned out of my bushes, or the rotting pumpkin I threw away.  It's a breather.  It's a "let's get things together" break until the Christmas hype arrives.

I don't want to skip over Thanksgiving.  I want to relish in it.  I want my children to find GREAT GREAT value in the gift of giving thanks.  Yes, the gift. you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving...

Have you ever really counted your blessings?  Other than on Thanksgiving day.  Have you sat down and daily counted them.  Try counting the blessings money cannot buy.  Do this.  Do this and then tell me Thanksgiving isn't something we as Christians should make more of.  To me, it's more than just a story about a journey.  It's about the story of MY journey.  My life as a Pilgrim... traveling through and living in this world I am not ultimately intended for.   Thanksgiving is a time of celebrating what we have been given in Christ.  As I read the 116th Psalm I can't help but worship our most awesome GOD.

I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my supplications.  Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.  The cords of death encompassed me and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.  Then I called upon the name of the Lord: "O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!"  Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.  The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.  For you have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.  I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living....  what shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?  I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.  I shall pay my vows to the Lord, oh may it be in the presence of all His You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord......

Thanksgiving is realizing what we have in Christ.  Thanksgiving is preparing our hearts for Christmas.  In focusing on our gifts in Christ and the grace He has bestowed us during our journey, we are reminded of the One who took the greatest journey... the most miraculous pilgrimage. Emmanuel.  God became man. Thanksgiving is finding the joy.. the blessing.. in this broken world.  Choosing to be thankful is our offering to Him.  It is continuing our hope.  It is living out our faith.

Many days I choose not to live thankfully.  I choose to not hope in Christ.  I live as though this is the reality.  But scripture speaks otherwise.  I have been rescued from death... my eyes have been rescued from my tears.. and all that will or has caused me to stumble.. from THAT ALSO I HAVE been rescued.  Yes, a mystery, but True.

So this November I have created a Tree of Thanksgiving.  It sits on our kitchen table.  Each night we pull out a tiny leaf ornament with a scripture passage relating to praise, thankfulness, or blessings.  We read it and try to memorize it.  We talk about it and those who engage are rewarded with a piece of October candy.  (I think we have enough to last us through the month...  :) )  The kids think it's great.  Chris praised me for my creative idea and thanked me for being so thoughtful for our family.  But really... I did it for me.  I want the reminder.  I NEED the reminder.  It is my heart's cry to love my Lord if only just because He hears my voice and my supplications.  Isn't that miracle enough?  The God who created all things hears my small voice. My small insignificant voice.  Oh, yes, I have SO many things for which to be grateful.  I should spend all year dwelling on thanksgiving.. every day.. every hour.  

Baby steps.  It's difficult in trials to count the joy.  Perhaps this is why the psalmist called it a "sacrifice of thanksgiving."  But in Christ, we are promised that it is there.  The hunt begins.  The ending better than the beginning.  The view from the top, breathtaking.... I just need to begin the climb... up my Tree of rugged branch at a time.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steppin' Stones

He said to the sons of Israel, "When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, "what are these stones?" then you shall inform your children, saying, 'Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.' "For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever." Joshua 4:21-24

"All those your children?" a woman asked me while my boys and I waited for Emma Faye to finish her little ballet class.

"Yes, Ma'am." I answered firmly making no excuses. I never know where people are going with that question. I get it a lot when I am out with all of them. People can be so rude. I never understand why our culture views children as an inconvenience. They truly are the treasure.

"Wow. They're little steppin' stones. That's what they are... little steppin' stones," she nodded and went on her way.

steppin' stones.

I paused a minute as I looked at their faces. I remember the scripture about the memorial stones. This week in our bible study we each brought with us a "stone" memorial that reminded us of God's faithfulness.

Yes, Ma'am these children are stones. They are my stones. They are testaments and reminders of God's faithfulness.

We were not expecting to be expecting when I first became pregnant. I loved the name Will. William means "valiant warrior." We knew our firstborn would pave the way for the others.. for us as parents. And Will is just that. He's brave. He takes a beating. He's strong, but he's gentle. He's so gracious with me as I flounder times in my mothering. He is Christ in a lot of ways. Bold and bright to call me out in my sin, yet merciful and gracious to forgive. In Will, I see Christ working in spite of my failed efforts. Despite the fact that I am not a perfect mother. I have made so many mistakes with him, yet he remains tender and open to the gospel and is full of such compassion he comforts ME in my sin. This is ALL the work of Christ. It's beautiful and Jesus uses my precious Will to remind me over and over that HE is my valiant warrior..fighting for our family..I can't mess this up.

Josh was born 15 1/2 months after Will. Joshua means "God is my salvation." I remember the dark days of residency...the morning sickness while caring for a 7 month old. I felt so alone... so dry. I had to draw from a deeper well. I needed a Savior; not just one I worshiped Sunday morning or at Wednesday night bible study, but one I called upon in the storm of ear infections...the mundane tasks of diaper changing...seeing the gift in stretch marks..and days without showers.. and sleepless nights. The fatigue...pregnancy aches...marital strife. Josh had colic during the first three months of his life. It was so hard being there with essentially two babies.. alone; one screaming.. the other not able understand why Mommy couldn't sit on the floor and build blocks like we used to. Josh was determined. He was a fighter. He questions. He tests. I look back and see God's sustaining power. Christ BECAME my Savior during those first few years. I look at Josh and see Christ's determination for my heart... to ask MORE of me..and never settle for less than what He created for me to be.

I became pregnant with Emma Faye during a time of change for us. Chris was finishing up his residency and we were going to be moving. When I was thirteen my daddy gave me a perfume that was called "Emma." I have loved that name ever since and always said that if I was given a little girl, I wanted her to be called Emma. After having two boys I would be lying if I said it didn't matter to me what I had. I would love a boy OR a girl, but I remember after Josh was born praying a simple prayer for a little girl one day. It was something very simple: God, I am thankful for everything and anything you give to us. But you know my heart, and you say to ask for whatever we desire, Lord.. and Lord, I would love the gift of a daughter. I prayed that several times. I remember being in the appointment with Chris and my mom and the technician saying, "I can't seem to get her to move." HER! My mom and I cried. I was surprised by my tears. I wasn't aware my heart had longed this much for a daughter. I remember rushing to the nearest Barnes & Noble and finding a baby book of names. This one in particular had scripture that went along with the meaning. There under EMMA read "faithful." and when I read the passage that followed, I wept.
Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.Mark 11:24

The Lord became personal to me that day. He was my Savior who sees me.. who hears me. I feared no more my move. I trusted in Christ. I knew He would promise to be faithful. And that is how we ended up in Birmingham. It would take blog post after blog post to tell all the stories of His faithfulness to us over these past four years. Faye is my mother's name. Emma Faye is another woman in the long legacy of Godly women. She is more than I could have dreamed of what I would want in a daughter. She's joyful. She's creative. She's fun. She is strong, yet feminine. I am reminded of Christ's faithfulness when I look at her. I can hear her ask me, "Mommy, why do you call me your treasure?" and before I can answer, she answers quickly with my same response every time,"because you had wanted a daughter and God heard you and gave you one and it was so special because He didn't have to do it? Just 'cause He loved you?" Yes, sweet girl. I am always humbled by my Lord's faithfulness. I don't deserve any of it; eternal life is enough. Yet, what a kind Savior we serve.

Last but NEVER least, is our Thomas. He is but 18 months old, yet it seems he's always been with us. I suppose he has been since we are all known since before the beginning of time. Once again, Thomas came during one of the most difficult years of our lives... in our marriage. The push to move, the pull to stay in Birmingham. It felt like Evil, himself, was hunting our family. It was a difficult pregnancy, it was a difficult year for our children, it was a difficult year for Chris's job, it was a difficult year for our marriage. I had always liked the name, Thomas, but didn't like how it seemed that the word "doubting" always came before it. However, one of Will's school lessons was a on the Apostle Thomas. It went on to tell how he went to India, against his own heart, but in obedience to Christ. He boldly ministered and shared the gospel. There are diaries written of people with him as troops walked him out to murder him for his faith. They quoted that he prayed he had followed Christ at all costs... even to death. They wrote he knew he was going to be killed. He became one of the first martyrs. I sobbed at that story. Here was a man I could name my son after. Yes, he doubted, but in the end... he got it right... he was a man that had worked out his salvation. I looked up what his name meant. Thomas means "divinely preserved."

Our family went through much trials leading up to his birth. But when Thomas landed in our family, he was full of joy! Joy comes in the morning! We had gone through such a night...but we were still here. Christ truly holds all things together. His Grace truly is ENOUGH. Jesus preserves. He is still preserving. He is still sustaining and strengthening. Thomas is my reminder of God's covenant...His promises to me.

Yes, Ma'am... they are my stones. My reminders that Christ is my warrior, my leader. He is my Salvation and Savior. He is faithful. He sees me. He hears me. He is JOY in the morning. He keeps watch through the night. He keeps His promises.

We are walking around in a river of brokenness. At best we are treading water. Currents of evil falter our steps. We struggle for balance. It is hard navigating through rushing streams. But Christ is parting the water and giving us dry land everyday. Look down at your feet. He is making a way....
Pick up your stones as you pass.
Pick up your stone and remember...
Tell them.. Tell them Why when they ask
Tell them, Mighty is HE, our Savior

Friday, September 23, 2011

This is Home

Oh, tasting the sweet goodness of Christ this morning even amidst the cloudy, seemingly glum day. I heard this song again and it stirred my heart. It is from the soundtrack of Chronicles of Narnia. Visions of the "thawing" occurring in all of Narnia fill my mind. I hear the powerful line, "Aslan is on the move."

I know our TRUE home is Heaven. But while I'm here on this earth, now, my home is Christ. I am realizing this more and more everyday. He is home! His words are HOME! His TRUTH is home. Now read these lyrics with that in mind. No, I can't go back, now...we are miracles.. and we not ALONE!

"This Is Home"-- Switchfoot

I've got my memories
Always inside of me
But I can't go back
Back to how it was
I believe you now
I've come too far
No I can't go back
Back to how it was

Created for a place I've never known

This is home
Now I'm finally where I belong
Where I Belong
Yeah, this is home
I've been searching for a place of my own
Now I've found it
Maybe this is home
This is home

Belief over misery
I've seen the enemy
And I won't go back
Back to how it was
And I got my heart set on what happens next
I got my eyes wide it's not over yet
We are miracles and we're not alone


And now after all my searching
After all my questions
I'm gonna call it home
I've got a brand new mindset
I can finally see the sunset
I'm gonna call it home


Now I know
Yeah, this is home
I've come too far
And I won't go back
Yeah, this is home

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Gift of Windshield Wipers

It was pouring rain this morning as I drove my boys to school. In the silent pauses of our conversations, the windshield wipers squeaked as they furiously worked.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

As soon as they made a complete swipe, water had already consumed the glass. Up and down. At the highest speed. Back and forth. Fighting to defend against such shards of precipitation.

I feel like windshield wipers most days. No sooner do I sit and take a moment to catch my breath, is the rain of my world smeared across the shield, needing my furious attention to wash and wipe up. A husband. A child. A house. A homework assignment. A meal. An errand. Throw in Bible Study, exercise, involvement in ministry or community and my blades are full speed ahead.

And right up there in front of my face is the windshield of my faith. Somewhere in between the back and forth is the battle for my belief; the hope that this rain brings with it showers of blessing in the pounding; the promise that no matter what is smeared, smudged, iced over, and/or fogged through, it is truly wiped clean in Christ. In fact, if tomorrow should be bright and sunny, my windshield will actually be cleaner because of this very storm. My eyes will see clearer through it, as well.

For now [I] see in a mirror dimly, but THEN face to face; now I know in part, but THEN I will know fully just as I have been fully known. (1 Cor. 13:12)

I park the car at this very thought. I take the keys out. A gentle ooze of water cascades down in front of me exposing the world a dark gray, impressionistic painting. So blurry. Life is so blurry.

I crank up and flip the wipers on. I can see better... sort of. I hope in the FINAL Sunny Day...

and thank the Lord for the gift of windshield wipers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

River God

I went running this morning to clear my mind. I am leading worship for our women's retreat this weekend and I just needed some rest from the swirling spiritual attack and chaos our home has undergone this past week. I needed to pray through my songs. I needed focused time in prayer for my heart.

Our retreat is about our "story". It's about seeing our stories as a part of His greater story. I have spent much time sorting out the "good" in tragedy and hardship. Accepting our fallen world for what it is, and embracing the Hope of eternity. Hard stuff.

The why questions seem to get me no where. I concentrate on the Who ones. Instead of asking, "whyGod?" I ask, "Who are you, God?" Those I find answers for. He is faithful, loving, a Father, a healer, Redeemer, has plans, one who rescues, one who holds my tears in a bottle, and one who will one day wipe them from my eyes. He is beginning and end. He's a creator. He is a lover. He is joy and peace. He is wisdom. He is mighty. He is gentle. He is a warrior for my heart. He is the Shepherd of my heart. He puts me to bed. He wakes me in the morning. He rewards. He disciplines. He goes before me. He goes behind me. He walks beside me- all at the same time. He is King of Kings. He is humble in heart. He is the lover of my soul. His love is never used to manipulate.

When I set my mind on these truths, the less I desire to inquire why.

Having just listened to a song entitled, "River God." I noticed a frothy brook babbling beneath a wooden bridge. Stepping onto the planks, I gazed down at the rushing water. My children love to play in this creek during the summer. I thought about the rocks under that stream. How the rushing water smooths their surfaces. If these rocks were rough and jagged, my children couldn't frolic over them.

Perhaps our difficult lives... these rushing currents that seem to want us drowned, that cut so deep.. are all a part of smoothing the stones of our lives for others and the generations to come. As we trust in Him, who chisels and chills, smooths and refines, a safe foundation is provided on which they may stand and observe how we deal with and experience Christ. Let the river flow, so our children and our children's children will want to come and wade in the Water. Bathe in the Water. Drink of that Water.

And for today, in this moment, that is enough of a why reason to keep me holding fast, submerged 'neath the rapids.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Seeing how "it is good."

"Mommy, can you help me find a Lego piece I need?" Will called down to me from the top of the stairs.

He had been silent in his room all morning creating buildings with Legos. I made my way up the stairs to assist as he began describing the exact particular color and size of the certain piece he needed. After much what felt like searching for a needle in a haystack, we found the small, two-pronged, faint yellow block forming a tiny light in the "kitchen" of his house.

"This is JUST what I wanted it to look like," he said smiling proudly.

I am reminded of that moment today as I spend time in God's word. My oldest has a wonderful imagination and LOVES to create what he has imagined.

How many times have I heard the story of Creation? How many times have I told it to my children? Have I read it in Genesis? Too many. Yet today it's as if I've read it for the first time. Today I am moved by the artistry of God. The great Creator. Just in the birds alone...their colors... their shapes and sizes. Then the animals. The massive seas. The great sky. The clouds. The earth. The mountains. All from nothing. He simply designed. He created and formed... from nothing.

"Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.... God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:26,31

When I consider that I bear the image of our Triune God, there becomes a shift in my perspective. When I dwell on the fact that I bear qualities of Christ, I see the value in myself. I see value in others. I treat them that way. After all, we were created.

I think we forget that. Scripture tells us God formed us. We were designed. We weren't thrown together. Just as my son had that exact particular part for his building in mind, so God purposely plans accordingly for me. He didn't just grab any old eyes. He had the color, hazel, in mind the entire time. He didn't just throw me in some woman's womb. He chose my mother. He is the designer of my life. Every block is specific and unique, hand-picked, for me... for all of us.

All that God created He saw as good. When he created man, it was very good. We are precious and honored in His sight. He LOVES us. (Isaiah 43:4). Yet, we live in this fallen world. Life is hard. How can we believe the fact that we are loved and all things are working together for our good(Romans 8:28) in this reality?

How can this all be good, Lord?

The answer was swift.

Because I AM the Creator. I AM the builder of your life. I AM the foundation upon which you were built and the source of strength by which you can stand. You are an unfinished building. Though some bricks seem painful, some too much to bear, they are necessary for my specific design. Your blueprint is engraved on my hand. I AM purposeful in your story. Trust me, my child, I see the finished treasure. It is BEAUTIFUL! But for now, I AM still creating... and because I am creating... it IS good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 this day is not my own.

Why did I decide to do this this morning? I thought to myself as I gathered my earphones and laced my tennis shoes. 6:20. ugh. I am so not a morning person, but with Chris working later this week and the evenings darkening earlier, it really was my only option for a run.

"You'll be glad when you get back," my husband encouraged.

I set out. It was cool. Really cool. Fall cool. There was light, but not too much. My song shuffle began with soothing praise music. It was working, I was getting moving.

It was quiet. A few dogs guarding their lawns. Dogs I had never seen before. Perhaps this is their "outside" time before their owners leave for work. They seemed not to mind my crossing their front yard. An elderly man walks some trash to the curb. Another waters his lawn. I continue. Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful morning.

As I loop back for a second mile, the street is waking up. Children are walking to the bus stop. A man fires up his lawn mower. A woman strolls her baby. Garage doors open. Cars leave for work. I smell laundry detergent. Clothes are being washed.

Good Morning, Day!

A new day. A new gift given to me. New hours to be lived. To LIVE! With a new day.. there is new life! There are second chances. There is a continuing. The sun is up and the world is stirring. My heart awakens. I rejoice in the day. The gift. I want to extend an offering. I want to give BACK this day.. these hours.. that have been given to me.

Thank you for life, Holy Father. Thank you for another day.. a NEW day. May it be an offering to YOU. Give me wisdom how to best use your hours. Give me joy in this day's circumstances. Enable me to see my children's grumbling hearts not as inconveniences, but as opportunities to teach and equip. Help me offer my time unselfishly. Give me mercy and compassion to sacrifice my agendas for YOUR kingdom. I offer this day to you. Thank you for giving it to me. After all, you brought it... it has always been yours. Help me LIVE today like this day is not my own.

Oh, and yes, sweetheart, I WAS glad when I got back. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My heart this morning.....

Much of this world's angst is actually a longing for the perfection of heaven. Blatant sin is often a misguided attempt to fill that emptiness. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so they search for heaven in hellish ways; excesses and perversions of every kind. However, great sinners can be transformed into exceptional Christians when they turn their passionate appetites toward Me. My Love and forgiveness satisfy soul-hunger as nothing else can. --Sarah Young from Dear Jesus

"Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." Isaiah 55:2

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Need Thee Every Hour

"Sweetie, I was looking at all of these moms dropping their kids off at school and riding off by themselves for a few hours. I just long for that day for you. What are you going to do with yourself?" my precious husband asked me after we dropped our 2nd grader and Kindergartener off on the first day of school.

"Lose all the perspective I have right now on life," I sarcastically replied.

I've been thinking about that a lot this week in the quiet of my house. As I explained to my husband, it is honestly, a fear of mine. I dread that day, in a sense. Being able to stay home and be surrounded by my children and be a daily, hourly, example of Christ AND sinner before their very eyes has been God's gift to me. It has been my battle ground, spiritually. It has been lonely. It has been discouraging. It has been extremely tiring. It's been humbling. Yet, it has been victorious. It has been miraculous. It has kept me at the feet of Jesus.

On the good days, I have a front row seat to the workmanship of my Savior in the hearts of my kids. On the more difficult ones, I experience fully Philippians 4:13. And that's ALL THINGS. That's getting through the day on 2 hours of sleep. That's not losing my temper. That's being willingly to set aside the laundry and the to-do list for building blocks and tea parties... Yes, truly and fully, I have realized I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Being a mother, more than ANYTHING else I've ever encountered, keeps me in need of my Lord.

Now, do we all understand why I dread my children leaving? HA!

I forever want perspective. It is my prayer to ALWAYS, regardless of my circumstances, be in need of Jesus. I want to need Him just as much in the "manageable" moments as in the "unmanageable" ones. I was singing this hymn this morning and my heart couldn't help but pour out this prayer to my Heavenly Father. I may need to sing this every morning when I wake up.

Oh, Lord, may I NEVER stop needing you... in bounty and blessing and sorrow... may I Need Thee Every Hour.

I need thee every hour, Most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine, Can peace afford
I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, Stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power, When Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee, Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, In joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, Or life is vain.
I need Thee, O I need Thee, Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, Teach me Thy will;
Thy promises so rich, In me fulfill.
I need Thee, O I need thee, Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, Most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.
I need Thee, O I need thee, Every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mommy, is Jesus REAL?

The bedroom door yet again creaked open. This is the third time since I tucked my sweet firstborn into bed and kissed him good-night.

"Mommy, can I have a drink of water?" Yes, dear.. good-night.

"Mommy, I hear spooky songs." I'm sorry,let's pray Jesus will help you sleep.

Good night. (I'm becoming irritated)

So when I hear that door for the third time, I'm already heading up the stairs ready to dish out some consequences before he even has time to speak.

Yet, I'm suddenly met by a tearful child. A fearful child. My son meets me at the stairs and pleads, "Mommy, will YOU pray with me? I'm afraid."

There are very particular times when I feel the Holy Spirit soften my heart instantly. This was one of those times. I took him in my arms and we stood outside his room.... and started to pray.. but he stopped me.

"Mommy, is Jesus real? or is he just fake like Santa and the tooth fairy? Is he real? Tell me. Don't lie to me. I want to know. Is there really a person who is listening to me pray or just a nobody there?"


I was quite silenced.

I have always loved imagination. I've always loved fairy tales and fantasy. I love holidays. I love theme parks. I love make-believe. And because I loved it so much, I dove whole-heartily into the world of make believe as a child and I believed.

Christmas, especially, was a wonderful time. My parents where SO fun and made this holiday quite magical. When I set a plate of cookies out for Santa, SANTA was eating them. My brother and I would swear we could hear the pitter-patter of reindeer on our roof. I remember, like it was yesterday, lying in my bed and waiting... watching the clock... wondering, "has Santa had time to come and go yet, or is it too soon to go downstairs and see my gifts." It was so fun and thrilling. I believed my parents when they told me he was real. I fought with my friends at school over this. After all, my parents wouldn't tell me something that wasn't true. right?

Now, in their defense, I never remember questioning them. They never "lied" to me. I never challenged the concept. So finally, after much arguing with several of my friends at school one day regarding this topic, I stepped up and asked the big question, and of course, my mother told me the truth about Santa and I went up to my room, closed the door and sobbed..heart-broken.

But I later learned that I was not the average child. Most kids didn't believe. Most kids had it figured out. They hunted down the gifts. They wanted the "proof". I never did this. At this time in my life, I simply blindly accepted and believed. So as my own children began to grow older and more and more of the culture began asking them "So what is Santa going to bring you this year?" I could only visualize their faces, years from now, buried in a pillow bawling their eyes out after my shattering their years of belief in someone with a casual,Of course, Santa isn't real. Why would I choose to speak anything other than the truth? How would I handle this?

Chris and I made a decision to always... always..regardless of what the culture or our families or our friends say to us... to ALWAYS speak with complete honesty to our children. We felt very convicted about this. We figured the Lord knows our children better than we do. He already sees them as teenagers while we are holding them for the first time as infants. He fashioned their personalities.

But if I'm honest, this decision wasn't easy. It's hard to look into the faces of "believing" children on Christmas eve... full of wonder and anticipation. Evil whispers in my are depriving your children of the joy of Christmas HA! That looks so strange now after having written it out. But Satan does whisper that to me. I am so thankful for my wise husband who counters that attack with, "Is there anything more needed to add to the wonder and joy of Christmas than Christ-Holy God of all creation- coming to earth-becoming a human- and saving us?" I think about that often during the holidays. I see my children happy and still full of wonder and excitement.. huh, shocking, right?

The Lord doesn't promise to always return to us the fruit of our labor, but tonight I tasted a harvest. In tears, I was able to hold my boy and emphatically proclaim:

"YES, Will. Jesus is real. He's the real thing. He's alive and here and listening to us. That is why it was so awesome when he died and came back to life. It meant He lives forever. There are no special occasions He is bound by. There's no far off place where He lives. He lives IN US. We ALWAYS have access to HIM. Mommy and Daddy have NEVER told you anything that wasn't true. This is true. He is true. Yes, Will. Jesus is real and He HEARS you when you pray."

Will wiped his eyes and cleared his throat.

"Ok, then I'm ready to talk to Him," he said.

We did and when we had finished, he quietly walked into his room.

I haven't heard from him since.

Monday, July 11, 2011

An excellent friend is one who more than waters.. she fertilizes.

Welcome home. We are so glad to see you.

The enormous stalks of sunflowers in my flower box seemed to be cheerfully whispering to us as we stepped into our backyard. I couldn't BELIEVE how beautiful they were. My daughter had wanted so desperately to plant sunflowers this year. I have NEVER been able to grow them. We had been watering them and watering them since April and still nothing. It seemed those stalks were going to grow up and over our fence with not even a morsel of yellow. I bid farewell to them before we left for our two week vacation and, even though one of my friends would be watering my plants while we were away, I figured they would simply die. I was wrong.

"I didn't think your sunflowers were going to make it so I gave them a little fertilizer. Hope that's ok," my dear friend, Melanie, texted me upon our arrival. "Welcome home," she said.

I clipped those flowers and immediately placed them on our kitchen table. My heart swelled in gratefulness. I have wonderful friends. Melanie is one of those wonderful friends.

She is a listener. She is wise. She is a servant. She engages. She is a mother and a wife. She is compassionate. She loves animals. She loves Jesus. She is a real person... with real struggles. She struggles with honesty. She wrestles. She fights for Christ. She is an excellent friend.

There are few excellent friends. An excellent friend is one who more than waters your plants. She fertilizes. What kind of friend am I? Am I caring well for the body of Christ? Am I more than watering? Am I taking the time to go above and beyond? Am I noticing dry, parched souls in need of more than I was "asked" to give?

Jesus says, "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)

I am so easily irritated by people. I long to love more. Jesus help me love the body. Help me notice those hurting. Give me eyes to see. Give me the wisdom to know how to more than water... to fertilize.

Thank you, sweet Melanie, for being an example of a friend... the kind of friend Jesus describes. You have poured more than water into our family over and over again. My soul is richer having been blessed by your friendship.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I am not alone. I never was.

I was running along the shore early one morning. I don't know why I was up so early on my vacation. I think sometimes God wakes me up when I need a "wake up" from life. He beckons me to spend time with Him. He is so good. It is a gift that my heavenly Father longs for time with me.. enough to come into my room.. into my sleep.. and call my heart to awaken.. call my body to rise.. stirs my soul to follow.

So I put on shoes, grab the iPod, insert the headphones.. and I'm out the door at sunrise. I run. I feel my ankles and calves adjust to the sand and continue. I turn down my music to hear the roar of the ocean. The steady crash of the waves. The call of the gulls flying..fighting the breeze. I, too, fight the breeze as it pushes hard against my body. On the beach I sense His greatness. I remember the Psalmist write about how God made the sea. How he fashioned the very sand with his hands. I look down. His hands were all over this ground I run upon. His hands touched it! I watched the water creep over beached shells, then retreat. Back and forth.. back and forth. Right now, He is standing and telling that wave exactly how far he can go. He is keeping watch. I think to myself. I gaze out into the horizon. Into the VAST horizon. God you are so mighty and big. You are so great and good.

It's been a hard week for my personally. There have been many battles the Evil one has seemed to have won. Christ has seemed smaller this week. But here, now.. as I gaze out, He is growing. Well, in my eyes again, He is growing. He has ALWAYS been mighty. I had lost sight of this truth this week.

My legs are getting tired. The sun is up and shinning and I'm getting hot. I turn back. There is a group of people gathered together along the shore. They, too, are staring out into the horizon. I look in their direction.

Dolphins. Beautiful, graceful dolphins rocking in and out of the water. This IS a wonder. I see the children point in amazement. "Look!Look! See?!!!" It makes me smile and I think about those dolphins.

We are like dolphins. Living in a world we were not meant to breathe. We must come up for air. We were not given gills for this murky, dark world in which we swim. We need more in order to survive. We do our best navigating through the broken shells and trash others have expelled in our waters. By His grace, we escape the nets. We avoid the predators. To the best of our ability, we keep ourselves moving and free of beaching ourselves. We are beautiful creatures. We come to the surface and breathe before we plunge back into the dark world. We do this because we were put in the water. We are not fish, yet everything else about us were created for water. So we live here, because our Creator for some reason, though it seems strange, has placed us here. We trust His sovereignty over this decision. His reasons are wise. So we continue, as long as we have the ability to come to the surface, we continue.. swimming right along with the other "gilled" beings. We have no place in the deep, deep places. We must be able to surface frequently. How beautiful it is when we do! Others watch and cheer us on. Others stand along the shore and watch in amazement.

And as I watch these gorgeous specimens of God's creation, I am reminded of the hope I have in Christ. Though feeling out of place as I often do, I am always provided air. Sometimes I swim too deep. Sometimes I don't take a deep enough breath. But the surface is there.. wide open. Like His arms. Like His strength. I rise. As I rose early this morning, I rise now on the beach and take a breath. I breathe in His life. Hope meets me here. Faith jogs alongside me as I turn and plunge back into my run. I am not alone. I never was.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A sincere "I'm Sorry" heals so much. It loves MORE.

...remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. Exodus 3:5

We usually remove our shoes when we walk into our house. The ritual serves various individual purposes. For me, cleanliness of my floors. For Josh, comfort. For Emma Faye, a new pair of shoes to put on. For Chris, rest. For Will, relaxation.

Why not holiness? Our home is Holy Ground. Jesus walks about our hearts. The Holy Spirit breathes in our halls and seeps through our walls. The "sorry"'s bring forgiveness. Sinful children hear God's word. Sinful adults seek hard after Christ. Yes, a holy ground. Hard, Holy work is done amidst the homework and clutter; in the mowing of the grass and trimming of the hedges. Jesus is here. He is trimming away at us. Refining. Pruning. Teaching through life. His life. Revealing Himself through spiders and ladybugs...the vibrant purple-colored petunia and the fruitful tomato plants. I sit at my computer barefoot. Humbled by the holiness.

Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed it. I would have missed the holy encounter. By His grace, I was wide-eyed and ready. I was looking. Honestly, I was begging. It doesn't matter the details. It was a classic scenario. My son wanted something that he couldn't have. He was given two choices: 1. following in obedience 2. receiving the consequence of not following in obedience.

He chose poorly. He became angry. However, I let him be angry. After all, he wasn't throwing anything. He wasn't screaming. He was mumbling under his breathe. Things like, "I'm never going to sleep." Things that would have, in the past, made me so angry. I knew he had school. Yet, a thought occurred to me. Why should it concern me if he chooses to stay up late and further heap more consequences on himself in the future? Instead of anger, or guilt, I grieve. I grieve his sin. I can't remove sin. I can't soften a heart. I step out and pray Jesus to step in. While he was quietly crying, I physically step out of the room.

Twenty minutes later, his bedroom door opens.

"Mommy, can I talk to you?"

Yes, of course.

"I didn't mean it."

Could you explain more?

"I didn't mean it, mommy... those things I said. I was angry. I didn't mean it. I'm sorry."

Remove the shoes. Jesus is here.

I am too often the deliverer of the apology. I beat myself up for hours over this. I loathe my temper. I say things I don't mean. I seem to always be asking for forgiveness.

I am rarely the recipient of an apology. This was new for me. So precious of my Savior to spoon me a taste of His redemption; of redeeming love. A sincere I'm sorry heals so much. It loves more. I envelope my boy in my arms. I feel my shirt soak in the tears of us both.

Could it be that Christ has used all of my failures.. all my needing of forgiveness.. to convey MORE love? Here, I thought it was only tearing apart.

Have all of my mistakes and apologies taught my children how to say I'm sorry? Oh Christ, you do redeem! Was I not believing this before? Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

I look into his eyes. Well done, sweet boy. I drop tears on this holy ground. Where I have modeled repentance, my children have perfectly exemplified forgiveness. I remember their words. I remember the usual words of my son. I quote them exactly.

It's OK. I forgive you.

We walk back to his bed. I pull the covers up.

"I love you so much, Will."

"I love you, too, Mommy."



And all is well in the world.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Always speaking, I love you.

I had just dropped a meal off at a friends house and was pulling out of her neighborhood when I noticed the cash sitting in the passenger seat to my right.

Ugh. I forgot to pay her back AGAIN!

This was my second attempt to pay back my friend the money I had owed. I continued to forget. Finally, a few days later I was passing her house and noticed the cash still sitting in that seat. I picked up the phone.

"Hey, I need to drop off that money I owe you. Is now a good time?" I asked.
"Sure, but you really don't have to do that," she sincerely replied.
"Oh, it's no problem, really," I said and made the left onto her street.

No problem.

Who was I kidding? It was a big problem-- for me. I detest being indebted to someone. I don't like resting in that place. There is something unsettling about it to me... to my flesh. I want to deserve what I get. I want to be the keeper of my destiny. I want the control. I've ALWAYS wanted the control. I want to control myself. I want to control my husband. I want to control my children.

No, I don't go around announcing this. I'm subtle. I take on the majority of the tasks around the house. I make "helpful suggestions" to my children during their decision making. I do the same with my husband. I mask it well, sometimes. Others I don't. But it's still that fleshly desire for control.

This is why it's difficult when I can't control my sin. When I can't keep myself from outbursts. When I can't control myself into perfection. It's why grace is difficult for me. Because I can not obtain perfection in my behavior and live with a sinless heart, I stay indebted to Jesus. I am always in the red. I want to work my way back. I want to pull the cash I've earned on my own merit and give it back to Christ and say, "Here, ya go.. sorry for losing my temper with my kids." I have become disillusioned with the notion of being able to "cover my expenses" somehow provides a means to obtain autonomy over my life. However, in return, my "expenses" begin to control ME and I am forever a hamster on the wheel striving for that which I will never earn. It keeps me in debt.

Grace sets me free. Grace pours over the red numbers of my deficit and turns them black. Just because Jesus loves me. Just because He died on the cross for me. Grace gives, always. Grace allows others to give, always. Grace gives so I may take. So others may drink. So all may become full. Full of the joy of Christ. Empty of the need to earn and strive.

I drank today. As I sat in a Muffins for Mom breakfast with my precious little Josh feeling the heavy guilt of this past week. How the two of us have been in much conflict. Heavied by the load of not handling things well and acting out of anger. Full of feelings of having blown it. Never able to re-pay for the damages. Forever in debt. That anything I had ever done prior was forgotten... that anything I had ever done even mattered or encouraged him. Yes, as I sat there beside my second-born, whose name means "God is my Salvation", I was reminded of that Salvation I OWN in Christ. I was given yet another glimpse of His saving balm. I read from a page of questions Josh had answered about me that his teachers so preciously had written out and laminated.

The question: "My mommy always says_________________________."

Grace filled the pitcher and poured for me upon his page the answer.

My mommy always says, I love you.

There it was. As if my slate were being cleared; my heart restored. My debt taken away. My fear of my children not feeling loved.. not knowing my love for them. Here it was, spoken back to me. Affirming me, Christ continues despite my failures.

Christ is "raising" us all, isn't He?

Thank you, Jesus, for your drops of grace. Thank you that I don't have to keep running the wheel. I don't have to keep paying you the cash. I could NEVER repay you for your life... for the life you've given me. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for everything new. Thank you for always speaking, I love you, in everything you do.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Not a normal day.

I hear the squeals of delight from my children in the backyard as they run and jump through the sprinkler. Thomas is enjoying his water table. He's enjoying being outside. It's beautiful today. It feels like a normal day. I'm convicted that it feels like a normal day. It shouldn't. There are people so close to me that have lost everything. I have begun to seek efforts to help provide some relief and I'm frozen as I read the needs of this moment.

Drop off tonight at church between 8-11pm. New undergarments for children, youth, and adults. Diapers and water.

I begin to cry.


I never think about needing underwear. I never think about buying it. I never think about it. I never think about diapers. I never appreciate that I have them. Now I think about it.

What if WE were in the rubble right now? What do people do with their babies? Where do they sleep? Where do FAMILIES stay when no one has a home?

Oh my heart is weeping. God, may I not forget how you spared us. May I NOT forget those hurting. May I DO SOMETHING, Lord.

It's not a normal day. It won't be normal for a long time. And some may never find their normal again.

Please pray for these people and let me know how a mom of four small children can get involved in aide. I'd LOVE your input. I WANT to get involved in relief efforts.

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear, you God will come......he will come to save you." Isaiah 35:3-4

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weakened by the Storm

He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:40

It's the silence after the storm. The tornadoes have gone for now. I am listening to the hum of my laptop. I faintly hear a man reporting the weather from the television in my bedroom. Still, it's silent. What a storm we had today.

As I survey my den, it seems as if a tornado touched down inside our home. There are piles and piles of coats and jackets lying on our dining room table from the coat closet. Tons of game boxes and bins of books are outlining our staircase. We pulled everything out because the closet under our stairs is our make-shift "safe place"; a term I've come to understand since moving to Alabama. I'm not used to these severe weather storms. I'm not used to having a "tornado season". But the tornadoes don't care. They continue to come whether I like it or not; whether I'm used to it or not. And today was no exception.

My precious husband had to work. My selfish heart complained. He is ALWAYS working during these things... always. Then, I was reminded by a dear friend tonight what a gift he must be to someone injured in a crisis like this--to a child... to a fearful parent. He is so gracious and compassionate. Perhaps the Lord assigns him these evenings. To minister to those hurting. Selfishly, I want him, here, ministering to ME during the stress.

So as the five of us huddled in our tiny coat closet praying for protection for "daddy" and those out in this storm, I was moved to tears as I listened to the simple, faithful prayers of our children.

Will: "Lord, keep Daddy safe and the people hurt in this storm."
Josh: "Jesus, please stop this storm and say, quiet."

Please stop this storm and say, "quiet".

I had not handled this evening well at all. I thought about those disciples on that boat....Teacher, don't you care if we drown? I had operated in complete fear during the entire thing. Feeling alone and responsible for four little innocent children, I responded to everyone and everything in panic mode. Placed in my very own hands was now an opportunity to exemplify faith amidst fear. What it means to trust when terrified. Instead, I cowered and lacked courage. The storm inside of me was raging and overflowed out of my mouth. Not just three days ago, I had celebrated Jesus's resurrection. I celebrated His life among us. I celebrated the veil torn. I celebrated His being with me now and always... every minute... through every circumstance. I celebrated His victory in all things. I felt like Peter once the rooster crowed that third time. I denied who Christ claims to be; my protector, my Savior, my comforter, my Prince of Peace. I sit here humiliated by my hypocrisy. I feel rebuked by the Lord as the disciples were.

Do you still have no faith?

I wish I had this great response to this question. I don't. I don't know why I am so easily frightened. Maybe because I'm a sinner saved by grace. Because I need Jesus for every second.. I can't NOT be afraid on my own. It's so hard for me not to assume Jesus is snoozing when crisis occurs in my life. That He's forgotten. That He doesn't care if I drown or not? Yet, it is His grace that causes me to "wake him up"--to look for him in the storm-- and it's His grace that forgives me when I feared He wasn't there. I'm clinging to that tonight. I stood upon those promises as I repented to my children on behalf of my behavior.

I am from South Carolina. We appreciate the hurricanes--those horrible storm systems notified a week in advance. The storms in which we pack up all of our belongings and escape...flee the fear.... avoid the panic. But Life is full of tornadoes. Unexpected storms. Unexplainable paths. Unpredictable damage. As believers of Christ, Jesus is always in our boat! As celebrators of our Risen Lord, He is NEVER asleep! He sees us. Always. The Christ whose power rebukes the winds and the waves with, "Quiet! Be still!" is able to speak the same over our raging, fearful, faithless hearts.

We then find our rest. Better yet, we find forgiveness for allowing our faith to be weakened by the storm.

My friend, we are deeply and dearly loved.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When I remember, Christ is able to redeem

I had just put a chicken in the crockpot.
-There, dinner.--

The weather outside looked stormy. It was dark. The perfect day to get things done around the house. I had read a story to Emma Faye. I painted with Josh. I played on the floor with Thomas. I just put Thomas down for a nap. The house was quiet.

"Everyone, Mommy is going to get some of her things done on her list while Thomas sleeps. Emma Faye, you may watch a TV show. Josh if you want to play your Leapster, you can."

I thumbed through my itunes library and found my newly downloaded Laura Story "Blessings" album. Her music and annointed words of truth began to permeate my home. I began worshipping. My heart held fast to her song, Remember.

this is the body that was torn for us
this is the blood that was spilt
points to the pain you endured for us
points to the shame the blame the guilt

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come
Move our hearts to remember

With eyes almost closed I began to embrace and remind myself of what my Savior had done for me. I began to remember. But... then.. there was this leapster blasting in the background.

"Josh, can you please turn that down."

He walked out of the room.

The music swelled....Move our hearts to remember

I silently began to pray this for my own heart. But.. there it was again.. that dang leapster. Josh was back in the kitchen.

And then it came.

"Josh, get out of here with that thing! I can't hear my music. Mommy doesn't want to hear that. I want to hear MY music!"

He looked at me and walked out and upstairs. I turned back to... my moment?

What? Really? After that?

I felt the Lord whisper, "Why are you remembering? Let me tell you why I ask you to remember Me.... so you may go and do likewise."

Here was my worship. My home. My moments and interactions with my children and my husband. Here is my act of worship. Why would I long to shut out the ones I love from encountering Christ in me?

Oh how easy it is for me to lift my hands in abandonment within the walls of our sanctuary on Sunday mornings with all of my children tucked away downstairs in nurseries and Sunday School classes. How difficult to worship amidst the chaos. Yet on the eve of Christ's Crucifixion, He broke bread and gave thanks. He asked us to remember.

So I want to remember more than what He did for me at the cross. I want to remember how He lived. How he asks me to live. I want to live openly inviting Him to grow fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. I want to live in such a way everyone knows CHRIST as my gardener. I want to live in such a way my fruit is irresistible. That my children would LONG to taste. That they would long to produce that same fruit. As a gardener searches after fertilizer to better his crop, so they would inquire and seek after that which was enriching my soil. My soul. And I could tell them, Christ.

I want to take my impatience and unkindness and break it in two, offer it up to Christ and give thanks to Him who redeems my failures. I want to remember the body He gave... not just physically, but spiritually. The example He gave by how He lived. This dying to ourselves. This willingly becoming Isaacs and climbing up on our altars and laying down because He asked us. The altars HE has assigned us. Allowing our arms to be tied by our loving Father.. as bizarre as it may seem... yet trusting all the while.

So today, I remembered... finally. When I remember, Christ is able to redeem. You, Lord, can now come and restore.

I repented to Josh and I worshipped. I experienced my heart moved . I am learning more and more each day how to allow Christ to take me beyond my failures and embrace His freedom. After all, my children learn more from my failures, than my perfection--or the illusion of such perfection.

Jesus, help me remember to remember.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Random Reflections

The sun was shinning through a cooling breeze as I watered my patio flowers. It was a beautiful morning. It had been a most awesome Easter. The kids were off from school again today. Thank you, Lord, for an extra day to absorb the weekend.

It was a first Easter for Thomas. It was a first birthday celebration for him as well. An entire year had passed. Where were we today a year ago? Coming out of a horrible year.

I had undergone my worst pregnancy. We were trying to move and God was keeping us here. It was quite a battle of obstacles and stresses until we surrendered and died to our dream of living close to the beach and family. It was a death for me. Even though I knew all along this was what we were being called to, I died to my wanting everything. Wanting it all. Wanting both. His plan and mine. So we surrendered. We stayed.

I've been pulling out toys and unpacking all of the things we had packed for our move this past week. We've been sorting through what we need and what we could do without. What we treasure. I've been packing up baby clothes and sorting through blankets and stuffed animals and smocked dresses. Sifting through boxes after boxes of pictures from years ago. The memories overwhelming. Heartwarming. The photographs reveal the blessings over and over again. What a full life I live. Full of blessing. Overflowing. The pictures don't carry the daily stress. Pictures are the memory. The captured moments of the good of our lives. I am going to surround my mind with these thoughts... with these images when my days begin to run together.

I laugh as I move on to water my backyard roses and potted vegetables. I see the hearty, healthy mum I threw out of a pot when I "thought" it was dead to replace it with another my first fall in Birmingham. It took root right where I threw it and is thriving. I chuckle as I pass these (I still don't know what they are called) plants that bloom this lettuce looking leaf through much of Spring and then bud a garnet color flower during the summer. I pulled all five of those suckers up my first year here because I didn't like them and they ALL came back... they come back every year. I don't despise them so much anymore. (Not like they are going anywhere.)

When I came to Alabama I felt much like that mum. Discarded. A little dry. Brittle. I felt forgotten. I felt thrown in the bushes and left. But on His own, He gave me roots that grew from where I was dropped. He showered in raindrops of amazing friends and real church community and incredible neighbors. He saturated my ground with them. Really He did. Everytime I tried to uproot myself, by His grace and merciful love, He grew a better me in it's place. He budded a stronger blossom. It has been amazing.

As the years have passed, that mum has grown three times it's size. And now that I think about it, it totally rests in a perfect spot, as if someone planted it there on purpose. Someone did. And that Someone continues to till the ground and nurture that plant as He continues to pursue hard after my own life.

Praise to Him, the Love that will not let me go. The Risen King. He is Risen INDEED!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Waiting at the Doorway

Other than music, love of animals was a passion of mine while growing up. My parents were so gracious to us by giving us the gift of being surrounded by them. I always remember a cat being around. Dogs came in and out of our lives. There was a time when my brother went through a hamster stage. My sister had hermit crabs. I had cages and cages of rabbits and at one time two aquariums of tropical fish were set up in my room, all at the same time. My passion for horses and riding was such that on my 13th birthday, I will never forget turning the corner in the stables and seeing my name written as owner outside my favorite horse's stall. Yes, I even had a horse.

When I moved into my first apartment after college, I got a kitten. For our first wedding anniversary gift, Chris got me a beautiful yellow lab. I worked at an animal hospital for three years. I love animals. But there are no animals right now sharing our household. There are, however, three little people in this household that are begging for a dog. I sit the fence. My husband is coming around.

In the meantime, I give into my joy of learning about animals. I secretly am addicted to the television show, "The Dog Whisperer." Cesar Millan amazes me in his knowledge and in his abilities to help a dog get in that "balanced" state, as he calls it. This "calm submissive" state of being. He talks about being the pack leader; how dogs are healthiest knowing who that leader is and are more secure knowing the leader can be trusted. They were born to follow.

One of the first steps he does to instil this state of being is have the dog wait before entering his house. "You are pack leader. You own this house. The dog must wait for you to enter first. Then he must be invited in. It is your space." Then, he makes the dog wait at the doorway until his owner invites him in. This gives the dog boundary. This gives the dog his place. This begins building the trust.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. Proverbs 8:34

I couldn't help but see this parallel this morning as I read from God's word. Christ is owner of my life. My house is His. Psalm 31:15 says, "My times are in your hands." My seasons. My days. My hours. My minutes. The moments are His. I have an enormous pack leader. I, too, was created to be a follower. All too often, I fight to be the Alpha dog. I wrestle with my role to dominate my territory. I wrestle with my pack to maintain leadership. I am most definately not balanced. Calm submissive? Rarely. Perhaps calm submissive is the state of trusting. Could this be that peace that passes all understanding? Perhaps Cesar's techniques are applicable to more than dogs.

What would my day look like if I viewed everything in light of Christ's ownership. If I entered into my home... into the sickness... into the battles as first realizing all these belonged to Christ. They are His. I look to Him for the invitation to come in. I look to Him as to how I should respond. I accepted my food at the time He gives it. I stay in my crate because He asked me to. I take my walks with Him when He takes me. I rest at His feet while He is home. I am calm. I am at peace. Because I trust Him. Because I know He loves me and He knows best. Because I know it's best to follow Him and I am perfectly content in my role. Hmm.... I ponder this.

I so often am the dog who runs in claiming the sofa, the food dish, the bed.. all as mine. I growl and snarl at those with whom I live. Mine, I say. Mine, I claim. I'm the dog that needs to be flipped over and "shht" hundreds and hundreds of times until I get it. Until I finally rest... calm and submissive. Allowing myself to surrender and trust. Allowing myself to be led; looking to Him for permission. Allowing Him to enter, first. Some days it's by force, others it's by choice. Either way, I'm waiting at the doorway.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Joy in the Unfinished Laundry

It was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon and my husband would soon be coming home. It would be his first night in a week of arriving home early enough to have dinner with us. To spend time with us before the kids all went to bed. To spend time with me before we both collapsed. The day before, I had such dreams of this evening. Such expectations.

However, I surveyed the remains of my day. My house was in such chaos. Separate piles of laundry in my den. Some clean and folded. Some clean and needing to be folded. Some stain-treated and needing to be washed. Some stained and needing to be treated. There were cheerios all over my den floor. I then remembered, this was my attempt to occupy my 11 month old while I tried to "do the laundry." Which clearly was a fail. My kitchen had dishes in the sink still from lunch. A dirty highchair tray was resting on our table filled with smashed peas and crumbs of Ritz crackers. There's a dirty bib on the floor. Finished homework sheets lined my counters.... and I was overwhelmed.

What have I done all day?

I was so exhausted. I knew I had been busy doing stuff all day. But what? What did I have to show for it? My husband would be coming home... and coming home to THIS.


There's that ugly word that begins to chew at my heart and my self-worth. The tears begin to load. They drop. The sprinkle becomes a shower and I bath in my own feelings of worthlessness and unimportance. I'm so horrible at this, God. I'm the worst. I waste Your days.

The silence of my heartache is interrupted by children laughter. My attention is turned toward our backyard and I gaze out the kitchen window. Will and Josh are sword fighting. One is trying to rescue Emma Faye from the clubhouse, yet everyone is laughing. And there came my answer.....

Write down everything you did today.

I got out a pencil and found the back of some junk mail envelope and began writing down what I did from the time my feet hit the floor this morning, until present.

1. Woke up at 4:45am. Thomas was crying. Lost his paci. Rocked him back to sleep.
2. 5:15am. Couldn't go back to sleep, so made some coffee and had a quiet time.
3. 6:20am. Josh woke up. As I sipped on coffee, he sipped on apple juice and we talked about robots and outer space.
4. 6:45am. Will wakes. I have no cereal or bagels for breakfast (because I forgot to go to the grocery store the day before) so I offer eggs. Because it's so early, and we have time, I teach him how to crack open the eggs. We cook breakfast together.
5. 7:20am. Thomas wakes, feed him breakfast
6. 7:30am. Wake Emma Faye. We get in the car and take Will to school.
7. 8:15am. Make breakfast for Emma Faye and take Josh to preschool.
8. 9:15am. Rock Thomas and place in crib for nap.
9. 9:30am. Emma Faye helps bring laundry downstairs to wash. I sort piles while she colors a picture for her Papa.
10. 10:30am. We go outside and mail her picture. We smell flowers. I tell her the names of flowers. She wants to pet a cat. I teach her how to bend down and hold out her hand. The cat comes over and I teach her how to pet the kitty gently.
11. 11:00am. We find sunflowers and sun "fuzzies" in the grass. I twirl Emma Faye around. She squeals and says, "Do it again!" I do.
12. 11:15am. I hear Thomas waking up. I change out a load of laundry and put a new one in.
13. 11:30am. I feed Thomas and Emma Faye lunch. We talk about how God made the world and it is SOOOOO big. We sing a song about it and it makes Thomas laugh. We keep singing. He keeps laughing. He makes us laugh.
14. 12:00noon. I bring dry clothes and try to fold them. Emma Faye wants to help. I give her a pile and she works very hard.
15. 12:20pm. We leave to pick up the boys from school.
16. 1:15pm. It's beautiful weather so we all go outside and have a snack. I talk with the boys about their day at school. I stain treat a dirty pile of laundry.
17. 1:45pm. I do homework with Will.
18. 2:00pm. I give Thomas a bottle and put him down for a nap.
19. 2:30pm. We are done with homework and Will and Josh want me to play Monopoly Junior.
20. 2:45pm. I get dinner prepared.
21. 3:00pm. We all sit down and play the board game.
22. 4:00pm. Will, Josh, and Emma Faye run outside to play in the backyard and I decide to hurry and get the laundry together while Thomas is still asleep. I suddenly hear him on the monitor.

I looked over this list and really felt a holy presence in my kitchen. I saw the treasures hidden in between the lines. More tears, but these were good. These were from a fully, accomplished heart; not one of failure. I heard His words. In your kingdom, you probably didn't accomplish much, but in Mine your day was very productive.

I am VERY quick to not write illustrations as these because I never want to give the impression that I did something better than someone else. I am ALWAYS one step from completely blowing it and often I do. No, I decided to journal this day because I think more mothers need to be reminded whom we serve. I know the laundry must get done. I know our houses should get cleaned. There is GREAT value and worship in these tasks. But so often, our greatest work can not be measured by nor seen with the naked eye. Some of our greatest accomplishments are weighed in our hearts. Only Jesus owns those scales.

I know I have had days where all of my "to do" lists have been completed. I can't remember any of them. But I can still see Will's grin when he cracked that egg for the first time and didn't get any shells in the bowl. I can still hear Emma Faye's laughter as I twirled her around. I still see her crazy hair blowing in the breeze. I remember the "robots conversation" with Josh and I remember smelling the remains of baby lotion on Thomas's neck as I rocked him back to sleep. And I remember reading about God's mercy in my quiet time that morning. How His mercies are new every morning.

It's 4:30 now. I've gathered myself and entered into the world of my little joys. They were sitting around our patio table. Josh asked," Mommy, God is so big and he holds everything, right?"

"That's right, Josh." I didn't even have time to let my heart absorb that precious thought before Josh quickly added...

"So, Jesus is holding us right now?"

Ah, what a drop of Your mercy on this day.... in my moment of failure. Lord, you came to my rescue and brought encouragement to a tired, unworthy, mom. You didn't have to do that. You don't have to do anything. You don't have to care. But you do, Lord. You care, Jesus.

"Yes, Josh. He is holding us RIGHT NOW."

And right then, I found great satisfaction and joy in my unfinished laundry and my messy house.