i have a friend whose whole life has been changed by reading Ann Voskamp's book: 1000 Gifts. The other day I was visiting my friend and saw this note taped to the wall near her phone:
-NEVER allow yourself to complain about anything.
-NEVER picture yourself in any other circumstance or some other place.
-NEVER compare your lot in life with another person's.
-NEVER allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
-NEVER dwell on tomorrow. Remember that tomorrow is God's.
I'd like to add that some people who are very near and dear to my heart are going through an extremely painful situation-at this point only God knows the outcome. The ONLY way I've been able to handle the situation is to constantly remind myself that God is bigger than any circumstance. He can handle each one of them and it's up to me to trust Him. Or not...
When I first heard about this circumstance, I spent a lot of time weeping. A lot. Then I started thinking about God and my life and His track record of faithfulness. I could write a book about it. Looking back at His faithfulness and steadfastness in my life has reminded me of His love and given me joy and comfort even in a situation that at the moment makes no sense.
And if you think about the bible, it's chalk full of God reminding His people to look back at His track record. Look back at HIS faithfulness. Over and over He told the Israelites to remember all the things God had done for them and to teach their children the history of Israel so that they would remember and see it too. God's fingerprints are everywhere, all the time and we can see them if we look for them.
I've been doing 2 things to get through this time. 1. Clinging to Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
2. I've also been looking for God in the circumstance. Even in the pain...even in the confusion...even in the weariness I see and the weariness I feel myself...I AM finding tiny things to be thankful for. Tiny hugs from the Lord and tiny glimpses of His faithfulness to work even this situation for good. It's giving me joy and hope and peace even in the middle of something that is more than awful. God IS and He is bigger than anything we go through here. His hands are warm and tender and safe and quite capable.
This is just a passing through place. Eternity is coming. (I got that from John Eldridge, but boy howdy, do I cling to it! :-) )
For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen!
June 1, 2012
I've been completely overwhelmed lately and it's nearly impossible to feel creative, clever or funny. My heart has left me and has taken up residence in an orphanage in China. This has left me with a weary brain and body and an almost empty blog. I miss writing. I miss that outlet and telling stories and sharing whatever is floating through my head with you. And, when we decided to adopt, I promised myself this would not become an adoption blog. I wanted to keep the two worlds separate, but I'm seeing now how foolish that idea was. Adopting a little girl from China has become my world, for the time being, and trying to keep that in it's own tiny little box is impossible. I have become an adopting parent, whether that munchkin is in my arms or not, and I can't hide or ignore it. This is my road, and my life right now, and this is who I am. So, please bare with me if that's where I often tend to land when I write...
Having said all that, I just wanted to share a few things I'm thankful for as I walk this road...
-friends. So many old and new friends have come along side me to encourage and love and support me. Even if deep down in their hearts they're thinking we're nuts and this is something they'd never do, people are right there, letting us know we are loved.
-our sons and daughters-in-law are amazing. They really are. They have been so willing to give up their time and energy to help us and encourage us-I have been blown away by this...
-an adoption agency, adoption coordinator and a social worker who really, truly, uly care. They have been real and helpful, professional and patient. If you ever decide to adopt, let me know. I'll give you their info! :-)
-my physical and blood work all came back as saying I'm as healthy as a horse. I may feel like one who's ready to be put out to pasture, but apparently I have a great many good years ahead of me.
-money. So far, the Lord has provided the money we need as we need it. I have freak out moments thinking about the future and how much we still have to come up with, but overall, there is deep peace. I believe this is something the Lord has told us to do, so this is something the Lord is going to have to see finished.
I think that's all I'll write for now...a few thanksgiving thoughts...
May 14, 2012
Last week my smallest son pulled out a scrapbook I'd made of my mother and her life. I know I've given her a bad reputation here...I think I'll be wading through the murky waters of my relationship with mom until the day I die...
The other day though, while I was busy doing whatever it was I was doing, my son started reading her scrapbook out loud to me-I'm very glad he did. It helped me remember the things I loved and appreciated about mom.
One Mother's Day, a very long time ago, I sat down and made a list of all the things I'd learned from her and liked about her. I cut them out, rolled each little piece of paper into a scroll, taped it shut, stuck them all in a mason jar, and gave them to her. I told my mom she could only read one a day for however long it took her to read all of them. I found the jar and those little bits of paper in her apartment after she'd died and glued them, randomly, into her scrapbook. Those are the things my son read to me and those are the things I want to show you today. I want to show you the good things, the flip side, of my mother-
-she had an adventurous spirit and was always willing to try something new
-she was a great cook and made the best spaghetti sauce, fresh bread, broccoli patties and Chinese Spice Cake ever
-she loved our country and all it stands for
-she encouraged me not to be afraid of anything. (she failed at this, but she tried.) Mom encouraged me to "go for it" and make life rich with new experiences and memories.
-she never encouraged a bitter attitude toward my dad after my parents' divorce
-she never let go of her dreams-she pursued them until she'd achieved them
-she taught me to slow down and pay attention to, and enjoy the beautiful things around me-to see the mountains, the pine trees, or a sunset reflected in a mountain lake with my heart and not just my eyes
-she was very sentimental and saved even the most insignificant little gifts her children had given her
-she had a green thumb and could grow the most beautiful houseplants...
-she was a character- you never knew what was going to come out of her mouth next
-mom was spontaneous. One minute we'd be sitting in the living room watching a movie and the next we'd be in the car, driving through the mountains, eating a hot-fudge sundae while looking for elk in a meadow
-she taught me how to drive then gave me her car-my perfect little red Datsun. *sigh... What is it about your first car??
-mom gave me a love and appreciation for music
-she instilled in me a love for reading and learning new things
-she was willing to accept people and be a friend to anyone who came along
she taught me crazy songs and tried to teach me how to harmonize. Come to think of it, that's one dream she never realized...
-she could make any place, even a not so wonderful place, cozy and homey
-she was creative and could make something from nothing; she taught me how to make-do instead of buying new
-she loved life and never let it beat her down
-she found humor in everything and was able to laugh even when she was in horrible pain and dying
-she taught me to take simple, small experiences and make wonderful memories from them
-mom took life one day at a time
-she wrote funny poems
-she taught me "people are more important than things, Jude..."
-mom taught me to look for the good in people instead of just taking them at face value
-my mom knew how to make a normal, boring day special
-she was very generous and would give to anyone that needed something whatever she had to give
There are more little bits of paper in the jar, and more in her scrapbook I didn't share here. I just wanted to give you a glimpse of her-a peak at a very interesting, complicated woman.
April 26, 2012
I hope this post isn't a waste of your time. I miss being here and just wanted to tell you where I've been.
In the first place, I've been sick for almost 3 weeks; it's just a head cold-not a terrible illness, but the location? It settled up there between my ears and made thinking any thoughts at all a huge effort. And now that it's leaving? My head is making up for lost time and it ain't pretty.
Have you ever heard that a woman's thought life is like Windows 95 or Windows 98 or whatever? She has a screen and then she has a couple windows that are always up and running, one in front of another. Well, this virus I've had has caused a huge glitch in my window system and there are 90-eleven windows up and running 24-7. (that's a lot of numbers, isn't it? You know what I mean though, right?) I can't finish a thought or have a single conversation without interrupting myself half a dozen times. I. am. short. circuiting.
I've also been confused about something extremely deep and personal and asking God a lot of questions about it. He has used it to show me how very, very unconditional His love for me is (among other things) but, the party ain't over and it's taking a lot out of me.
I've been thinking about being real lately-wondering what that means and what it looks like and how to do it and why we won't allow each other to be it....I think I'll set that one aside for now but I will ask you:
Do you think it's hard to be real and yet live in truth? Do you feel like you can be real with people or are you afraid to be? Do you think being real and yet being a Light is like walking a tight rope? Why do we always, always, always have to have answers for people who are struggling or having a hard day and they just need to vent or emote or talk til they're blue in the face? Why can't we ever just shut-up and listen? Why do we feel like we have to open our mouths to help each other? Is it our pride? It's no wonder we're all a lonely lot....being real isn't safe.
Anyway. You may or may not know we're trying to adopt a little girl from China. That's taking a lot out of me and causing a multitude of windows to be up and running 24-7. I feel like I've been standing in front of a fire hydrant with my mouth wide open and I'm drowning. The Lord has been talking, showing, challenging, deepening, dissecting and teaching through it all and I can barely stand in front of the water pressure, let alone keep up with it all. A friend told me to journal everything as we go through this process but I'm finding that almost impossible. There has been too, too much going on in my heart to keep up with it all, let alone journal it.
And now a moment of real-ness. I've been worried about a couple of my kids-feeling pain for them and praying and wondering and wishing for them...
I've been writing elsewhere and thinking about fund raising and finishing the school year with my son and working on a few projects and preparing for a garage/bake sale. I've been feeling old and ugly and insecure and I've been wondering about next year-when to start school and what subjects to focus on?
I've been dreaming about a daughter and realizing I have no clue what to do with one. Can I momma a daughter? How different is that from momma-ing a son? I've been looking forward to finding out.
So, that's where I am and that's where I've been. How about you? Where are you and what are you thinking about? How many windows do you have up and running and are you enjoying what you see?
April 19, 2012
I originally posted this in 2009, but wanted to share it again:
Lately, more than ever, I've begun to see the importance of memorizing God's word--it is life to my soul!
Shortly after we began school this year we started working on memorizing Psalm 139. It only took my 2 younger sons 30 days to memorize the whole Psalm, whereas I'm still working on it, 40 days later. I'd like to think that's because my brain is full of years of Bountiful Wisdom...but I think in reality it's just getting rusty.
Anyway-it took 2 Dove chocolates and some extra computer time to bribe #4 into letting me share this video with you. I hope you enjoy it.
(BTW-he is disgusted with how young he sounds on the video and wanted to make sure you know he's not 3.He's 8!)
April 12, 2012
Well, my heart is back in my chest and the lump in my throat is gone. I'm still wondering about the phrase buck up though. Where on earth did that come from? Yes, I know. I could always google it, but sometimes it's more fun to just wonder about something, isn't it?
Anyway, I wanted to show you a picture of my sons.
I love this picture. It cracks me up every time I look at it. All you have to do is look at their faces and you'll understand each boy.
Take the guy on the left for example. He's the oldest and it shows. No nonsense, confident, goal oriented, thoughtful...aren't those typical first-born traits? He's compassionate, but only to a point. He's a lot like my dad. A practical, git-her-done kind of guy.
Then the boy on the far right. # 2. That look? I've seen it hundreds of times. He's saying, "Yes, I did it, or said it, and even though it may not be something you approve of, I'm glad I did and too bad for you. Just wait. I have something even better up my sleeve!" He's sarcastic, witty, tenderhearted, and unpredictable.
The guy in the white shirt? He's number 3. He's sweet and shy, confident, hilarious, and humble. He hasn't always been that way. God worked what I think is a miracle in that boy's heart. He was our "strong-willed" child and you can read more about parenting one of those in my " raising a strong-willed child" posts. Like his big brother, you never know what he's going to say or do next. Living with those 2 middle sons has been a wild ride, let me tell you!
(I'd like to interrupt myself to say my sons are not perfect. I know that, and you know that, but I felt compelled to say it. In fact, at one point in my mothering them I spent an entire day researching military boarding schools and seriously contemplating a life of freedom....)
OK. Moving on to # 4. Look at his face. Really??... He may be the youngest, but he's onto his big brother. He's looked at each one of his siblings that way-he's tender and very sweet, but he's learned, at an early age, you just can't believe everything you're told.
Did you know we're in the early stages of adopting a little girl from China? I know some of you know that, but thought I'd mention it just in case you didn't. I wonder sometimes, if it will really happen. Right now she just seems like a dream and in no way a reality.
I'm excited to meet her, and momma her, and introduce her to her big brothers and sisters-in-law. I'm excited to see what her personality will be like and what captions I'll be writing under her photos....I'm excited to wake up and have the dream end and real life with her begin...
April 6, 2012
Guess what? I remembered what I wanted to say about fish cheeks.
Did you even know fish had cheeks? I'd never even thought about whether fish had cheeks or not (nor did I care) until the spring of 1982. That's when I discovered fish:
those cheeks are cute
and they can talk. Yes, fish cheeks can talk. You didn't know that? They say a whole lot if you'll but look and listen to them.
The guy I married is a quiet guy. His words are few and getting to know him was a challenge. I think that's why he let his fish cheeks do a lot of the talking for him. They told me things about him he would never have told me himself.
The spring of 1982 found us living in the boonies of Wisconsin, at a small private school that sat nestled on a large lake that was, you guessed it, full of fish. And, the guy I married loves fishing. As a matter of fact, if he could make a living at it, and support a family by it, he'd fish day and night to bring home the bacon. (Or cheeks, if you will.)
So anyway. The school was very picky about the meals served and who prepared them, and who was allowed in the kitchen and when. The only time they relaxed about all that was on Saturday mornings. We were allowed to prepare our own breakfasts then.
Every Saturday morning, while the rest of us were sleeping in, my not-yet husband was out there reeling in...blue gill? I can't remember what kind of fish they were....
Anyhoo, every Saturday morning he'd catch a fish, fry it with an egg, and toast a piece of toast. He wouldn't eat that breakfast though. He'd watch for me and when I walked into the dining room he'd be standing there, smiling, that plate of food warm and ready, waiting for me. He'd motion me to a table, put the plate in front of me, and we'd sit together while I ate.
The first time Mike made breakfast for me I discovered fish had cheeks. I sat down, starving, and looked at my plate. There was the egg, the toast, and the fish. But there also, off by themselves, in a little spot all their own on the plate, sat two tiny, round pieces of fish.
"Um Mike? What are those?" I pointed.
"Those are the fish's cheeks. They are the tastiest part of the fish!" he grinned.
I picked up my fork and stabbed a little cheek with one prong. I put it in my mouth and smiled.
"Oh, you're right. That is amazing!" I couldn't taste the difference between the cheek or any other part of the fish but there was something different about that small piece of meat. It talked to me.
It told me: here is a guy who wants to serve. He is thoughtful, caring, and patient. (You have to be patient to cut around a tiny fish cheek and lift it from the fish's face. You have to be gentle with it so you don't demolish it while you're cutting and lifting and frying it.) It told me this guy thinks about others, not just himself. It told me he had a sense of humor but he knew where to draw the line. (He never once served a fish with the head still attached to its body. He knew I couldn't eat anything that sat there watching me while I ingested it.)
Those two little cheeks were the best part of the fish-they said so much even though they (in all honesty) never said a word.