Tuesday, November 29, 2011

crash landing...

Ouch!!! Did you hear that? That's just the sound I made after crashing from my Thanksgiving high with family. It's been a rough two days. It's always a little hard saying goodbye to my sisters and their families...but this year I think I needed them more than I realized, and after our time together was over, I crashed hard.
Here we are snuggling on the couch. We spent our entire Friday together in our pj's. Avoiding Black Friday and the shopping frenzy, we dug into my existing craft supplies and embarked on a craft project I'd been wanting to get started on for some time...
Clothespins turned into Christmas card holders
(to be placed on a line of ribbon for display).
All you need is a package of clothes pins, crafting paper, a stash of buttons or any other embellishments, a few stamps, a glue gun and an hour or so to craft away.
This past summer, while camping with a group of friends, a couple of ladies and I hit some antique shops and I found this lovely green shutter below. I thought Darcy may kill me when I brought it back to the campsite. We had already packed everything but the kitchen sink into our car for the out-of-state camping trip...I wasn't sure how he'd react to lugging home a large shutter that I wasn't even sure what we were going to do with. But the color drew me in and I knew I'd find purpose for it once we found a new home.
(and I should add that to my surprise, she immediately found favor with darcy)
For now, my Christmas card clothespins are hanging from it...
waiting for our first arrival to hang with anticipated loveliness.

Until then, she sits pretty.
And I can look at her from my crash landing position and think fondly of my weekend with my sisters, the quality time we spent together, and eagerly look forward to the next.

Monday, November 28, 2011

the "write" to feel...

Ahhhh (or should I say "Ughhh"?)
Monday. Back to the grind.
It was a fairly typical Monday morning, perhaps we were moving a bit slower than normal...but the routine came back easily enough. The kids have been home with me for 5 days, so I wasn't surprised when Brooke got emotional this morning and didn't want to leave, saying she was going to miss me at school. For the most part, she is not my "sensitive-feely" one. She's more intuitive...and fiercely independent. Sure, she can throw on the drama, and can even add a splash of tears to thicken it all,
but this morning was different. I've been her mama long enough to know...
these tears came out of nowhere and fell fresh and real.
What struck me the most was how she reacted to it. I've been eyeing her closely these days. It seems she's changing right in front of my eyes. Others have noticed too...but usually these changes aren't as recognizable for us as parents who live day in and day out where gradual change is subtle and overlapping. Over the past month I've made mental note...as different as she sometimes seems from me, I catch glimpses here and there that she is indeed very much my daughter. So, this morning, as these tears spilled and stained my pajama bottoms from where she clung and embraced, she emerged onto the couch with pencil and notebook in hand and began to write. An unlearned tendency. She begged to take her notebook in daddy's car with her on the way to school so she could finish.
I understand this little girl. The need to write, to sort, to exhale tangled thoughts and feelings into letters, words and phrases that somehow magically untangle themselves in the process. A connection we share. This is precious to me...for not all can understand this type of "wiring."
From my phone, I grabbed a quick photo of her in the moment.
And before she took notebook away, I snapped a quick photo of her work.
To me, it's like a photo of her heart.
I reminded her that I would be in her classroom volunteering tomorrow...this padded the morning with a little comfort.
("I will miss you so much. Even if I still miss you (you) will be in my classroom tomorrow." she writes.)

I find notes everywhere that Brooke has written...
This morning, I walked around the house and took some photos of a few I randomly found
on her bedroom wall...

In a kitchen junk drawer...
In a pile of crafting supplies where cousins have played...
On the bathroom counter...
And even by her bedside...
All written with 6 year old innocence,
but a reflection of the beautiful heart God is molding...the life He is shaping.
I catch glimpses of her grown up. They both frighten and delight.
She feels. She writes.
This makes sense to her. It makes sense to me.
When happy, or mad ("made") or sad...she naturally goes to pencil and paper.
Much like her mama, God has woven her with the "write" to feel.
Thankful when He provides these glimpses that better allow me as a mom, to draw upon my children's tendencies of heart...to steer, nurture, direct and channel them to be all He's created and intended them to be. To appreciate the unique traits that make each one of them different, special, precious in His sight (and mine). With Brooke, I'm just glad I'm her mom and that there is a small corner of her world I will always understand. Today didn't usher in any "wow" moments, but it offered a few stolen moments that twinkled a bit with peace and flashed a comfortable grin upon my heart. Enough to keep me going on this Monday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

sunshine on a rainy day...

my heart wrestles with melancholy this very day.
mirroring the dreariness of today's weather.
rainy. damp. dark.
perhaps it's the beautiful letdown after spending a wonderful long Thanksgiving break with my family.
my sisters and their families came out and stayed a few days with us while we hosted Thanksgiving at our house and invited a few more extended family members to join us. 19 of us under one roof on Thursday. sisters together for 3 whole days. cousins playing with reckless abandonment. house a disaster. bellies stuffed. hearts full.
and today the house seems empty. quiet. husband's working all day...has late night's every day this week. reality setting in. i know we have a long hard week ahead of us.
so, im keeping that head of mine above water, eyes forward, searching out the blessing, choosing joy even when the melancholy is heavily pulling underneath.
finding sunshine amidst the rain.

today after church i wanted to get a photo of brooke and berlyn in their new skirts i bought them at a craft show yesterday. (I saw them at the craft show the year before, and was determined to make them part of my budget this year. very "matilda jane." just darling)
so, i began to point, aim and shoot with the camera.
and with every click of the button, a little sunshine seeped into this rainy heart as my perspective readjusted and optimism and hope stood on the horizon of the flash.

i cannot look at these photos without my heart coming alive.
my girls.
one now napping, the other playing quietly behind me as i type away.
my boy.
hard at play in his bedroom, building a whole new world in lego, before we soon get started on a "weekend procrastinated" school project that's due tomorrow.
as melancholy tries to dampen my spirit, i'm taking a moment...
breathing in three matchless blessings in the form of 8, 6 and 2.
standing under the umbrella of His grace...
this is my sunshine on a rainy day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

too much...

This morning's devotional. An appetizer to today's meal. Satisfying for the moment, yet filling me with a hope and desire for more...for what's to come. Spurgeon's words, filled with this hope, with truth and wisdom, are inspiration to our fields of faith. Years ago I wrote this quote in my Bible, today, I stumble upon it again in today's devotional and begin my day with this as my heart's prayer:

"Let nothing ever set your heart beating so mightily as love for Him."

Going about our morning routine, I stop for a moment, "Berlyn, I love you!" She replies, "No, Mommy. I your peach!" I respond, "Yes, Berlyn, you are my peach." And she ends with, "Too much. I love you too much mommy!"

Today Lord, may my thoughts for You be too much. May the drive behind my words and actions be You. Set my heart beating mightily for You...so that it feels I am bursting with everything that's of You. Overwhelm me with Your presence so that my heart cries, "too much Lord, too much."

"To Him be the glory forever! Amen."
~Romans 11:36

Monday, November 14, 2011

Big girl, Big bed, Big dreams!

We have a six year old daughter who wildly sleeps like no other. Limbs sprawled and dangling, blankets and covers abandoned to the floor...a modest twin bed could not contain her. For quite some time we've wanted to move her into a larger bed and this weekend we finally did it!
We gave away our full size bed years ago and haven't gotten around to buying/finding another one for Brooke to use. However, Grandpa and Grandma had an extra queen size bed that they weren't using and we decided to give it a try (bedmaking in her room has not been easy since she tears it all apart each night with her fancy-dreamy- tossin' and turnin'). I found some clearanced sheets online and a body pillow cover to give it more of a "big girl" look. Her old bedspread fits like a charm. Her bedroom furniture is my old furniture; the headboard is for a full size bed, but I think it works! (and this morning it was a delightful breeze to make her bed...the covers hardly moved over night!)
More room for cuddles and snuggles, bedtimes stories and bedtime prayers.
"I can fit 10 of my friends in here Mama!"
That's my big girl, in her big bed, with big dreams.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Shine not just survive...

Today I woke up with a heavy heart...this life brings discouragement and when we share life with others, we can't help but carry each other's burdens too. Sometimes, the hardest part about being discouraged is not knowing exactly what we ought to be praying for. I spent the wee moments of the morning, before the day beckoned my loved ones from their nestled slumber and warm beds, in His word and prayer. I instantly knew this was going to be a "fight back the tears" and "press on" kind of day. I was determined not to cry in Bible study, but brought my makeup along with me anyway, knowing that as much as I tried, every fiber of the DNA within me finds it hard to cover up the heart I too easily wear on my sleeve.

Anyone who follows my blog is aware of our journey, our desert season, and the struggles we've faced for the past couple of years. Recently, the Lord's laid heavily upon my heart the importance and effectiveness of having a deeper prayer life, and with that He is bringing clarity into exactly what things I should be focusing on (albeit they seem to keep changing daily!) Perhaps I'm confused, uncertain, or ignorant because my thoughts and feelings seem to be all over the map these days! But, I'm listening...

For a long time I was praying for deliverance from our circumstances. And over the course of that time, God taught me that my true joy lies in Him, not in what He can do or provide for me. A painful, yet great lesson learned. Then I began to pray for more of Him...I know the joy, the peace, the intimacy of sweet communion with Him and the more I tasted it, the more I craved it. Most recently, I've been convicted that I need to be praying that He increases our faith. We've surrendered our lives to Him and have been walking in obedience. I don't believe these are the heart changes He has been after. It's discouraging to be doing this though, and to not see His blessing. Our human nature wants to do what's right and then instantly be rewarded for it. Life doesn't always work out this way. At times I come to a place of acceptance, that perhaps this is our lot in life...perhaps this is the thorn in our side that shall not be removed. But, my heart tells me this is not the case and to persevere. And then I question whether or not my "acceptance" is actually a sign of defeat and perhaps I am not trusting or believing that He can or will do more. So, I've struggled with these issues, trying to strike a balance between acceptance/contentment and trust/belief.

I have full confidence in our future. I can look ahead with hope and excitement...but I am struggling with how to get through the "yuck of the now." I see how God could deliver us from our struggles and I feel I have just the right answer I am hoping He will grant. But my limited perspective is marred. I do trust that His ways are better than my own and that His thoughts are higher than mine. But sometimes it's hard to truly believe that in the "yuck of the now" He has our best interest at hand...that everything He is allowing us to go through is for our own good. Because, according to my plan...I see a much easier way! As much as I hate to admit it, perhaps in the depths of my heart I still have a hard time believing He is for us? At least for us "in the now." So, with this, my prayer life has shifted from asking for more of Him, to also asking the Lord to reveal what He wants us to learn and how He wants us to grow in this season...and for me to replace being idle in worry, doubt and discouragment with being active in prayer, praise and thanksgiving.

On the way home from Bible study this morning, Berlyn and I were jamming to some MercyMe in the car, and I began to let the lyrics of the music minster to my spirit. A definitive line in the song "This Life" delivers a message that hits straight to the heart..."we were meant to shine not just survive." How often do I float through this life in survival mode? Listen on..."It's in my heart. It's in my soul. I'll live every day just to make you known." Aha. A tiny bit of burden lifts as this truth sets in and His peace begins to chisel away a chunk of my discouragement. Perhaps I've had it all wrong. While it's not wrong to pray for deliverance, revelation, or even for more of Him, there's still something amiss if this is where my prayer life begins and ends. These things all revolve around and point to me; the common denominator in all of these requests has been me. Even when I want and ask for more of Him, it's still about me and my desires and how He can make me feel. If my ultimate goal was just Him, then why not pray for death where I could spend eternity with Him face to face? What's my purpose here on earth? It's really not about me. It's not about seeing Him and knowing Him for myself so that I feel better and stronger and can weather through the storms in this life. It's not about my spiritual growth, maturity and sanctification. My purpose here is to make Him known. To bring Him glory. Eyes off of myself. Eyes on Him. A life that points to Him and points others to Him.

So, in this season, as we wrestle with discouragement...please pray for us. Pray that whatever this life brings, that our focus and energy is in making Him known. That we fulfill the purpose He has called us to in bringing Him glory. I think this will be a pretty good place to start, and perhaps all of these other things will fall into line as a result.

I know there are prayer warriors out there reading my blog. Please know that I covet your prayers for our family. They are necessary, desperately desired, powerful and priceless.

Lord, I want so desperately to love and live well, beyond just surviving. Show me today, tomorrow and the next, with every breath I take, how to be a light that shines brilliantly for You.

Let me make you known.