Location: Courtyard, just outside the American Girl store in Columbus.
Shot with Sony Cyber-Shot
Location: Courtyard, just outside the American Girl store in Columbus.
Shot with Sony Cyber-Shot
NatalieÂ is teaching Â me so much about being a daughter of the King! He is extravagant with his love and calls us his bride. Treasure your daughters, and being served as daughters of our Father in heaven. Many of us struggle with being loved by God. I resisted for a long time, but oh the first time I climbed into his lap and let him hold me, he has shown me such kindness, and given me over the top blessings that could have only come from him.
When I was pregnant with Jonathan I did not expect much in the way of gifts. I was content with second-hand clothes and the simple things.Â The one extravagant thing I longed for was a cradle, but I told no one. A few days before Jonathan’s arrival, my Lamaze partner and her husband showed up at the home I was staying, In their arms was handmade a cherry wood cradle, crafted by my friend’s husband. I knew that it was a gift from God.
My husband was an amazing and unexpected gift from God. More recently this necklace under the Jonathan tree.
My children, Daniel’s music, and my daughter’s love for animals are an inspiration and delight. These are all parts of one great big love note from God. His consistent comfort, at just the moments I need them are testaments to his presence in my life.
This morning He surprised me with the lilies in a part of the park I don’t normally explore.
Don’t be afraid of your longings. Expect good things from God no matter what battle you may be in the middle of.
James 1:16 Donâ€™t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Hebrews 12:10Â [Fathers] disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Daniel had a rough evening out on Sunday, topped off by cleaning the restaurant windows. (He gave me permission to share with you.) While the adults had a good chuckle, we have all been there as kids, this was no laughing matter for Daniel. He felt embarrassed and ticked at all of the adults. He wasn’t quite getting the point of the lesson.
The young waitress had waved off my request for Windex and paper towels, assuring us that she could handle the mess my kids had made. But the owner, overhearing my request, knew that I was wanting to teach my kids to respect other people’s property and to take responsibility for themselves. “Your not a mom,” she told the waitress “this is important.” She brought out the requested cleaning supplies and put my kids to work.
I asked Daniel why the owner should clean up after the messÂ he and Natalie made? His eyes widened as he looked at the window, and heÂ no longerÂ denied the evidence. His prints wereÂ everywhere.Â He and Natalie were just having fun, they weren’t thinking about causing someone else more work.
Most of Christianity is not a list of don’ts, in fact I’d argue that scripture teaches us to be gentle, kind, loving, and thoughtful to all we encounter. The children,Â certainly weren’t being bad, and this was not a sin issue. Windex moments are a chance for God to expand our compassion towards other and catch patterns in our lives that may lead to sin.
I still have Windex moments. Especially ,when my temper–I try to blame my Irish ancestors–Â gets the better of me. Like the waitress, I would be more than happy to let God or others clean up my mess, or let my lack of awareness slide. After all I didn’t mean to, or I was abused as a child so my actions are justified. But, gratefully God brings out the rag and Windex. He brings me into awareness and helps me to mature in faith.
Monday morning I came downstairs to see Daniel already up, Windex in hand, cleaning my patio windows, grinning from ear to ear. I am so grateful for Windex moments that teach us to better love others.
Parents Note: Next time I’ll try to save the chuckles for later.
1 Kings 19:â€¦11So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.
Sometimes we need normal, in an abnormal life.
By normal I mean that some of the best moments in life come in plain packages. Ours came in the shape of a random park on the edge of a lake in the middle of Houston. My husband wisely realized that the kids needed time to run and play after touring and being in and out of the car for a couple of days. Like Elijah, weÂ were exhausted fromÂ the constant barrage of sickness and difficulty we are experiencing. We needed aÂ respite.
Chasing each other, climbing, and exploring was just what we all needed to lay bare our wounds before God and allow him to feed our souls. What we didn’t expect wasÂ the hour of delight my kids took in watching the numerous fish jumping in theÂ lake. They squealed with laughterÂ when a fish jumped close to the dock and splashed them. Brian and I sat onÂ a dock bench,Â enjoying our kids and sharing the quiet moment to worship together.Â It was easier to hear God.
“I am here andÂ just as I provide for these fish, IÂ am and always will be your sustainer.”
“Operation Texas” is preparing us for the new aspects of our journey! Just like Elijah, we came back better, refreshed inÂ spirit, and aware that we are not alone.
Christmas Eve CandlelightÂ Service
The Jonathan TreeÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Daniel(8)Â and Natalie (6)
Cookies for Santa, My little shining lights, stain glass window in our church
Ecclesiastes 4:7Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, â€œFor whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?â€ This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand himâ€”a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Shoveling snow would not have surprised me on December 23rd. Digging a trench to save our basement from flooding, however,Â was not on my Christmas list. We were in the path of the storm today thanks to El Nino. While we didn’t get the gloom and doom that weathercasters had been threateningÂ us withÂ all day, we did get heavy rains.
We had planned to go see the Peanuts movie tonight, but Daniel wasn’t feeling up to going so we set up shop in the basement. As the rain came down harder I began to be concerned about our window, a weak point in our backyard swamp. When we looked out the water was about three inches up the window.
We went into problem solving mode. Shovels, siphon, buckets, and building a damn. Think we have done this before? The kids begged for a job so we let them pick up the clods of dirt and carry it over to the weak point. Within a half an hour the window well was cleared, our trench pulled water away from the window, and four very wet and muddy humans trudged inside to get cleaned up.
It was amazing! I love my family and it is wonderful what we accomplish when we work together. Do you have yourÂ ditch digging team assembled?Â God did notÂ createÂ us to go it alone. Reach out to those around you. If you don’t have friends or family,Â begin the steps to develop friendships. You will make mistakes, pick yourself up and try again. My life changed drastically when I stoppedÂ being dominated by my fear of rejection. As I began to fall in love with Jesus, loving others became easier. Scripture is filled to the brim with fellowship. And if you see others who are isolated, reach into their world and be present with them. You don’t know what trenches they might be having to dig.
Blessings upon you thisÂ Christmas!
Giggles and crayons melted
the distance between our sorrow.
Sketched out souls, framed together
in a mosaic moment of
I miss him echoed
in our quiet parallel
expressions of color.
Each grieving, uniquely
united by the unquiet outline
ofÂ our circumstances.
Daniel hugged the plaqueÂ of Jonathan that hung at Moe’s Restaurant this weekend. His heartache was so evident in his attempt to embrace his brother. When that did not satisfy, as we walked out the door he reached for Natalie.
“Here Natalie, you be Jonathan so I can hug you.”
Sigh, I want so badly to fill their little arms. Oh Lord, they need flesh and bones Jonathan, fill them with the satisfaction of your embrace. Hold them tight! Keep them safe from the darkness.
John 19:26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.
As I was going to sleep last night, a thought popped into my head. Mary lost a child to a brutal death. In factÂ she lost at least two! James, her biological son with Joseph it is believed was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. This is no mother’s plan! Mary had to be numb and collapsing as she saw Jesus, the son of God, being crucified on the cross. God did not tell her thatÂ this was the road to salvation. It is safe to say that she was not in agreement withÂ theÂ dangerous path Jesus was walking. In her wisdom, she wanted to keep him safe, just as she had always done. She remembered fleeing from Cesar when Jesus was a baby. She remember howÂ this precious life changed her very existence as he grew in her belly. She had done everything she could to sustain him, to keep him alive, to be a good steward of God’s amazing gift. Surely him hanging on the cross was not God’s will.Â Jesus did nothing as she expected.Â And yet,Â even from the cross Jesus was concerned for his mother and providing for her.
No matter how great the plan we make as a mother,Â God’s plan is better.Â He has the end goal end in mind, when I cannot even see the finish line. His love is for all of humanity. My love is for a few. His judgment is not clouded and mine is darkened by my own selfish desires. His path is consistent, he neither wavers nor stumbles. God’s plan for Jesus was perfect. God’s plan for Jonathan was perfect. Oh,Â how weighty those wordsÂ are for me! TheyÂ are bitter inÂ my soul. Please hear me, whileÂ God did not cause my son’s death, he didn’t stop it either–AND HE IS COMPLETELY ABLE TO! To accept God’s sovereignty in my son’s death isÂ one of the hardest hurdles in myÂ faith. Yet I have believed that he is sovereign in the good things in my life. Why not in death as well?
He has a purpose in allowing Jonathan to die, and as I learn toÂ open myself toÂ the possibilities in hisÂ purposes may the friction between my will and God’s will be removed. What is happening in your life right now that you find yourself saying, “Surely this is not the will of God.”Â Are you battling cancer, is a loved one ill, have youÂ lost your job, is your marriage in shambles. Can we pray as Jesus prayed?:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do whatâ€™s bestâ€”
Â Â Â Â as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
Youâ€™re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
Youâ€™re ablaze in beauty!
Â Â Â Â Yes. Yes. Yes. (Matthew 6:9-13, The Message)
Blue Men and Women
conducted a BOLD LETTERÂ search
for the little sheep hiding amid theÂ pride ofÂ lions
while the mother feared she had been devoured
Layers of loss struggled to hope
Squawks ofÂ Marco
Until the huntersÂ exhausted of the game
ticked by until the question must be asked
Is it time?
Almost, the faintÂ reply
The vibration ofÂ a kindred searcher woke
the mother from her fears
“I have her”
relief rushed to restore order
She wasÂ laughing amongst lions
Oblivious of danger
Nor fragile withÂ fear