Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crooked Wreath

Too many blogs spoil my fun. We all have opinions and most of them are so good, and some of them are great, and some of them rub me the wrong way. Some of them make me feel better and some make me feel worse. However, nothing makes me feel worse, or better, than my crooked Advent Wreath.

Like so many other parents, I want our holidays to be meaningful and spent with purpose on the who and what of Christmas. We have an Advent wreath, a super book, a Jesse Tree and good intentions. There is something different, however, about this season. I am coming out of my first trimester. I have no sweet tooth (baking doesn't sound yummy), I'm pretty tired (I was napping like an infant for a few days...10 and 2!) I've also read too much of the opinions of others and not enough of the opinion of my Father. These turn into some joy stealing combinations. So, to my advent wreath. It's in the middle of the table. That's really hard for me because our table really is the hub of our home. It's breakfast, lunch, dinner (OK, we have eaten out a good bit, but normally it's all three meals) coloring, games, school, it's everything. Having something on it makes me nuts! However, there is really no better place for our wreath. So, it gets pushed around and sometimes demoted to a chair and then placed back into the center of the table where it belongs...reminding us all of what we are anticipating.

That's how I feel like I've been this Season. Jesus is the center, but He gets pushed around a bit. He's in the mix, but not quite center all the time, sometimes He is completely demoted, sometimes He's shining brightly. It's condemning a little bit. How can I say I love Him and would lay down everything, when spending time in His word is such a discipline? My heart is a liar. Then I am reminded by my crooked Advent wreath, that is exactly the point. I so need Jesus. More than ever it feels like. I'm so crooked and so broken without Him. I know pride is a struggle...as disgusting as it is, if I can pull it together then I feel good about the fact that I'm on God's team...like He's lucky to have me. It's times like these when my cracks and corners are exposed that I can barely look at His face without wanting to run the opposite direction out of complete embarrassment. Does that ever happen to anyone else? Does anyone else stink at being good?

Tonight I asked Mike if the kids have enjoyed our time off. He said that it's been good, but in my heart I know that I got robbed. I took my eyes off the prize. I lost the point...the house was too messy...I didn't stop. They may have enjoyed things, but I have struggled. So, I have a list...and it can wait. This is the first Christmas in a LONG time that my ENTIRE family (that's my siblings and my parents) will be together...I want my wreath straight.

So, to those homemakers out there that keep stinkin' it up like I do...there's a Savior for that. Those Moms who have a hard time accepting their kids' best effort when there is still crap in the corners of their room...there is a Savior for that. For those of us Crooked Advent Folks, that just want to know Jesus and struggle with our flesh...there is a Savior for that. O, Love that will not let me go! Are you so thankful that it is He holds us and not the opposite? Bind my wandering heart to thee!

I hope that as you look around at all the crooked in your house, in your life, in this world...you will look with me into the face of the Savior who came to set it all straight. Not because we were good enough...but because He loved us so.

Merry Christmas to all...and to all...a straight wreath in a crooked world!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Gift of Love

So, tis' the season to contend with Santa. This is not a Santa bashing post...there is no reason to bash him, just a neat conversation that I had with my kids this morning regarding the ole' guy. We do not pretend Santa. I don't think that I ever really believed in him because Christmas' were different growing up because of divorce. I still really enjoyed Christmas and so I guess I didn't feel like I was robbing my kids of anything. I was not a Christian growing up, so now Christmas is really much different.

So, we've been preparing what we will say when folks ask us, although usually we just smile kindly and scoot on our way. We haven't come up with much yet, but there is still time I suppose. So, this morning the kids were finishing up decorating our Jesse Tree and they were so very excited about it. (I'll tell you about that in a minute). As they were unwrapping each little clay piece that I handcrafted last year they would squeal, "Oh, I'm the lucky one I got the ______!" I was washing dishes (Kelli, can you give me a sleeve of cups for Christmas? I DETEST washing cups!!!)and I thought I'd ask what they thought about Santa, just out of curiosity. "Guys, are you sad that we don't pretend in Santa?" In unison the kids said, "No." I found that a little intriguing so I asked, "Why not? Don't you think it would be fun?" Their answers were still worldly, which is fine, they said, "Well, we still get presents they just come from you and Dad." So, I wonder if Santa would be hurt to know that it's not him they want, but his goods!!! Then Anson said this, "I would rather have a gift of love." Hm? Shall I wrap some love under the tree this year? I asked what he meant. "Well, a gift from Santa is just because you were good, not because he loves you. A gift from your parents is a gift of love." Even typing that I stop and consider a "gift of love." That sure is what God meant isn't it? A gift from our Heavenly Father to show us that we aren't good at all and nothing we could possibly try to do would save us, so He sent a Gift of Love. That totally beats anything elves could fashion doesn't it?

It makes me even more excited to give to my children now because I see how they receive it, and hopefully this Christmas we will all have open eyes and softened hearts to receive the gift of Love that is Emmanuel.

In light of the beginning of Advent I will share two (maybe 3) things that we do that really make our season sweet. The first is a book that I bought last year called The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean. It is a story in a story and we have really enjoyed the beautiful illustrations and the heart change that occurs in the grumpy ole' man. I will say that no scripture is referenced, so if you want to read the story from the Bible, you'll have to find it. For some that may be a downer, I still enjoy it. You can find tons of stuff if you google "Jesse Tree." I think there is a movement among Christian households to reclaim this holiday for Christ and we are looking for ways to make it meaningful to our children. A Jesse Tree is one of those things. For our tree, I made ornaments (I am NOT crafty, but these turned out precious...I'll take pics when Mike is home to do all the work!) out of sculpee clay. I made them a few at a time last year and just kept them wrapped up, and this year since they are all finished we hung them on a small Christmas tree. They really look super. As we read each story, we'll find the ornament. The goal of Jesse Trees (long ago) was to have a visual of the story for the illiterate people. So, it's a fun way for your kids to retell the story using the ornaments as visual cues of what happened next. There are paper ornaments you can cut out and color or just make up your own symbols! The point is that your family can recall the story.

Another super resource is available for free (plus the cost of ink) from www.aholyexperience.com I may use this one as well because I enjoy the author's writing style. She includes illustrations at the end of the book. Total the book is 80 pages, but only 57 of that is the Jesse Tree devotional. So, you may want to check that out.

Then one more book that we enjoy each year, that you may or may not love is by Arnold Ytreeide. We are reading the third book this year (you don't have to read them in order) and they are exciting books full of adventure (some robbers and thieves) but always lands us in a stable staring at the Promise. I wouldn't say that you are going to get a ton of spiritual nourishment, but they are fun to read. Our kids always ask for "one more" even though you are to read only one bit per day.

So, those are a few things we do to make our season bright. What do you do? Whatever you do I pray that your hearts are tender, soft, and excited about the celebration to come. The greatest Gift of Love ever!!!

P.S.
I would like to thank Kelli for making this post possible! She has all my kids so I could rest a bit. This little heartbeat is wearin' me out!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Heartbeat.

“Hey Mrs. Wessner, we got your numbers here and where they should double every 48-72 hours, yours actually dropped a little bit.” Hm. I thought this might happen. Not because it ever has, but because I know it can. I am resolved to follow Jesus Christ with no question, so I bravely ask, “So, what should I do?” She responds that I will be “fit-in” first thing in the morning to be sure that this sweet blessing is “viable.” I told Mike that I was afraid of that and he nods…unmoved. Getting to this point did not come easily for either of us. I have known that someone has been missing, and Mike was slower to believe me. We suffered (rather I suffered) 3 years of self-inflicted infertility. This summer God changed Mike’s heart, and now we were headed to the Dr. for the fourth time to check on our newest treasure.

I had the e-mail written in my head. “Dear Friends, blah blah blah…we were early and we miscarried. God has been faithful and we are sad, but not without hope. We love you….” I just need to be prepared for the worst. So, this morning I awoke early (although I stayed in bed) and finally got moving and took the dog out for our (mostly regular) walk. As I walked up the street in the quiet of the new day I just whispered, “Lord, I just want to know that Your hand is in this.” He very sweetly whispered to me in the solitude of our time, “Ali, My hand is in everything.” “Yes, Sir, thank you. I love that about you!” With great peace I got breakfast ready and got myself ready for the appointment that no mother, with children or not, wants to attend. I just wanted to send a substitute to bear the brunt of the news. Mike left for work so that he could get the morning off to come with me.

Mike got back, Mom arrived, and we headed out the door. A little bit of Andrew Peterson kept me focused and mindful that if I never hold another Wessner baby warm and cozy, God has done incredible things in my family, in my heart and in the heart of my husband. He will be praised no matter what. Of that I am determined. We signed in and had been sitting for less than 5 minutes when I was ushered to the back. I have seen the sonographer many times before, always with great joy. I went ahead and told her that we know that there may not be great news so she didn’t need to pretend. She has apparently endured heartbreak herself and commented about timing and us never being in control…all good things. The impersonal ultrasound began and within a few seconds she says, with confidence, “There’s a little peanut right there with a heartbeat. Look at it flashing.” What! I wasn’t prepared for that. I was shocked, Mike was not. I was thrilled….we were both thrilled. A heartbeat, I even heard it. That never gets old. This is the fourth time a person has taken up residence in my womb and it doesn’t grow old to me. Each time is a treat. Each time a wonder and miracle. This one seems more so than other times. A heartbeat.

“So, the numbers and the random spotting…does a heartbeat trump everything?”

“Yes, a heartbeat trumps everything.”

Indeed it does. I was thinking about this as I was munching in the kitchen trying to decide what I wanted to eat and thought of the Greatest Heartbeat. The steady rising and setting of the sun beating out the Father’s great love in steady rhythms. No matter what is going on, a heartbeat trumps everything. I look around, the seasons finally changing, the trees raising their sparse limbs to their Creator, and one teeny tiny heartbeat trumping all doubt.

Thank you, Jesus for Your heartbeat that trumps anything.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I do miss it.

I didn't think that I would. I thought that I would never get out of that phase in my life. Two little ones and a swollen belly. I remember serving lunch on the porch to my "babies" and listening to their little voices until I thought my ears might bleed! Remembering how snuggly and safe it all felt. They are certainly not grown, and Mike and I pray that the Lord would see it fit to give us more, but it's shocking. It's birthday season around here and they will be 4, 6, and 8. Julia already is 6, her birthday was Monday. Anson is next on the 15th and then 3 days later it's Ella. I don't wish it faster. I realize that all too soon things will stay cleaner, longer. I will no longer scream, "Shut the DOOR!" or "Please stop talking and GO TO SLEEP!" I was just blogsurfing and looked longingly at two little people fingerpainting at the coffee table and then sharing a lunch and licking beaters on the kitchen floor. I have those pictures, those sweet, sweet memories tucked away in my heart. All of those people were right, it does fly by. I do miss it. We don't fingerpaint as much, poor Ella is getting shafted and where we still read an awful lot, we don't all really fit on the chair without someone insisting that someone else hit the floor. We eat lunch together at the table and discuss silly thoughts, or lofty thoughts, or we are quiet (not too much of that, though!) For those of you reading this with little ones, go smooch them (quietly and carefully so you don't wake them!) Please hear me when I say that it is sweet. It is so stinkin' hard, but man is it fast. I don't mean to sound as though we just dropped Anson off at Harvard (HA) I'm just saying that I could, if I let myself, cry. They are such precious people. With all of their sin and gunk, they are awesome. I am humbled and amazed, and I hope wherever you are, sweet reader, that you feel the same about those God has entrusted to you.

In other news:
My house is on a diet. I wrote a plan today that is entitled 31 Days to a House that Fits! I have a plan and I'm excited! The house is not the problem. Has God not given us everything that we need for life and godliness? He has, and my house is a gift. So, we are going to lose some weight, slim on down, and look sexy in our house! Everyday this month, except for Sunday's I have a "task" to work through. A little spot to clean out, clean up...REDEEM! Some stuff will end up at a yard sale, some might end up at a trunk sale at my homeschool community, and some of it will end up at Goodwill...it will not, however, end up back in my house. So, if you know me, please ask me, if you don't know me...ask me anyway. There were 3 things I listed that I needed to make this successful. They are: discipline (Heaven help me!), help, and accountability! So, please ask and if you see me peddling my belongings out of the back of my van, come have a look. We all know that one woman's trash is another woman's treasure. Or one woman's problem is another woman's solution...I don't know! Alrighty, I've got to get the trash outside before my children find it in the morning, and then get the cleaned out stuff hidden, so that doesn't get found either. You know they don't play with it for 2 years until you put it in a pile!!! Have a super weekend!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ocean...totally!

This week we took to the sea. Shortly anyway. I grew up spending my summers at the Jersey Shore with my Dad and Pam and love to have my toes in the sand! The past few years the beach hasn't been the same with kids, but there is something about it that never disappoints. We had a break from Classical Conversations this week, and I said, "WHY NOT?" So, we headed down to Jekyll Island on Monday night after Julia's soccer game. I was so excited for this wonderful surprise we had for our children. Do you know that they didn't ask where we were going until we had been on the road for at least 1 1/2 hours! It's a good thing no one was on fire, no one would have noticed!!! Mike wanted to wait until we got there to tell them, and although it's really hard for me to keep a surprise, I did it! Our kids love surprises, except Ella (I don't think she trusts us...seriously) and they were looking forward to an adventure. So, we spent the night and got up the next day to enjoy a beautiful day on the beach before heading home. So, here's what I've got.

Why do kids prefer the pool? It drives me crazy!!! Here we are at this AMAZING playground that the Lord has set up for us and you want to jump around in a man made bath tub??? Thankfully they only asked once, and it was the smallest of the short ones asking, but it made me think. I choose the pool. It's safe. I can see my toes, I know that nothing else is living in there and there are no waves stronger than I am. Now, I don't really choose the pool, but the pool is like living by sight. It's the safety of what we know...what we can see. We are also in control. We add chemicals to keep it clean, ask people to shower before entering. Then there is the ocean. The big, wide-open and dangerous ocean. It's massive and unmeasureable. It is merciless in it's fury and unpredictable. It's wonderful! I love how the salt tastes (I know most people probably don't) and how it feels on my skin when the day is done and the sun has gone to warm elsewhere. I love how it sounds and how it is full of life that we can and cannot see. I love to play in the waves, and feel the sand on my toes and in my hair. It's living by faith to me. I enjoy it because I cannot control it. I enjoy it because it reminds me of how big and awesome my Creator is. It reminds me of Romans that tells me that neither depth nor height nor anything else in all creation can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ. It reminds me that God provides for the ocean life. He has created them to live there, and has provided everything they need. Why wouldn't He do far more for me?

Growing up my Step-Mom would have to tell me take a shower some days because I just loved to let the ocean linger. I still do. I love to be lost in it, roll around in it, soaking it up. I pray that God would do that in my heart. That I would choose to live by faith. To enjoy all that He has made and not choose the pool...the status quo...the safe route, but instead allow myself to be swept away by the wide-open life that God provides through Christ. Oh that it would take my breath away and be my choice. Let it be so.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ali's First Georgia Tech Game

THE TECH TOWER

PRE GAME SHOW BY THE BAND

GT's 1st TOUCHDOWN (Anson requested that I get a shot of "our" first touchdown)

2 Happy fans at the end of the game. (If you click on this one you can see the final score)


GT's bookstore was one of Ali's favorite stops! It is HUGE.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Things...

"Children grow up I've learned to my sorrow, so quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep, I'm rocking my baby, cause babies don't keep."

How true that is. We've had some "big" events around here. Not huge, but silent markers of a life that is full and alive...and fleeting. The first was last weekend when Julia was ready to take the plunge and get her ears pierced. I was shocked by the look of sheer determination that she wore on her face while she climbed on that chair and got her birthstones punched through her little ears. I think I was sad. I love her ears, and I felt like they were sweet little baby ears. Then I wondered if I was allowing her to grow up too fast. Wondering if there was some spiritual conviction I should have regarding the right age and appropriateness of having ears pierced. I decided that no, I do not have any convictions, they are sweet and we love them, and she is adorable and growing faster than I like and more beautiful that I could imagine and I am full to overflowing with love for my Julia...and her ears. So, here she is...




The other first for Ms. Jules is soccer. One of her sweet friends from church was playing and her father was coaching and the invited her to join them. When I first asked her she said that she wasn't interested, then I told her that Susanna was playing...then she couldn't wait. We are extremely thankful for friendships that the Lord gives our children now that we can nurture over time. Hopefully some wise friends that they can walk with...encouraging and spurring on toward love and good deeds...and having fun. So, Mike is the assistant coach and today was their first game and she did a super job! I'm not just saying that either! She ran hard in the correct direction and she wasn't afraid of the ball. I have bad memories of getting my glasses bashed in while kicking the ball into the wrong goal. Thankfully that generational curse has not fallen on my children. I'm serious about how thankful I am for that...for real! I made a special game day bow for her, and even though you can not see it, I love it...I love that it mattered to her. She matters so much to me.






The last and craziest of all is our 3 "first" as we got a dog...again. For those of you who know us well know that we have struggled in the past. This time is SO different. We rescued a sweet guy last weekend and he has been such a wonderful addition to our family. I suspect this is what it is supposed to feel like to have a dog. He was pretty much crate trained and potty trained and just really thankful. With the risk of sounding nuts, I really think our dog knows he was spared. He and his litter were on their way to be euthenized when they ended up at a Pet Adoption Resource Center (PARC). It's like he knows what could have happened and he's just thankful. We are too. His name is Sonny and he is about 7-8 months old and is a lab-mix, maybe with hound of some sort. I will say that I had just e-mailed a friend and told her that he was so great and wasn't chewing anything and blah blah and then last night we were all sitting around the table and heard this noise and dismissed it and then it started up again and it was the dog GNAWING on the legs of the table! So, there are a few things I've thought about spiritually since having him, but for now, I'll just keep it simple. We got a dog...and it's pretty great.





So, that's some news from here. Just life stuff...but isn't Christ in it all? Thankfully, He sure is. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My School Room



One of my favorite things to do, sort of, is look at other people's school rooms. I am not sure why that is so much fun to me, maybe because they all look so very different, but I got to thinking about my school room. Maybe I should post this on my other blog, but I hardly ever post over there, so I'm posting here instead. So, I thought that I would post a picture of my school room. What do ya think? I'll post more pictures later, but thought this would be a great start. Here's is why.

We are all homeschooling. The greatest lessons come from this place, for all of us. Some of us may spend a bit more time in our "school room" but we all have one. Don't believe me? Take a minute, walk out the door that you walk through when you are bringing in your groceries, then walk to where you get your mail. If you haven't gotten your mail yet, go ahead and grab it, then as you turn around close your eyes and then open them. That's it! That's your school room. As you walk back into the door you just exited get ready to walk into the most important place in the life of your family. Your home. Does your home have a smell? Not necessarily a bad smell, but do you know I can still smell things and say, "That smells like Oak Leaf Ct, or this smells like the Beach House." What do you hear in your home? I still love remembering walking into my home from college when everyone was home. It just feels good. Your kids love that place. Don't believe me? Tell them that you are selling it. They'll flip...or start talking of what they'll do with all the added space! The conversations that take place in the school room that is close to the oven and the fridge are big time. Some of the best conversations happen around that table, whether it's game playing, eating or pencils and papers. It's big.

I could go on. I just wanted people to know that you might not be a "home schooler," per se, but you also have a school room. It will look different from mine, but you are still the primary teacher. You are still the one that is in charge. Those children are still yours. We are all teaching our children. We are all loving them and hoping that they will grow to be passionate with a purpose and willing to invest in those things that are unseen and eternal. We all have a school room...everyone is teaching something, and everyone is learning something, from the school room in front of the mailbox through the door where the groceries come. What's your school room look like? What are you learning?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Yertle the Turtle

I do love Dr. Seuss. I haven't read him enough lately, but last night Ella was pretending to be a vet, and when I asked her what her name was she said, "Dr. Seuss." Pretty clever that little spunky thing! The other day we were, however, reading Yertle the Turtle and this line caught me. First let me say that Yertle is a very grumpy turtle that wants to be ruler over everything that he can see. In order to be a bigger ruler, he stacks more and more turtles on top of one poor Mack, and apparantly forgets why he is so tall. Listen,
"You hush up your mouth!" howled the mighty King Yertle.
"You've no right to talk to the world's highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There's nothing, no NOTHING, that's higher than me!"

As I read that I thought, "Yertle, you fool, you are only high because you are standing on their backs! They put you in that position and listen to how you speak to them!" I won't tell you how it ends, in case you want to find out for yourself, but here's the thing, anything that I am, or will be, is because I am standing on someone's back. I think of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us, those Amy Carmichael's and the George Mueller's. The Livingstone's and Ten Boom's. Those courageous souls who were willingly and joyfully obedient and have paved the way for many believers to do some pretty super things for the glory of God. We stand on their shoulders. We stand on the shoulders of the One who took our cross on His shoulders and lugged it bruised and beaten all the way to Calvary. The relationship that I have with my Father, I have because of Him. May I never forget that and speak as harshly as ole' Yertle did, who eventually was King of the Mud. Hmmm. I've been there a time or two.

So, whose shoulders are you standing on? And who will stand on yours?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

All Night All Day...






My childhood is sometimes spotty. One thing that I do remember well is singing the song, "All night all day, angels watching over me my Lord." Do you know it? It's a sweet song, comforting, especially since it came right before the prayer, "If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take!" WHAT??? I love the idea of being watched...by nice celestial beings...not stalkers! You know what I like even better? Now that I know Jesus I have learned that He is watching me. I almost cried (really I probably did cry) the other day when I saw what that looked like.

I have girls. I love doing nails and hair. Not to make them perfect, I just find it fun. Right now my nails are blue. I must give a shout out to Jo because every time I look at my toes I think of you! You would totally dig the color. It's blue in some light and purple in another...anyway...I finally had a taker on dance class. I really think Julia would be good at dance, so I asked her if she'd like to do a dance camp to check it out. She's rather reserved and she declined my offer. Her sister, however, thought that was SUPER exciting and wouldn't let me rest until she knew she was enrolled in Tinkerbell camp. It was this week from 10:00-11:15. I didn't love having to be somewhere everyday at the same time, but what can I say? I'm a team player. The recital was on Friday. It was PRECIOUS! I'm very thankful that my Mom, 2 sisters, 1 brother-in-law, husband, nephew, and other 2 children could make it to watch her spin and hop and jump.

Y'all, it was no swan lake. She was a bit nervous and didn't really do the stuff like her teacher said, but I thought it was AWESOME...why? Because SHE is awesome. She is mine! I had the camera on her the entire time. Just sitting there, doing nothing. I didn't want the other kids in the frame because she was the one I was there to watch. She was the one I came to cheer for. She was mine! Everything she did was adorable because she was trying (sort of). Her little bun and tu-tu...her face! Sweet!

Then the Lord whispered to my heart. "Ali, I watch you like that. You are mine. You don't do it right but it brings me joy to see you." I must be honest, I've been riddled with fear. I've been out of the Word and avoiding prayer (WHY do I do that???) and I've just been downright afraid of what the future could hold for us. I'm scared that I might make decisions that would make God unhappy, because maybe they wouldn't be spiritual enough. Example: "Would God be mad if we moved into a house that had a little bit more room?" Um. No. Or "Will God be mad if we want to live closer to Mom and Mike's work?" Um, probably not. Paralyzed I tell you! Frightened that my PERFORMANCE will determine His love for me. Y'all, Ella is not an incredible ballerina, but my heart was full to overflowing watching her! That really is how the Lord of heaven and earth looks at me. He rejoices over me...and you...with singing. He never sleeps, He never slumbers...He will let no harm come to me. He has loved me with an everlasting love and has every hair on my head numbered. Because of the perfect performance of Jesus Christ...I'm in! I belong to the One true living God whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth are infinite, eternal and unchangeable! Praise the Lord.

I don't twirl when I'm supposed to. I certainly can't fly through the stars like a graceful fairy should. Yet there is still a treasure for me. Just like those little girls got to dig through the treasure chest for their treasure, I have One as well.

Every day I have an opportunity to dig in the treasure He has for me everyday in His word. Everyday I get to marvel at the creation that reveals His glory. Every night when I lie down to sleep, God watches over me. It's true! He is my treasure, and you know what the crazy thing is? Because of Christ, I am His.

Dance, ladies, dance! You might not be the best ballerina, but you are His.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

9 Foot Sunflowers and 1 in faith

"I got 9 foot sunflowers out there." Mike was on the phone with his Mom. I'm thankful for the pleasure in the conversation. There was a brief pause, "No, I didn't do anything. I just put em' in the ground."

My heart stopped a little bit in the realization of that statement. "I didn't do anything, I just put them in the ground."

"What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe---as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters in anything, but only God who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded acording to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." 1 Corinthians 3: 5-9

I heard it preached on Sunday and it was as though rain was literally falling on my parched and thirsty soul. My legalism can certainly get the best of me and I can cheapen grace with the best of them. When I see fruit in my life I think, "God is SO VERY LUCKY to have me on His team. I am probably the MVP or at least the Most Improved!" Then when there is no fruit and my temper is quick and my mouth is foul (from the darkness of my heart) I wonder if I'm even saved. "How could a dirty wretch like me even believe for one second that Jesus would have anything to do with me?"

Then I hear things like, "I just put em' in the ground." and in seasons where my faith is the size of a smaller than usualy mustard seed, I am relieved. Really? Could that really be true that any fruit on the vine of my life, or those around me is there because God is the One? What a relief. Then there are the days when I think, "Well, if He's going to be the One responsible for fruit...why am I slaving away like this?" Here's the thing, I do need to tend the garden. Mike didn't just throw the seeds in the ground and hope for the best. He sort of did that, but he also made his own soil "cocktail" and watered every day sometimes twice a day. He inspected the garden for bugs and checked for fruit daily. He did not however, produce the fruit. Hmmm.

There are so many things about God that I know without a shadow of a doubt are true. My life, however, says otherwise. I am so very thankful that my ability to believe the truth doesn't change the fact that the Truth is the Truth. And the Truth is that it is God who makes all things grow. We can pull the weeds that would choke out the fruit. We can tend the soil and water the roots, but when it all comes down and those 9 foot sunflowers just keep growing. All we can do is be amazed...just like everyone else.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Cup of Ramble

So, yesterday I was just sort of unsettled and wanted to look around at what everyone else's school rooms looked like. That's a super bad idea for me because I do not have a school room. I do not have a dining room, bonus room, laundry room...blah.blah.blah. I will say, that I love where we are. We are about central to everything and our little house has taught us a great deal. However, sometimes I just get the wants. I saw one picture where the family had a basement as their school room (I'd say most basements are bigger than our home!) and they had massive bookshelves and tables and chairs and supplies OH MY! I was frustrated, and then I saw these cute "nature shelves." They were simply CD towers that must have been wood and were painted green (a nice soothing green)and the children were able to store their treasures there. You know what treasures I'm talking about don't you? Sticks, rocks, shells, bits of string...stuff that belongs outside! There is one stick currently on a table by my door, and another piece of interesting wood on the porch, after I asked someone to get it out of my room. My kids would love that. So, I glanced around my house wondering where this could go and thought, "Yeah, right. One more thing." Then I considered the porch. AHA! We could build some little tables and the children can sort and do whatever they want with their treasures. I felt like a winner, and was reminded that God has always and will always have a spare corner for what we need. All that to say, when I was telling my Mom about it I said, "You know how my kids always have their pockets crammed with heaven." Wow. What else would I want them to cram their pockets with? If you aren't cramming your pockets full of heaven, do you know what you are cramming them full of? Hmmm. This world. This perishable, fallen world.

I consider my own pockets. The nooks and crannies of my home and my heart. What am I cramming them full of? I read an article recently that stated American homes are getting bigger, but our families are getting smaller. We are, essentially, replacing people with stuff. I wish I could remember the article because the author said that parents are essentially parenting stuff. That was hard to hear. Hard to consider. Am I cramming my house full of heaven or earth?

On those same lines we were reading from Joshua in our Chronological Bible (we are in March and we started last year) and Mike and I were so tired of hearing what clan got what land and on and on and on and...the kids listened so carefully. It was shocking. When I shut the Bible I said, "Why is this in here? What can we learn about God from all this?" We came up with the fact that God assigns land. There was always land enough for the people and even pastureland. So we talked about how this house, on this street...this is God's provision for us. Isn't that something that some long passages in Joshua about the allotment of land can speak to the dark secret places. Those places that wander around looking at what everyone else has.

Meanwhile, my children are cramming their pockets full of Heaven. Let me come to Him as one of them.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where theives cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So, today, Father, help me to empty my pockets so that I can cram them jam-packed full of Heaven. Amen

Friday, June 25, 2010

Need Anything?

Some friends of ours are currently in the process of adopting from China. There is a yardsale tomorrow and the proceeds will go towards the cost of the adoption. If you are in Augusta and want to support them...head on over there tomorrow morning!

HUGE Multi-family
Yard Sale and Bake Sale
at Queensborough National Bank in Evans by the Ford Dealership (on the SHADY side :)
7am - 1pm this Saturday 6/26


TONS of Baby and Toddler gear and clothes, train table, strollers, nursing pump, toys,
bikes, furniture, matching twin beds, desk, dresser, decor, pet accessories, tons of DVDs (good ones!), lots of books, and much more!
And last but not least....chocolate, fresh baked bread and other goodies! Lots of yummy baked goods!!!
All proceeds go to our adoption - getting our baby girl here from China!
(All those who want to pay by check can receive a tax deduction receipt through our partnership with Lifesong for Orphans).

So, as you tuck your little ones in, say a little prayer for this family, and so many others that are waiting on all of their children to be home!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I think I'm "flea" years old

"And den what are we gonna do? Are we gonna ride in our car or in Mrs. Kelli's car? Are you staying here? Then are we gonna take a baf? I'm hungry. Can I have a snack? Can I have some gum? Can I have it after my nap?"

This is Ella. Ella is beautiful and funny and a blessing. Ella is also "flea" years old. I suppose at some point I have diappointed her or let her down or something because she does not trust me. She follows me around asking what will come next and what will be after that. I don't know how many times I have looked into her sweet little face with her curls crazy on her head and said, "Ella, I am a good Mom. Would you PLEASE TRUST ME???" It makes me crazy. I have good things planned for her. I only think of what will be best for her, and yet she doesn't believe me. I have never left her, in fact, I don't even threaten that to my kids. I have never made her go without something that she needed. I have taken her to the ER when she needed a cast (maybe the fact that I was 2 days late bothered her). I can't figure out why we are having this problem. It's probably just immaturity. Hmmmm

"Lord, if we actually move forward with this decision what will we do next? What will happen if PE teachers are cut? What will we do after next year? If we spend our money like that will you provide more? What if I let the kids go and they aren't ready? What if I'm not good enough and everyone finds out? What if I do what you tell me to do and I look stupid and no one understands? Lord, what is next? Can I please just take a nap???"

"Ali, I am a good Father. Actually, let's visit my track record...I am a PERFECT Father. Every good and perfect gift has come from me. I did not spare my own Son, but gave Him up for you. Why would I not, along with Him graciously give you all things? Why wouldn't I give you wisdom to parent? Why wouldn't I give you grace for the journey? If I withhold a job, do you not think it is for your own good? If I withhold anything isn't it because I know more than you? Your needs will always be met because they have been met in Christ. There is nothing you need anymore. I have given you fullness in Christ. I have sent my Spirit. You are not alone. I will never leave you or forsake you. I am the same yesterday, today and forever. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I own the cattle on a thousand hills. Let the county go bankrupt...the state...the whole country...I am not bankrupt. You cannot and will not exhaust me. I never sleep nor slumber. I will not let the sun harm you by day or the moon at night. I rejoice over you with singing. You are my treasured possession. I could go on. Do you understand me, Ali? I love you. I have called you by name. You are mine. Rest in me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. I will never ask you to do anything that I haven't done myself. So, yes, take a nap. I'll be up...singing...over you."

Amen? Amen.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Noah?





"This is such a buzz-kill."
"Seriously, how long does it take to tell people to bend over and kiss their *hiney* good-bye."

Lord, I think that's how I feel. The reality of this conversation sobered me a bit. I wasn't having this conversation, but the people sitting behind me at a mandatory safety meeting were.

Mike and I will celebrate our 10th (can you believe it) anniversary this July. This past weekend we went on a 3 day cruise with my folks who were celebrating my mother's (final) retirement. So, for those of you who have never cruised, you aren't required to do ANYTHING on a cruise other than what you want. EXCEPT for the mandatory meeting to go over what would happen should the ship begin to, well, go under.

These folks seemed nice enough. They were ready for a good time and not super pumped about this mandatory meeting. Their drinks were fresh and their party was getting started! To listen to them I thought, "You must not have children." I do want to see Jesus, I do, but the thought of dying and knowing I was leaving my children behind grieves me. I was totally paying attention. I wanted to know where my life jacket was, where the little light was on it so that someone could rescue me. Where I needed to meet to get on the lifeboat...I wanted the facts. I've seen Titanic...things happen!!! As these people mocked the demonstration my heart sort of sank for them, and those who have mocked other demonstrations before.

I thought of those who find Christ to be somewhat of a buzz-kill. He just comes in, demands their time and ruins all the fun. Such a party-pooper that Redeemer. I thought about the people who have given their lives that others would know, and how they were received...as foolish and unrealistic. To these folks sitting behind us the boat would NOT sink. They are NOT going to die. They are going to live and have fun and it's gonna be awesome. I know the Truth. I know that we do need to pay attention. We do need a Redeemer. I do need a life jacket because I'm on a sinking ship.

I thought about Noah and how he was declaring the coming wrath and warning the people for what, 150 years, that they should get a plan together. What kept him hammering one nail after the other? He believed. He knew God. He knew that whatever the rain looked and felt like when it fell, it wasn't going to be good.

So, I didn't share the gospel with these people. I did watch them at other times, though, to just see if they were still having a good time. It was good enough, I suppose. Perhaps a bit empty when the buzz did wear off...I don't know, I'm not them. I have been. I've had some super awesome times. Really, really fun. There was always a let down, though. Always a nagging feeling in my heart. Always a voice whispering that my ship was leaking, slowly, steadily.

I don't want to find Christ as a buzz kill. Sometimes I think maybe I do. When I'm convicted about music or movies or even TV shows that others aren't bothered by. I'm like, "Seriously, Lord, a little fun wouldn't kill me." Perhaps it would. That's such a painful realization. To believe that whatever I could find "fun" would be more fulfilling than anything that the Lord would have for me. Really? That's silly.

So, I'm not quite sure how to end this, only that for me, I want to be really living...robust and full...to let the watching world know that Christ is not a buzz kill. His boundaries bring life to my bones. He satisfies me in the morning with His unfailing love and because His love is better than life, my lips will praise Him. I want to want to forget what is behind and press on toward the goal, the prize that Christ has called me to. Oh, Father, grant me grace that I might do just that. Help me to listen to you with open ears and a quiet heart and rejoicing in the only One who can truly save me from my sinking ship. Amen

Friday, May 21, 2010

Writing on the tablet of their hearts.

Monday through Wednesday of this week I had the privilege of attending a Parent Practicum for Classical Conversations in Irmo, SC. I don't think I could begin to record what I walked away with, other than knowing that what we are doing is absolutely best for our family. I was taking notes and when I had filled up one page (it didn't take long)and turned to the next I saw Julia's sweet handwriting. She LOVES to write. I haven't taught her to write much, however. She can correctly spell Mommy, Daddy, Anson, Julia, Ella, May, and Wessner. She had written in my notebook and while she was just down the stairs and around some corners, it felt like she was right there. She's so sweet. Isn't that we are supposed to do? Write on the tablet of their hearts? Isn't that what God asked us to do? Have His word inscribed on our hearts?

Just today a dear friend who is on this journey with me, shared a story of how some KINDERGARTENERS wrote on their bathroom wall. Leaving their mark, I suppose. It's what we all long to do. Leave our mark. I think of the tradition of signing yearbooks, t-shirts, and if we're lucky our favorite artists will sign a CD for us. We are enamored with the written word. Why? How about John 1? In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. I believe that because God gave us His Word, both in text and in flesh, we are drawn to it out of a supernatural desire to know our Maker. You may think something else, that's just me. Back to Julia.

Seeing her sweet little words brought joy to my heart. What if they hadn't been sweet little words that she wrote on my paper? Would that have brought joy to my heart? I thought, "What words am I writing on her tablet?" When she is away from me, what words does she have? Are they my words or are they The Words?

What I know about the stage that my children are in, the grammar stage for those Classical Schoolers out there, is that they remember more than I can imagine! Am I writing anything worthwhile? Am I giving them anything wonderful to engrave on their hearts? I have to say that where I do, I don't ever want to feel comfortable or feel like they have "enough." I want them so full, so satiated, that one day they'll choose those words to write on those pages that are still blank. I pray that one day, when they go to Glory, The Father, The Word would see that on every page of the tablet of their heart, His Word is written. Not one single space for anything else. That excites me. May it be so.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Little Big Things

I don't really feel as though I am sacrificing a ton by not having a job. Everything in my life is a bit "smaller" our house, budget, I can't think of much else. You see, God has continually impressed me with His willingness to grant those things to my family that I would have never asked for. There are things that we just don't "do." Although even as I type this I'm trying to think of HUGE examples of how we don't spend our money. Honestly, we do everything that we want to do. Several years ago we used Dave Ramsey's plan to crawl out of debt, and when we stopped eating crumbs off the floor, we sat up to the table and eat what satisfying foods that only Christ can offer. We don't go without. We choose to not do certain things, but we do not go without. Ever. Why do I say all this?

A few weeks ago my friend called with the exciting news that they had won tickets to see Mary Poppins at the Fox. This was exciting for both of us, although the show that we really want to see is the Little House Musical. We were, however, excited by the Lord's favor and I was excited for her. I love friendships where you are genuinely excited when the other receives wonderful gifts. So, she was set to go on Friday of that week. A few days later on a Thursday they discover that the tickets have "mistakenly" been made for Thursday, a night that was logistically impossible for their family. So, she was kind to the woman working with her, and finally asked if she could simply give the tickets away so that they would not be wasted. My friend did not kick and scream and complain about the inability for this woman to produce the correct tickets, and she called me. She said, "Hey, we've got these tickets and there is simply no way we can go. Do you guys want them? They are for tonight." YOU BET!!! I didn't even think about how we would pull it off. All I knew is that I LOVE the theatre and would make it happen. I called Mike and told him to come straight home from work because we had plans! It's was about 3:00. The show started at 8:00 and we live about 2-2 1/2 hours away.

I was babysitting and it worked out that the Mom could get the baby before we needed to leave, so after showers and bows and a whirlwind of excitement, off we went! The kids and I have never been to the Fox, so we had no idea of what to expect. I grew up (very fortunate) enjoying Broadway in New York City, I knew it would be awesome, but wasn't sure what the kids would think. I ended up watching two shows! I was watching the show and I was watching my kids watch the show. It was incredible! I couldn't even describe it to Kelli the next day. All I could say was that I'd need to see it several more times to really see all of the incredible things that were packed into the performance. It was a gift for the greatest Gift-Giver. Here is the best part...

The person that Kelli was working with was so sorry for the mix-up that she managed to get Kelli tickets for Friday night!!! They got to enjoy it as well!!! What a wonderful treat to know that they would enjoy the fabulous show as well. It was such fun for both of us.

So, all that to say that God is concerned about those little BIG things. Those things that aren't "spiritual" (but isn't it all?) that we simply enjoy. Those things that bring us delight. He is a good Father and enjoys watching us enjoy the show. That is exactly what we did, we enjoyed the show.

Alright...now I'm annoyed...I can't upload any pics right now...so I'll have to wait until Mike wakes from his Sunday slumber...sorry about that...but if I don't post this now....I might never!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. I do love Mother's Day. I love how intentional everyone is to tell me what a great job I am doing. I love the handmade cards and sweet surprises that Mike comes up with (although with a cruise just around the corner, there may be just sweet...no surprise). I love feeling like I can sit back and have Mike do everything because it is, after all, Mother's Day. Then I don't feel lazy or guilty like I do on the other days (or like right now because he is folding the clothes that I just didn't...all week!). It feels good to be honored, doesn't it?
I wish I felt like half the mother they think I am. Amen?

I have been listening to the conversations that go on around me. I am in some of them, so I'm not really eaves-dropping, but I have found a theme. We are in a competition with an imaginary woman. I have noticed that when one person says that they saved doing whatever, another woman will share how she saved even more. Or, one person says that they did something organic and another woman did something even MORE organic. I do it too! When others see the sugary cereal on our shelves we say things like, "I don't normally buy that but..." I say, "I don't normally buy that, but I use it for a story snack." You know what else I use it for? EATING!!! It's got preservatives, additives, sugar, fake stuff that I cannot pronounce...but IT WAS ON SALE AND I HAD A COUPON...SO THERE! What else? Someone walks in and your house vomited while you were out and you say, "I am so sorry my house is a mess I ...." I usually say something like, "Please don't judge me, I just can't pull it together." That you might get if you are a close friend. I may come up with another better excuse if we are new friends. We have begun creating work for ourselves all in the name of saving or providing better options for our family. I think that we have good intentions. But may I be honest? Sometimes I just want to be better. Sometimes I make work for myself so that someone somewhere might think I'm a good Mom. I'm hoping that as the lady rings up all of my fruits and veggies she'll think I'm a good Mom, even if they aren't organic. I'm hoping that when my children sing The Ten Commandments in Marshall's, someone will hear and be amazed at what "I must be doing at home." I'm just being honest. It's foul, I know, but it's what happens when I am trying to earn the approval of man, rather than the approval of God.

God does not tell me in so many words that I should do x,y, and z and I'll be a good Mom. He gives me Biblical answers on how to train them to know and fear Him. He gives me wisdom to know how to direct their hearts and discipline them so that they may live long in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee. (That's part of our song. :) ) He gives me principles that I can apply on how to keep my home and make it a place of Grace. The Grace being His end of the deal. The comparison robs me. Comparison makes me believe that doing what He has called me to do is not good enough. OR it causes me to cast judgement on those who aren't doing it my way, believing they must, somehow be wrong, even misled. Heaven help me!

The comparison monster is something I pray that God will deal with. It makes me make crazy decisions or paralyzes me with fear that I might not be good enough, or worse yet, they (meaning my children) won't either. We need to support one another. We need to pray for one another. This Motherhood thing is no joke. We need to be on the same team. Am I the only one who notices this? Let's do a little "lab session." I'll ask a few questions and you tell me how you feel about them. These are a few of the "biggies."

Do your children eat organic fruits and vegetables?
Do you bake your own bread?
Do you make your own laundry soap?
Is your child reading on grade level?
Is your game closet organized?
Is your laundry caught up?
Do you make every meal from scratch?
Do you save for college?
Is there a ring in your toilet?
Are your floors mopped?
Do you iron?
Do you use coupons?
Please do not misunderstand, these are GREAT things. However, they are NOT the main thing. Do you see how when you answer positively you feel awesome, but then if you answer negatively you feel condemned? Pretty sneaky trick of Satan, isn't it? Then we don't want to hang out with the Mom's that are "better" than us because they make us feel inadequate. We are looking at the wrong list. How about this.

Do you tell your children that you love them?
Do you ask for forgiveness when you sin against them?
Do you read the Bible with and to them?
Do you marvel with them when the sky turns pink like cotton candy?
Do you buy them their favorite things because you know that even though they have plenty, they will LOVE "just one more."
Do you lose sleep when they are sick?
Do you lose sleep when they are well?
Do you think they are the best thing going?
Do you thank Jesus for them?

We shouldn't compare at all, but if we are, let's align our lists and study the one that is eternal. Actually, let's study the One that is eternal. Let's do the good things, those that matter the most to us, but I've got to tell you, I'm not that organic, I rarely use coupons, I spend a good bit of money on store-bought bread and my laundry is more clean that it is folded. I cannot keep up. I give up. I'm crying uncle. I'm out. I cannot compare myself anymore. I just can't. There will always be someone that is better, neater, smarter, thinner, more clever, more crafty, more thrifty, more compassionate, more intentional...just plain MORE! Than I can ever be. So, here's what I am asking God to do for me. When those 3 blessings blast into my bedroom tomorrow morning with more joy on their faces than I will know what to do with, and when they look me dead in the face and tell me that I am the best in the world, I'm going to believe them. I'm going to overlook this house, the extra weight, all the falling short and believe that to them, and for them, because of Christ, I am the best Mom in the world...to Anson, Julia and Ella. You know what else I'm going to believe? I'm going to believe the same about you.

Happy Mother's Day.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fragile. Handle with care.

Having a baby? No...I'm not. I am, however, getting one. A dear friend of mine has entrusted me with her baby for a few days every month. When I considered serving her in this way it felt like a no brainer. She's my friend, I enjoy having children in my home (especially babies) and she needed help. As soon as I told her that I would help I hung up the phone and was almost stricken with fear. What if something happens? What if he gets hurt, or sick or sad or...whatever crazy thing may happen while under my care? My friend didn't think she could have children, this little guy is a pretty big deal. I was scared to death! Then I heard this voice, "Ali, the other ones you keep aren't yours either." I may have blogged about this before, but it's on my mind now that I have his things here and we're ready for the morning.

How do I treat someone else's children? Am I more patient? More fun? More kind? Am I quick to listen to their very long stories out of kindness rather than duty? I forget very quickly that the children that I care for daily are not my "belongings." They have also been entrusted into my care for a short time. God has not given these children to me because I deserve them or because I asked for them. He gave them to me that I might rear them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. That maybe, just maybe they will live for Him. It's a huge task. Why don't I tremble with fear? Why don't I consider that their Father would expect me to parent them according to His rules. I'm not going to take this little guy and just do what I want or what I think is best. I'm going to do as his mother asks. She is the parent. Just as God is the parent of my children. His word goes...the buck stops with Him...Glory and Honor and Praise belong to Him.

I hope that as I struggle with all of His energy that works powerfully in me that I would not be a "good" parent, but rather a vessel that is poured out on a daily basis to love and serve the most amazing children I've ever known...remembering that not one of them belongs to me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hmmm

Lately the Lord has been revealing where the stench is coming from. You know how you wander around and every now and then you get a whiff of something? If you have little children you pick them up first and give them a sniff. When you don't smell anything there you give their pants a peek to see if you are missing something. Nope, not them. If you have bigger kids you check under beds and in the trash cans. Did they leave food in here (Yeah, I know they aren't supposed to be eating in their rooms)or old socks. Did they forget to throw their dirty clothes in the hamper? Did I wash the dirty clothes? You start sniffing your clothes, your hands. Where is that smell??? You tell your husband to take the trash out (Sorry, ladies, that ain't my job!!!) and still...what is that STANK??? I've been smelling it for a while and couldn't put my finger on it until finally I found it. I was reading the Word one day and all of a sudden I discovered where the stank was coming from...me.

I know that in Christ I am justified and forgiven and free. I know that I am being sanctified on a daily basis and that I will not be perfect until Jesus calls me home or comes and gets us all. However, I do go through seasons where the discipline is a bit more intense, a bit more necessary. The discovery...I am the Older Brother.

Now, that may not make any sense to you because I am not a boy and I am not entirely older than all of my siblings (most of them, though). The infamous Prodigal Son had a brother. He was older and he was good. He made the right decisions and he stayed and slaved for his father while his brother blew his inheritance doing all of the wrong things. When the "lost" brother came home the older brother was MAD! It was not fair that his brother would not be demoted to servant after the stunt he had pulled. I agree that it wasn't fair. I struggle with that...because I am the one who stayed. My friend loaned me a book by Timothy Keller (for those of you who know me it's TIM KELLER!!!). The title of the book is The Prodigal God. For those of you thinking that God is not lost or wayward, let me tell you what the word prodigal means. I was shocked: prodigal: 1.recklessly extravagant 2. having spent everything. This was a great book and this coupled with the excellent teaching that I receive on Sunday mornings I see what a wretch the older brother is. He was/is just as lost...only worse because he doesn't see his need for a Savior. He doesn't need one. Oh but I DO!!! I am in the very beginning stages of moving through this, but that's what I've been seeing and learning. It's pretty nasty...pretty stanky...pretty great that God would show this to me in order that I can repent and move forward. So that I can join Him at the feast. It's an excellent and quick read that I would highly recommend.

What else have I been doing? Flip-flopping. Do you ever do something that seems so radical but makes so much sense? I rarely do. I'm not radical and do not have a track record for doing things that make a great deal of sense. However, this I love. A couple of weeks ago Ella was whining (as usual) about being hungry and it was not even 2 hours after breakfast. I was so exhausted by her whining and moaning that I said, "I guess I'm going to have to make a big breakfast because I cannot do this another week!" Mike's response was, "Why don't you just make dinner." I thought, " I just might."

As soon as we got home I Googled it and found that someone has written a book about it and that it isn't that bad of an idea. In fact, it's a pretty good one. So, that Monday we started. We had spaghetti carbonara that first day. Ella's whining was substantially less and no one said they were hungry until the should have been, 12:15. It was great. I also loved know that dinner was already cooked, consumed, and cleaned up. So, we are still doing it. This is our third week and I LOVE it! I know that this won't work for most people, but let me tell you a few things that I love that you may help you out.
1.When the kids are the hungriest they are eating what is typically the best meal of the day.
2. Everyone wakes up and is eating at the same time. We get up at 7:00, Mike leaves for work at 7:30.
3. The whining is WAY down.
4. The dishes are finished by 9:00
5. By the end of the day the last thing I want to do is make a meal, so now I don't look forward to the evening with dread, but with delight because I am not in the kitchen.
6. Eating the meals backwards is supposed to help lose/maintain a healthy weight.
7. I don't feel like snacking because I am sufficiently full for the day.
8. I dont' feel like I need dessert when I've eaten breakfast for dinner. I eat yogurt with granola and raspberries, maybe some toast, grapefruit on some nights and that satisfies my sweet tooth.
9. I have to be prepared for my day, rising before the kids which has been something I've been wanting to do for a LONG TIME!
10. We don't go out to dinner (read waste money)because I have no problem fixing a light dinner. The excuse of "I just don't feel like it" is out the window.
11. In the evenings I am outside (or wherever my family is) because I don't have to make dinner.
12. I feel like I am ahead of my day by 8:00 and that is super helpful!!!

Those are just a few reasons for why this is working for us. It's not really as weird as you would think to eat "dinner" foods at breakfast. This morning we had lasagne, bread, and salad. We eat normal lunches and cereal, toast, yogurt, and fruit for dinner. So, it's been a neat experiment. The kids have not been fired up about it (mostly Anson) but we told him that he should build a bridge (and get on over it) because this was much better for our family for reasons that he may not understand.

So, now I have to review Anson's memory work before he tests for Memory Master tomorrow. Hooray!!! That's just a little of what has been going on here. Hope all is well wherever you are!!!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutrition expert. Please do not take this as advice for nutritional purposes. I'm just a Mom that needed to do something about a whiney 3 year old and this was the most logical solution.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

That's Why!!!

This has been lingering in my brain for some time, and now that the house has fallen silent, I will attempt to get it out...a little something...

Ella is nuts. I struggle with how to relate to her, how to discipline her, how to talk to her. I love her crazy personality. She's hard. I feel like she is constantly getting hurt. Usually it's because she has either been impatient or she just plain doesn't trust me (or she just plain disobeys and gets hurt.) Lately I feel like it's ALL the time. I found myself saying the same thing over and over again, "Ella, that's why we don't __________." A few minutes later, "Why are you crying? Oh, Ella, that's why we don't _____________." Or "Stop, that's enough. If you would have listened to me you wouldn't have ___________." I finally realized what bitter words those were to my little 3 year old. Obviously she gets it at this point. When they bleed, they get it, right? I got it. I got how thankful I was that when I get hurt because I haven't trusted, or I've been impatient, or I have just plain disobeyed, the Lord doesn't say, "See, Ali, that's what happens when we don't wait until we're married." Or "Why are you crying? That's why we don't borrow money we can't pay back." Or "Stop, that's enough, I've answered you and I will not talk about this again."

I have surely received discipline from God. Discipline that I have needed, but it was so much more kind and gentle. It led me to repentance. It didn't embarrass me or shame me. It convicted me and changed me. So, I'm reconsidering my strategy for getting through to Ella. The, "See I told ya so!" Is just not cutting it. I suppose I'll have to pray for a little less me and a lot more Him!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Done...

Wow. There has been a lot going on in my little house. It looks like someone shook my house, turned it upside down, rolled it around, set it back up and shook it again. It's been NUTS. I told a friend today that I better get off the phone or we'd have to spend the night in a hotel! We've been spring cleaning, and that has made a mess. It's like you stir the pot and dirt and random pieces just surface. I don't mind the big things, it's once you get those put away all of the little "things." There is no word for them. They are just pieces and parts that are vital to something, but it just isn't together. Mercy. It's getting better, and I am pleased with the results, but it's been something. So, that's what has been going on. I just set the stage for this little message that my computer gave me that I said, "Yes and Amen" to. Here it is. This is probably a blogella...

I was searching for something today online. Now I can't even remember what it was. I found what I needed and at the bottom of the screen where it usually says, "Done" as in, "the page is fully loaded." It read, "Done, but with errors on page." That tickled me. I thought, "Yup, story of my life." I did it, but it didn't turn out the way I had anticipated. This whole cleaning thing. "Done, but with errors on the page." Everything. Everything. Everything. "Done, but a little screwy." I am one difficult person. I struggle with most everything. I'm a capable person, but sometimes I just think, "Why can't I get that right? It looked so pretty in my head." We bought our girls some new (Craigslist kind of new) furniture. I thought Julia would just love it and she did, until she had to put her clothes away. Then she said that she wanted the other stuff back. My heart sank. "Done, but your daughter doesn't love it." I was so sad. I don't want her to try to please me all the time, but I was disappointed by her disappointment. The laundry is washed and dried, but I would rather peruse the Internet and look at homeschool rooms than fold it, "Done, but only mostly." You know what, you wanna hear what keeps me whistling? Or at least keeps me from cussing? "My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand." You know what Jesus said? He said, "It is finished." That's music to my ears. "Done." Done to perfection. Done to God's standard's. Done to set me free from the errors on my page.

Y'all sleep tight and when you start checking your list for all that has been finished I hope those words make you smile. Done. What's next? Live for Him. Done. (but with errors...Heaven help me!!!)

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Big Fat Ring

Many of you know I have girls. My girls laugh hard and cry hard! They love pretty things and all that glitters. I adore it. Yesterday we were driving around looking for some new furniture for the kids (can I say SPRING CLEANING!!!) and Julia asked me if I would like to wear her "beautiful" pink ring. I said sure and let her slip it on my finger as we headed into the store. I didn't really pay much attention to it until we were driving to the next store. As my hand turned the steering wheel it's lovely silver designs caught my eye and the pink was the perfect color against the silver. It really is a pretty ring! The SIZE of this thing is ridiculous! It's something you'd see on some Hollywood movie star. I had the funniest thought, "Wow, that makes my ring look pretty puny." WHAT!!! That's really not funny! Here is why:
My husband bought my ring for me as a complete surprise. He and his entire family picked it out and he would let no one else try it on until it was on my hand. I let my sister-in-law try it on when he wasn't looking! It's the perfect size for me. He is a P.E. teacher and did not have time (or money) to save. It was purchased out of God honoring love and a desire to have me on his arm (and nerves) for the rest of his natural life. It's real. It's mine. It's a symbol of the commitment of two folks to one another and God himself. It's NOT puny. Let's talk about ring #2...

It was purchased by my sister for Julia. It was $2.00. It is not real. It is too big. It was purchased for fun. It will be lost and found 400 times until the girls no longer care for it. It is disposable.

Hmmmm. Which is better? Mine of course! I did share this with my husband as soon as it hit me. I told him how ridiculous it was to even compare the two. One was fake and the other real. WHY WOULD I EVEN COMPARE??? Silly, I know, but I did it. I do it all the time. I did it last week when I was blog-surfing and found several ladies with a fancy blog with buttons and links and all sorts of fancy stuff. I have to call Kelli whenever I want to do anything "new and exciting" like add a picture! I'm not fancy. I'm just Ali. I just want to write, I don't want to design or maintain. Is that bad? Nope. It's not. It's silly is what it is. But, what about the deeper issues of comparison. When you see the outside of a marriage or a family and wish yours was like theirs. Careful, careful! What about yours? What about the real thing you are looking at? Everyone has a pretty face. We air our dirty laundry, sure, but if you think you know all my secrets you've got another thing coming! We all need Jesus. We all have fallen short of the glory of God. We ALL like sheep have wandered away. None of us are righteous. No. Not. One.

I continue to learn that as I compare I condemn. I condemn those who don't measure up to me and then I condemn myself for not measuring up to others. I don't want the pink ring. I want what I have. I want real, honest, and sincere. I think we all do. So, where it might be fun to wear the ring. I'll never take mine off for fear I'll lose it, or myself. God help me to keep my eyes on you. My standard is Christ and His death and resurrection is the only thing that keeps me from absolute destruction. I praise you for reminding me in "Ali ways" that comparison belittles that which is real and priceless.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Visitor for Bear




One of my favorite times of the day is when we are piled up on our chair or couch with a stack of books around us. Most recently we were reading a book called, "A Visitor for Bear" written by Bonny Becker. The illustrations are beautifully done and the story is really sweet. My heart was convicted as I read it. I suppose sometimes I don't slow down enough for the Lord to show me my heart and it's tendencies, but this book stopped me.

There is a grumpy bear that doesn't care for visitors. He is so very against visitors that he has even nailed a sign to his door. There is, however, a little mouse. The mouse is small and gray and bright-eyed. The bear is furious that this mouse continues to completely ignore his disdain for visitors. The mouse keeps appearing and each time the bear chases him out, he goes one step further in keeping the mouse out. He firmly locks the door, boards the windows shut, stopped up the chimney and even plugged the drain in the tub. He did not want company! Eventually the mouse wears the bear down and he allows the mouse to stay for a bit of cheese and a cup of tea. Fair enough. As they share this small time the bear begins to open up, he begins sharing jokes and tricks. He begins to soften and enjoy the company. In fact, when it is time for the mouse to leave, he begs him to stay. What happened to the bear?

He was pursued. The mouse didn't care. The mouse didn't stop at a locked door or a boarded window. Even the stopped up tub didn't phase him. I loved it. I won't tell you anymore, because it really is a precious read, I will say that the change in bear challenged me. I wondered, "Lord, is there anyone that has locked their doors, sealed their chimney, or even stoppered their tub that needs a friend?" Is there someone, somewhere that has a joke to tell by a warm fire and no one to share it with? Is there someone who can do a headstand and no one is there to watch it? Who are they Lord? Who are they and where are they? Please let me see them. Please don't let me be afraid of their barred windows and locked doors.

You see, all of us lock the doors at some point. All of us stopper the tub hoping to keep someone, or something out. As Jesus pursued me...and continues to pursue me I have to pull those nails out of the boards one at a time. Each time a bit more sunlight shines through the window. A bit more daylight warms the cold areas of my heart where I would not allow someone. As He pursues me, I pray that I would be bold enough to pursue others. To ask how people are doing, and wait for a response. I pray that I would sit and listen to stories that I may have heard before. I pray that I wouldn't mock the lonely spirit that wanders into a conversation to which they were not included. I pray that my eyes would be open and aware...looking for the souls that are locked up tight. Perhaps there is a sign on their heart, "No Visitors Allowed." I pray that I would look past that sign, ignore it all together and let them know that I am not a visitor. Visitors come and leave quickly. No, I don't want to visit. I don't want someone to put their best face on and clean up because they know they are having a "visitor." I hope that God would make me into a person that is more than a visitor, something more like a friend.

How about you? Are you the bear? Shut up nice and tight in the safety of your own world, but lonely and longing for a friend to share your life with? Or are you the mouse? Small and gray and bright-eyed that just wants to share a bit of cheese and a cup of tea? I think we are all a little bit of both, perhaps we would all make wonderful friends.

"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winter Wonderland





Snow? Here? YES!!!



The Weather folks predicted it...we all laugh when we hear it. "We're expecting about ____ inches of snowfall." We still make a trip to the store and get a few things that we'll be needing. For us it was milk, ice-cream and frozen pizza. I know...real essentials. We had a blast. I will say a southern snow is the best of both worlds. You get the beauty of a white world, the canceling of everything so you can enjoy your family, and then it goes away! It started yesterday and fell steady into the evening. The kids ran around to every window to watch it fall and then pulled the curtains apart to stare at it while they drifted off to sleep. This morning they were begging to go outside, we held them off for a while and finally wrapped hands and feet in plastic, grabbed the most "snow-friendly" gear we could find, and we headed out. When we wandered into the woods the kids said that it was just like Narnia before the White Witch was dethroned! The girls and I came in first and started on some "snow-cream." My friend Jo posted it on her blog and I thought, "How fun. I'll never have the chance." How happy to have had the chance. It was pretty good. It had the consistancy of Chick-fil-A's ice cream. Our neighbor came over and the boys built a fort while the girls snuggled in my bed for some Saturday shows. Then, the laundry piled up (honestly it's been lingering...I'm struggling with it lately!) and the snow melted. Perfect. Our family up north is pretty much locked in their homes due to the snow...I know they don't love the heat...or the bugs...but I gotta say that a southern snow beats a northern snow hands down!!! Spring anyone? Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blog Surfing...and other rambles

I was just surfing around and noticed I was getting into dangerous territory. There are people out there that take amazing vacations with their amazing money with their amazing figures. I have to be careful...I've got some pretty amazing things around here to. So, I figured while my amazing husband was snuggling with our amazing 3 year old I'd write some of these amazing people that read this blog.

Ella (the amazing 3 year old) has a cough. It's not so bad during the day, but at night...it's making us NUTS! Twice this week I slept in her bed to help her calm down when it woke her up, and one night Mike slept with her. I think I was becoming a bit, shall we say, dramatic. The second night that I had given up my snuggly spot in my bed to snuggle with a coughing and REALLY dramatic 3 year old my feelings got incredibly hurt. I had gotten Ella water, I'd been shooting up to help her calm down all through the night. I was exhausted. Do you know what that little curly headed crazy woman had the nerve to do? She called for her FATHER!!! I was so mad. Speaking to her as though she were an adult I said, "Are you kidding me? I'm right here!" I was so offended I thought, "Yeah, go get Daddy. He'll be groggy and confused and won't be near as helpful as me. While you're up, Sugar-Pie, ask him to show you his stretch marks. What? He doesn't have any? Well, ask him to show you where we keep the toilet cleaner or the candy that you eat after lunch. What? You say he doesn't know what you're talking about? That's because I'm the one making the biggest sacrifices here! I'm the one! Look at me...call out to ME!!!" That was a lot of talking to myself in the middle of the night, huh? Gotta talk to someone when you are the only one awake besides the wacko that won't speak to you because you aren't Daddy. Hurt. Really hurt. I almost left, then I remembered that I was the adult. Durn.

The other night I was doing the dishes, for a change actually, Mike's been doing them a lot lately...I think it's all me tonight though...there they sit and there he sleeps...anyway...dishes, I was washing the dishes and the Lord brought that to my mind. I was hoping that He was going to agree with me that I was the way better sacrificer and martyr and should be nominated for Mother of the Year...or something. Instead He said, "You do the same thing." Hmmmm. Me? "Yup. You." I ponder how that is possible. Then I saw it. When days are long and patience are short, I call for other things. I call for other people, other objects. There's Jesus, my precious Savior right next to me...again...and I am wildly out of control calling for someone or something else. I see, Jesus. "Yes, I know. You see because I have shown it to you." Sorry. "I know. I love you. I'm here. Stay calm. Cry out...and when you do, cry out to me."

Check. Who am I crying out to? Do I pick up the phone or demand that Mike stop everything to hear what I'm working through. Who do I speak to when I feel sad or left out or out of control? Lord, please help me.

The flip side of that is I'm training my children to call out to their Father. Not Mike, they will find out one day that he does fall short. I want them to consult me, but when it comes down to it, cry out their Heavenly Father, knowing that in their time of need He is the One that is Mighty to Save. Lord, help us if we ever believe that we can love our children better than you. Draw them near, hold them tight, and help us to point to You.

An unrelated comment that stopped me in my tracks. The other night Mike was going out to check on something and they wanted to know where he was going. It had been really loud in the house and he said, with a huge smile on his face, "I'm leaving...don't follow me." Writing that sounds so harsh, it was said in jest be assured. Do you know what Anson's response was, "Julia, he's totally kidding. Dads never say that." Oh, Anson...YOURS WILL NEVER SAY THAT! Daddy's do. Lord, help Daddy's stay. Help Daddy's work things out with Mommy's. Rescue marriages in America. Remind me, Lord, that what we have here is by Your grace and for Your glory.

I better get to the dishes. It just wouldn't do for my man do have dishpan hands, now would it? Maybe???

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Play!

This is hard to keep up with! I do love to write...unfortunately many things stay in my head. Crowding stuff! Here's a little blogella.

I never learned how to read or play music. I took a little bit of guitar and sang in chorus, but never learned how to read music. In fact, thinking back, I suppose I faked it a bit in chorus because we did those "sight reading" things and I just pretended. Interesting. So, like any Mom trying to redeem her own childhood, my children are learning to read music. As many of you know we've played the tin whistle a bit, and we are now taking recorder classes. Feel free to hum Hot Cross Buns right about...now. Isn't that the only thing most of us learned? It makes me giggle. So, I did buy myself a recorder, just like I bought myself a tin whistle. I'm going to learn, too!

The nights that I remember for all of us to practice is fun for me. The kids want to hear themselves play, but I want to play, too! One evening I noticed that Julia was blowing with her cheeks, which meant that she wasn't using her tongue to stop the notes, but her breath. I gently corrected her and we moved on. She is really good at recognizing the notes and playing them properly. She sits up straight, left hand on top...she's good.

A few days later at practice I looked up at her and got a sneaking suspicion that she wasn't playing. I crawled over to her chair to listen and guess what, "I was right!" She wasn't blowing. She was sitting straight up, hands properly positioned on the recorder, looking straight at her Coach, and...nothing. I leaned in and said, "Play, Jules. Play." She shook her head and began to blow.

Hmmmm. There are many places I could go with this. First I am thinking I want to be sure that I don't freak my kids out to the point of not playing. Julia is a perfectionist and I can imagine that she didn't want to make a mistake and be "found out." I need to be sure that she knows screwing up is part of the rules! That's why there is Jesus. So, there's the mental note of parenting, then there is this...

I know the right things to do. I know the right things to say. However, sometimes my heart isn't fully engaged. I'm just not playing. Sometimes when people make comments about me that are very kind, I just think, "You have no idea. That I wasn't even playing that day you saw me." I don't want to be like that. You know what folks like that are called? Jesus called them Pharisees. We call them hypocrites. Our minds are engaged but our hearts are out to lunch, maybe even reviewing our scripture memory for all the world to see.

So, here's the thing. It happens. We just flip into auto pilot and we stay there. We look the part. We show up, we sing, we know the verbage, but our hearts are far. So, do we quit? Do we stop taking recorder? You may have a different answer, but I simply repented. I asked the Lord to change my heart and help me to be engaged. Help me to play. Help me to play even if I am holding a whole note while everyone else is playing a quarter note. Help me play even if I'm playing G when everyone else is playing B. God, just let me play.

It's an absolute privilege to be used by God in any capacity. I don't want to fake it. I want to play. I don't have to be first chair. I just want to make some noise for His glory and in His name. I think He's OK with that. I'm thankful, because nothing brings me more joy than playing for Him.

How about you? Is your head in the game? Or your heart?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Broken Runs Deep




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***I wrote this several days ago and have been unsure of whether I should post it. More than anything I never want anyone to misunderstand my struggle. I never want anyone to think I'm not grateful or thankful for this life, my life, that I've been given. However, this is something I deal with, a wound that runs deep that effects me in many ways. So, I hope this Cup helps you get to know me, and maybe help you. Blessings,
Ali



It was glorious! Cold on the outside, but all bundled up we were warm beneath our layers. Warm enough to stay in the snow for several hours laughing and playing with our family. This was our year to head up north for Christmas. My husband's entire family is about 2 hours from my Dad and Pam, so we take 10 days (sometimes more, sometimes less) and visit our family. This year we followed the blizzard, so where we weren't stuck in the snow, we were stuck on the road. Mike stuck it out 16 hours and we finally talked our van up Dad's newly shoveled driveway. We were thrilled!

My sister and her family made their way to Dad's the next day and she came bearing all of the gear necessary to endure the cold. Georgia cold is different from Pennsylvania cold, and so are the necessities. We needed gear that could get wet. She didn't let us down! Everyone looked adorable! The first day I remember saying, "This is the day we'll remember." It was one of those days that just treats you. The attitudes were grateful, the company... family...functioning...everyone was involved, laughing. I love thinking about it. Yet, in the bottom of my heart I felt a twinge of sadness. Not everyone was there. Strange. Count them up...yes, we are here indeed. Hm.

The next day we headed out again. The track for the sled was a bit icy, so the ride was faster...better. It was sweet. Ella, the shortest of the small ones, needed to go inside...too late. Durn. I better get her changed. I wasn't sure what to do so I stripped her down and set her inside the door so I could remove my shoes. I heard his voice, alarmed and booming...my mind became rattled and I was very young again. He was scared because he didn't see me, and only a naked Ella. A naked Ella and a VERY large puppy scared him. He didn't mean to scare me. He only reacted. So did I. Ella was worked up I pulled her from my sister and headed upstairs, hot and upset, to get her cleaned up and dressed. She wouldn't stop crying. Then I couldn't stop. "Why are you crying? Stop!" She begged me. It was too late, the scab had been pulled and my wounded heart was bleeding. She began using her sleeves to dry my eyes, I couldn't pull it together and I wasn't sure why. I couldn't stop the tears. The tears ran from my eyes and I couldn't help but think my heart was bleeding harder. My broken, 5 year old heart. What happened?

I knew if I stayed upstairs it wouldn't get better. I pulled it together as best I could and headed downstairs. He immediately came to me. "What's the matter?" He always gets nervous around tears. "Nothing. It's just dumb." "No, tell me...what is the matter?" I looked at him, he's always been so strong to me. So big. Now that his hair is gray I realize that he was only human afterall. His eyes are blue like my brother and sister...mine green like my mother. I cry now, thinking of that moment. "It's just that, it's just that sometimes I'm really happy with the way things turned out and sometimes, sometimes I'm just really sad. Today, I'm really sad." I tried to explain through my stifled cry, tears burning through my swollen eyes that I wanted her to enjoy this day. She is far from the snow. Far from this life. Always, everything was always so far. He was far from the heat. From the daily grind...from the birthdays, the proms...I didn't know he was human. I didn't know he knew he was far. "What do you mean?" He tried not to roar, he knows I'm the sensitive one. "She's always welcome here, call her." "I don't want her." I tried to explain. I just didn't want the distance anymore. "I'll be fine." I felt like I needed a bandage. Like any minute someone would notice that my clothes were bloodstained from years of being fine. I'm not fine. I'm broken. This is broken.

There was a cordial quietness for the remainder of the day. Words had been spoken. Not foolish or cruel, but honest and real. Those are the hardest to move. They will not fit inside a drawer or file folder. They cannot be cleaned off or out of the ears that they fell on. They remain, lingering, begging to be handled carefully. Darkness fell early, as it does this time of year and I was walking through the kitchen. I couldn't help but grabbing him, pulling him near and apologizing for "freaking out." "It's O.K honey", he whispered. "No one likes it, but it's something we have to get over." I laughed. Really? Get over it? He noticed the unspoken words and revised, "Get through it." I think he was bleeding too.

All this time. I didn't know it. All this time I thought we were the only humans. I was wrong.

I hesitate always in sharing how difficult divorce is on me. I hesitate because from the bitter fruit there was a sweetness. The sweetness has a name...new family. My step-parents, my sisters...God, in His goodness didn't leave us stranded and alone. I never want those people who would have never been included in my life had things not happened the way they did to feel as though I don't love them or cherish their love in my life. It's a double edged sword. Longing for what never was, yet never in a million years being willing to trade what is. How do you deal with that emotion? It's a secret (or it was...thanks internet) that as children we stuff down. We tell ourselves that it is what it is...suck it up. Then we have children.

This has been an incredible year. We have enjoyed many wonderful trips as a family. This November I said to Mike, "You four do not realize how good you have it." He was a bit confused until I explained further..."you enjoy this like everyone has this. Everyone has family vacations full of books and laughter. Not so." My heart is sad for what the 5 people missed. Our lives are full, again, I hesitate...but it is, well, broken. Deep. Only a Savior can stop the bleeding. Good thing that I know such a Savior. Even better that my Savior knows me.