This is a New Season!

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There is a new season that I believe God is leading us all into. He is whispering in our ears, He is wooing us with His love, He is drawing us to follow Him out of the desert.  The desert season was full of disappointment and wounds.  It was full of waiting and hope deferred.  Yet God was saying through one of His prophets (Sue Roby), “The Delay is in your favor.”  I tried to hold on to that thought, to continue to believe that all would work out for the good…but I let some of my faith slip away.

A few months ago another prophet (Tony Brazelton) came proclaiming, “The Delay is over!”  My spirit leapt when I heard it. Could it really be time?  The time I had been praying for?  Yet the fear of disappointment almost choked this new hope to death.

In September God gave me two scriptures to read, Isaiah 65 and Psalm 144.  These same scriptures had been a source of strength during the lowest point in our lives as a family.

Is 65 had been God’s way of announcing to me that I was pregnant, back in 2010.  Verse 9 says, “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.”

I was happy to be pregnant and to feel the presence of a fresh new spirit within me.  I didn’t even need to take a pregnancy test.  Yet also I was ashamed.  Ashamed that I was pregnant for the fourth time in 5 years.  Ashamed that we still lived in a two bedroom townhouse and had to go to the health clinic for lower income families in Colorado Springs.  Ashamed that we struggled to pay our bills and had to set up a nursery for our baby in our walk-in closet.

The baby girl was due in January.  Right before Christmas Chris was laid off from his job.  We didn’t know what we would do.  We tried to enjoy Christmas as the debts grew.  I had a difficult time with Ashlyn’s birth which I wrote about in Birth Story Part 3.  Yet when she was born I was filled with peace and bliss.  My perfect baby girl!  God was so good!

The very next day the doctor informed us (devoid of compassion) that something was definitely wrong with our baby, but they didn’t know what.  Then began the many tests and scans.  Problems were found in her lungs, diaphragm, and heart.  We didn’t know what was going on.  We asked our church to pray and the only word they had for us was that this was my fault, that I was being too prideful.  I asked God if they were right.

That is when God gave me Ps. 144.  I felt peace flood my soul as I read:

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.  Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.”

Amazingly Ashlyn was cleared and was released to go home after just two days, a perfectly healthy baby girl!

ashlynA perfect baby girl…until the results of the Chromosomal analysis came back.  A part of her 6th chromosome was missing but no one knew what that meant.  No one had ever seen this before.  We began this journey of parenting a special child, one who didn’t grow and develop like the other children.  One who had to wear a brace for a dislocated hip and a patch for strabismus in her eyes.  A child who needed physical therapy to learn to sit up and occupational therapy to learn to drink from a cup.

This is when Is. 65 became even more meaningful.  God had brought her forth and had told me that she was destined to take mountains.  She was not a mistake!

By April Chris still hadn’t found a full time job.  Our church kicked us out and shunned us.  Our mortgage and second mortgage were threatening to foreclose.  Our townhome association was threatening to take us to court.  Ps 144 didn’t appear to be true for us.

Yet God worked His miracles, one at a time.  He gave Chris a new job, sold our townhouse, brought us home to Pennsylvania, led us out of debt, and blessed Ashlyn with supernatural health.  More financial struggles, hardships with the children, and failed business ventures followed.  But we were home in the land of our inheritance.  We had friends, family, and a church that loved us!

When I started reading Is. 65 and Ps. 144 again this September, I was reminded of the encouragement I had received from them years ago.  Yet, I didn’t really want to delve into them, to relive the pain we had been through.  I kinda thought, “I know these verses inside and out.  I’ve been there and done that and I DON’T want to do it again.  Can’t I read something else?”

But I felt God saying, “Take another look.”

I discovered that these words, written thousands of years ago, were perfectly tailored for my life.  Not just my life back in 2010, but my life in 2017 and beyond.  I received revelations that I was not able to receive back then.  That our church in Colorado was not pleasing to God, but HE HAD BROUGHT US OUT OF IT to possess His Mountains.  Not because of anything we had done but because His faithfulness, He saved us from that situation and now we are taking mountains for His Kingdom.

Then I saw all the promises that God had for His servants (Is. 65, verse 13).  We will eat, drink, rejoice, and never be put to shame!  This has happened in our lives.

Then I read a verse that I had never noticed before, verse 16b.

“For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”

If God can forget the past, why couldn’t I?  I felt Him saying to me, “I am bringing you into something new, something you haven’t seen before.  You don’t have to interpret current events through your past experiences.  You don’t have to look into the future through the lens of the past.  I am going to give you a new perspective.”

I had been gaining a different perspective, an aerial view like that of an eagle.  I didn’t want my thinking to be clouded by people’s opinions, ever changing circumstances, or the dark clouds of depression.  I wanted to be seated with Christ in heavenly places, to see things from his Eternal perspective.  God was telling me that I was meant to be an eagle.   I was trying to fly, but I really needed some help.

I asked God to let me see a real eagle, and He answered my prayer just weeks later on our family vacation up north.  See my previous articles, “A Hawk, A Vulture, and an Eagle Part 1 and Part 2.”  I felt elated!  I felt inspired!  I felt ready to fly!

Of course vacation has to end and normal life has to begin again.  Could I see an eagle during the course of my daily routine? Chances were no.

I have made a weekly trek to a farm for years now.  At first I never noticed the birds flying in the sky.  Not because they were not there, but because I was not looking.  After God started speaking to me about being an eagle, I began to search the skies.  I loved watching all the birds – the swallows, the robins, the wrens, the sparrows, and even the crows.  They looked so free.  Even better that those birds were the large birds that flew high above the rest.  I felt inspired by their flight…until I realized that they were vultures.

Months I spent searching the sky for eagles only to see vultures, buzzards, and more vultures!  Ahggggggg!  At the end of October I made this trip for the 20 zillionth time.  I saw a large bird swooping down over the highway.  Another vulture, I said to myself.  Still, when I got close enough I turned my eyes away from the highway and up to the sky just long enough to see…

A bald eagle!  I saw the brilliant white head and the powerful straight wings!  I was not expecting that at all!  An eagle in my own neck of the woods!  In the midst of my normal routine!

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This seemed very significant so I asked God if there was something He wanted to tell me.  Immediately I heard this verse on my Bible CD:

“‘The One who is coming will come.  He will not be late.  The person who is right with me will have life because of his faith.  But if he turns back with fear, I will not be please with him.’

But we are not those who turn back and are lost.  We are people who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39 (ICB)

Fear has been my normal reaction to many things, so normal I hardly realize that I am choosing fear over faith.  But I am not one who turns back!  I am one who believes!  I will choose faith!

I heard God say to me, “I want you to be ready to see eagles where in the past only the vultures flew.”

A Hawk, a Vulture, and an Eagle: God’s Voice!

I heard Bill Johnson say recently;

“Instead of emphasizing our inability or our weakness in hearing God’s voice, it would be wiser for us to emphasize His ability to be heard.”

I just experienced God’s amazing ability to be heard despite my reluctance to listen.

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The Hawk

I was just minutes from home, returning from a trip to the farm.  Calvin and I were enjoying the peaceful Saturday drive while listening to Revelations on CD.

“WHACK!!!!!”

Suddenly a huge bird slammed into the corner of my windshield with such force, I thought that certainly it must have killed itself.  I saw it only for a split second before it fell and disappeared, but it looked like a hawk.

I felt shaken.  I felt sad and guilty and wondered why this had happened.  You see, I had been searching the landscape for hawks lately.  I longed to catch sight of this bird of prey, hoping to unlock some mystery. Now I had just encountered a hawk much closer than I ever expected, and it wasn’t a good experience.  Just a moment after the sickening, “WHACK!”, a voice on the CD said…”I saw an eagle flying overhead…” (Revelation 8:13)

It had all started over a year ago when I remembered that God had told me that I was an eagle and I was to raise my children as eagles.  I wrote an article about it.  My interest in eagles became an obsession as this majestic bird kept showing up in my God encounters.  (See my some of my other articles, The Sky and the Ocean, Maleficent .)

I was never much of a bird watcher, but lately I had been watching the skies constantly, trying to spot an eagle.  Whenever I took a drive in the country, I would see huge, dark birds.  They looked so beautiful and so free, soaring high above me.

Chris was with me one day when I spotted some of my “eagles.”  I was so excited to show him.

“Those are buzzards.  You know, turkey vultures,” he informed me.

“What!  How can you tell?  They are so far away?” I said.  I was so disappointed!  Had I really been looking to the vulture for spiritual inspiration?

“Trust me, those are buzzards!”

“But I want to see an eagle!  How will I know when I see one?” I wondered.

“I don’t think eagles circle like that, and they are usually alone. They don’t spend as much time in the sky circling like the vulture does. Like the hawk I saw today, sitting in a tree.  ” Chris answered.

Google had told me that there were two eagles that lived in Pennsylvania, the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle, but they didn’t seem very common.  I decided that spotting a hawk was a much more realistic expectation.  I could learn what I needed to know from the hawk, which was very much like the eagle, just smaller, I reasoned.

I concluded that I would look for a hawk from now on.  They were smaller and lighter colored, such as the Cooper’s Hawk or the Red Tailed Hawk that Cadin had seen close to our home.  I wouldn’t get them confused with a buzzard.

I told Chris about my violent hawk sighting.  He said jokingly, “God is trying to tell you something.  He wants you to get the message so badly, that He had to smack that poor bird into your van!”

Perhaps God wanted to discourage me from looking to the hawk.  He had spoken to me about an eagle.  He had told me that I was supposed to be an eagle.  Perhaps I should believe that He would show me a real eagle.

Immediately my mind reeled.

“How ridiculous!  There probably aren’t any eagles living around here!  Even if there were, how could I see them up in a tree somewhere.  If they were flying, how could I ever tell them apart from the vulture…and I don’t want to make that embarrassing mistake again.”

The fear of disappointment came to me with such force when I even considered believing God for a real eagle sighting. The many disappointments of the past few years had conditioned that response.

The thought that I was destined to actually BE an eagle –  lifted by God’s presence, seeing from a higher perspective, speaking with a prophetic voice – seemed even more farfetched and foolish to me.  Me, the one who had been admiring the VULTURE, for goodness sake.  All my recent shortcoming flooded my mind.  I didn’t feel at all like the person I was meant to be.  I didn’t feel like I would ever learn to fly.

There it was!  The point God was trying to get across!  I had given up on being an eagle because it seemed impossible.  I had downgraded my vision to the hawk.

Then He began to show me that my thoughts and attitudes recently had been very self-loathing, full of my own failures and weaknesses.  I was reminded of a conversation I had with Chris just a week before.  I had been investigating avenues for publishing my first book.  It seemed that every possibility turned into a dead end.  The only option I found was to pay what I considered to be an exorbitant sum for assisted publishing.  And what if we spent all that money (which we didn’t have) to publish my book and no one bought it?  I was afraid to even ask friends to look over my manuscript and give feedback.  What if they thought it was too long and too boring?

Chris couldn’t understand my fears.

“Do you believe in your writing?  Do you think God Gave it to you?  Do you think He will use it to impact other people?  You have to believe in it.  The way you are talking, you sound like the vultures in Rick Joyner’s vision.” Chris said.

The Vulture

I was very familiar with this vision from the book, The Final Quest.  It meant a lot to me because I used to be a prisoner in that camp of fear.  I used to have those vultures of depression vomiting their condemnation all over me on a regular basis.  But I had found the freedom to live in the love and joy of the Kingdom of God…or so I thought.

Chris continued, “It sounds like you are speaking the words of the vultures, vomiting lies all over yourself and your writing.  You need to stop!”  Chris sounded mad.  At the time I felt that he just didn’t understand, that my insecurity and fear were justified.

Yet now, I was realizing that I had been living under this cloud of depression, thinking that it was normal.  God brought to my mind another bird sighting that had happened back in November.  God had stretched me beyond what I thought I was capable of, and I felt my authority increasing.  I had prayed crazy, unrealistic prayers.  I had received unbelievable answers to those prayers.  An amazing victory had been won!  I felt elated!  Still on an emotional high, I began to read a prophetic word posted on Facebook by Veronika West. In essence it said:

 The enemy had endured a devastating wound, but we should be on guard because a backlash was coming.  The enemy wasn’t going down without a fight.

As I pondered what that meant, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a huge vulture sitting on the roof of the church right across the street.  It was looking straight at me, and it gave me the creeps.  Perhaps it was a physical manifestation of an evil spirit, so I prayed that God would hide me, and I told it to leave. I saw the dark bird take flight, circle the church steeple, and fly away.  I had never seen a vulture in my neighborhood before that day, and I have not seen one since.

Now God was reminding me of the incident.  The light bulb went on in my head.

  My Good Father allowed me to see the strategy of the enemy against me.

The enemy knew that if I would submit to fear and allow those vultures to vomit their lies on me, I would live under that cloud of depression.  I wouldn’t be able to see clearly.  I wouldn’t trust God to flow through me.  I wouldn’t believe in Him or believe in myself.  I wouldn’t be able to take flight and become an eagle.

“Forgive me for thinking the lies are more realistic than the words you have given me,” I prayed.

The Eagle

As God began to shine His light on these things, I decided to take the risk to believe again.  I began to ask Him to let me see an eagle, a real live eagle.  I wanted to see one close enough so I wouldn’t mistake it for a vulture.

I also began to ask Him to make ME into an eagle, as unrealistic as that seemed.  The dark cloud began to lift and I began to hope again.

While all of this was taking place in my heart, I was hard at work planning a family vacation.  The first three days in October we would be staying in a cabin up north, enjoying the outdoors.  It had been three years since we had been able to get away. This was so special, so important for our family, that I wanted everything to be perfect.  I began to worry.

“What if I put in all this effort to plan and pack, and it is all for nothing?”

A thousand little details began to transform into a thousand things that could go wrong.  The fear of disappointment reared its ugly head again.  I began to think back to the last time I had tried to plan a family vacation, the last time I had prayed that God would give us a family vacation.  It was two years ago.  We had just endured 4 years of the toil and stress of business ownership.  We faced the heartbreak of having to close our business.  We were in the process of selling our sign shop.  I was praying for enough money to break even, and just a little extra to take the family camping for a week.   A week to reconnect and to heal.

My heart’s desire was deferred.  The sale fell through.  Bills, debts, and bankruptcy ensued…but no family vacation. Why did I think that it would work out for us this time?

“I am doing it again! I will not live under that cloud of fear and lies!   I need to believe that my Good Father is working everything out for us.  I need to just trust Him!  This will be a wonderful vacation!  It will be a blessing to each child and bring us all closer together,” I thought to myself.

My faith began to rise again.  I watched my Good Father work out every detail.  He gave us a cabin to stay in for free!  He worked out the schedules of all the children and gave us everything that we needed.

I was getting the feeling that my Father was orchestrating this vacation to be a redemption of the one that we had lost.  I was beginning to expect Him to speak to me in wonderful ways while we were away.

“And perhaps I will even see an eagle!”  I began to think.

To Be Continued…

 

 

A Bedroom Makeover that took 18 years (and a Mother’s thoughts on the graduation of her firstborn)

I have been dreaming about decorating a little girl’s room for some time now…18 years to be exact.  When I was pregnant with my first child, we didn’t know the gender of the baby.  We chose a neutral Noah’s Ark bedroom set to put on our baby registry.  Our baby girl seemed to be delighted with her bedroom.  This also worked for our next baby, a boy who was born 18 months later.  Areli and Cole shared a room and the animals in muted colors worked great for them.

However, when Areli turned three she became a big girl almost overnight.  She was totally potty-trained and moved into a big bed.  As I searched for the perfect comforter set, I began to dream of decorating a room for her.  Perhaps soon we would move to a bigger home and Areli could have her own room, a GIRL’S room!

I found a lovely comforter and sheet set called, “Mariposa.”  It had butterflies on a purple and yellow back ground.  For the next few years I played with decorating ideas.  I would paint imaginary walls in my mind, first bright yellow, then lavender.  I would experiment with different colors of curtains.  I decided that I would frame the adorable Anne Geddes baby butterflies in white frames and put them up all over the walls.   The most beautiful little girl’s room began to take shape, and I was so proud of myself.  Areli was going to be thrilled!

The years passed and we never did get a home big enough to give Areli her own room.  We never had the time or money to paint walls and decorate, and then we rented for several years.  Boring white walls became the norm for us.

Finally we moved into our own home and Areli got the largest bedroom…to share with two brothers.  Eventually the brothers moved out and a sister moved in.  There was even a baby in there a few times.  Yet we never seemed able to patch the cracking walls and paint over the dull and faded yellow.

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I still held on to my dream of a purple and yellow room for Areli.  However, Areli was now growing up and developing her own dreams.  I realized that purple, yellow, and butterflies had nothing to do with her dreams.  She preferred green, blue, horses, football, and photography.  She had developed tastes that were totally different from mine!  How did this happen?

This is all that is left of my dreams.

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A picture that is being stored in the attic and faded old sheets that used to be purple.

This year Areli turned 18.  She has grown into a beautiful and capable young woman.  She is so very like me, yet so totally different.

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She has different tastes in books, movies, clothes, and interior decorating.  She still loves green and blue and football and photography.  She helps so much around our home.  She loves and serves her family everyday with grace and endurance.

It was finally time for a bedroom makeover – ARELI STYLE!

Chris had a week off of work right around Areli’s 18th birthday.  He spent much of it fixing her walls, painting, and hanging window treatments and decorations.

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Areli picked the color “Electric Lime.”  When I saw it on the wall for the first time I thought, “Oh my!  Was that really what Areli wanted?”

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SHE LOVES IT!  Her dream had become a reality!  Now she has the perfect girl’s room in which to do her school work, hang out, and rest.  She still has to share it with a younger sister, but I think she feels like it is finally truly a room for HER, designed by her.

Areli graduates from High School in less than two weeks.  She has worked ahead and has already finished all of her classes with straight As.  She is going to work on her photography over the summer and get a job in the fall.  Her plan is to attend a Discipleship Training School with Youth With a Mission the following year.  I am excited for her!  The sky is the limit and the possibilities are endless.  With all the missions organizations all over the world, she could do anything and go anywhere.  Her future potential is boundless!

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However, all this is very sad for a mom.  When I think about my home without Areli in it, I just want to cry.  How will I make it without her?  She helps me so much with all the household duties and taking care of the younger children.  More importantly, she is a wonderful friend, an oasis of womanly wisdom in a sea of boys.  She is the person who always understands me.  She is my companion when Chris is working long hours.

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The other day I had a precious hour of free time before bed.  I decided to spend it connecting with God, sitting on the love-seat in my bedroom.  I was going to read and pray and write in my journal.  When I entered, I found Areli sitting on my love seat, reading a book that I had always loved, and taking notes in her journal.  I felt my heart swell with joy as I realized something.  Areli had fully absorbed all I have tried to teach her.  She has heeded my instruction, and she has also watched my life and followed my example.  She has taken ownership of her faith and she deliberately seeks out truth.  She has worked to learn and remember what is important.

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She is so much like me yet so different from me…and so much better.  My ceiling is her foundation.  She is strong and mature…and almost ready to fly.

I want to whoop and holler in excitement for Areli…the successful efforts of my mothering!  I want to curl up in a ball and sob for the same reason…for the beautiful “Electric Lime” room that will soon be half-way empty and for the vacant place in my heart.

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I am so glad that we finally gave Areli that bedroom makeover that I had always been planning…even if it did take 18 years.  Secretly I am hoping it might help her to stay a little longer, and beckon her to return to this safe haven again and again and again.

 

Am I a True Believer?

I had just struggled through the door of the orthodontist with my daughter.  Ashlyn is almost a teenager and in dire need of braces on her teeth.  Doing orthodontic work on a child who is mentally three is difficult enough.  Then there is her club foot deformity.  She can walk with braces on her feet, but she is very awkward.  Sometimes she almost pulls me down while trying to steady herself.  We took seats right inside the door.  I was feeling a bit self-conscious, expecting people to be staring at me and my special needs daughter.

I found myself in the middle of a conversation between two women.  Both were talking about how terrible their knees were.  One of the women was in her 40s and had just gotten cortisone shots in each knee which helped considerably.  The other women was in her 50s and she told about having trouble with her left knee since she was 24.  Back then, since she had some cartilage damage, the doctors decided to do surgery to remove all the cartilage.

“It has just been bone on bone ever since then.  It is awful, but I won’t let them cut me open again, no matter how bad it gets,” she said with passion.

“God could give her new cartilage,” I thought to myself. “Areli’s mission’s team in Australia has been seeing healings.  Why not here?”

I felt compelled to ask her if I could pray for her.  Suddenly I had another thought that stopped me in my tracks.

“You are sitting here with a hip that gives you trouble.  You have had prayer so many times and it is not better.  What makes you think that you can pray for this woman?  You are sitting right next to your daughter who is obviously in need of healing herself.  She is evidence that God doesn’t always answer your prayers.  It would be better for you to just keep your mouth shut than look like a fool.”

These thoughts all flashed through my mind in the span of a second, but they seemed reasonable to me, and I stayed quiet.  Yet I thought about it for the next few days.  When I shared this all with Chris, he said, “You know that was the devil.”

I hadn’t realized it, but now that I write it out, it sounds just like that liar!  Why do I fall for it almost every time?  Over the next few days as I was driving my children around town, I kept encountering God through the Word of Promise New Testament on CD, The Book of Mark.

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Jesus said to the father, “You said, ‘If you can!’ All things are possible for him who believes.” Immediately the father cried out, “I do believe! Help me to believe more!”

Jesus healed the boy despite the father’s doubts.

“Jesus, please heal my daughter despite all of MY doubts.  How can I obtain this healing for her that seems so mysteriously hidden and out of reach?” I prayed.

                Jesus answered “Have faith in God, I tell you the truth. You can say to this mountain, fall into the sea.’  And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that the thing you say will happen, then God will do it for you.  So I tell you to ask for things in prayer.  And if you believe that you have received those things, then they will be yours.”

“And those who believe will be able to do these things as proof: They will use my name to force demons out of people.  They will speak in languages they never learned.  They will pick up snakes without being hurt.  And they will drink poison without being hurt.  They will touch the sick, and the sick will be healed.”

                “Wow,” I thought to myself, “I don’t think I am a believer in the way Jesus meant for me to be, because I don’t have much of that evidence in my life.  Am I even really a true believer? How can I increase my faith?”

I asked myself those questions all week long.  Finally an answer came in a most beautiful way.  The sermon on Sunday was being preached by the pastor of Christ Community Church, Dave Hess.  He spoke directly to my questioning heart, as though God had instructed him to do so. You can listen to the entire sermon on LCMI.TV.

He was talking about finding what was pleasing to the Lord.  He said that God loved it when we joined Him on His adventures, taking risks and seizing opportunities.  Our mission (found in Eph 5:8) is to take full advantage of everyday, to make the most of the time (Kairos time – a moment of opportunity that won’t last long).  When we see a chance to step out and show God’s love, fear comes from the enemy who is trying to keep us from taking an opportunity that he wanted to use.

Rev 12:12 says that a generation will arise that will make Satan furious because he has run out of Kairos time, which just means that he is getting ticked off because the opportunities that he used to take advantage of are now being overtaken by the people of God.

Then Dave shared about when he first started trying to get words of knowledge for people outside of the church in an effort to bring them healing.  He floundered around awkwardly and made many mistakes.

“You will make mistakes”, he said, “But it is worth every risk and mistake because God can use our most stupid moments and make something redemptive.”

Then he read a declaration over all of us that answered the cry of my heart for more faith.

You will live as a child with his Father, flooded with His revelation light.

You will learn to choose what is beautiful to the Lord.

His supernatural fruit will be seen in you – His goodness, His righteousness, and His truth.

You will live with true wisdom having discernment to fully understand His will.

You will take full advantage of every day, every Kairos moment, spending your life for His purposes.

You are going to maximize the opportunities that He brings to you.

I think I am going to write these out and post them on my bathroom mirror.  I can read them and build my spiritual muscles by adding faith to every word!

I Want My Life to Mean Something

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I just had to go to the bathroom!  However, on my way there I needed to yell out the window at a boy chasing a ball into the street.

“Calvin, I told you that you are not allowed in the street.  You have to play inside now!”

Then I had to stop to referee a fight between two other children.

“If this is Courage’s toy, you have to ask him before you take it!  And Courage, do not scream and cry.  Just say, ‘This is my toy.  Give it back to me please.’  You don’t get anything you want when you scream and cry.”

I feel like I have given this little lesson about five hundred and sixty-four times.  Why don’t they remember! I still need to use the restroom (it is getting quite urgent!) yet I cannot stop myself from picking the kitchen towel off the floor which I had already done twice that morning.

“We dry our dishes with this towel, people!” I think to myself.  I notice peanut butter on the otherwise white cabinet door.  I encounter shoes and the grungiest socks known to man thrown about the living room floor.

“Cooper!  Put these in the laundry room!” I call out in desperation, knowing that I will probably have to hunt him down and ask him again later.

I pass Ashlyn’s walking track.  She is supposed to be doing her walking exercises right now; building her muscles, organizing her brain, and increasing her balance.  She is laying on the sofa, nursing some sores on her feet.  I wonder to myself if all the therapy that I have done with her was in vain.  She can’t wear her braces if the skin on her feet break down.  And she can’t walk if she doesn’t wear her braces.

I get into the bathroom and shut and lock the door.  A moment of peace.  A quiet space.  Ahhhhhh…I can sit down for a moment.  WHAT IS THIS!!!!! PEE ON THE TOILET AGAIN!! I just wiped this toilet one hour ago, and the hour before that!

In the relative quiet of my stinky, dirty bathroom I am close to tears.

“Is this my life?  Working hard to clean a house that never stays that way?  Toiling to teach my children lessons that they never seem to learn.  Worried about not doing enough therapy with Ashlyn while simultaneously worrying about doing TOO MUCH therapy with Ashlyn.  I want my life to mean something,” I pray to God. “How can I know if my life is making a difference when I see so little good fruit?”

I just love it when I have a really productive day; wrote a blog article, organized an entire room, cleaned out the attic, or created a delicious meal with an abundance of bright colors and fresh ingredients.  But what happens when day after day goes by with no real progress of any kind.  Moms deal with this phenomena all the time.  We pour ourselves out, go to bed late, get up early, work hard; and when we stop to look around…it appears as though we have gotten absolutely nothing accomplished whatsoever!

I have been feeling the frustration and discontent that thousands of women have experienced.  We feel unnoticed, unimportant, and meaningless.  This has pushed many women to abandon their high calling as a wife and mother to pour themselves into other pursuits…just to feel worthy and fulfilled.

I KNOW that I have the most important career in the world.  I KNOW that my life is making a difference in this life and in the next.

It just doesn’t FEEL that way most of the time.

“God, help me to see things the way you do.  I need some encouragement here!”  I have prayed.

God is answering as He always does.  It may take a lifetime to understand all that He is saying and to unravel my own thoughts and ideas.  But I think I am making some progress.

I have been listening to the Bible on CD.  Listening to a cast of characters reading the Bible as though it were actually happening has helped me to see the stories in a different light.  It seems more real and more relevant.  Plus it is a different version than what I have read before, and it brings a new dimension to many verses.

As I look at the Bible as a whole; the story of God’s relationship with mankind, there is a common thread that I hadn’t noticed before.  God always had a plan.  He was always confident that this plan would work.  Very few humans actually understood His plan or knowingly helped God work out His plan.  The major events in the Bible were orchestrated and accomplished by God, not man.  Many times God worked through people and with people but most of the time He moved DESPITE people.

All the amazing events in Acts happened because of God.  The disciples didn’t get together after the resurrection and have an intensive strategic planning meeting to figure out how they would acquire the Holy Spirit or how they would add 3,000 people to their number in one day.  They didn’t go to college to learn the cutting edge strategies for converting the Jews and then the Gentiles to the Way.  (They didn’t even know that the Gentiles COULD be saved until God showed them.)

All the disciples did was wait on God and obey whatever He told them to do.  Many times they saw miracles, but more often they encountered opposition and persecution.  Often it appeared as though they were accomplishing nothing at all as the churches they planted fell into deceptions and wrong teachings.  Yet look at how their lives have affected the entire world!

When I look across all of human history, the person who had the most powerful participation in bringing God’s salvation to the earth was Mary.  This is just my opinion but you have to admit, she played a pretty big role.

But what did she actually do?

She BELIEVED what the Angel told her was true.

She SUBMITTED to God’s wonderful plan.

She MOTHERED Jesus.

Could I be as powerful in the course of human history as Mary if I just believe, submit, and mother?

If I could just BELIEVE every word God tells me.

If I could just joyfully SUBMIT, YEILD, and SURRENDER to God’s best for me.

If I could just MOTHER – love, nourish, carry, teach, serve, and protect each child God gives to me.

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Even Mary lost her most influential place of mothering for a while.  Maybe she didn’t agree with what Jesus was doing because it seemed too controversial or too dangerous.  Perhaps she was too weighed down with the concerns of her other children and life in general.  When she and her other sons went to see Jesus while He was teaching a large group, He didn’t go out to them.

He said, “Who is my mother?  Who are my brothers?”  He pointed to His disciples and said, “These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever hears the words of God and does them is my mother and brothers.”

If I had been Mary, I would have been devastated by His words.  Then I would have gotten really mad!  “Listen mister, I said yes to carrying you in my womb even though it sullied my reputation and messed up my life.  I gave birth to you and nursed you and took care of you during all the hard times!  None of these guys here know what the angel said to me.  They don’t know what Anna or Simeon said about you.  They didn’t see you take your first steps or nurse you through sickness.  How could you say that they are your mother!”

Yet she must have realized that Jesus was never wrong.  He was never disrespectful or vengeful or mean for meanness sake.  All His words were true…every time. Mary must have repented before God for not hearing His words and obeying them during this crucial time in Jesus’ ministry, because she was there with disciples in the upper room.

What this story tells me is that anyone, anywhere at anytime can have Mary’s impact if they simply hear God’s voice and obey.  To hear God’s voice we must love Him, wait on Him, spend time with Him, read His words over and over.  To obey Him is always to love because He is love.

In essence – to BELIEVE

TO SUBMIT

TO MOTHER

To live this kind of life takes faith to believe without seeing.

To live this kind of life is so much harder than just checking items off a to-do list.

To live this kind of life is something I am sure that I can’t do on my own.

To live this kind of life is the POWER and GLORY of my motherhood; to watch God take my little, seemingly insignificant acts of love and obedience and turn them into something

EARTH SHAKING

ETERNITY CHANGING

BEYOND MY IMAGINATION IMPORTANT

God is ALWAYS better than we think He is

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

This is a famous quote from the Hiding Place, a true story written by Corrie Ten Boom.  She and her sister Betsy had defied the Nazis by hiding Jews in their home.  When their house was raided, the Jews were never discovered in the expertly designed hiding place, but Corrie and Betsy were taken into custody and eventually put into a concentration camp.  Corrie experienced the horrors of a hell on earth.  She witnessed the death of many, including her beloved sister.  Yet she learned that in the darkest pit, God was there…and He was good…so incredibly good.

She came out of that experience more in love with Jesus, more devoted to following Him.  She spent the rest of her life encouraging other people to love Jesus.  That is a testimony that no one can deny.  No imaginary God, no fairy tale God, no boring or religious God could work a miracle like that; placing a life into the crucible of suffering and making it a joyous offering.

I have often pondered Corrie’s life and wondered what I would have done in her place.  It is unlikely that any of us will have to make the choices she had to make.  Yet each one of us will have our own personal hell on earth that we will have to navigate through.

On Thursday night, I heard the stories of five women from my church; each I knew well; each had faced their own crucible.

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Kristi is a wonderful deejay on the local Christian radio station.  She lives in my neighborhood and I sometimes see her pass my house, taking a walk with her little boy in a stroller.  She told how just months after their marriage, her husband was diagnosed with cancer.  Years later cancer was found in her body as well.  In addition, the doctors told them it would be impossible for them to have children.  Her story wasn’t about the seven long years of treatment and tests, sorrow and disappointments.  Her story was about the goodness of God, His healing power, and their miracle baby!

Bobbie is the mother of one of my first youth leaders, and one of the hardest working, sweetest ladies you will ever meet.  She faced breast cancer and multiple cancer scares after that. Does she live in fear?  No!  Her life is full of joy because of her amazing God!

Tiffany was just a junior higher when I met her.  I was in senior high and would sing on stage with the youth worship band.  She wrote me a sweet little note at one of the youth retreats that said something like this, “I see you on stage with such grace and confidence, and I know that God does that.”  Well, my singing voice is not what it used to be, and I have faded into the background.  Now I watch Tiffany on stage worshipping with a clear and powerful voice, singing songs that she has written and recorded, and I am looking up to her in admiration!

Tiffany told the story of suffering a blood clot in her lungs, dying twice, and surviving a surgery that would have killed 499,999 people out of 500,000.  Her story wasn’t about the pain and suffering she had to enduring during the recovery process.  She didn’t complain about the interruption in their lives with two little girls and a newborn baby boy.  She told of how God’s goodness was there every step of the way.  She said, “You can NEVER exaggerate the goodness of God.  He is ALWAYS better that we think he is!”

Sharon was a leader in youth group when I was in high school.  A few years later, I actually saw myself in her wedding album.  She and her husband were honeymooning in Boston.  I just happened to be there on a missions trip with YWAM, and we randomly ran into each other on the street and snapped a picture!  I admired both her and her husband, and when I heard the news that he had left her for another woman while she was pregnant with their second child, I was heartbroken for them.  She was devastated and was a single parent for almost 15 years.  Yet her story is not one of loss and betrayal.  It is a story of learning to love herself, learning to forgive, and learning how much God loved her.  Now she sees restoration in all the broken relationships and just married a man who is better than the very best she had ever imagined for herself.  God gave her more that she had asked for!

Sue is a powerful woman of God at our church.  I first met her when I volunteered to help out with vacation Bible school when I was in high school.  I was assigned to help in her room which was the dancing room.  Each day, four different groups of children would rotate through our room.  Sue led them with a microphone (which she really didn’t need) and tireless energy. I had never had so much fun at vacation Bible school before!

Sue told of her battle with cancer.  She was in so much pain that she wished for death.  She survived the surgery that took out her entire stomach, part of her esophagus, part of her intestines, and her gallbladder.  Her doctors were so surprised, they hadn’t developed a follow-up plan.  Cancer free six years later, she doesn’t moan about how unlucky she was.  She sings and shouts and passionately tells of her beloved Jesus!  She looks like she would explode if she didn’t proclaim her love.

How can this be?  Shouldn’t all these women be bitter and cynical, wondering why a loving God would lead them through the valley of the shadow of death?  All of these women have a real relationship with a real God who never left them for a moment.  In fact He was always right there with them, carrying them, listening to them, speaking to them, and healing them.  He was sending answers, giving provision, working miracles and loving on them until they were filled to overflowing with that love.

This is a God that we just cannot deny.  I pray that you and I will be encouraged to trust more in His great love for us and have the courage to say in our own trials…

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

 

A Kitchen Remodel and the Unreasonable Goodness of God

Sometimes we are expecting to see the favor of God.  We have prayed very specific prayers and fully expect them to be answered in marvelous ways.  The answers don’t come right away, so we strain our eyes to the horizon, looking for his goodness.  Yet the rain of his blessing doesn’t come.  Instead, a nasty storm blows in.  We are knocked down by one thunderclap after another.

We believed for goodness, yet found ourselves soaked to the bone and laying in a muddy heap on the ground.  After all of this, we conclude that our expectations were just too high.  We should be content with the mud puddle and avoid all this needless disappointment.  This is when his unexpected goodness takes us by surprise, like a lovely flower blooming in the mire!

Chris and I had to close our business, Signarama.  We lost a lot of money and our good name; but what was worse, we had lost our dreams. We had lost our confidence in God’s voice and his goodness.  Our bills had increased, yet our income had significantly decreased.  Here we were in the place we had strived so hard to avoid: utterly absorbed each day in the excruciating work of survival.

To top it all off, our dishwasher started leaking; a slow, steady leak under the floor.  Pretty soon we had water seeping out from all the floor tiles.  The tiles were old, ugly PVC stick tiles and now they were wet, coming up, and probably growing mold.  It took a week to get the dishwasher fixed.

“Oh well,” I thought.  “It doesn’t make much difference.  Our kitchen is so awful anyway.

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The cabinets keep falling apart and are so dirty; we just can’t get them clean.

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The sink is stained and scratched.  The floor is just gross.

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We trip over ourselves in this tiny space.

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But there is nothing we can do about it.”

Enter the Unreasonable Goodness of God!

Chris decided to make an insurance claim, and they gave us a good chunk of money!!  We gave the money to a friend who is a contractor, and he got us an amazing deal on new cabinets, a new countertop, and a new sink!  Chris organized his hardworking boys and his skilled and generous friends. They ripped out the old cabinets and the old floor.  After tearing out the PVC tiles, vinyl linoleum, a very old layer of real linoleum, plus a layer of paper and glue…beautiful original hardwood was revealed.  I had always dreamed about having this type of hardwood in my kitchen; thick, dark wood that reminded me of an old farmhouse. Chris worked hard to make my dream a reality.  He and the boys pulled out several hundred screws and nails.  He sanded 6 times to get rid of all the old glue and water stains.  He tried a couple times before he found the stain color that reflected what I had imagined.

Chris rearranged the entire kitchen and created a pass-through so that the kitchen became more spacious and open.

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I could finally cook in the kitchen while being able to see and hear what was happening in the dining room, sitting room, and living room.  This completely unreasonable goodness of God came at a time when we didn’t know how we were going to pay our bills! Why didn’t God cause our business to flourish, or give Chris a new job that paid all our bills, or miraculously pay off all our debts?  Why a new kitchen?  God’s goodness is unpredictable and unreasonable! We just have to enjoy it.

God’s great goodness always comes to us in the midst of a mess.  The perfect God works out his perfect plan with flawed people in a messed up world with imperfect conditions all around.  How and why does he do this?  It is a mystery, but I think it has something to do with the building and purifying of our faith.  Faith can see that imperfections are just part of this life and recognize the goodness of God anyway.

It is easy to lose sight of the goodness.  This kitchen remodel was no exception.  I almost lost my faith in the midst of the junk.  It is easy to look at the end product and see the goodness of God, but in the process, it is so challenging!  Here is a list of everything that went wrong.

  1. It took months to even be able to start the remodeling because the countertop I had chosen took so long to arrive.
  2. As the demolition started, I found myself in panic mode. The dust found its way into every crack and crevice of the first floor.  The mess was almost too much for me to handle.  (The boys loved it and thought it was the best!)  I was losing faith that my house would ever be clean and functional again!

photo 2 photo 33. We had to block off the kitchen, so we set up a temporary kitchen in the basement.

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The only way to get to the basement was to walk out the front door, go around the outside of the house and enter again at the back door.  Once the food was prepared, we had to walk it outside around the house again.  Once the meal was finished, we had to carry all the dirty dishes outside and around the house again…you get the idea.  All this work was to allow Chris to demo and then finish those hardwood floors.  Sometimes when I was cooking on the electric skillet in the dark basement, I would notice a little face looking down at me from the top of the basement stairs.  I realized that a little person had gotten through the barricade, and I felt like it was all for nothing and those floors were forever ruined!

4. We were getting close to the end. Chris had stayed up until 1am to put polyurethane on the newly sanded wood floors.  I got up at 5am with my nursing baby.  As I sat in the living room, I heard an unusual sound.  I finally identified the sound of water dripping.  But from where?  I found water falling from the ceiling onto the loveseat.  I went upstairs to discover that a radiator was leaking.  A few hours later I entered the basement to make breakfast and found three streams of water all running into the drain in the center of the floor.  Pipes were leaking everywhere!  This turned out to be an unrelated problem with our heating system that was resolved within a few days.  Yet, we were wondering what new damages and expenses were being incurred!

5. The new countertop had been made incorrectly so the cabinets had to all be changed and moved around. The result was an awkward corner cabinet, a drawer that could only open while scraping against the dishwasher, and a dishwasher door that could just barely squeak past the refrigerator.

6. A friend got our new-to-us gas stove hooked up on Thanksgiving morning so I didn’t have to cook the festive meal in a crockpot. Glorious!  However, I kept smelling gas for the next two weeks until that same gracious friend went through the process of hooking it all up again just so I wouldn’t freak out.  No more gas smell!

7. The ceiling in our dining room is so sloped that the brand new pass-through that was beautiful and perfectly level, looked completely crooked!

8. After we finally moved our refrigerator back in, it started dripping water all over the lovely, new floors. A month later, the pipes under new sink started leaking on the new cabinets and floors, threatening to begin this process all over again.  What was it with all the water leaks!!!???

Chris and I thought we had ruined our new floors about 5 times in the process, because we had never refinished wood floors before and didn’t know what we were doing.  It was so discouraging to get my dream floors only to sand them unevenly, sand too much, sand to little, put on the wrong stain, do the patching wrong, and so on.  Finally we just decided that this was a RUSTIC kitchen, and that all the imperfections just added charm.

photo 5Our lives are not as messed up as we think.

They are just works in progress, rustic and full of character, and always being invaded by God’s great goodness.

 

 

God’s Goodness is Hunting Me Down

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Most if the time, most of us just want to be happy and comfortable.  That is what we look for and strive for and pray for.  That is how we define “being blessed.” Comfortable and happy.

Life is very rarely a comfortable and happy affair.  When the journey leads us to trial after trial, we begin to wonder what is wrong.  Are we on the wrong track?  Why isn’t God answering our prayers?  Does God really love us as much as he says that he does?  Will we ever see our dreams come true?

I love the book, Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  I have read it many times and each time, I relate to it more and more.  I find great comfort in realizing that Hannah Hurnard experienced her Christian walk much the same way that I have.  Much the same as every Christian, I suspect.

When Much-Afraid started her trek to the High Places, she knew that the journey would be difficult.  She had to climb the mountains with her twisted, lame feet.  She knew that to ever achieve the Shepard’s goal for her; it would take a bit of the supernatural.  But she never guessed what was in store for her.

The Shepard chose two companions to help her since she was lame and very fearful.  They never left her side and assisted her every step of the way.  They were Sorrow and Suffering.  Instead of climbing into the mountains, the path led the three travelers to the Desert, then the Shores of Loneliness, the Precipice of Injury, the Forest of Danger and Tribulation, the Mist, the Valley of Loss, the Floods, and the Grave.  By the time Much-Afraid had reached the Grave, she was no longer the same girl who had started at the foot of the mountains.  She had suffered much, but she had also spent much time with the good Shepard.  She laid herself and her dreams on the alter.  She could see that she would never reach the high places, but she was happy to obey her beloved Shepard.

She did not anticipate the glorious resurrection that would occur, healing her lame feet and changing her from Much-Afraid to Grace and Glory!  Though it was the Shepard who was her prize, the High Places became hers as well, and it was more glorious than she ever imagined!

I hope I make it to the High Places someday.  I hope that all the dreams that I have carried in my heart come to pass, yet I have laid them down to say that God is enough.

I could lose everything and suffer great tragedy, yet there is only one thing that I can never afford to lose…my faith.  My faith is my life and my hope.  Without my faith in a good Father, I would be dead while I still lived…and then be a dead shell for all eternity.  My faith, which is worth more than gold (1 Peter 1:7), is what God in his infinite wisdom is after.

The trials that purify my faith make it feel as though his goodness and mercy are far away.  Yet his Goodness and Mercy are always following me! God’s goodness and mercy will follow me all of the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6) Follow means to aggressively pursue, run after, chase.  God’s goodness is hunting me down.  At times I wish his goodness would leave me alone and let me be comfortable and happy for a little while.  It is chasing me like a massive hunting dog; pouncing on me, knocking me down, and licking me all over with messy, wet doggy kisses.  I may struggle and mourn and wail.  But it is God’s irresistible Goodness that won’t let me go.   It will not let me stay the way I am now because God loves me too much.

“Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible – terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemishing or unworthy to remain in the beloved.” –Hinds Feet on High Places

Being comfortable and happy would be great…for a short while.  But the purification of my faith is worth so much more.  To become like Jesus and to enjoy a closer walk with him is worth any trial it takes to get me there.  To know his great love for me is my prize and great reward, and it brings a deep and abiding joy.

“Multiplied” is a great worship song for those of us who are being hunted down by his love!

The More Children I have, the More Blessed I Become

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Babies are a blessing!  When they look up at you with the blue eyes they got from you and smile a dimply smile they got from their Dad, you think to yourself, “Surely there is nothing better in the entire universe than this precious little one!”

Yet babies can be a lot of work with all the crying, diapering, laundry, training, and worrying that is involved.  And toddlers!  Wow, the work just multiplies.  A huge amount of energy is spent just keeping them from death and injury as they begin to explore their world with abandon.

Young children need to learn all sorts of things such as: the alphabet, addition facts, what president is on the penny, what a president is, how to be polite, how to get rid of the monsters in their closet, and how to wipe their little butts.  This constant instruction can be frustrating and draining.

As they get older the training expands to chores, homework, and interpersonal relationships.  It becomes apparent at this point that these children have developed personality traits that are nothing like yours, and you wonder how this could have happened!  They have behavioral issues that you never expected and don’t quite know how to handle because frankly, you expected your children to be nearly perfect just like you.

Then you begin to relate to the parents who act as though their children are more of a burden than a blessing.  They make jokes about how their children drive them crazy, and how they definitely don’t want ANY MORE of those little monsters!!  They love them desperately…but they kind of dread the summer when they have to be with them day in and day out.  You understand…because sometimes you feel that way too!  Oh, for some alone time!  Oh, for peace and quite!  Oh, for some extra money to buy something for yourself!

The Bible says that children are a reward and a heritage from the Lord.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them! (Ps 127:3-5) God says that birth, pregnancy, and conception are our glory. (Hosea 9:11) Pregnancy, babies, fruitfulness, and many children were God’s blessing to his people when they were obedient to him. (Ex 23:26 and Lev 26:9)  To have a lot of children in your family is a sign of God’s favor and blessing on your life.

Let me tell you all the ways I have become more and more blessed with each child.

It is true that children are a lot of work, but all the work has taught me about how to be more organized, more efficient, and more time effective.  My time has become so precious to me, and I don’t spend it on any old thing.  I use it as wisely as I know how.  I have been so blessed by giving up stupid TV shows and filling my time with relationships, learning, reading, and drawing close to God.  I am a better and more knowledgeable person for all the hard work I have done.  Now I am able to train my children to be hard and efficient workers as well.  Some of them even enjoy an organized home and a job well done!  What a blessing!

It is true that children are so emotionally draining.  All the crying that is not comforted by my best mothering efforts could lead me to depression.  All the nightmares and fears I am called upon to calm, all the yelling and disagreements that I am required to negotiate, all the disobedience and disrespect I am expected to correct WITHOUT anger could drive me completely insane!  Instead, it highlights my weaknesses and drives me right into the arms of God.  I depend on Him for everything.  I look to Him for every answer.  I seek Him for everything my children need, because I know that I just don’t have it all within me.  I go to Him every time I fail and trust that He will cause my children to be just fine despite the fact that their mother is grossly inadequate.  I pray constantly and continually for their bodies, their souls, and their spirits.  He amazes me with His promises for them, and overwhelms me with His love for them.  Without all these children, I would never be so close to my heavenly Father who parents me perfectly.  I am so blessed to have such a close relationship with God, and I am so blessed to feel His precious grace increase every time He gives me another baby.

It is true that children cost a lot of money.   They are constantly growing and needing new everything!  Yet for every child that God gives, he gives the money and resources to go along with that child.  We have a big house because we have a lot of children.  We did not get the big house first and then decide that we could have more children.  We have resources constantly flowing to us because we had a lot of children.  We didn’t wait for the resources and extra money in the bank before we decide to have more children.

I have bought very few children’s clothes in the past 16 years.  Clothes just come to us through friends and relatives.  Nice Clothes!  Beautiful clothes!  Barely or never worn clothes!  I have bins and bins and bins of clothes in the attic just waiting for a child to grow out of their current wardrobe!  We have had people give us a refrigerator and another person gave us a huge chest freezer for free!  Then we have other friends who get us amazing prices on boxes and boxes of food to fill all of the refrigerators and freezers!

If one of our children needs something, we pray together for God to bring it to us…and He does.  It is so fun to witness the unusual and unexpected ways that He does it. When the time comes for bigger needs such a cars and college educations, I know that the miracles will be there.

I have heard many amazing testimonies from missionaries who go out on the mission field with very little resources.  They simply have a raw faith that they are doing God’s work and God will provide…and He does.  God loves my children just as much as he loves the heathen people in the jungles of the Amazon.  I can expect miracles in my own life just as the missionary does.  What an exciting life I get to live, a life of faith and miracles!  What a blessed life I have!

As I have more children, my workload actually lessens and my life becomes easier.  Why?  Children go from being liabilities to being assets.  They can work!  They can do chores and do laundry and cook and clean and take care of babies, and if you train them right, they can run the entire household without you even being there.  Oh, the glory of seeing a clean kitchen and knowing that you didn’t have to wash a single dish!  Oh, the wonder of a date night with your husband as the older children put the younger children to bed.  Oh, the beauty of returning home from a lovely evening out to find peace and order without handing out money to a babysitter.

Being pregnant is so much easier with lots of children and teenagers around.  I don’t have to hurt my back doing housework.  I don’t have to bend down to get anything with all those eager, little hands.  And everyone wants to hold the baby and learn how to change his diapers.  Blessings abound!

What could be better than fun and adventurous family times?  To experience new and different things together is awesome.  To go on trips and vacations with so many playmates around is loads of fun.  At home on a normal day, there is no lack of conversation!  The cooing and babbling of the baby keeps us delighted.  The hilarious comments of the younger children keep us laughing.  The constant questions of the curious ones keep us alert.  The unexpected and imaginative thoughts of all the children keep us in wonder and awe!  The adult conversations with the teenagers keep us company and enrich our lives.  The love exchanged between us all is what we live for.  And what a lovely, blessed life it is!

I can only guess at all the blessings that will be mine when each child becomes a mature, responsible adult.  How lovely it will be when I witness them becoming who God created them to be, when they are displaying their unique gifts and callings.  And when they become parents with children of their own, all those grandchildren will be one adorable blessing after another!

I can only imagine what it will be like someday when I stand before God and He pulls back the veil.  I will be able to see clearly the impact that my children had on the world and on eternity.  What inconceivable blessings will be mine, forever and forever!

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When people see me out with all of my children, they seem a little shocked that there are so many of them.  When friends and strangers alike learn that I have eight children and one on the way, their reactions are all very similar.  At first they seem very surprised and confused (Like they are asking themselves, “Do people really have 9 children these days?”)  Then they give me a look that says, “You are absolutely crazy, you know that don’t you!”  But they usually don’t make that comment out loud.  What they do say, almost universally across the board is, “Wow, you have your hands full!” and “God bless you!”  I have been blessed more times that I can count!  Every time I meet someone new, they say to me,

God bless you!”

I know that words have power.  With words like those being spoken over me every time I go out, I feel like the most blessed woman in the world!

 

Interior Decorating According to Children

I don’t think my children understand what “interior decorating” means.

I love to daydream about rooms in my house that I will remake into works of art.  I enjoy looking at pictures in magazines and collecting ideas from TV shows and friends houses.  I dream about getting yards and yards of inexpensive fabric at the PA Fabric Outlet for future curtains.  I create floor plans in my mind, full of colors and patterns.  When I think about decorating my bedroom, I think about fresh, light blue paint on the walls and a beautiful blue and white quilt for the bed.

I used to have daydreams for my children’s rooms as well.  Areli’s room was going have purple bedding and yellow walls featuring lovely framed photos of Anne Geddes baby butterflies.  Twelve years have passed since those dreams, and Areli no longer wants purple and butterflies.

Cooper and Calvin share a bright red bunk bed which matches nicely with their area rug of bright red, blues, and greens.  Their walls still sport the pastel yellow, mint, and pink colors that were painted by the previous owner for their little girl.  It doesn’t bother me too much because in my mind, their walls are the perfect shade of blue. At least we removed the sparkly chandelier.

Nine months ago we created a fifth bedroom in our home for the baby, and I have filled up a file cabinet in my brain with ideas for his room consisting of a many shades of orange and a lot of lions.  The walls of his room are still stark and messy white, all patched with putty, waiting to be sanded and painted a warm yellowish, orangey, brown/tan color.  The actual official color has yet to be researched and determined.  Something like Sherwin Williams’ “Delicious Melon.”

Will my interior decorating dreams ever come to pass?  I am still hopeful, although I have not yet been able to do any of the children’s rooms in my 15 years of being a mom.  Just for fun and so I could more accurately daydream about decorating their rooms, I posed the question to each child.

“What if you had your own room and you could decorate it any way you wanted to?”

The answers amazed and inspired me, but I realized that they don’t think about decorating in the same way I do.  Not by a long shot! The answers ranged from:

“Camouflage loft bed with green walls and a huge closet that locks so no one can touch my stuff.”

“A wall covered with books shelves and books, my own laptop with editing software, new and better cameras.”

“Entertainment center with flat screen TV and game system that flips around to become a dresser with all my clothes inside, blue walls, black ceiling with lights shaped like stars.”

I explained that none of their bedrooms would ever contain a TV or a game system as long as they lived with me, but that did not deter them.

“Flat screen TV, many game systems, and a slide that goes out my window.  It will be a water slide but I can shut the water off, and then it will just be a regular slide…Oh, and I want a pool in my room.”

“A bed that comes out of the wall by itself and a pool and a hot tub and a slide and…”  This answer was given by Calvin, my talkative 5-year old.

calvin

He continued to expound on the details of his dream room for the next 20 minutes. I must admit that my mind kept wandering in and out of the conversation.  I caught fragments of his chattering.

“…the toilet will flush by itself….the lava wont hurt me…there will be crazy glue but I wont die…there will be extra feet to put on if you want to be taller…” and on and on it went.

Although I could not make sense of it all, one thing became abundantly clear to me.  My definition of “interior decorating” had become much too narrow.  What had happened to my big, hairy, audacious dreams?  Children seem to be able to tell you exactly what they want, whether or not it is realistic …or even real.  And they are not deterred by restrictions and rules.  They think out of the box.  Or perhaps their boxes are much more vast and exciting than my box.  Those boxes become smaller and smaller as the child gets older, I have noticed.  But isn’t it impossible, child-like faith that has given birth to solutions and inventions never previously considered?

calvin 3

I pray we can all grab onto that child-like hoping and imagining.  Even if it never comes to pass the way we envision it, it sure is a lot of fun!  And I pray that my children can hold on to their interior decorating dreams.  I would love a house with slides and toilets that flush by themselves!