Monday, February 01, 2016

{ a memory collector resurfaces and other Sunday evening ramblings }

  Early this morning I jotted down some blogging notes on a Starbucks napkin. After a series rather curious events have unfolded over the last couple weeks, and almost five years since our last move, we find ourselves moving out of our quaint little turn of the century two story home, practically just around the corner to a very spacious 1951 brick rambler with a view.  

  I wrote about another big move we move back in 2009 and how the bells were a miraculous reassurance of God's faithfulness to us. I felt seen and known that Jesus would love me in such an intimate way. Yesterday as I was hauling boxes into our new house from my mini van. I thought perhaps just vaguely I mignt have heard a sound of some sort in the distance...I dropped the box of books I was holding and sat down on the front porch steps, ears peeled as the tears welled up in my eyes. I thought at first it was my imagination. Imstead it was really and truly bells. There they were again. So faint I couldn't even make out the tune but there nonetheless. He hadn't forgotten. Even though I had.

  Unpacking boxes that have been tucked away in our basement for almost five years yesterday was surreal. But it felt life-giving to set up this little corner craft area in a basement storage room. Even with the cement floors and walls, lined with rough wood shelves, having a place to house all these precious memories makes my heart sing. Sorting through box after box and flipping through journals and stacks of loose pictures my eyes fell on entries like this: " my first love letter came in the mail today..." My eyes skimmed over page after page of my wresting with God, wresting that always led to surrender and joy throughout the years of waiting and unanswered prayers. I read these words a dear mentor had written in a card to me during that season: " God gives His very best to the ones that leave the choice to Him." I came across a letter of encouragement Joni Earekson Tada had written me after a wonderful life-changing week serving at one of the Joni And Friends Family camps. I found wedding pictures, pictures of each one of my babies. I found a little wooden box full of special things from fifteen years ago, including a tiny antique silver heart-shaped perfume bottle that David had given me, with my name engraved on it for our first Christmas together. I remembered him whispering in my ear after I had opened it, that he'd been saving it for years to give to someone very special. I came across my very favorite onesie that Jack wore as a baby, long-sleeved and cream with little brown airplanes on it. In the course of one afternoon my life flashed before my eyes and I type this in tears of gratitude. Jesus love for me has been the one constant through every single up and down, every mountain high or valley low. I have faltered and lost sight of Him countless times and daily. I have walked through brokeness, and heart break,both my own and others and found myself hurting and hurt by the ones I love most. Expectations more often than not dead-ending in disappointment  and even complete loss at times. But the One thing that stands out to me, over this collection of years of memories is that His loving kindness has never once left me. He's gently pursued my heart. He loves me with a perfect, my life for yours kind of love. 

My heart surged with conviction tonight in church as we read: " This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one's life for one's friends. " I copied down these notes from the sermon: " Love is the essence of what and who Jesus has called us to be. The measure of maturity is how well you love. 

Jesus fill me by your Spirit with your love, expand my capacity to love and move my heart to a place of action. A laying down. A great exchange. Your life for mine. My life for theirs. xo 

Monday, January 18, 2016

{ reflection }

  My word for 2015 was wholehearted. 

 " God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your hear and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul, and live, real life. "
 Duet. 30:6 ( The Message ) 

  In 2015 I quit buying diapers. And I have watched my kids grow taller and farther away from the baby years.  What a honor it is to get to raise them and witness their little souls unfold. To be an intimate part of their shaping, of who they are becoming. I pray every day that they their hearts will be only, ever, all for Him.  It's a bittersweet process and I find my heart daily whispering these words:  "  the days are long but the years are short." 

   In 2015 David and I were able to sneak away for a couple different overnights. That was treasured time together. I have never been more in love with this man, who cares for me and sacrifices for our family daily with such tenderness and humility. The kids and I took and amazing road trip to see our dear friends for Spring break. We brought our precious, like a sister friend along and it was her first time to see the ocean. She's 15. She was laughing and crying as it came into view on the horizon. I will never forget that.  We snuck away as a family to our favorite place on the coast, Seabrook and ;  and in the summer my parents gifted us with a vintage trailer that the kids named Jolly and we have been happy little campers in her ever since.

In 2015 friendships were deepened and new friendships were forged. And we have seen God do miracles in our hearts and lives and the hearts of those around us and in our city. 

   In 2015 God opened my eyes to some incredibly dark corners of our world, corners I was not aware existed in such horrorfying magnitude of before.  Modern day slavery and sex trafficking became recurring themes in the days that followed and Jesus began to put people in my path and highlight these atrosities everywhere I turned. For months I wrestled as the  heaviness of the burden and weight of all I was learning settled over my soul. For a couple months during the summer I was sinking inside. Sinking under the sadness of the sin and brokeness I was seeing so close to my front door ( as close as the middle school that's two miles from where I live, but that's another story for another time ) Feeling swallowed whole by the enormity of pain and suffering. I felt broken for the loved ones I was watching walk through loss and trauma, abuse and injustice. The words of this song say it better than I ever could. As Jesus showed gently showed me this year that I cannot live wholeheartedly without surrender. I came out of that season with hope and a prayer that I would be delivered from whatever it is that keeps me from Jesus and a dream to see people delivered from whatever it is that keeps them from knowing Jesus.

I have come to this place in my life  

I’m full but I’ve not satisfied  

This longing to have more of You  

I can feel it my heart is convinced

I’m thirsty my soul can’t be quenched

You already know this but still  

Come and do whatever You want to

I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where never been

I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind

Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in

Let love come teach me who You are again

Take me back to the place where my heart was only about You

And all I wanted was just to be with You

Come and do whatever You want to

Further and further my heart moves away from the shore

Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours

Further and further my heart moves away from the shore

Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours

Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free

I’m going under, I’m in over my head  

And You crash over me, I’m where You want me to be

I’m going under, I’m in over my head  

Whether I sink, whether I swim  

It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m beautifully in over my head

  Honestly 2015 has left me with more questions than answers. So many more. But as the past year dies away and I anticipate all that the new year holds, this is not one of them: in 2015 I look back and see the unfailing faithfulness of Jesus. His perfect love for me, for my husband and my children, His perfect love for my friends and family, for the world: this is our only constant and unshakable reality. God's love and His Word, are the only fixed point of truth. And even as we press deeper into those places we doubt He is, as we fight back in trials and pain with joy, as we lean into the hard questions,  and walk in the light and do not step even a toenail into the darkness, as we love especially when it's ugly and messy,  as we embrace growing pains, and love when no one is looking. My our long days and short years be a lovesong declaring " and if not, you are still good! "

Books that I read in 2015 that left me a changed person: Holy Is the Day, The Hardest Peace, Playdates with God, A Loving Life, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet,  Wonderstruck,

Books I am reading January 2016: Teaching From A State of Rest, Delancey, The Magic Art of Tidying Up, Cold Tangerines, The Reading Promise

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I just set the timer on my phone for five minutes.
Five minutes of writing about this day.
A mild and partially sunny, middle of March, Friday afternoon...

The phone just rang and now I have 1:55 minutes left to my writing time.

  And my house is strangely quiet as my three oldest are at a friends house this afternoon, and the baby is napping. She will be three in September. There isn't a lot of time left to call her a baby.
I almost turned down my dear friends offer to take my kids this afternoon. But something inside me stopped me and instead of I said a quick " sure, that would be great! "
Why do I do that? Why am I so quick to think I will burden my friend by allowing her the pleasure of the company of three of my children for the afternoon? Especially when I felt downright giddy over the chance to watch two of hers for a couple of hours this morning. Why am I so quick to steal the joy of someone who wants to bless me in this way?

I have spent the last two hours of quiet, tidying up my house that had been previously tousled by children who need no permission to let their imagination have free reign at any given moment.

I was asking my self, broom in hand, why do I so often save the things that bring me the most joy , that fill my heart up for after all my work is done?

  So right then and there I dropped my broom and ran to the kitchen for an ice cream bar and resolved that yes I am going to go ahead buy that monthly subscription to audible. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by treasuring and savoring the stillness of this last quiet hour with the same amount of delight that my little Lucy had when she ran in from the front yard earlier this morning, with her precious dirt smudged smile to present me with the first little handful of purple violets. Which, after buttercups are some of the very first treasures of early spring to be had.

Time feels like a tv remote that is stuck on the fast forward button.
I don't have time to do a lot of things I want to do. But when I think of what God is calling me to, that at this point would be disobeying him not to write. I cannot afford to ignore or excuse my " lack of time " and not write at this point. I can't afford to not make the time at this point. And as a dear friend and mentor of mine pointed out, look at the gift Jesus gave you today, he provided the space and time for you to write.

 And so I'll write. And I'll run and I will tackle that mountain of laundry, and make those lunches and beds and grocery lists and I will run those errands and pick-ups and drop-offs and I will read that story, and more than once to my little girls.

 Only let my mothering and doing and being and loving, all be done as an act of worship.
" Let all that you do be done in love. " 1 Cor. 16:4 Praise brings a shift in perspective, as my eyes lift off myself onto our dear Jesus, I find a clarity and purpose that comes into focus as I uncover joy, bursting from every nook and cranny of my day, from the mundane chores, the middle of the night "cuddles" with my little ones, to returning that long list of phone calls and texts, to saying no to Instagram and looking my husband in the eyes. Adoration produces an overflow. And that means at this point I cannot afford to put off writing for another day.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

{ the light makes my heart sing }

  One of my hopes and wishes for this year is to somehow pick up blogging again. I promised my dear friend the other night that I was going to post this. I have been a once a year blogger for the last several years now, partly because of the wonderful world of Instagram and partly because I have four children and we home school and I haven't made time for writing in this space. I often feel sad for the way I have neglected memory keeping in this way and I still feel unsure as to where to start in getting back into the habit of posting on my blog. But for now I am going to start with the most recent adventure off my camera roll. A family getaway to the coast.

 We made a spontaneous decision to go on a little family road trip across WA last month. When your husband works long hours, six days a week during the spring, summer and fall it leaves the winter for just such getaways. These pictures were taken during our stay at Seabrook, WA. my very favorite place in the PNW. Otherwise known as the closest thing I know to be like heaven on earth. xo

Watching father and son play soccer on the beach and hearing 
their laughter ripple through the breeze made my heart sing!

Lucy is my little mermaid, fairy princess with her blond wispy bangs who roamed the forest and beach, dreaming of all manner of beautiful girlish pretendings.

Sand in the toes.

 Beach explorations.

 My beautiful almost nine year old. With her curly locks and sweet, gentle smile. 

 A sunset walks on the beach.

Dancing. She's always dancing.

Catching the sun setting over the horizon. It was so exquisite, I cried. In awe of the beauty of the One who made all that we see and our very souls and loves more us more deeply than we could ever possibly imagine, ask or think.  xo

It feels good to be back in this space. 
Quite to my surprise, my fingers skipping lightly over the keys, feel at home again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

{ joy school }

Epiphany: " manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective. Epiphanies are relatively rare occurrences and generally follow a process of significant thought about a problem. Often they are triggered by a new and key piece of information, but importantly, a depth of prior knowledge is required to allow the leap of understanding

   The last couple weeks have brought some big come-to-Jesus moments for me. This came as a suprise to me but these come-to-Jesus-moments were born out of some moments of pure ugliness in me. I am embarrassed to even admit that I am humanly speaking capable of this, but operating in my flesh apart from the love that constrains me ( 2 Cor. 5:15 ), I found myself in an angry shouting match with my eight year old daughter on our stairs. Where I was fully engaging my emotions in sin instead of pointing her to Jesus, which I am still as grieved over as I am thankful now for the ways God uses repentance to soften us and how quick the Lord and my children are to forgive me. Looking back on how such a bad day on my part could end up being such a good day, I only see grace and mercy and I am reminded once again that it is not my performance or perfection that He sees when He looks at me, it's Jesus.

    After David and the kids fell asleep that night, I was laying in bed but still feeling wide awake so I snuck out to the couch and curled up with a book and a cup of tea. It was truly the last place I expected to have an epiphany.  But it was then I began to feel this soft and quiet whisper in my spirit, that I now call my " joy thing."
  Joy thoughts in simple short sentences, mixed with scripture references mostly, were coming to me randomly, as if someone was listing them off to me. I promise I can count on one hand the amount if times I've and an out of body kind of experience but after these thoughts on joy, of joy started rising in my soul and didn’t stop until after 2 am that morning. I can not think of any other way to describe it. I had goose bumps and kept giggling and waking David up all night long and asking Him what He thought was happening.
So I wrote all these joy things down. And even when I woke up in the morning there were new ones. It still feels so surreal and I am not even in the least bit sure what it all means apart from these two things:  

1) That I am supposed to pursue deep joy in my life and study joy by reading the Bible from cover to cover, documenting and digging deep down whenever I run across that word in scriptures and peoples lives.

2) That I need to read everything I can get my hands on on the topic of joy! So please friends, fire away with your favorite recommendations or places of joy.

This is how I described the experience to my daughter last night, God is sending me to " joy school."  I feel so humbled and grateful for this gift from Him. For this heightened awareness, a joy radar of sorts. For the way joy is jumping off the page at me, and for how I am seeing it all day long, around every corner!

  In the wake of all of this " joy thing" a dear friend of mine lost her beautiful 7 month old grandson from a heartbreaking battle with SCID's.  We’ve been praying for over a month now, for healing and a miracle and for Jesus to break through. He did all those things,  just not in the way we wanted Him to. And I wonder, how often joy comes on our terms. And I wonder,  how do you reconcile joy when you can hardly breathe because life hurts so much and you are too broken to pick yourself up off the floor? And then, in the middle if my questioning, I was comforted by this quote from D.Bonhofer:

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”  

Did you catch that part about the torment of memory turned into silent joy? The answer to one tiny piece of that particle puzzle clicks into place.

But what about messy joy, broken joy, raw joy, joy in depression, joy in catastrophic tragedy, joy in abandonment? Is it even possible for those words to be paired with the word joy and make sense? And I hold all these questions cupped in my open hands as I call Him good and faithful and love. That over time and eternity He will work out these questions I have, we have,
by His perfect, unfailing love.

And if you were to ask me today to summarize to you what joy means to me in one simple equation it would be this:


This truth about joy is my foundation and and my jumping off place and I am thrilled beyond words that I get to be a lifelong student of the art of joy.


Fill in the blank for me dear ones, and join hands with me as we treasure hunt for joy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

{ Only Grace }

{ Image borrowed from Naptime Diaries  }

 ( This last week we were asked by our pastor if we would write down the story of what God has been doing in our hearts since  RLM has become our home sweet home church and as humbling as it was for us we didn't hesitate to say yes, because God deserves all the glory for our anything good that ever has, is or will happen in our lives... )

  We are truly humbled and blessed by the opportunity to share with you how God is working in our lives.

   David and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary and we have four young children. They keep us on our toes. Usually they keep us on our toes, laughing. 
We see parenting as a great privilege and gift from God. That being said, our life these days is a whole lot of sticky, noisy and messy. Thankfully, Jesus is all about taking our mess, especially the mess in our hearts and turning it by the miracle of His grace into something beautiful. We both grew up in Christian families. And we both accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior at a young age. We grew up in the church, but over years of being in unhealthy churches we felt reluctant to get "too close" in a church, for fear of being hurt, so we tended to stay hidden on the “fringes.”  

  This past winter, after the birth of our fourth baby, we found ourselves in a dark place, feeling overwhelmed and isolated.  Stuck in survival mode, far from a place that felt like growth or freedom. Looking back now on that especially hard season, we see it as a storm of grace. It was exactly what we needed. God used that time of desperation to break us so we could begin to know and experience Him in a deeper, more intimate way. We are so thankful for the way He has interrupted our sleepy comfortable, lukewarm lives, as “ good American Christians “.

 We have asked Jesus to make us hungry for Him and to forgive us for living mostly selfish, self-absorbed lives. He is opening our eyes to how“ good things” can often be the enemy of what’s most important, that being:  making much of Jesus and His glory revealed in His Kingdom here. And He has used getting connected here at Real Life, in real relationships to do that. Since coming to Real Life, God has done a miracle in our hearts and has given us a fresh desire and love for His Word, His people and a new burden for those that don't know Him. We've encountered Jesus in a deeper way , and we've experienced what it means to truly be a disciple. God has used the people of this church body, who have taken the time and invested in loving and pointing us to Jesus, and who have encouraged us to take the next intentional step of obedience to become the man and woman the Lord is calling us to be.  And in that we are experiencing that there truly is no greater joy, than the joy of drawing close to him and loving and serving Jesus as a couple and a family.
 God has called me ( David ) to lead my family. I am here to serve, in whatever way I can, to step up and see where God will lead me, my family and this church as we learn to work diligently and love well. I want to see people delivered from whatever it is that keeps them from Jesus.
  We are so grateful that God uses ordinary people. Because we are just that. And we feel so humbled to join with the vision of RLM, to see this city experience the miracle of deliverance and freedom and life abundant that Jesus has poured into our hearts. 
One precious person at a time. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy { pink } Party

And just like that our Lucy Wren girl turned two. My " ha-bee-bee " she calls it! And she was positively delighted with her very pink party.

  This is signature Lucy Wren, just turned two... with her very few words, her blonde bangs and hair pulled back into pig tails that stick straight out, pretty dresses and " bee-bops" (flip flops) every day... she spends the day playing with her dollies and being their momma. She would eat a giant steak but turn down a ice cream cone. She is known for her love of cheese. Especially cheese sticks. Once at our friends house she ate eight cheese sticks. Yes you read that right,  I said eight. She throws some pretty big tantrums but also has the best leg hugs and neck squeezes and loves to kiss us and tell us she loves us. She's affectionate and nurturing, most darling and loved by all. xo

Annabelle's Lucy List:

She always gets dirty
She always says " I'm the momma, I'm the momma"
She always takes good care of her baby dolls
She is really funny
Her favorite song is Jesus Loves Me
And she's good at finding things
She likes flowers, just like me
And she's scared of bugs
And she loves to do dress up
She really like her little sister Ruby and calls her baby Grace
And she always likes to play with me and Jack
Her favorite is color is pink
She always calls me Belle

Jack's  Lucy List -

She likes to jump
She likes to touch the computer
She likes to try on Mommy's shoes
She likes hitting you  ( but that's not very nice )
She's very funny 
She loves to throw balls
She says " pee-pee bad " when she has to go potty
She likes Tinkerbelle
She likes to drive her little tricycle
And she likes to be chased by me
And she likes to watch Leap Frog with me