Posted in being a mom, homeschooling, honesty, life thoughts, the Cost of Love

The Sometimes and the Most-of-the-Time

Sometimes you just want what you want. Selfishness moves in where compassion once lived.

Sometimes the day has worn on too long. The heat too strong. And your emotions cave and a crying monster emerges who desperately needs a hug and an early bedtime. Not a punishment bedtime, we won’t even tell you that we put you in bed early. But we’ll just so happen to read an extra chapter of our bedtime read-aloud that day, requiring us all to pop into bed a little early. And there over the top of the book, I will watch you drift off before I even complete the first chapter.

Or sometimes. you just can’t put into words what it feels like to live thousands of miles away from those who used to live within a finger’s reach of you, for as long as you can remember.

Sometimes you need to tell me again how much you didn’t like Portuguese school, even though I also remember how much you couldn’t wait to go. Because today you remembered someone saying something mean and assuming you couldn’t understand it. Today you remember the harder instead of the good. The growing pains over the victories. And you just need someone to listen and agree with you, even if it’s not where we both know you’ll land when you think about it again tomorrow.

Sometimes all four of you have those kind of moments in one day. Or a series of days. And it’s tiring for us all. Emotionally and physically.

But then there’s the most-of-the-time that catches me. How we look back at your photos of just last year and you notice how your face has changed. How you have grown.

And I remind you how God has been shaping you this whole time. During those sometimes moments as well as those elated moments of joy during the most-of-the-times.

And I see that little girl in a phase of wrestling to surrender selfishness for loving compassion, pouring over a puppy when no one else is looking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You are listening and internalizing, even if the battle is uphill sometimes.

 

I see a “me too” little girl finding her welcome place amid a new sister-and-friend dynamic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even when dynamic changes can come with growing pains.

 

I see a young girl growing into a confidence of self-control and responsibility not being an unwanted consequence,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

but choosing instead to embrace them as a gift, even if it costs a sacrifice of selfishness.

 

Yes, I see your quiet efforts of increasing self-discipline and chosen obedience

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

even when responsibility costs the price of your perceived frolicking freedom.

 

My ladies, I am proud of you. I am really, really proud of you. Kindness, self-control and responsibility can feel like very sacrificial choices at times. And I am praying for God to continue to give me the grace to extend to you all as you learn these critical lessons. Oh the sometimes moments have happened and will happen again. Maybe even for another series of days. But I trust that just as He sustains me when I turn to Him to teach me how to love you better, He will continue to grow you through all that He has given you in this life. And I am proud of you. Keep wrestling to do right when wrong feels so easy. Keep fighting to be kind and gentle when roughness and selfishness feel so natural. And know that even in the rawness of the processing, I am still thanking the Lord that He has given me the gift of being your Mom.

 

I love you, little ladies. What a privilege to fight the good fight together.

Posted in Hope, life thoughts, my heart, Overwhelmingly Thankful

The Gift of Another Moment

Settling back in after a trip to South Africa finds me sitting in a quiet napping house with newly mopped floors. The week’s homeschool lessons are complete on this freeing Friday and the new trampoline is all set up to the squealing delight of four little girls.

Today our neighbor’s chicken decided to begin hatching her seven or eight eggs under our little “garden of Eden” tree. Little did mother hen know that we would be returning home with a pouncing seven month old puppy when she laid her happy little eggs under that quiet tree. You know mother hen was thankful I packed the toddler play pen gate in the crate so she and her little chirpers can live to see another day behind their fence of protection.

After completing week four of homeschooling things are starting to feel a little less crazy. We’re still working out the dynamics of six rambunctious girls in our home (with the addition of our two friends to our school day), but we are enjoying learning together. Patterns are sinking in so I no longer have to be everywhere at once. That right there is lovely, friends. Now I only need to multi-task two to three of these ladies at a time. That’s much more manageable. 😉

I’ve found myself in a state of quiet lately. We have been working through news of dear colleagues going on to see Jesus face to face after a bad car wreck in the Congo. They already are and will continue to be sorely missed, especially here on Sub-Sahara African soil. We held our breath and sent out continual prayers as we awaited news of another couple that we hold dear who were also among the wreckage. We reached out to ‘hold hands’ with our precious friends in Uganda as we all waited to find out when the dear couple would make it to hospital care. And as God answered our prayers in them arriving safely, they have begun to navigate through the shock and the trauma of all that unfolded in the horrible accident. In the quiet, we too begin to sift through it all.

I wish our arms could really reach across countries. Just to hold your friends and sit in the quiet together. And just pray. Just so they’re not alone.

We are just so thankful that while we are far, our prayers cover great distances in a mere second. God is not limited by time and space. He has proven Himself to be Enough. In all circumstances.

These past forty-eight hours have been more quiet in heart. Prayers continually going up. And between the giggles of bounding little girls’ education, I just find myself stepping back for a minute here and there and saying “Thank You, Lord. … Thank You for the gift of another moment.”

Thank You for the gift of another hug from one of these wonderful little girls.

Thank You for the gift of hearing my husband share an encouraging conversation with his accountability partner. I can hear the joy bouncing in his voice as he shares of what You have been teaching him lately.

Thank You for the gift of colleagues that are there to support us, even researching and sharing tricks on how to get rid of ants for a friend.

Thank You for the gift of friends in our city that help teach our kids responsibility and share in deep conversations about life.

Thank You for the gift of a well-trained, tongue-bouncing dog trotting beside my preschooler as they run in the wind.

Thank You for community and the feeling of home.

Thank You for friends at church and encouraging each other through life struggles.

Thank You for long car drives to just hold Matt’s hand and laugh about old stories while the girls sleep in the back.

And yes, thank You for even those little chirpers in the backyard that arouse such curiosity and delight as we feed them over the fense before retunring them to the neighbors.

Thank You, Lord.

I don’t deserve it.

It really is a gift.

This very moment You have given.

Posted in honesty, life thoughts, Mozambique, that's just life, willing hands

Goodbyes Again

We stood there laughing as we dripped oil from our fingers. We laughed at how horrendously I attempted to roll the slippery dough before I got the hang of it. We joked about being overly emotional when the onions were cut. We marveled words of encouragement as we learned how to make chamusas together (a meat-pocket of goodness here in Mozambique).  And there standing over the burner stirring the meat, I had a moment.  “This will never happen again. This will only live on as a treasured memory.”

 

I guess after almost a year of seeing someone Mondays through Fridays you just get used to the normal. Oh the normal can feel crazy and out of control and stretch you in ways you never even had a file for back in the States, but still the faces are your normal. The conversations, the shared stories, the depth.

A part of my normal is leaving and it hurts…

 

Someone once said that you know the friendship was real when it hurts to say goodbye.

 

That day I said goodbye to my language teachers. But they were so much more than teachers, they’re dear friends. My sweet sisters in Christ. And while neither of us is dying, Lord willing, fifteen hours south is quite a distance to behold (especially in a developing country).

 

I was talking with my dear friend in Senegal, cause she’s a dear sister. You know, we were just talking one day about real things, deep things… cause she’s a safe place to process depth. And it hit me, “I think sometimes we process saying goodbye when we have to say goodbye again in a new place.”

It’s the quiet underlying that I don’t really know how to put words to. It’s a mixture of excitement and fear of “being on our own” for the first time without dear supervisors to “bail us out” in our city. And yet there is this confidence that I cannot possibly explain that in all my insufficiency, He is and will continue to prove Himself more than Sufficient.

It’s a jumbling of butterflies that make you both thrilled and feel a bit sick to your stomach. It’s a great and very raw new stress. And it’s all coming to a head as they begin to hand over details about our new home in our job city. As we get our new car and trade in our old one (thanks again, Taylor, for the reliable transportation). As we pack away what we will bring with us and give away what we thought we would need when we moved here, but didn’t. As we learn how to settle into just being us again, without schedules and rushing the girls to school and hurrying to get homework done in time for baths and we just find ourselves… embracing us again. It’s the days that we have prayed for, cried over and longed to hold in our hands that are now being handed to us. And it’s just a lot to think about sometimes. A lot to hold in these hands. A lot to pray about.

Life is life, with it’s curves and twists and hilltops. And we are continuing to learn how to lift each day as an offering to the Father who so graciously gives us each day.

Each step forward.

Each butterfly.

Each tear, both good and hard.

Each anxiety that we lay at His feet.

Each moment.

Lord, help us to embrace each part and say goodbye well.

Before we get to say our next good-hello.

Posted in God's heart, JOY, life thoughts, my heart, willing hands

Refreshing

Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability!

How REFRESHING to know you don’t need me!

How AMAZING to find that you want me!

 

I am completely insufficient of a warrior in this battle. This battle is beyond me in immeasurable ways. The wisdom needed, the grace offered, the endurance, and so much more … I am completely insufficient! I am absolutely nothing on my own!

But the power of CHRIST in me makes me strong

This completely blows me away! How He does not need me. Not even in the slightest! He’s completely and entirely All-Sufficient!

And yet how utterly amazing to find that He still wants me.

I am completely humbled that He would choose to use me as His mouthpiece. ME?!! Oh how HE must be the One bringing the victory through these lips, through these hands…

And how He so willingly receives this offering that I lay at His glorious throne…

I am brought to tears at His utter grace.

How He takes the incapable, breathes the life in them, gives them the words and the boldness, orchestrates the listeners, touches the hearts, and then receives it gladly as an offering unto Himself.

It was all Him!

All Him all along!

Oh thank you, Lord, that You would bless me so to be a tool in Your hands.

How humbly amazing indeed!

 

 

 

Posted in celebrating life, home decor, honesty, life thoughts, Project Satisfaction, thankful and grateful, that's just life

Project Satisfaction: The Dining Room Table

She has a gimp leg bandaged in metal bandages. I remember sliding her over, the beastly thing. She’s sure solid wood that’s for sure! And then I looked down at the crack. Her leg was splintering off. Hmmm, pretty sure that’s a problem. I thought. I remember Daddy coming to the rescue one time when they were in town. A trip down to the hardware store, a few L brackets, wood glue, and some piping fasteners later and she was strong again. Not gorgeous. Not increased in monetary delight. But back to being fully functional.

She has bubbles in her polyurethane finish. And usually some playdough in her cracks. Sometimes I’ll sit there with a butter knife and clean out the sand and glitter from kid projects. She has a little piece of magnet superglued to one area. Oops. I’ve got to scrape that off some day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Her chairs are mismatched. I love how it’s a combination of the old and the new. I remember those chairs with the knobs from our first apartment together. Just you and me, Love. And Cheddar. My fat orange and white baby. Remember how the chairs were nice wood and the table …not so much? Wasn’t it funny how big that four seater table felt in our one bedroom apartment? And we had such high hopes of sliding that extension in to bust out a whopping six chairs.

Now we have ten. And we fill six of them. And the four empty remind us to invite someone over for dinner regularly. The empty ones remind us to keep our table open for family, widows, and orphans coming through the foster system. It reminds us to be on the lookout for those needing a friend. Even just for a season. Someone to share a meal with. To remind them of their value. It reminds us to be ready. And open.

I love how there’s those big captain’s chairs for the ends. Only one is replaced by the littlest’s highchair booster on a regular chair. That highchair doesn’t really fit up as close as I ever want it to fit. Maybe it’s that the table sags low. Maybe it’s that extra 1 by 4 that hangs under the edges of the table on the ends. Still not sure why that’s there. Or maybe it’s just that the chairs are too tall. But I love that she can sit there with us. No one is too small to be a part of the family meal. Even when you can’t quite hold your head up.

She has some marks on her. Most are washable. Straying markers imagining artwork. The occasional crayon jetting off the Math mazes. The occasional pencil scratches or pen mark from immature overly-concentrated penmanship of beginning letters and numbers. Homeschooling evidence gives her such character. And love.

Sometimes there are grease spots from time-out foreheads. Spilled milk still in her crevasses from toddlers learning from “big girl cups”. Worn sections on her chairs where this Mommy sat to nurse her baby while balancing eating lunch or correcting a pattern worksheet… or both. Chair rungs reglued in from rocked chairs while learning to read. Motion can help so much when the brain is focusing so, so hard. Or sometimes it’s just hard to sit there and wait. And wait. And wait to be dismissed from dinner. It can feel like an eternity those five minutes! Just ask the toddler with an empty bowl of ice cream and a full belly. Not everyone is served at the same time. Patience training wears on her chairs.And oh those hard chairs. They give no support to the tired bones. Fulfilling their purpose of keeping a tired Mommy awake after long nights of broken sleep because the open Bible is more important than napping so many times.

It feels like a lifetime of memories is stored up in that loved piece of wood.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Someday I’d like to refinish it. I’d like to wash away the old stain. Maybe sand some of the needed places. And sit with my older girls and restain our beloved table. Teach them the value of hard work. And the delight of the end project while we recall old memories at that very table.

She’s simple. A wonderful hand-me-down to us. A hodgepodge of two tables’ worth of chairs. Some faded stains. Some scratches and scuffs. One gimp leg.

But she’s wonderful. And she’s treasured. Even with those ridiculously heavy chairs that tend to smash preschooler toes when used as prep chef stepstools. And those crevasse that hoard all things sticky, glittery and grainy, refusing to release them from her clutches.

She’s still wonderful.

And we are thankful, grateful and blessed.

God is so good to us.