Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Toes and Life Lessons

My husband is in Haiti right now. The last time I spoke with him was Monday morning soon after I woke up. He had just landed in Miami and would be heading off to Haiti about an hour from then. It was a short conversation that went something like: Where is that one check that I'm supposed to deposit? Somewhere on my desk. So, is there a contact number in case of emergencies? I don't think so. Can you call while you are there? I'm pretty sure there will not be a satellite phone available after all.  Don't worry. No news is good news. I should be able to call you Friday when we are back in Port au Prince. Ok, I love you. I love you too. Bye. (Sigh)

The kids and I left later that afternoon to visit with my grandmother. In fact it was about 3 hours later than we were supposed to because there was a lot more cleaning to do than I realized and my children were going through sugar withdrawal. The 2 hour car ride consisted of about 45 minutes of crying from the 2 year old. We finally got there around 7:30, rushed through eating dinner, and then tried to calm them down to get to bed, which finally happened around 10:30. But it was ok. We were there and had fun things planned. And I don't get to see my 70 year old grandmother often. We were going to go to the park and to the beach and to look at some light display that grandma found out about and eat lots of home made goodness. When the kids were in bed my grandmother and I were going to drink a glass of wine and talk about her rich German history or all the places she traveled with 3 young girls as a military wife or whatever. But it didn't turn out quite like that. I spent 1/2 the time breaking up fights b/w my boys or trying to keep them from destroying her house. We did have fun at the park and beach - even after getting rained on, and the home made goodness was extra good. But 2 of my 3 boys slept through the lights. Grandma and I didn't have much energy after the boys went to bed, so we just watched a show and then crashed. The next day was spent with more discipline and a nice, but exhausting trip to some botanical gardens. Nice because there were some neat plants that my boys enjoyed learning about; exhausting because my 4 year old did not like to stay on the path or respect the nature. This was followed up with a 40 minute ride back to grandma's house, 30 of which consisted of more crying from the 2 year old. I was ready to get home and crash, and boy did I miss my husband. I slept well in my own bed last night knowing that when we woke up I at least would not have to worry about my children destroying grandma's home.

But waking up came with it's own set of frustrations. I didn't remember that our electricity needed to be paid. Who thinks about an electric bill when there are cookies to bake and food to cook and ornaments to paint and a trip to somewhat prepare for and a grandmother to visit? Maybe you do, but I didn't. We at least had heat through the night. And my mom is amazing enough to bail me out when I forget to budget for electricity. But oh my, did my stress level peak. I had had enough and could not deal with one more thing. And here, there were so many more things to deal with - wet jeans in the wash, play dates to be had with friends visiting from out of town (who I anxiously wanted to see), and children to get dressed and fed. Not to mention that gnawing feeling of doubt that no news was really good news.  I began the pity party (I throw them often). I started thinking that I must be crazy to think that I could home school these boys, and why would I want to adopt? I can't even keep the electricity on in our home! Why would I think that any of these things are good ideas? They should be in school and I should get a job and then we could have some much needed breaks away from each other. Not to mention the financial ease we would feel if we had two incomes. But as I thought these thoughts, I began to feel like a failure and then I got more and more anxious and frustrated with my life and myself. So, at the peak of my stress, what did I do? I did not pray to God for strength or even take a deep breath. I picked up a chair, quickly make sure the children were far enough away and threw it. It of course landed on my toe. Yep, my big toe, which is very important in helping you walk. And why? Because I do not instinctively turn to God. I bottle up my trivial frustrations and then explode.

Now, some of you might say, "No, those are not trivial frustrations." If you are saying that, it is because you are one of the sweet people in my life who make me feel better about all of my flaws. Thank you for that. But, they are trivial frustrations. See after the fire had subsided and I picked up a check from my mom and went to half of the play date, the younger kids fell asleep and I actually got to sit down with a (cold) cup of coffee (because the electricity was still not back on) and read. I picked up David Platt's book, Radical. I am barely into this book, but I have to say, it is a must read. One of the first things he talks about is meeting with church leaders in Asia who risk their lives to learn about Christ - just to learn about Him! And then he comments that "we were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves." And there's that conviction that I love to feel. Then I start to think again about the fact that my husband is in Haiti. He is working crazy hours while eating the small amount of food he could bring and sleeping in a tent to help people who do not have the homes we have or access to electricity or basic medical care. I think of the conversation I'm going to have with him when he comes home. "Oh, that chair is wobbly because I was frustrated that our children were not perfect angels and that our lovely home that is almost always equipped with clean running water and central heat and air momentarily had the electricity turned off." So, yes, my frustrations are trivial. See, my frustrations are based on things not working out the way I want them to. I want to show off my sweet pleasant boys to my grandmother and then to discuss our family's history over a glass of wine. I want to be on top of everything: the cookies, the food, the ornaments AND the bills. I want my mom to not be burdened with my forgetfulness. I want to be this certain type of Mom, but I'm not.  Oh, that's so hard to admit. I'm not the supermom that I want to be. But, if I die to that view of myself and to my wants, then I can embrace Christ. I can go get dirty with my kids at my grandma's house and I can suck it up when I forget a bill because bills are not things of eternity. And I can forgive myself for the bruised or possibly broken toe because even toes are not things of eternity. When I embrace Christ I can be grateful for healthy children and our home and my family that has my back when finances get squeezed. And only when I embrace Christ can I send my husband off to Haiti without him having doubts of how his family will be or love (like 1Corinthians kind of love) my children who are so, so stubborn or confidently invite a child who has already gone through so much into our home knowing that he or she will feel safe and loved.

"Abandon myself, die to myself, let the doing come from the being." Are these posts feeling redundant to you? They are to me. These are the lessons that I keep trying to learn over and over and over again. Isn't God good to keep patiently teaching them? He keeps patiently whispering, "Just come to me. Drop all of your wants and burdens and expectations and sit here on my lap and read my words. Be content with what I offer. You will not be able to do much without the peace that only I can give." And I keep pulling up my boot straps and trying to conquer life on my own. Lord, please help me to let go of all the things that keep me from you. Help me to lean on you instead of my own strength. You have already made the ultimate sacrifice, so help me to trust you. And Lord, I pray this for all Christians who, like me, are so tempted to let our faith revolve around catering to ourselves instead of abandoning ourselves. Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

That Timeless Lord's Prayer

Every so often, I start to get a little claustrophobic in my life. It feels like the walls are squeezing shut, and the simple things begin to get so hard to do. The dishes stay stacked for longer periods of time and the dirty clothes begin to way outnumber the clean ones and the dog smells absolutely horrible. When it gets really bad, that's when I get ridiculously impatient and expect my children to become mind readers. I will try to put things into perspective by counting my blessings more and more, which helps in the moment, but then I look up and the walls are coming closer again. That's when I tell my husband that I need to get away for a few hours.

Saturday was one of those days. But it wasn't easy. We had commitments and things to do for the holidays and it was going to take being intentional, which didn't happen. So, my "getting away" was rushing around Target, weaving in and out of people in the toy aisles, and then rushing to pick up the kids. I was irritated to say the least. And I let my husband know. (I don't hold thing in well at all.) I wasn't horrible to him, but I just was feeling a little bit like a door mat. Now, my husband does not treat me like a door mat AT ALL. The kids might at times, but we quickly set them straight. It's just that there is a lot to do when you stay at home and home school your boys. And then the holidays come and somehow all of the gift getting is mostly on your shoulders and so is teaching the children generosity so we need to finish making ornaments and baking cookies and those walls start zooming in. And it is not helpful at all when your two youngest get some highly contagious rashy virus that keeps you from seeing other people for almost 2 weeks. So, I share these things with my husband in a rather emotional way and feel him tense up over the phone and then the guilt sets in. On one hand, he needs to understand where I'm at and know how I feel, but on the other hand, my tone was too accusing and maybe I'm being selfish. So, Saturday afternoon, we reconvened and decide that he will make dinner and I will get away. The guilt was still there, because I want to just suck it up and be superwife/mom, but I know that the walls are going to keep coming at me, so I went.

I didn't even leave my street when I see someone who so needs love. Our sweet neighbor down the road was outside smoking. So, I pull in and talk to him and find out that he had back surgery last week. Oh dear. I've been too "busy" to stop and talk to him all week. (I don't know where I've been rushing off to, but I haven't stopped to talk to him since before Thanksgiving!) We talk and I invite him to dinner Christmas Eve and offer to come later in the week to change his sheets and take out his trash and then I make sure he has my number. I leave and think that I am selfish. I felt so refreshed from that one conversation. I don't need to be alone and leave my tired husband with our boys, I need to give. But I still go. There is a purpose (besides my sanity) to this trip. There are a couple of more presents to buy for some friends and relatives.

I go to Lowes and walk around a little in peace, and it is nice. Then I go to Toys R Us and find the last of the gifts on my list. I see people who look exhausted from shopping too long and see couples arguing and others laughing. I hear a lot of people exclaim "Oh, he'll love this!" I feel like an outsider watching some movie or something. I think I've spent 2 hours all December shopping for Christmas presents. So, all this to say, I loved being in the craziness and being able to smile at people and move out of the way and not get sucked into the rush of it all. I decide to finish up my evening with a bowl of soup at Panera so that I could have a cozy place to read. The soup was ok, but the book was great. I held back tears and loved that the author mentioned scripture that I just read. I felt so refreshed. I was driving home, anxious to get there before bedtime, and was grateful that my husband insisted that I go.

On the way home, I started thinking about why I seem to need this time every so often. Am I just a selfish person? It really seems like I thrive when I'm giving to others. Yes, but didn't I just post about how the doing comes from the being? Oh, nothing sticks. The walls start caving in when I stop spending real quality time with my Heavenly Dad. When I'm not quiet before God, I lose sight of who I am. I begin to believe that I am just a wife and mom. ("Just" haha). But before I am a wife or mom, I am a child of God. That's why the walls cave in. My days are spent with constant noise, chatter, even meaningful conversation. But not in prayer. Most of my time reading the Bible is interrupted by my fatigue, or siblings fighting, or a toddler waking up ready for breakfast. If I was going for a walk with my kids, I wouldn't have been able to just stand in my neighbor's yard talking to him, and I certainly wouldn't have pulled over if my van was full of our loud crew. If I was eating dinner at home or if we all went to Panera, I would not have gotten to read 2 whole chapters in a book. If I had, I don't know that I could've kept any of it straight or even realized the correlation with the scripture that I'm reading because I probably would've had a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old fighting over my lap. I don't know how many times I've felt guilty for trying to get away from my kids, but I'm beginning to think that maybe God is calling me away - just for a moment. Maybe He misses my undivided attention. Maybe there are ways that He can use just me instead of me and my crew. I am such a busy body that I focus more on Christ's example of healing and teaching and loving. But I tend to gloss over His example of praying.

In Matthew 6, Christ even tells us how to pray:
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
   9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
   ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
   on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
   as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
   but deliver us from the evil one.[b]
Notice that it says "when you pray". Not if. Notice that it says to close the door. We are supposed to be alone with God, praying for Him to come in power, for His will to be done, for Him to supply our needs for the day, for forgiveness and deliverance from evil. I am trying to think about what my life would look like if I daily obeyed Jesus'  command to pray like this. Can you picture it? Your life being lived under the umbrella of God's power, will, provisions, forgiveness, and deliverance? Why is this so hard to do? Why do I make excuses to not do this? 

I think my "New Year's Resolution" or maybe my right now resolution is to make this kind of praying a priority. I think that if I do, then I won't expect my children and my husband to help to make me whole. It won't be up to my boys' behavior or my husband planning out a morning of nothingness for me to keep the walls from closing in. I think that if I pray like this - intentionally alone with my Heavenly Father, I will be able to see His power in my life in much more radical ways. And I think you will too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


We got a letter in the mail the other day asking us to confirm that we will be starting our adoption classes, so I sent my email confirmation. A few days later, I received an email back confirming my confirmation. It was short and sweet, but it made me a little giddy and nervous and some other feeling that I just can't pinpoint. It's like a sad anxiousness. I think the email made it feel a little more real. We are really starting this process. We are really going to add a 4th child to this crazy mix. We really have a child out there waiting on us. We really will be responsible for raising and loving and molding and teaching 1 more human being. And there it is, that sad anxiousness. Sad because we really have a child somewhere waiting to feel that unconditional love that comes from a mom and a dad. I cannot even imagine the emotional struggles they have or the lies that Satan is just feeding him or her. And anxious because I doubt myself so much!

When you grow a baby in your womb and birth the baby and nurse the baby every 2 or 3 hours for a year and cuddle him close and swear to never let anything bad happen to him and give him the world and then the terrible twos hit and you get impatient or yell or aren't so kind when they misbehave, that's one thing. Not that it's ok to have those moments of not so great parenting. But you know that they know that they are loved and you know that they have never gone without and you know that they believe you when you tell them that you are sorry because you are broken and need God's grace just like they do. But when a child comes into your home filled with the lies that they were unwanted or not good enough or unloved or I don't even know what else, how does God's grace cover my imperfections? I mean, theologically I know that His grace does. I know that only His love heals any of our wounds and that it is only His grace that draws us to Him. But emotionally, I think that I am so unworthy to raise any of these children. What if I don't love well enough? What if I make the brokenness worse? What if I feed more lies to this child? Oh, doesn't this sound a little narcissistic? I know that I'm not the end all, but this is where I have such a hard time trusting God. See I know how many times I've had to get back up on the horse. I know how ugly and selfish I can be. But I also know how much my heart yearns for all children, especially my own - even the one(s) I haven't met. And so I'm left feeling anxious.

I started trying to think of scripture that would help me see that God is sufficient and that it's ok that I'm not perfect, but I couldn't even think of where to start. I've been reading through the Old Testament and how are Job, who is stuck in his self loathing (although I can't blame him), and Abraham, who keeps passing his wife off as his sister, and Lot, who fathers his grandchildren, going to teach me about how sufficient God is? I think that thought and it hits me because it's so obvious. Job was restored and healed. Abraham is the father of God's chosen people - the line that Christ came from! Lot was protected and rescued from the destruction of Sodom. And they all had some pretty major imperfections. But they loved God and sought God and God chose them. Yes, that is the key. I have been chosen by God. But not just chosen to go to heaven one day (which is amazing) or even just chosen to be loved and restored by my Heavenly Father (which I am so unworthy of), but I have been chosen to go and make disciples. I have been chosen to be the good Samaritan. I have been chosen to love my neighbor as myself. I have been chosen to work in Christ's amazing Kingdom and to be a part of His plans!

And it does not matter how many times I fail because I am just a lowly servant pointing these children to Christ. It will not be my love that will heal them and restore them and teach them about the stuff of eternity. It will be Christ who does all of that. There are so many unknowns. I don't know how to prepare or what to do. But I do know, from the wise words of Jill Briscoe, that the doing comes from the being. The only way I can do anything right, the only way I can love well and parent well and make my life point them to Christ is if I exist in Christ. Isn't that all any of us can really do?

When I start thinking about the "what if's" and how to deal with them in my own strength, I spiral. What will the sleeping arrangements be? How will we afford to modify our den into a bedroom? What if we find siblings? Will we have room for them? Are we supposed to be putting our energy into international adoption instead? Will all of my family treat our new child(ren) with as much love? Should I stop spanking all together? What if our adopted child doesn't want to be home schooled? Oh, and it can get crazier in my mind. But when I begin to realize that I serve a God who is ALL sufficient, who does not need me, but invites me to be a part of His work, I begin to walk in faith and to love a little more patiently and a little more kindly and a little more confidently because I am living out of Christ. And that is an amazing thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

What should we give our kids for Christmas?

I was at a Christmas symphony last week and one of the songs they played was from the movie The Polar Express. The director introduced the song and mentioned how beautiful the movie is, and I thought, "Yes, that one is a good one. We need to watch that soon." And then the other night we watched Elf and loved (most of) the comedy. In fact, my oldest son watches it throughout the year. But at some point in the movie, something occurred to me. So many Christmas movies lie to us. They tell us that Christmas spirit is all about believing in Santa. Have you noticed that? I don't know why it took so long for me to see this, but I do know that every year our family sits down and watches a stockpile of different Christmas movies that we own. We are filled with this magical feeling of Christmas, like we are a part of something magical when we step out in faith and believe . . . in Santa. I don't know that I've ever put words to it, but when I think about it, that's the feeling I have, and probably the feeling my children have. 

This realization about how our family has prepared for Christmas is honestly a little gut wrenching.  I was thinking about the Christmas movies that we've already watched this year, and I don't know that Christ was mentioned at all, nor do I remember even seeing one nativity scene. See, the truth is that Christmas spirit is all about believing in Christ, not Santa. Our society has made Christmas more about the "magic" of waking up Christmas morning and finding that one special present in the midst of a sea of other stuff. And when I think about it, how is that magical? How is indulging in our desires to have more stuff honoring Christ? 

I ask these questions because part of me still holds on to this desire to make Christmas "magical" for my kids. See, for at least two years now, I have felt convicted about filling our living room with presents Christmas Eve, but I have found ways to justify doing just that. Deep down, I don't want to take away that magical feeling of Christmas morning from my kids. But, as I was having this realization while watching Elf, I began to realize that we shouldn't strive for Christmas magic. We should strive for Christmas holiness. Isn't that what our deepest desires are anyways? Isn't that the best gift I can give my children? 

We bought a swing set for our kids this year. We personally are not spending a lot of money on it (maybe $50) because our whole family is pitching in. They readily wrote out checks for $100 or $200. But, what if my whole family did that for the people starving in Haiti or Africa or downtown Lakeland*?  What if the $600 that our swing set cost went to provide shelter for a homeless family for a month? What if even half of what I personally have spent on Christmas over the years went to something that would honor Christ? What would our world look like then? 

I don't know what it is about me that can have these realizations and still fear that my kids will grow up hating me and God if we don't make Christmas about the presents, but I do. So, I sat down with my 10 year old and started talking to him about this. I told him stories that I've read about families who sacrifice to give to the poor during the holidays. I told him that we are moving in that direction. I braced myself for the materialistic, hard heart that I've helped to cultivate in this boy to begin arguing his case for toys Christmas morning. But do you know what his response was? "I think I'd rather give to others than get more stuff." Aren't our deepest desires holiness? All I have to do is pave the path for holiness and my children will readily, hungrily run down it.

*I wanted to mention that some of my family did give a big chunk of money to help send my husband to Haiti. We are so grateful for their support!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Finding treasures this Christmas

 We put our Christmas tree up last weekend. I am a little bit of a control freak about the tree. Actually, I'm a little bit of a control freak period. I believe every year since we've been married, my husband has made some comment about it being time to put up our country bumpkin tree. I usually get slightly offended and defend our tree. It is not country bumpkin. Sure there are the few ornaments that my mom probably bought at Cracker Barrel, but there are Disney ornaments, and shiny ornaments, and Hallmark ornaments, and tons of baby ornaments. I shake off the offense and we then usually all put up the decorations together. And then I spend the rest of December rearranging the ornaments so that they are equally spaced and not clumped oddly (like too many snowmen together). I think I might have OCD. Some of you might have worse cases of OCD than I do and may disagree that I have it when you see the dust bunnies that occasionally appear, but I literally get tense and can feel my pulse quicken when I see clumps of ornaments on the tree. It's not just the tree that I end up being crazy about. I HAVE to have the living room picked up before we leave because I absolutely hate coming home to a cluttered house. I clean the hall bathroom a few times a day and am on my hands and knees picking up food under the table after most meals. And I have three children. Excuse me, I have three boys.

I've had friends who seem slightly amazed that my house is somewhat tidy. But there is absolutely nothing to be amazed at. See, this brokenness (yes, that's what it is) comes with a price. The cleanliness of my home costs us children who do not finger paint often enough. It is rare that I allow one of my boys to climb up on a stool and help mix batter. And I spend too much of our December preparing our home to look Christmas-y than preparing our hearts to celebrate the amazing miracle of Christ's birth.

So, I decided to make a change. I took out the ornaments this year and told myself that I would not rearrange the tree. It would remain however the children decorated it. I did have to move some of the non-breakables down so that the breakables could be up out of the reach of little hands. And we have had to put ornaments back on the tree after they became part of a battle or something. (It is really funny to watch a wise man fight with a shepherd.) I've had relapses where I've gotten onto the 2 year old for taking an ornament down or threatened the 4 year old that the train will go back in the box if he does not stop driving it all over the house. We will be making home made presents with paint and glitter and cut out cookies that will require flour getting all over. I am mentally preparing myself for these things. I am taking deep breaths when I see a battle scene between Santa and a snowman, and am trying to just give a gentle reminder to put them back on the tree when they're done playing.  And this year, when my husband commented on our country bumpkin tree, I noticed the sparkle in his eye and the smile on his face and realized that deep down he loves it. I still defended our little tree, but in a joking tone. I am slowly becoming proud of the wholes and clumped ornaments and our home that is now cluttered  more often than not. It means I am learning to let God control things.

See that is the brokenness of my "OCD". It means I don't have faith in God, but I instead put my trust in myself. I focus on the finite things that don't last, like trying to make my home perfectly clean. And a clean home definitely doesn't last long when there are three boys who live in it. Don't get me wrong, it does not mean that you don't have faith if you have a nice home. I still strive to keep my home clean, but constantly putting cleaning above allowing my children to explore and create and get a little messy is just not good for us. I am realizing that the treasure that I can build with a country bumpkin tree and home made presents that leave glitter everywhere for a month and memories of making cookies together and sticky hand prints are far richer than having a house that looks pretty and orderly.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Prince of Peace

I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon on Sunday. I usually walk away from a good sermon feeling at least a little convicted, though. Yesterday was not an exception.

See, I started my morning feeling tired and sleep-deprived. I did not get a lot of sleep Friday night because my sick 4 year old woke up screaming at the top of his lungs. A few hours after finally getting him back to sleep, I woke up to set up for a yard sale. Then Saturday night was spent next to the same sick child, who was tossing and turning and kicking me all night long. And on Sunday morning I was awakened to a very hungry and cranky 2 year old. I tried to fight the bad mood. I desperately wanted to wake my husband up and hand him our cranky child, but I decided to embrace the early morning and let everyone else sleep in.

Around 8 am, I decided that was enough sleeping in and it was time to get ready for church. I shook my husband awake and realized that he was not feeling well. That did it for me. I immediately threw myself a pity party. I was tired and worn out and couldn't I just get one full weekend of help? I started juggling breakfasts and clean-up and digging out clothes from the laundry baskets to dress the kids and trying to make time for a much needed shower for me, all the while grumbling in my head. When I got out of the shower, I saw that it was 10:20. (Church starts at 10:30). I went to check on the kids and saw that they were not doing what they were supposed to, so I hollered in my passive aggressive tone that I guess we wouldn't be going to church. When my husband groggily asked what he could do to help, I snapped, "Nothing. Just go back to bed. You're sick." What a way to prepare our hearts for worship, huh?

I started crying and praying to God. My prayer went something like, "God, this isn't fair. I am tired and worn out and I just want a healthy husband. I had three months of no help and now I can't even get a full weekend. I hate the rush and stress of it all. God, help me!" (Yes, this is pitiful.) And God's reply was, "Being on time is not my concern. That is not an eternal issue. Go love your husband. Tell him you are sorry. Be kind. Be grateful for your husband and three boys. Other wives and mothers do not have what you have." Ouch.

You would think that I immediately obeyed. (After all, isn't that what I tell my own children to do?) But no, I still fought God. I literally was arguing with God. I can't even remember what possible argument I had, but I felt fully justified in my immature, unloving behavior. As I argued, somehow, my heart slowly softened, and finally, right before I left for church with the kids, I apologized to my sick husband. I told him I was childish and it was so silly to have been mad at him for being sick. And the most amazing thing happened. As I started to apologize, I started to feel the weight of my anger drift away, and I started to feel an overwhelming amount of love and admiration for my patient husband. I don't know how much of a difference it made in his day, but it made a huge difference in mine.

We arrived at church right before the sermon, but after worship. But it didn't matter, I was still feeling blissful just from obeying my Father. Plus, the sermon was captivating. It was on Isaiah 9:6, which is very fitting for the Christmas season. It's the passage that says, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." But the message was not some happy go lucky Christmas message. My pastor talked about the state of the people who first heard this message. The Jewish leaders had gotten corrupt and had led their people astray. Isaiah had been prophesying about how they were about to be conquered, but here he stops and gives hope. God's chosen people were conquered, and then for years, the Jewish people clung to that glimpse of hope in Isaiah. They clung to the hope that one day, there would be a savior who would rescue them from their bondage. Can you imagine the anticipation? And here we are on the other side of this prophecy. We have seen it fulfilled. And do we live as though we have a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, and a Prince of Peace? I don't. I live like I am my own God. I do not live confidently because of who my heavenly father is. And I usually fight peace, like Sunday morning. That was the part of the sermon that convicted me, especially in light of how I had just acted an hour earlier.

Our pastor explained that the Peace that Christ is the prince of is not a lack of conflict kind of peace or a zen kind of peace. The word peace in the old testament is Shalom, which has a full rich meaning to it. It means that all is as God intended. You are fully right with God. Just typing that makes me a little giddy. See, that is what I felt in that moment when I finally obeyed God and apologized to my husband. It did not make me on time to church, or give me less to do. It did not give me children who were instantly compliant little angels. To obey my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace gave me Godly, supernatural peace. Even more amazing is that that kind of peace is always accessible to us. We always have the choice to focus on our own desires or on God's eternal ones. We always have the choice to notice how the grass is always greener somewhere else or to graciously accept what God has given (even when it is hard). We have this choice because we live on the other side of Christ's coming. We have experienced His power and have felt His Holy Spirit working in our lives. But so often, we take all that we have for granted. At least I do. So my prayer is that, on the other side of this amazing fulfilled prophecy, I will truly acknowledge Christ as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace that He is. And that is my prayer for you as well, especially in the midst of the business of the Holiday season.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Hello. I am a homeschooling mother of three boys and the wife of an amazing and supportive husband. We are just now beginning the journey of adoption. In the midst of all of our chaos, I decided to start a blog. I spent way to much time deciding whether or not I wanted to blog. I thought of all the reasons why I shouldn't blog. I might offend someone, or say too much. My life would be displayed on the internet. Who am I to share my ideas? I might feel rejected or fail. But then I thought of the reasons why I should blog. I might learn something from someone or brighten someone's day. I might have an outlet for all the stress that comes with this life. I might grow. I decided that the reasons why I shouldn't blog are really fears. And don't fears already dictate too much of my life already? I know that my God is not a God of fear, so I decided to go for it. Maybe you will read and laugh with me and cry with me as I share my life and my uncertainties and my blessings. Maybe you will read and think that this girl rambles on too much. Either way, I'm putting it out there with the hopes that as I process all that this life is and all that God offers that I might encourage you and be encouraged by you. Thank you for reading. I hope you visit again. :)