Sunday, November 27, 2011

30 days of thankful...days 25-27

Further and further apart these posts come...I know.  I so easily lose track of time these days!

Ok...I only have 3 more days left to fill, and I am realizing how difficult it will be to narrow it down.  What do I leave out?  I look around, at my life and my home and my blessings and realize I could count every day for a lifetime and still there would not be enough days to thank Him.

Eternity sounds even sweeter as I realize this.

Now I know that may seem impossible in a household of seven.  I remember before children, how I would weep over the barrenness and cry out "I am tired of having a quiet house."
And I was.
I guess the quiet I speak of now is different.  It is the quiet of 5 little hearts content.  It is the quiet of everyone occupied with work or play and just being.  It is knowing that the quiet will not last more than 30 seconds very long and that the lively sounds of feet running down the stairs or a voice or three yelling "Mom!" will pierce the silence and the cacophony that is our normal will resume.  This type of quiet is is catching my breath before the next adventure and maybe even getting the chance to sit and be with Him for a few stolen moments.

#26...lotion on brown skin
Winter can be brutal on the skin of my children, making their skin ashen and dry.  But a palmful of lotion, rubbed and massaged and scented in all sorts of fabulous scents, is like watching a miracle.  Their skin transforms and becomes like dark chocolate or caramel, depending on which child I am applying it, and I cannot resist the urge to plant a kiss on that suddenly smooth knee or that creamy little belly.  I love those moments.

#27...our anniversary
It is coming soon...for the sixteenth time.  I look at my calendar and marvel that I was once 23 and cute and unwrinkled and he was 22 and a total dream and thought I was worthy of his name.  I marvel even more that he still looks at me that way...and I thank God for these years.  Things did not turn out like we expected...not even close.  We had no idea what God would do, but does anyone?  We both have changed, but we have changed together.  I love this time of year and the memories it evokes.  And I would marry him all over again, yes I would.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

30 Days of thankful...days 22-24

As I write this my heart is bursting with happiness.  I just spent the afternoon welcoming a beautiful little girl from Uganda into her family and our sweet circle of friends.  One year ago, when I came home with Mari, my friend had no idea what the next year would hold in store for her.  NO idea.  But God was working behind the scenes and now my friend just came home with her fifth child...a daughter from the Pearl of Africa.
I am overcome.

So here I am contemplating 3 more days (because I am behind again, I know)  and I have to begin with...

#22...watching my friends adopt.

When our first three children were born, we were the "pioneers" in our group of friends.  No one we knew, at least no one who lived around us, had yet walked that road.  After we settled here, God started bringing adoptive families into our lives one by one.  Then our friends, several who already had biological children, began to feel the nudge to adopt and now...well it has literally exploded in our community.
Every time a watch a friend walk this journey, my heart rejoices.  Not only because a child is coming home but also because they will now, finally, know what I have tried to communicate but have difficulty putting into words.  Like so many God-moments, until you live it you really cannot imagine what it is like.
So today another friend  knows...really knows the miracle He works when He binds your heart forever to a child who does not share your DNA.  Tonight she looks at her new daughter, freshly home and overwhelmed and in complete culture shock, and watches her breathe.  Today another family gets to live that little slice of Heaven...

#23...Hot apple cider.
I am drinking it now.  Mulling spices float at the top and the scent fills my home.  Winter is coming, and I am happy.  My children sip at their mugs carefully but can't wait for it to cool because it just smells so good.  DJ comes back for seconds and then runs back upstairs to finish watching the football game with his Dad.  I love this time of year.

Today I look around my table and marvel at how full and alive and busy my home is.  Cooking recipes that I grew up watching my mama prepare for us, and then seeing them smile as they chow down makes me happy. Sitting back with full bellies...well, I do not take that for granted because so many are hungry.  So many go without tonight while we eat leftovers.  We are blessed...abundantly blessed.  As we celebrated today, and shared what we are thankful for, Mari spoke up and said "I am thankful for my own home."  We all took a breath and waited...

then she polished off her green bean casserole and said, "Mom, this is did not make me sick!"

I think that is a compliment.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.  May you see the blessings, one by one, that He so freely gives.  May you be awed by His mercy, moved by His love, and inspired to share the endless love of Jesus with those who so desperately need Him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

30 days of thankful...days 20 & 21

#20...2 refrigerators, stocked.
I often marvel after a grocery shopping trip.  I step back and look at my refrigerator in the kitchen, overflowing into the spare in the garage.  They are often crammed tight with good food...especially now as I prepare for Thanksgiving.  I know this is a luxury.  I know there are literally hundreds of millions of people who would give anything for what languishes on one shelf of those refrigerators.  We never go without.  We eat three squares a day plus plenty of snacks and I know that we usually take it for granted.
But then I look back at pictures of Africa...I remember Mari's thin frame and swollen belly that broke my heart the first time I bathed her.  She has forgotten, mercifully, but I have not.  She, just like her siblings, knows there is a pantry full of food that guarantees she will eat and eat well.  She doesn't remember the hunger that drove her birthmother to make the most painful decision of her life, so her daughter would "get to grow up."
I don't want to forget.  I want to eat thankfully and share generously.  I want to be a good steward of this blessing of abundance.  I want to remember that, though it is easy to zip down to the store when I need a gallon of milk, that milk still comes from Him and circumstances could easily change.  I want to keep that awareness of my desperate need for Him in every detail of life, because we are the sheep of HIS pasture.

Music is truly powerful.  Songs move me deeply and stir memories that were thought to be forgotten.  They also snap me out of myself, at times, and refocus my spiritual eyes on the One who is the author of the most beautiful Song ever written.  I heard a new song a few days ago...Chris Tomlin's new recording of "How Great is our God" from his latest "Essentials" album.  This version is different because it has tracks recorded around the world...several different languages singing this beautiful song together.
It gave me chills the first time I heard it because I know every word to that song, so when it is being sung in Spanish, French, or Africanz I know what they are saying.  And it is so beautiful.
It struck me hard when I listened to it again struck me how the Lord hears worship in every language all at once and He understands perfectly every single word that is sung to Him.  It reminded me of going to church in Ethiopia and standing amongst a congregation of 62 nations as we all sang out to Him...sang songs I knew from home.  How beautiful to think of the family of God, and to have that reminder of how big our God is that he gathers us ALL safely into His arms and adopts us all into His family so we can sing...many voices singing one song to Him.
Yes, I am thankful for Worship.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

30 days of thankful...days 18 & 19

#18...I am thankful for my girls' curls.
Oh, the fun of fixing and caring for hair that is everything mine is not!  Braids, beads, twists, and 'fros...ponytails and dog-ears, cornrows and conditioner...lots and lots of conditioner.  :)  I love the beauty of their hair...all three heads so unique in texture, color, and curl pattern.  Sometimes they struggle, they resist the combing and wish for thin and straight hair that hangs down.  But I don't.  I pray, as they grow, that they will see themselves as God sees them:  Beautiful young ladies of color with glorious hair meticulously created by their Father.

#19...I am thankful the look on Gracie's face today as we took down the Fall decorations and began to transform our house for Christmas.  She is my artistic one and I can let her have free reign with a handful of knickknacks and the child will create an incredibly beautiful arrangement!  Plus, in her excitement, she put on her Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker CD and plied around the house in happiness.  :)
Yes, I am a week early and totally breaking personal tradition.  But we had nothing going on today, which NEVER happens in this family, so I figured I should take advantage of the downtime and pull the boxes out of the attic!  The tree is not up...yet.  But the garlands are on the banisters and the boxes are sorted, poised and ready to make magic.  I love Christmas...

But I love Thanksgiving as well, so I am trying to pace myself!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

30 days of 16 & 17

It seems I am on a "every other day" kinda roll, doesn't it!  Well here I go with more gratitudinous (is that a word?  probably not) posting.  :)

#16  I am thankful for coffee.
Ok, ok, you KNEW it had to be on this list, right?  I mean the whole URL for this blog is coffee-dependent, as is it's writer!
Starbucks, JustLove (My the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe), mochas, lattes, cream and's all good.  Fresh ground, french pressed...ah, now that is the way to start a morning!
But why?  For me, it is the routine...the sitting down in the quiet of morning with steaming cup o' joe in one had and my Bible and pen in the other.  A sip and a sigh in the middle of Isaiah and my morning is just right.

#17  I am thankful for the fireplace in my kitchen.
It is just now getting fired up (pardon the pun!) regularly and takes the nip off the cold floor when I stumble in before the aforementioned coffee.  The best part?  It is remote controlled.  I am not kidding.  Press a button and "poof" it is on.  No ashes, no mess, and we can save the wood for the outdoor marshmallow roasts that make Fall worth living.  I love to cuddle up under a blanket with a kid or five and watch the flames dance.  Maybe even read a good book if I'm lucky!  Coming in from outside, little hands run straight to it's warmth and pause, waiting for the chill to subside.  Wet boots and socks hang over the screen, dripping as they warm up.  The heat travels up the stairs, making the 2nd floor toasty warm...and little kids in their beds a bit sweaty.      We eat and play and relax by it's warmth, and I am thankful for those peaceful moments that a fireplace in my kitchen creates.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

30 days of 14 & 15

#14...I am thankful for technology that allows me to be in contact instantly with friends around the world.  Skyping, email, is really amazing when I stop to think about it.  Our world really has gotten small...and I love it.  I love chatting with friends in Ethiopia and Uganda, watching live pictures stream in of friends and their new little ones in Korea, and reading updates of missionary friends in South America, Europe, Asia, and well as just knowing "what's up" with so many dear ones that I might have lost touch with if it wasn't for this gift of communication God has given us!

#15...I am thankful for my camera.  Seeing life through a lens...focusing in on what is important and cropping out what is not.  Capturing that quick smile...or that far away look.  Gathering evidence to present when they are older and swear they NEVER did that.  My camera is the safety net of my when my memory fails the photos will serve to remind me of these sweet days...of chocolate on faces and impromptu hugs.  Of shared treats and dogs used as pillows.  Of the pile of kids on the couch, content to watch cartoons and rest limbs akimbo on each other in sweet contentment.  Of productive, and not-so-productive, school days...heads bent over paper, pencils askew, crayons scribbling all waxy and not quite in the lines.  Yes, my camera helps me to remember...and to be intentional about making sure the moments count.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

1 year home

One year ago today, my sweet Mari set foot on American soil for the very first time.
I am amazed at what this past year has held.
I have written almost every month about her progress...about the joys and challenges of adopting a child who comes with grief and fear and hope...and now here we are one year later and I marvel at what God has done.
In the past 2 months we pulled her out of preschool and breathed a sigh of relief as what appeared to be the final hurdle in her attachment was succesfully crossed.  She needed me.  She liked school, she wanted school, but she needed her family.  She was disappointed in our decision at first, but in a matter of 3 days I knew it had been the right one.  I told her that I knew she liked school, but it did not seem to be good for her and that I love her and I want to be her teacher.
Now she she sees that I want her home in the daytime.  I want to be the one who comforts her when she is afraid.  I want to be the one who teaches her ABC's and 123's and I was not sending her to school for me, but because I thought she would enjoy it.  Now she knows I am willing to do anything for her...that being with her is joy and that her emotional and spiritual health is of utmost importance to us.   She has settled in and settled down and has said "I love you" at least a million times since.  I was most proud of Drew, who had rather enjoyed his one-on-one pre-K lessons.  When I told him Mari was going to do pre-K with him he grinned, put his arm around her and said "You can share my desk!"
Thank you, Jesus.
She talks so freely to me now, and has filled in gaps that had been in my memory from the days and weeks in Ethiopia...when I was with her and when she was waiting for us.  She remembers being excited and nervous all at the same time and longs for kids like her who wait to have a family...even offering to "share our Mommy and Daddy with them."  She remembers the night she had a meltdown before dinner in Ethiopia and I had NO idea what was wrong and finally could tell me that, when I took her upstairs to get her sippy cup she thought I was going to leave her in the room.  She remembers details of that week and her homecoming that blow me away.  She is SO smart.  On the 1 year anniversary of her "gotcha day" last week, she came downstairs wearing the shirt she was wearing on that day!  Again, her understanding blows me away.  She knows her life was changed, she knows we treasure her story, and she knows that part of Africa came home with her that day and that one of these days our family will happily journey back to visit, to love, and to serve.
Her behavior is so normal now.  She still is catching up in some ways emotionally, but really I don't have any more issues with her than I have with with Drew, who is just 3 months older.  She responds beautifully to consistent and clear boundaries, loving and firm discipline, and positive reinforcement.  We can't be lax with her, for she needs rock-solid boundaries in order to feel secure and have self-control.  We allow choices when the choices are no big deal, but for the most part she thrives knowing we are in charge and "have her back" at all times.
Oh, the books I could write on what God has taught me about my need for Him in this past year.  Watching her life be redeemed and transformed has been a huge blessing and I feel so honored that He has placed our family on this path.  How He longs to do the same for all of us!  To shower us with Fatherly love, to transform and redeem our lives and give us the security of knowing we can live in freedom without fear because He "has our back"...the parallel is so beautiful.
My friends, how I long for you all to experience this amazing journey.  If you feel the nudge to adopt, do not be afraid for the Lord goes before you and gives you wisdom and strength you did not know you had.  He lights the next step and blesses you with understanding of His heart that you could not learn any other way.  You will feel a love grow within you for this child that is such a gift...whether they come home at 2 days old or 12 years old...the Lord is the giver of good gifts and He rejoices to bind your heart with your child's and make you fully and completely a family in every sense of the word.  The call to adopt is truly an honor...and I pray you will step forward in faith and don't miss out on what He has for you!
If you are not called to adopt, you are called to do something.  (James 1:27)  Sponsor a child, foster a child, go on mission to love and give hope, help other families who are called and are working to raise money for their adoptions, give generously to those who are being the hands and feet of Jesus to the 147,000,000 orphans who all have captured the heart of God.  He holds them close, as should we all.

One year ago I journeyed across continents and oceans to place a scared, overwhelmed, and tiny little girl into the arms of her father and into the safety of our home.
Today we sat next to our daughter and her 4 siblings at McAlister's deli as she ate a PB&J with applesauce, chatting happily about what she learned in Sunday School.  She held my hand as we prayed, she leaned her head lovingly against my shoulder as we ate, and she played with her brothers and sisters all afternoon as if she had always been here.

Because, somehow, in God's kingdom, I believe she has.

Psalm 139:16
Your eyes saw my unformed body; 
all the days ordained for me were written in your book 
before one of them came to be.

30 days of thankful...days 11, 12, and 13

I was out of town this weekend for one of Katie's swim girl time, especially since we shared the weekend with one of my BFF's and her sweet daughter!  Late nights and busy days have marked this past week and I finally crashed today and napped...which is SO not normal for me.  I slept for an hour, and finally was awakened by snoring....who was that anyway?


Anywho...I am again behind on my blogging but will promptly get caught up right here and now.

#11 on my thankful list...
Healthy Children
I do not take this for granted.  I have five beautiful, healthy, strong, and athletic kids and I know that this is a huge blessing.  I know that all of that could change in the blink of an eye, so I want it to be clear that I am truly thankful for this blessing.  The moments of fear have been few, only a couple of ER visits and broken bones...ear infections and the like...but those moments were enough to make me imagine what families go through who know the hospital all too well.  How they would give anything to have a diagnosis of no big deal, just an ear infection, here is a prescription and she should feel better in a couple of days.  Thank you, Lord, for health and strength and life.

Boys who love to be together
DJ and Drew are on the floor in a pile of arms and legs and breathless laughter with a football somewhere in the mix as I type.  Drew has broken a sweat in all of his exertion and the two of them are just enjoying these moments of brotherly fun.  I love these sweet times.  They sit now and share gum and smack it like boys do, bonding over a video game and side-by-side, expressions intense and matching and thumbs flying as they discuss strategy and smack that gum some more.  The recliners are back and they are settled in for a good match-up and dirty socks twitch with intensity as they get lost in their play.  DJ instructs Drew and Drew feels so important to be part of this big-boy play with his incredibly cool big brother.  Yes, these are indeed sweet times.

Little mommies
Sometimes my girls get lost in their pretend world of baby dolls and playing house.  They get so caught up in it that I have a hard time knowing if their conversations are real or if they are referring to each other as "Mom."    I get sideways glances if I answer because they are not talking to me...but to whoever has been designated the Mom that day...usually Katie.  They diaper and feed and rock and shop and stroll with their dolls as my heart gets a little snapshot of the future...the glimpse of the sweet mothers I pray they will be someday.  I hear my words come out of their mouth and marvel that they are not conscious of the fact that they are saying what I have said to them so many times...what was once said to me.   They talk about how they "got" their they adopted their 12 or 15 kids...and I rejoice at the legacy the Lord is giving us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

30 days of 10

Day 10...I am thankful for afternoon quiet.  I am not one who needs lots of "alone time"...which is a good thing!  I just need a few minutes to catch my sit in quiet and kick off my shoes and let my mind drift just a little.  Just a few minutes.  Right now my kids are playing contentedly outside on this sunny, chilly day.  Our Ethiopian guests are resting and I am upstairs alone.  Just for a few minutes.  It is almost time to pick up Katie from swim practice, and then the busyness of dinnertime, baths, and bedtime will begin.  Tomorrow morning will begin early as our friends pack up to go to their next bless another church full of souls with their sweet worship and joyful spirits.  We will miss these girls, yes we will.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

30 days of 9

Day 9...I am thankful for the sound of children, lost in worship.  From the beautiful voices of a childrens' choir to the sound of sweet Drew singing to Jesus before he falls asleep, my heart fills and my eyes brim with tears every single time.  How their sweet worship must please Him!

Tonight I watched with my spirit singing as the Holy Spirit moved in my church...14 little ones sang to the Lord and put sweet faces on the unimaginable number of orphans in our world.  The Lord is working, and hearts were touched.  Adoption applications were taken, children were sponsored through Compassion, and eyes were opened to the magnitude of this God-sized problem with a Jesus-sized answer.  What a privilege to be a part of His work, to have sweet accents in my  home and friends all over the be truly part of His body that reaches the ends of the earth.
Yes, what a privilege.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30 days of 7 and 8

My home is filled today with sweet African accents and Amharic conversation once again, and my heart is burdened to pray for these precious girls who long for a forever family.  T and M have stolen Katie's heart and she is begging for "just two more sisters"...ahem.  T is convinced that Katie is Ethiopian...and it didn't help that Katie showed T her Ethiopian dresses and money!  They came downstairs holding hands within 5 minutes and my heart just sang with joy.  Mari showed them her photo album from Ethiopia and what fun it was for them to realize the people and places they have in common!  T and M were so surprised to see photos of their nannies in our home and exclaimed in delight at the pictures of Yonas, Dawit, Robel, and Eyob...our precious friends and brothers in Ethiopia who serve the adoptive families of America World.

So on day 7 (which was yesterday, I know!) I am thankful for my home with plenty of room for a visitor or ten and the blessing of a large table at which to share a meal with friends.

On day 8 I am thankful for the happy mess that is Autumn.  Piles of leaves and ten arms and legs sticking out of them in all directions...such wonderful kid happiness.  I cannot wait to introduce our sweet Ethiopian visitors to these big leaf piles and fun tomorrow!

ETA:  As we walked into our church to pick up our new friends, Mari took my hand and asked if these kids have a family.  "No,"  I said, "they don't yet.  But we are going to pray for God to give them a Mommy and Daddy."  
She didn't miss a beat...and said, "They can share our Mommy and Daddy."
Out of the mouths of babes, I tell you.  She remembers waiting.  She remembers...and she knows what it is like to long, to wonder, to hope.  I have to believe that the prayers of my daughter are soaring to the heavens, straight to the ears of God, powered with faith that moves mountains.  Oh, my heart.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

30 days of 5 and 6

Ok, ok, you KNEW I couldn't keep it up, right?  I mean, blogging every day for 30 days when I had been lucky to get in one per month for the past year?


Last night we had a sweet brother and sister over for dinner who we have been blessed to get to know through a local ministry to international students.  They are here from Malaysia, and what a blessing they are becoming to our family!  This week, we will be hosting two beautiful Ethiopian princesses who travel with an international childrens' choir in our home.  So the natural outflow of all of this international exposure?


Thus...#5 on my thankful list is this big, beautiful world that our God has made.  That in the span of a week I can be talking on the phone to one of my BFF's in Uganda as she and her husband jump through incredible legal hoops to bring home their new daughter, then have dinner with a Malaysian brother and sister, then have the joyful sounds of Ethiopian friends living in my home for a few days just blesses my socks off.  It is a teeny tiny slice of Heaven...and I really can't comprehend how incredible it will be when every nation, tribe and tongue will worship together at His throne!

#6...I must say, #6 is my church.  Small in stature, but big in love...we have been part of this sweet congregation for about a year and OH MY how God is working!  We are taught good, meaty truth every single week, encouraged to be hands on in serving the Lord, and backed up with prayer and support when opportunities arise to engage in His work.  Today I had the privilege of manning a table in our foyer with a friend and hearing our pastor preach on James voice from the pulpit on this cause that is so dear to my heart.  I had the privilege of answering hard questions by members of our church regarding what, exactly, this involves...and to realize that God is truly stirring the hearts of His people to care for the least of these.
Right next to us was another table encouraging the church to pack shoe-boxes for Samaritan's Purse and it was thrilling to realize how many angles this calling can take.  Caring for orphans and widows can be done in many forms and if we ALL do what God has called US to do, well I truly believe we as a church would make a huge difference in this so-very-needy world.  This world desperately needs to see Jesus at know he IS alive and real and involved in the details of our lives and we, as His body, have no shortage of opportunity to be His hands and feet and serve.  We can live out the reality that is Jesus Christ every single day by loving those who, as our pastor said today, have nothing to give us in return.

Friday, November 4, 2011

30 days of 4

Well this is obvious, but it must be said:

I am thankful for my five beautiful brown babies.

Five kids who were placed in my arms by the very hand of God...
and who have since given me ever-deepening wrinkles and an urgent need for highlights in my hair.
Kids who cause me to go without makeup more often than not, then exclaim in happy surprise when I do manage to emerge from my bathroom with warpaint because...
"Mom, you look pretty!"  (Insert did you walk in like that and come out like that expression)

Bare Minerals makeup is my friend, just fyi.

Hot breakfasts are a rarity...unless you count the microwave pancakes and frozen waffles, thanks to the presence of 5 babes under my roof and in my kitchen.

Sometimes we just wing it...go all crazy and stuff and have fruit with our chicken nuggets...because mom is gourmet like that.

My kids are responsible for the piles of laundry, the dishes, the leaves on my carpet, and the glue in my hair.  They are the reason my fingernails have not seen nail polish in at least a year, and for my toenails having white crackle paint that stayed on WAY past cute and quirky until they were just, um, trashy.
They are the reason I am learning American History again...and Geography...and oh heck I might as well be honest, 4th grade math.  Ok?  Are ya happy?

My kids make me notice things that, before, escaped my vision...worms, creepy-crawlies, a perfect red leaf in the grass, and that cloud shaped like Jesus.

My kids have stretched my imagination and my heart...and they have been better teachers than I ever hope to be.  They love me unconditionally...even when I embarrass them by getting FIVE STARS on THRILLER while playing the Michael Jackson Experience (oh yes I did!!)  They hide their face in shame when I dance in the car, while wearing a big black afro because DJ changed HIS mind about wearing it and didn't believe me when I said I would.  I turned up "Stayin' Alive" loud enough for neighboring cars to hear and relished their groans of embarrasment and uncontrollable laughter at this crazy woman they call Mom.

My kids fight and bicker and laugh and love and learn and play and make messes and sometimes clean up and make me crazy busy and darn it all if I don't love them  more than life and wish time would just slow down for crying out loud.

My kids are a part of me...etched into my soul.  I am a mom because I am their mom, their REAL mom in every important and God-defined sense of the word.  I am fulfilled because my arms and my life are filled to overflowing by five busy, energetic, strong-willed, and hilarious children who suck every shred of energy from me by the end of the day until I go skidding sideways into my bed and pass out in the middle of the first paragraph of that book I have intended to read for over a month now.

Yes, I am thankful that I am never going to remember what it was like to have a quiet house because I am that barren woman whom the Lord settled in her home as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord and thank you, Jesus!

Oh, and is it wrong that I may not tell them about the impending time change for a couple of days after?  I mean, y'all, it's a whole extra HOUR!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30 Days of Thankful...Day 3

I am thankful for my husband.

I remember those early days of our marriage, when I thought I was so in love with him.

I had no idea.

As the "new" wore of and life set in, as hard days came and we learned to weather storms, then and only then did I realize the depth of love.

When he sat by my bed as I lay aching from exploratory surgery.  When I fearfully whispered that I had failed him by being unable to bear children, and he said "I married YOU for you, not for a baby."  When in my sleep I felt him place his hand upon my belly and I knew he was silently praying.

Then I felt the depth of love.

When I at long last held our first baby in my arms, he sat behind me, weeping.

When he wept at the placement of three more babies...and at the arrival of our last child home.

When he lays on the floor and lets them all climb on him and pull and tug at his limbs and wrestle and laugh...

When he lets DJ stay up past his bedtime to watch sports, I act annoyed at the late morning that I know will result, but I silently thank God for the way they enjoy each others' company.

When he gets SO excited about a weekend alone with me...after nearly sixteen years of me.

Then I feel the depth of love.

He is my stability.  His words hold more power over my heart than any other person on this earth.  His prayers fall on my ears like gentle rain, soothing my soul and settling my spirit.
He is the spiritual leader of my home...becoming more so, more confident in this place of responsibility, with each passing year.  He is adored by our children, met with squeals of joy and forceful hugs as he walks through the door.

(I can assure you my arrival is NOT met with such, um, festivity...I'm just sayin'.)

He is God's gift to me, given when I was so lost.  He was there when I accepted Jesus...leading me to the throne of God for the very first time.  He watched as I followed the Lord in baptism and stuck with me through all the growing pains of my early walk with God.

Our life has not turned out like we originally planned...not even close.  We never dreamed we would live like this...five beautiful brown babes, homeschooling, and living far from any family who could serve as respite.
No, this is not how we planned is better.

I am so thankful to share this journey with him.  So thankful that he puts up with all of my quirks and weirdness and wacky ideas.  So thankful that he loves me in the best and worst of times and believes in me when I can hardly believe it myself!

My sweetheart, I am truly, from the bottom of my heart, thankful for you.

I love you.

Thank you for showing me the depths of love.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

30 Days of Thankful...Day 2

Today, I am thankful for a condition that has marked my body for sixteen years...


Through this thorn in my flesh, I came to know God more deeply than I had ever known Him before.  Those years of waiting, of longing, of grasping for that carrot that seemed always just beyond my reach...
those years taught me more than a million hours of seminary every could.

God grew me in those years.  He grew me in ways that I have difficulty putting into words.  He showed me how to lay down my sword and let Him fight.  He showed me the meaning of trust.
He let me run out of words and hit the wall, so that in my brokenness I would fall into the arms of my sisters in Christ and let them intercede.

Because the blessing of the journey was never meant just for me.

He showed Himself strong in my weakness.  He brought out the tender warrior in my husband.
He loved me through it and, even before the promise was fulfilled, he made me thankful for the pain.

I remember...looking into her eyes and she wept..."I don't know if I will ever be able to have a baby"...and I was able to honestly say, from the depths of my soul,

"You are going to be okay.  You will learn so much from this.  He will get you through and you will somehow thank Him for this pain."

Yes, I said it, and I meant it.

I still do.

Five children later, I am still leaning on the lessons He taught me in those years.  As new challenges arise, and new worries threaten my heart, I look back on these stones of remembrance...every time He came through, how He never even one time failed me...and I hold onto those stones with hands clenched for dear life, lest I drop one.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.  (Psalm 9:10)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 days of thankful...Day 1

So my bloggy friends have started a November thing...and being the "I'm not gonna jump on a bandwagon" type I hesitated because I always...ALWAYS...want to be sincere.  But then I realized if I can't be sincere about this, I have a problem.
So here I am, jumping on the blogging more than once a month  going to be creative with these posts if it kills me  thankfulness bandwagon with gusto!

Where do I even start?  Do you KNOW how much I have to be thankful for?

You don't?

Well let me tell least, the first one.  I DO want you to come back so I will have to leave some of the goodies for later.

I hope it is quite obvious.
I am thankful for my Jesus.
The Son of God.
The Living Water.
The perfect atonement for my sins...because, boy, there are many.
I am thankful that He love me perfectly and completely even when I am at my most unlovable, that I can crawl back up into His lap and know He rejoices in my return...and once again washes me white as snow.
I am thankful that Jesus loves my family more than I could ever dream, that when I worry and pray and worry (Did I say that already?  Silly me.) that HE has them covered.  That He has promised beauty from ashes, grace and mercy unending, that the hard days are part of the journey and that they WILL pay off in wonder at how He has woven this tapestry of our lives into a beautiful work of art.  That iron sharpens iron and the refining of our hearts will result in His reflection being perfectly seen in us.  That words of promise have been spoken that we can and must hold onto when the waves are rough and the storm rages around us.
Yes, I am thankful for this Jesus who calms the storm.  Who gives peace and reassurance.  This Jesus who changed my life so completely that I can hardly remember life before Him.  This Jesus who purified my heart and left me with a complete distaste for what was once temptation.  He showed me how to catch a vision for my family, how to live differently, how to not follow the norm but follow Him.  He works in ME to will and to act according to His purpose and it blows me away.
Nothing I do can be accredited to me.  Parenting my children, the decision to homeschool, the path our family-building has taken.  Nothing.  It is ALL Him.  And I love Him so much.