Monday, December 31, 2012

...and the angels rejoiced

"Mama, what is Communion?"

Drew looked at me with intensity, really wanting to understand.  We were preparing leave home and drive to church for the Christmas Eve service while explaining to the younger ones what to expect.

"It is for people who have asked Jesus into their heart.  We eat bread and drink juice to remember his death on the cross for us."

"I want to do that," he said emphatically.

"Take Communion?  Well, when you ask Jesus into your heart you will get do do that."

"I have!" he insisted.

I looked at him, studied his 6 year old face.  He had been talking about this for weeks, and we had put him off a bit...wanting to be sure he really understood what it meant.  But as I looked into those big brown eyes, I saw a fierce determination that I could not deny.  He was ready.  I found his daddy and brought him into the conversation.

"Do you know what it means to be a Christian?" asked Daddy.

"Yes!" he insisted...obviously frustrated at these grownups who didn't seem to understand plain English.  "He died on the cross to pay for our sins."

"Then what?"


"What happened after he died on the cross and was buried?"

"Oh, well he came back to life."

"That's right,"  said Daddy.  "So you want to be a Christian?  Do you want to do it when we go to church?"

Drew shook his adorable head.

"You want to do it now?"


The three of us walked back into our bedroom, away from the noise of the house.  My heart was pounding at the holiness of what was about to the determination I saw in my son.  We sat on the bed with him between us, our hands on his back, and Daddy led him in prayer...
"I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me.  I know that he was buried and rose again on the third day.  I want to follow him."

I wiped away my tears and looked at my little boy suddenly made new.  Daddy gently instructed him that what he did was forever, that he never needed to doubt and wonder, that he never needed to do this again. He now has the Holy Spirit living in him.  He is safe in the palm of God's hand...his name is written in the Lamb's book of life.

We gathered up the kids and went to church.  I was an emotional lump...singing praises to my faithful God with new joy as I watched the face of my baby boy glow.  He sang his little heart out.  Daddy guided him through his very first Communion...calmly telling him to hold the bread in his hand until we all ate together, holding the tiny cup of juice for him to prevent a spill.  Then the piece de resistance...they played his very favorite song:  Jesus Messiah.  Drew looked at me with his huge grin and belted out every word.  This was no accident.  God had it all orchestrated, of that I am convinced.  And oh, the delight as he sang to his Heavenly Father.  I watched him through tears and thanked God with every breath for the salvation of my son.

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed redeemer
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Oh the joy of Christmas!  It is here!  He is born!

As we welcome anew our savior, I just want to share something that blesses my heart each year.
We have heard this song performed live during Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God concert for the past two years.   If you ever get the chance to attend, this concert will prepare your heart for Christmas like nothing else I have ever experienced!  We got to hear it at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.  There are no words to describe the atmosphere of that place...charged with the Holy Spirit and filled with worship.
A little slice of Heaven, oh yes indeed.
This song is called "Labor of Love."  It is such a beautiful description of what it must have been like to be be young and scared and entrusted with giving birth to her Creator.  It reduces me to tears every time.  This is Christmas.

Remember, my friends.  This is not a fairy tale or just a sweet story.  God really became man.  He put aside His glory and was born...held and nursed in the arms of a young teenage girl.  Amidst livestock and filth and poverty He came.
He came for you.  He came for me.  He was born to die, for you and for me, while we were hopelessly and unrepentantly lost in sin.  He is gone now...for a little while.  
But He promised he would return.  
No matter what the earthly future holds, we can hold on to that promise with all that is within us!
We have this hope as an anchor for our soul...firm and secure.  

Merry Christmas, and God bless us...every one!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Winding down...and a question for you.

It is Christmas Eve eve...or what several of my friends have been calling "Christmas Adam!"
I am struck by the lack of activity in my house.

It is quiet, y'all.  That is weird in my world.

Soon we will wind the day down with our Advent devotional and bedtime preparations.  I will peruse the pantry to be sure all is in place for the beginning of tomorrow's pre-Christmas food prep.  But this year, Christmas has been more calm than any year I can remember since having children.
I think I like it.
I'm sure it is because we are not traveling.  Another bonus is my dear hubby took off from work this week so we have really had just a lot of down time.  Almost on the verge of (dare I say?) boredom.


In all this down time, my wheels have been turning.  I find myself longing to go deeper whether it is in the books I read or the websites I visit.  I want more...I want to know more of Christ, I want to to know more of how to live as a wife and mother and woman for Him in this culture that is so quickly spiraling downward. I want to be a light in darkness, to raise up a quiver of bright arrows who soar for Him.  I want, more than anything, to hear "well done" when I stand face-to-face with my King.

As, I'm sure, you do as well.

So I have a question.  Besides the obvious first stop of the Word of God for wisdom, where do you go when you need encouragement?  Where do you learn about mothering and marriage and being a godly woman who swims upstream?  I would love suggestions, whether it is a book, website, or whatever.
I want to start the new year off on purpose.  Maybe we could do it together?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blessed to be a Blessing

We baked four dozen cookies.  Chocolate chip, of course.  We wrapped them up in pretty cellophane bags, topped with a bright candy cane and curly ribbon.  Then I loaded up this rowdy group of five and drove down the road to the retirement home.

I hesitated, not knowing how to approach this.  My kids were shy at first, but I did not want this to be about me, supermom, taking my kids out to show off their incredible parenting.  I wanted this to be about humility, service, and giving of ourselves.  I wanted my children to experience loving someone they've never met because we love God and want to share that love.   I stepped back and let my kids do the talking.  The youngest ones, of course, were the least inhibited and I watched with a giant lump in my throat as my babies lived out the other half of James 1:27...visiting orphans and widows in their distress.

They walked shyly from room to room.  The sweet grandmas and grandpas were overjoyed at the sight of fresh young faces.  They patted cheeks, they hugged, and they just said over and over again "Thank you so much!"

I was a mess.  I couldn't control the tears any longer as my youngest two stood with a precious grandma and just showered her with smiles and hugs.  She could not have cared less about the cookies.  She just wanted to soak in these children.  It was beautiful.  Room by room we gave, smiled, wished "Merry Christmas" and soon even the older ones' reservations faded and they were embracing the sweet grandmas and grandpas, receiving hugs and kisses on the cheek and walking away smelling like perfume.  :)

Later that day, Drew came into the room with tears in his eyes.
"Are you crying?"  I asked.
"A little," he said.  "I was just thinking about this morning, and how I was a blessing."
I smiled.  "Yes, you were a blessing.  I am so proud of you.  But what made you cry?"
"Well, I was just telling Jesus about it, because Jesus is in my heart.  He asked me what I did today and I told Him."
My heart stopped for a moment.  "What did He say?"
Drew smiled and looked me in the eye.  "He said, 'Well, I sure do love you.'"


Just like that happens every day, he said that.  Just like it is normal for the creator of the universe to chat like friends, he shared that sweet conversation with me.  It appears from what I read in Matthew 18:3 that it, indeed, should be normal!

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matt 18:3

Unless we humble ourselves and sit at the feet of Jesus, we will never experience the fullness of the life He offers us.

This mama is faint with joy, overcome with gratitude for the awareness my children have of God's presence and love.

Yes, Lord Jesus.  Thank you from the bottom of my full heart.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."   Matt 11:25


Saturday, December 15, 2012


Like everyone else, I have sat dumbfounded as I try to process the tragedy that took place in Connecticut.  What can I say to add to what has already been said?  Nothing.  But still my mind reels and I need to hammer out these thoughts that continue to swirl in my head.

We were driving when the news hit.  Four of the kids were in the back, listening to I-pods or immersed in their own little worlds as we made the hour-long drive to town.  But Katie, she was up front with me as usual.  She heard the news and I couldn't undo it.

"Why would he do this, mama?"  Big tears welled up in her big brown eyes and I remembered her little, unaware of evil, untouched by knowledge of atrocities such as this.

"Because He was evil.  Because the enemy had his way with him, baby.  Remember the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  This is what evil does.  This is why we don't toy with things that go against God."

She swallowed hard and the tears spilled over as she buried her head in her hands.  "They were just kids, mama.  They hurt and they were scared.  I keep thinking about them."

I rubbed her shoulder as I drove, hurting for her but thankful for the compassion that flowed from her in this  moment.

"We have to remember that they are not hurting anymore.  They are with Jesus even now, seeing Him face to face.  And you know what?  If we asked them to come back, they would say no.  Because Heaven is that wonderful...that they would rather be there than here.  It's true.  So we need to pray for their families, because they are the ones who hurt.  But one day, this will all stop.  When Jesus comes back, nothing like this will ever happen again."

Her tears continued to flow and she said, "I used to be afraid of Jesus coming back while I'm still alive,
but now I wish he would."

How in the world can my heart rejoice and break at the same time?  But somehow, with that statement, it did.  For the Lord wants us to long for His return...yes, He does!

"The Spirit and the Bride say come."  (Rev. 22:17)  

The fact is, Jesus is coming soon.  This world is winding down, and evil is rampant.  We can try to stop it with laws and speeches, but the Bible told us that what is happening will happen.  These are birth pains, and we await our redeemer with groaning.  We don't need a news article to tell us what to say to our children, we don't need the government to counsel us on safety and parenting and mental health...WE NEED JESUS to return and set this all straight.  We need to shout it out...that HE is our only hope and that blaming God or lashing out in anger are a waste of time.  I keep hearing people say "We send our thoughts to the people of Connecticut."  Don't send your good thoughts, for they are powerless!  PRAY!  Cast your cares upon the Lord, for HE CARES FOR YOU!  Don't you see?  When He returns, all of this madness will be behind us and we will live as He intended from the beginning!  Pray for salvation!  Pray for healing!  Pray for His return!  Fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!

THIS is what I told my children.  THIS is how we deal with the unthinkable.  By remembering that it is temporary.  This world is not our home...we are aliens and strangers here.  Our home awaits and until then we are to be light in the darkness, living for Jesus boldly and being willing to bear whatever He calls us to bear in order to bring others to Him.

We walked out the rest of the day, talking it through, careful to protect little ears.  But the younger ones are perceptive.  They sensed something was wrong.  Daddy led us through our Advent reading and, afterward, we prayed.  Gracie volunteered.  She is almost eight now, my sensitive little girl.  Daddy asked her to pray for the families in Connecticut and she looked at him quizzically.

"She doesn't know,"  I whispered.

So we told her that something really bad had happened and that a lot of people were sad.  We bowed her heads and she began.  As she prayed, she said words that I believe were of the Lord...spoken through her.  Truth desperately needed in this dark hour.

"And help them...that they won't be mad in their sadness."

Yes, is this not truth?  In sadness and tragedy, we look to place blame.  We lash out and hurt and cause more injury with careless words, prideful spirits.  In our sadness we easily become angry and sin.

So will you join my daughter and pray?  Pray that in their sadness they will turn to Jesus instead of away from Him.  For without Him, there is no hope.  Those babies are face to face with their Savior now...and my prayer is that, one day, their mommies and daddies and all of their families will stand in joy as they are reunited through the blood of the Lamb.

Yes, come Lord Jesus.
(Revelation 22:20)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chain of Events (a glimpse into the comedy that is our life)

Daddy is on call tonight, so the reading of the Advent devotional fell on yours truly.

I'm good with that.  I love reading to my kids, pausing for effect and giving voice to characters in the hopes of making them come alive.

We read about the death of Sarah, how Abraham loved her so.  How she was willing to do anything he asked of her.

Katie pipes up with an observation:
    "She must have been one heck of a wife!"

I chuckle and go on.

Isaac and Rebekah...Jacob and Esau and the sibling rivalry to end all sibling rivalries.
The favoritism of a mother towards her baby.

I ask my children, "Do you think it is ok for a parent to have a favorite?"

"No," they reply.  "It would just cause trouble and jealousy."

Katie pipes up again.  "Yeah, like if I was your favorite."

"Which you are not.  I don't have a favorite."

"Yeah," she says with a sly grin, "You are good at keeping that a secret."

Insert giggles here.

I keep reading.

Gracie does a cartwheel.  (her 537th today)

DJ and Drew work with Lincoln Logs while Mari has a conversation with a jump rope (how did that end up in the family room?)

We pray for Daddy to get done quickly so he can come home and get some sleep.  Then DJ offers to blow out the candles.

He blows wax all over the coffee table.


Like I said yesterday, Christmas does not have to be picturesque or perfect to be memorable.  We are living proof.

Now I need to go clean up that wax.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

'Tis that season

Oh, how I love the Christmas season!  Lights and ribbons and glitter and candles aglow...all to honor the Light of the World, God's perfect and priceless gift to us:


We have begun, once again, our nightly gathering around the five tealight candles.  One for each child.  Daddy reads that story so familiar and the children listen while hands stay busy with Lincoln Logs or Legos.  
I fall in love with my husband all over again as his voice breaks over God's provision of the Ram for he spared Abraham's son, but would not spare His own for our sake.

I laugh as my children plot and plan and delight in surprising one another.  Their own lists are short because only three gifts may be requested.  (If three gifts were good enough for Jesus, then they are good enough for us!)  Each child gets a special trip to the store with Mom so they can shop, with their own money, for their siblings.  To see how well they know each other, how they take joy in anticipating the moment the gift is opened, how generous they are with one another, it truly blesses me.  I am so thankful for the closeness they share.  Amidst the daily grind and common arguing and picking at one another, there is this sweet love...this beautiful sense of belonging which they possess...that is a gift from their Heavenly Father.
We have many plans as we wind down our homeschooling semester.  There is that jar we are filling with coins and dollars as they do extra work around the house to earn money.  On Christmas Eve, the jar will be given to someone they have already bless and encourage and change a life.  I'm so proud of the way they took this on and owned it.  There is the nursing home down the road, with grandmas and grandpas who may not have grandbabies to visit them.  We are going to bake cookies and love on them...and maybe make a special connection.  We keep coins in hand for those bright red Salvation Army buckets and the kids love dropping them in, saying "Merry Christmas" with a big grin and a full heart.

Yes, I love this season so much.  It reminds me of many important things.

It reminds me to be intentional in looking around and seeing how we, as a family, can be a blessing. 

It reminds me of grace...that I can rest in the security of my Father's love and rejoice that His covenant is not dependent on me.  

It reminds me to consciously avoid the hustle and bustle and just enjoy these days, these children, and not feel like we have to do it all.  We don't.  We can't.  

I do hope you experience the wonder of Christmas in freedom this year.  Don't worry about details.  Don't feel like it all has to be perfect or picturesque to be memorable.  Just focus on Jesus.  Focus on the miracle of God rescuing us while we were yet sinners.  Read that old, old story and marvel in the absurd.  Let Him fill you and cause an outpouring that transforms your heart, your family and the lives of those around you.  

And just in case you are curious...

We are reading:

Our advent wreath:  

Other books we enjoy: