The First Snow!

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Yesterday afternoon shouts of joy erupted in this house. We had been waiting for weeks for snow to fall. We had watched the snow line creep down the hills around our home, so white, so beautiful.  Even months ago when we were still living in Southern California, snow was the talk of the family. When people would ask our kids if they were excited about moving, they would reply with an affirmative “YES! Because it snows there!”.

My kids have only seen snow once. In what felt like a miraculous, once every 25 years moment, we had snow in Southern California on a new year’s eve in the middle of the night. We woke up the kids so they could see it and experience it. That was two years ago and it didn’t stick around long.

Now we live in a place that will have snow every winter, probably all winter.

Yesterday was the first. The first snowflakes fell, gently, swirling tiny snowflakes. The excitement was loud and wild. We all stood by the window and soon spilled out the sliding glass door to experience it. Snowflakes on the face. There is nothing like it.

It’s true that this will soon be normal and perhaps we will be weary of snow and winter. For now it is new and so magical. I love watching my babies encounter the gloriousness of it.

I sat in the quiet hours this morning, reading, praying, connecting, indeed coming to Jesus in weakness. There is so much that I don’t have nailed down, so much growing that I have to do. As I came to Him this morning, He didn’t want to talk about that. He wanted to tell me about His love.

He spoke to me about how His love will never be exhausted, how I will never come to the end of it. How it will always hold wonder and how it is like a vast expanse of territory that I get to explore. It’s ever present. It’s for now, for this moment and for every moment that will come my way today.

Funny how I come to Him and want to review my failings. He wants to enfold me in joy. He wants me to walk as a care-free child experiencing snow for the first time. Even today.  Even in the grown up world I live in that has real problems, where the world around me holds real suffering and real hard things. Even in this world I can experience His love, I can flesh it out, I can explore it. It never runs dry. It fills me up to overflow so it can spill into the lives of others. It’s so simple. I don’t have to try harder to be better, to be more. All He asks of me is that I surrender to His love. All the other things of growing and becoming are fruit of reveling in His love.

If today finds you tired and weary, I invite you lift your face. Experience the snowflakes of His love. Swirling around, so gentle. Let Him sing over you. He is so for you. He is all around you. He has depths of love that you have never seen.



Believe (A series on Faith part 1)

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“People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” Romans 3: 23-24

 

I read this verse yesterday in my quiet time. It’s so startlingly simple. In one sentence the world is turned upside down. My darkness becomes radiant light. Not by my lifework, my contribution to mankind, not by working really hard or by running 1000 miles, but by believing. Seriously?

 

Simply believing, changes everything. I am made right with God when I believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This is the cornerstone for my life as a Christ follower. Because out of the craziness of that truth – that I am made right out of believing – comes everything else. If I let go of simple trust in the encompassing work of Jesus to make me right with God, I immediately lean into works and what I see and feel. I sink into the mentality of the world around me which lives only by sight and not by faith. And it’s so dreary there.

 

This faith thing is so tantalizing to me! I am intrigued because it so doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s believing in the face of what may feel like all odds against me. Feelings. They make life glorious and complicated. So often nothing I “feel” encourages me to have faith. So often nothing I “see” encourages me to have faith. Yet stepping forward in that very moment is the essence of faith.

 

I long for this. I love this! God is such a life giver, a river of life! I love that about Him! I am so thankful for it! Because the world around us is so broken and dying and dark. He sweeps in with light and all that is good and brings this mighty wind of hope. I breathe it in and am changed. When I breathe out I breathe out His life.

 

“If you believe you will see the glory of God.” John 11:40

 

Believing where you cannot see and especially where you cannot feel. This is the meat of the Christian life.

 

I have thought, somehow, that it laid in clenching your eyes closed, knowing the onslaught of life would come and somehow you just have to survive until the end when you get to go to heaven.

 

But this picture is different. He calls us to be life givers. Rivers of life. When I have my eyes clenched closed I can’t see the people around me much less see their need. When I am only braced to survive, I can’t live from a place of power. I am a victim instead.

 

So He calls me to believe. He calls me to look for Him and what He is doing, His kingdom coming. He asks me to take action as I believe, stepping forward when it feels counter to my instincts. He calls me to see and speak out and expect His goodness. This is faith. The expectation of His goodness.

 

 

“I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes wait for and confidently expect the Lord” Psalm 27;13-14



1st Grade

Dear Ellie,

 

Today is your first day of 1st grade. It feels so much easier than last year to know you will wake up, eat breakfast, put your clothes on and head out the door to school. I know more about this school thing and what it looks like. I’m thankful for that.

 

You, of course, are excited as ever. You have missed your friends and all that school is. You are planning to wear the same dress you wore the first day of kindergarten, though it is considerably shorter on you and you will need to wear leggings. It is still your favorite dress.

 

You learned how to read in kindergarten and now love LOVE to read. You proudly declare, to anyone who will listen, that you can read CHAPTER books. I love to walk by your room and see you cozied up with a book. I hope you always love to read and that you continue to be a life long learner. Books are such a gift.

 

What hasn’t changed about this year is that I will miss you. I have loved this summer with you at home. You and the boys have built endless forts, done 3,000 drawing/color fests (but seriously. What do we do with all of the masterpieces?), and of course had many many fights. I won’t miss the fights. I will miss the sweetness you bring, the good ideas you have, and just your presence.

 

You lost approximately 7 teeth over the summer, leaving your smile gappy and adorable. You also learned how to whistle (perhaps from the extreme tooth exodus?) Your eyes still reflect every emotion you feel and it’s so fun to watch you tell a story because you are so expressive.

 

You and Judah were in a wedding a few weeks ago and you had the best time. You both looked adorable in your wedding wear and you took your petal distributing job very seriously. At the reception they had lots of dancing which you and Judah also loved. You were out there with the other flower girl having a  wonderful time on the dance floor.

 

When the time came for the Parent/bride/groom dances I was in the back trying to keep Annalise quiet. She and I swayed at the back and I found myself glimpsing something that had such depths and that I had never noticed before. Parents saying goodbye to a season. I couldn’t actually look too long because the lump in my throat was so big.

 

It’s all so good! It’s so good and right for children to grow and become adults and get married. But as I stood there in the back, listening to the words of the song:

 

Never alone

Never alone

I’ll be in every beat of your heart

When you face the unknown

Wherever you fly

This isn’t goodbye

My love will follow you, stay with you

Baby, you’re never alone – Lady Antebellum

 

I had to turn away. This parenting thing is so crazy! The love I feel inside for you is so big. It’s such a gift to be your mama, to have this time with you. I can’t lose perspective in the everyday. I can’t forget that my time with you in this season is limited. I cherish you baby girl. So help me, I promise to let you go when the time is right.

 

I’m thankful I have some years before I have my turn watching you dance with daddy on that special someday. For now my heart can hardly handle the thought. And that’s okay. From now until then I’m going to LOVE this season the way you love reading chapter books. I’m going to soak in the sparkle in your eyes and the gaps in your teeth. I’m going to snuggle you close as much as I can and learn to trust Jesus even more as you have opportunities to fly.

 

I truly know that seasons are part of the beauty of life. This one feels wrapped around my heart in such a way that I can’t explain. I’ll embrace it. I’ll embrace the lump in my throat and the tears on my cheeks as I write this because it’s evidence of beauty of motherhood. Made to love and protect with our very breath. Made to raise them to fullness and step back and let them go. The diamond tears are okay, the beautiful hurt a memorial stone.

 

I love you baby girl. Maybe someday you will call me as your baby heads out the door to school and you and we can laugh and cry together and I will tell you it’s okay to cry, but it’s also so good to laugh and embrace the beauty of the moment.

 

Love,

 

Mama



The deep end.

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Writing is hard. It’s not hard to put words on a screen, but it’s hard to not put my identity in my audience response.

And I wonder why I write? Do I write for that response? Or do I really love writing?

Is it appropriate to write for an audience? Is there a time and place for that? Or should I only ever write because my heart longs to give words to what is inside. I long to read what I feel – like I can’t quite understand or have clarity until I have encased it in words.

Being willing to share my heart encased in words and offer it to the world around me serves a greater purpose than me. It gives others an opportunity to say “me too”, and potentially passes hope, like a baton, to another.

That is why I should write.

I’m not going to lie. This is a bit of a paradox. To truly write well and to be free in writing I must write for that last mentioned reason. And often when you offer your heart encased in words your audience responds positively because they can connect. But my writing isn’t pure or right when I am  motivated by people.

So how do I keep the freedom and the purity? It has to be by writing everyday and writing what is inside and choosing to not follow the stat trends and people-response. This is hard for me. It doesn’t come naturally. I like to know how people are responding. However, I know if I am led by the cause of pleasing people that I will eventually stop writing. My purpose will ebb and flow like the tide and it will cease to actually reach people. It becomes manufactured and faux.

We must do our work for a greater cause. We must create out of freedom. We must reach past our audience and fans and critics and step deeper in the actual calling. We are all called to create. Creating innately gives us a deep sense of fulfillment, but also fills a hole in the world around us. Lives can be touched and changed by our willingness to create and share that creativity with the world around us.

However God has called you to create must be done at a level deeper than the shallow end of the pool where your feet touch and all applaud. We must venture to the place where it takes faith to move forward. We have to paddle awkwardly sometimes and there may be a time where it feels frantic. We may have seasons where no one watches or if they are watching they are not applauding but rather booing or naysaying.

Pressing through, not retreating, learning to swim, learning to float, continuing to be challenged is where we do our best work. And we must “do work” to do our best work.

The deep end is where our destinies are made and where future generations are touched.

I want that.

 



Risk.

Risk. The idea both enlivens me and terrifies me. I’m reading this book by Robby Dawkins called “do what Jesus did” and it’s challenging me. This quote:

 

“Faith is simply one step of certainty against the onslaught of uncertainty. The question isn’t, are we willing to die for Christ? The question is, are we willing to live a life of risk for Him?” – Robby Dawkins

 

I kind of prefer the no-risk side of the tracks. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and I feel this innate need to keep my kids safe. The no-risk side of the tracks is predictable – I know what to expect here. It seems safe and I feel comfortable.

 

However. There is a miserable boring-ness here.

 

I know that truly saying yes to Jesus will take me places I never dreamed I would go.  I know that saying yes to Jesus means “No reserves, no retreats no regrets”. (A quote from Bill Borden – Thank you Robby Dawkins)

 

No reserves. This means I let Jesus have all of my heart. I give Him access to all. His healing seeps into every part. I hold nothing back.

 

No retreats. I burn the boat. I am committed to Him no matter what comes.

 

No regrets. I let Him show me how worthy He is. I let His goodness and faithfulness fill my vision.

 

I am a middle aged stay at home mom with 4 littles. Some days I don’t even step outside the house. My world feels very small at times. But there is still something in this risk idea that is beckoning to me. I can risk with Jesus. I can put my hand in His and say “yes”. Yes to time in His presence. Yes to hearing His voice. Yes to what He asks of me. Filled so full that serving others is natural. Loved so deeply that letting go of all that I hold dear is instinct.

 

I love this upside down kingdom so much. It confuses and overwhelms me in such a good way. Let go of your life and you will find it. Wash others feet and you will be great in the kingdom. If you want to be first, be content to be last and be a servant to all. Come to Jesus like a child – in simple faith instead of an important-in-your-own eyes person.

 

Come out of your comfort zone. Cross over to the risk side of the tracks.

 

No reserves.

 

No retreats.

 

No regrets.

 



The Best is Yet to Come

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Today marks 13 years since my mom passed away. Death anniversaries are hard. For me they are full of painful memories from that July day. Last moments with one of the people that has left the greatest mark on my life.

Historically when this anniversary has rolled around I have allowed myself to remember and taken time alone to grieve. This year however, it snuck up on me.

When I realized that today was the day, something different settled over me. There will always be grief. I will always miss her until I see her face again. This means tears of sadness and sometimes wracking sobs.

But today also marks a celebration. A finish line. A graduation. She is home. She ran the race, she finished well and now – now she sees fully. She gets to spend every moment in the Presence of Perfect Love. She has no wish to come back! She is complete and missing nothing.

Her journey spurs me on. It reminds me of what is true. It’s true that we are living for eternity. This life is but a second and the end is so beautiful!

Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I cling so tight to what I cannot hold on to: this life! Clinging so tight creates fear and anxiety as I can’t actually attain or control earthly-forever-living.

As I thought on this today it became so clear in my heart. My grief is not diminished by this celebration. Rather I feel that it’s just suiting today, to remember the glory. And to remember what lays in front of me. I want to let go more, live harder and love better because the best is yet to come!

“For if you let your life go for My sake and for the sake of the gospel, you will continually experience true life. But if you choose to keep your life for yourself, you will forfeit what you try to keep” Mark 8:35-36 TPT



Fearless

I watch them. Their delight and joy in simple things. The lack of fear or dread of the future. My kids live in the moment. All in the moment. They take my word and believe it.

 

I crave this simplicity. I want it! It is offered to me! Jesus offers to me to live with the faith, joy, fearlessness of a child. A child isn’t usually fearless because they are so strong and armoured and battle savvy. A child is fearless because Daddy holds their hand. Because Daddy fights for them. Because Daddy is their resource.  

 

I have felt so weighted. I have felt like I had to protect my heart and always be on alert for new sources of pain. I have felt like I had to do whatever I could to foresee pain – as if somehow seeing it coming will help the blow. The anticipation of possible pain is tormenting and no way to live!

 

I have the best husband. When I was in labor with baby number 3, I had all the monitors attached to my belly and we could see the contractions charting on the screen. As I was waiting not-so-patiently for my epidural, my sweet husband, who loves gadgety things was watching the monitors. Every time a contraction would start he would comment and tell me what type it looked like. “Oh man – this is a BIG one coming!”. This commentary, though ever so helpfully intended, was not helping my laboring process! The anticipation of contraction strength didn’t make my laboring easier. Nor does anticipating pain in my life.

 

When my kids get hurt, they trust mom and dad to get them whatever they need. Whether that is a band-aid or to a dr for open heart surgery. So does our Daddy.

 

My Abba is the best daddy. So I want to trust Him more. I want to live in childlike joy and simplicity because He is so good. All of this is offered to me. Will I step into it today in faith? Freedom, peace, healing, everything I need, because He is my Daddy and He is with me.



62.

62

 

Mom. Today is your 62nd birthday. I think of you today in heaven. I know that time isn’t a big deal there but I wonder if you know that today is special for me. Special because you were born today. What an impact you have had. You are my most tangible experience with love ever. You showed me what it meant to serve other people, you quietly laid down your life for the people around you. I never questioned what love meant because I had you every day. I’m so very thankful for that!

 

I am sitting at a table surrounded by 3 of your grandbabies. We talked about heaven yesterday and how when we get there, that you will probably be running to meet them. Your love for your kids and grandkids is so beautiful!

 

I wanted to stop and tell you. I want to tell you that i am happy. That the “good news” of Jesus that you told me about and lived out – it really is the best news I have ever heard. I want you to know that Jesus is healing my heart. I want you to know that I remember you and that I still hate cancer, but I am coming to KNOW in my heart that Jesus does too. He sits with me in my pain. He doesn’t try to squish it down or cover it up or speak it away. He just sits with me in it. And reveals truth. And brings hope and healing. This week He reminded me so clearly that the day is coming when all the cancer and MS and infant death and – all the pain – it will all end. That day is coming! IT’S COMING! It has already come for you!

 

I want you to know that your legacy lives on. Beautiful mama. I miss your beautiful hands. I miss hearing you sing. I miss your baked bread and your phone calls.  I miss having coffee with you and laughing till we cried. I regret the way I treated you as a young adult. I thought i knew so much. I wish i would have honored you more. I remember many times I bulldozed over your thoughts. I’m so sorry! Thank you for loving me so well, so graciously, even then. Thank you for your sweet love. You are so missed. In the deep aching way that doesn’t have words. And yet heaven awaits us. Where we will have eternity to share! To worship, to laugh, to drink coffee? Glory!

 

So until then, I will honor you. I will honor you by eating almond joys and almond roca, and laying down my life more. I will honor you by loving my babies and telling them about Jesus. And you. I will honor you by singing and drinking coffee and laughing until i cry. I will honor you sometimes by weeping sometimes. I will honor you by baking bread, and growing plants and reading the Word.  I will honor you by using my voice to speak what God has given me to say. You are so loved and celebrated today.

 

 



Home.


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My sweet Grammie slipped home yesterday. It’s hard to process what this means. Our minds don’t seem to be equipped to understand death. How someone can be so present and real and then truly absent from their earthly body?

 

As my Grandma lay in that hospital bed the last few days she was surrounded by those she loved best. They kept vigil with her through a day, a very long night and another very long day. It is so right to be surrounded by those you love as you step out of your earthly body. My Grandma lived a wonderful full long life. There is no sense of days being cut short, but more a beauty of a life well lived.

 

My Grandpa passed away three years before and the thought of joyous reunion is so glorious. As natural people, when we think of heaven, our minds go to those we know who have gone before. But lets be real. All of those people take a back seat when it comes to being face to face with the One who loves us the most and gave everything so that we could live forever with Him. I can only imagine it was the thing that completed Grammie. What incredible satisfaction and fullness to be with Him!

 

And here we wait. Us left behind. I indeed wept this week. Not as much for Grammie, but more for the ones she leaves. Saying goodbye, even for a season, is so hard. It felt impossible to me. I couldn’t say goodbye to my mom. A mother fills a place in you that no one else can. She is made to be a constant place of safety and protection. She is also made to speak truth – hard truth and yet life giving truth. She is the one you call and can call for no reason at all, or in the worst of times when all you have is deep sobs. So I ache for my dad. I ache for my aunts as they walk this road. It is paved with goodness as my Grammie loved them all fiercely and loyally. It is paved with sweet memories and funny ones, and they now will live with a mother shaped hole. In the best way possible. They have been loved so well. They will miss so well because of that love. And indeed it is not a forever separation. Oh the crazy joy that is set before us! Because. wow. Jesus. and everyone else will be sweet details to the incredible fullness we will know being with Him. What joy. What JOY we have. What hope!

 

And in the mean time we will allow the aching and hurt because we have been loved well by a beautiful person and we will miss her presence for a season. But we will continue to walk, resolved to love our children as well, Resolved to leave legacies as beautiful as she was. Resolved that our children will be loved so well that our absence will leave a hole but also an incredible joy in the hope ahead and the strength it brings.

 

I found that with my own Mom I couldn’t say goodbye in those last moments. There were no words. But in that hour after she passed i snuck back to her bedside and said all the things. All the things were really quite simple. How much I loved her and how deeply thankful I was for her love. Her love made me. In so many ways. Her love still gives me strength. I said goodbye to a shell. I said goodbye after she was gone because somehow when her spirit remained I knew it was never goodbye. It was just a “see you soon”.

 

So Grammie. I never said goodbye either. But what I want to say is that i love you and I am so thankful for the beautiful family you built and loved. Thank you for being such a strong woman and for loving Jesus with your life. Thank you for speaking of Him often. It is ingrained my head. We will miss you so. We will miss your pink nail polish and your beautiful hands and the glint in your eyes. We will miss the parcheesi games and the laughs and the smell of your perfume. I can’t wait to see you soon. Say hi to Mom, and Grandpa and baby Zeke and above all enjoy Him. We can’t wait to join the party.

 

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Brave like you

Dear Ellie,

You start kindergarten 2 weeks from tomorrow. Yesterday we went on the much anticipated “girls of the house” shopping trip to buy your school things. (your words) You kept saying in the days leading up to it “I CAN’T WAIT TO GO SHOPPING!” your brown eyes sparkling with excitement, and you counted the sleeps down.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling heavy. There is a very real grief I feel inside as I look at the weeks ahead and see the change that is coming. Our mornings will look different as we will start waking you up early so you can be at school by 8:30. Of all of our kids, you tend to sleep the latest, so waking you up will be a new thing. You are such a help to me sweet girl. I know I count on you more then I know and I will miss your presence during the day. I cried silent tears while getting ready yesterday.

We did have a fabulous time you know. Us girls. Annalise wore a bow in honor of the occasion and you looked adorable in your jean skirt and fairy top. When did your legs get so long? My precious pudgy baby has turned into a tall beautiful girl.

The girls of the house
The girls of the house

We first went to walmart where we perused the school supply aisles and did several circles around the store trying to find everything on our list. Did I mention that you made your own picture shopping list? On it were underwear, disposable bento boxes and hair ties. You did lovely pictures complete with check boxes. After a somewhat exhausting round at Walmart where I decided shopping online would be more efficient, we headed to the mall. We were hungry so we hit “Red Robins” first. (Again your words. You also call McDonalds “Old McDonalds” and commercials “commercianals” and I love it so much) They sat us in the smallest booth they had, but you wanted to sit on the same side, so we snuggled in while Annalise slept in her carseat. You ordered pizza and fruit salad (first time varying from your mac and cheese routine at Red Robin) and we chatted while we waited for our food. You told me you were the most excited to do art projects at school. When our food came you lounged quite comfortably almost laying down in our tiny seat, which was quite a feat. You were very pleased with your pizza, insisting i try a bite and then asking me if I would order it next time for myself because it was so delicious.

Red Robins
Red Robins

After eating, we headed into the mall. Old Navy had adorable dresses as did H&M. I offered you 2 adorable dress choices and you couldn’t choose. You asked me to give you a horrible dress option and an adorable dress option to make the choice easier. I couldn’t find a horrible enough option as everything was adorable, so you finally chose the black and white striped swing dress and declared it your favorite purchase of everything we bought.

On the way out we went back through H&M to take the elevator back down and you BEGGED to ride the escalator. I had Annalise in the stroller so I couldn’t ride it – so we decided you could ride it alone. We talked through getting off and where to go to run around to the other side so you could come back up. I promised I would be at the top when you came up. You were beyond excited and didn’t hesitate for a second getting on. Your technique was slightly terrifying as you didn’t actually reach up to hold on as you were stepping on. You wobbled for a second as you adjusted to the movement and then reached for the rail. I sighed with relief and then powered over to the other side to watch your progress. You got off at the bottom and dashed around like a pro. I lost sight of you for a few breath-taking seconds and then there you were, coming up the other side BEAMING. You were so proud. And I had tears in my eyes and had to turn away so that I could greet you with a smile.

This is so hard for my heart and yet I know its good and right. I won’t hold you back baby. Because I know you are ready. I know you have got this. I know it would be unhealthy to freeze time like I sometimes long to do. Freezing time would leave us stagnant, unable to grow, and grow we must. What I want you to know is that you are brave, and good at loving people. You are a leader and amazing at creating. This mama heart wants you to do all that you were created to do. And that will mean letting you go to do it.

As we walked out of the mall we were discussing the escalator trip and how fun it was and I mentioned to you that it was a little scary for me. You asked why and I tried to explain. It went something like this.

“When you were born you were teeny tiny and couldn’t do anything for yourself. Mommy took care of you and fed you and kept you safe as much as she could. But as you grow you are able to do more things and now part of mommies job is to let go so you can do new things.”

and the conversation continued in my head.

“Mommy has to trust that though she loves you more than she can say, she is learning to entrust you to the One who loves you more. It’s so good. It feels physically painful right now. But I bet a few months in it will feel normal. You will come home and tell me about your day and all the new things you are doing and learning and I will listen with excitement.”

This new season will hold so much goodness. I can’t wait to see what Jesus has ahead for you and me. Please know your mama loves you and i’m going to be brave two weeks from tomorrow as you run forward with no hesitation. I will be brave like you.

 

Love,
Mama