Sunday, January 13, 2013

{is God still good?}

yowzer wowzer people.
it's been a looong, rough couple of years.
yes. yes it has.
there have been a variety of circumstances flow into my life and into the lives of those around me that has caused me to pause and ponder,
{is God still good?}
i think it is a question that a lot of us ask from time to time.
of course we think God is good when our circumstances are good.
but I am talking about the really hard circumstances.
when your marriage is in shambles, is God still good?
when you miscarry, is God still good?
when your husband looses a job, is God still good?
when you foreclose on your home because you just can't make ends meet, is God still good?
when you are as patiently as possible waiting for that adoption to go through, is God still good?
when you find out the one you shared vow's with has been having an affair, is God still good?
when you wait another month to see that little pink line show up on a pregnancy test, is God still good?
when death takes away someone dear to you, is God still good?
when cancer devastates your family, is God still good?
when you've waited and endured 9 months of labor and your child arrives still born, is God still good?
when there are people starving in this world, is God still good?
when you wait another long year, and you are still not married and you so long to be, is God still good?
i could go on and on, and unfortunately have witnessed or lived out many these circumstances all within recent years. 
and it's crazy rough.
there have been a number of times, when i have wept, expressed anger, fear, frustration and numerous other emotions towards God and asked Him, "where is Your good in this?"  "how can this be made right?"
i haven't known how to answer those questions on my own.

but, i have been consoled by scriptures bountifully.

John 13:7-  You do not realize now, what i am doing, but later you will understand.
Romans 5:8- I loved you at your darkest hour.
Isaiah 42:9- Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things i now declare.
Genesis 16:13- You are the God who see's me.
Romans 12:12-  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

my sister posted a blog in the early stages of my nieces cancer treatment that had this song.
if you are willing, will you take a moment to listen.
really listen to this song.  feel her emotions. engage with them.
it feels conflicting, doesn't it?  she clearly doesn't feel joyful.
here's what she wrote regarding why she sung this classic, joyful hymn with such emotion:

"It was not until grief became a part of my story that i realized that joy is not simply an expression, but an attitude and acknowledgement of the deep peace of knowing a Savior...
...i now know that you can experience grief and joy simultaneously ..and if not, that joy can and will come if you allow it."

this song nearly brings me to my knees each time i listen to it, and it most assuredly stings my eyes with tears every time.

in that question, during the deepest darkest grief we could every imagine, when we are begging the question,
"God, are you still good?"

well, i don't know about you, but these words repeat in my soul,
"And I can't understand
and i can't pretent
that this will be alright in the end
so i'll try my best
and lift up my chest
and sing about this
joy, joy, joy!

i leave you with this, friends.
count it joy when you meet trials, because it produces steadfastness.  and let that steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be prefect and complete.
there is joy in trials.  you may have to search for it, but it is there.
and God ever remains good.

James 1:2-4 -  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.  For you know that, the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have it's full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Great Princess Debate

At times, this debate can seem to fire up mom's of daughters faster and fiercer than the current presidential election. And don't think for a moment that I am exaggerating here people.

Until I became a mom of daughters who adored princesses (Disney or not) I never really gave much thought to how I felt about my daughters like or dislike of them.

I have heard several comments via that great ol website called Facebook about the great disdain over princesses. They are boycotting them, thankyouverymuch. That they don't want their daughters to have anything to do with those flighty, men dependant, happily ever after hussies.

But do you know what? I let Delaney and Amelia watch the princess movies. We borrow books from the library about every possible princess story. They have several princess dolls ranging from Snow White to Merida and nearly every princess in between. I even let them dress up like Merida from Brave and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty for Halloween this year. My daughter's adore those princesses.

Do you know why? Because they see them and believe they are lovely and they want to be lovely too. They want to meet prince charming. They ask me to turn on classical music while they waltz with each other and their little brother. They line up their stuffed animals and pretend they are their woodland friends. They think their dresses are pretty and they have a whole suitcase full of flowy dress up dresses. They love the different princesses hair and they pretend that their's is as long as Rapunzel.

I am quite certain that these very things are reason's for the disdain many mom's feel about "those princesses". Judge me if you want, but I am perfectly happy with my daughters feeling beautiful as they pretend to be princesses. I am perfectly happy with my daughter's being friendly to their woodland stuffed animals, because beauty comes from kindness. I honestly don't understand where the hatred and appalled opinions of them come from. Is it because they are thin, dress nice and have pretty faces? Because I know many real life women who are those very things and I respect and admire them! The princesses are brave, gentle, caring, genuine, friendly, they over come evil and perils of various kinds. Do I want daughters who are brave, gentle, caring, genuine, friendly and daughters who overcome evil and perils of every kind? You bet I do.

Am I worried that Delaney and Amelia will try to define themselves by how pretty they are, and how desirable they are, how valuable they are based on watching princess movies? No. Not for a second. Because my daughter's are beautiful and they know that their beauty is not defined by their clothes or their outward appearance or by winning the heart of a prince charming.

In fact, my daughter's are real life princesses (and not just in the hearts of their daddy and i). They are the daughters of the One True King. We tell them daily that they are princesses. Ever notice how in many of the movies the princess has been stolen from the king? What does the king do? He searches for his lost princess, he yearns for her to be back in his kingdom. Well, the King of my princesses does the same thing. And I tell them that. "Do you know that Jesus, your King, He wants you back in His Kingdom. He will search you out, daughters, He yearns for you to be with him."

I am ok with my Cricket and my Bitty girl playing with and pretending to be princesses. If my daughters grow into shallow, self indulgent, men dependant women, it most certainly won't be the Disney movies to blame. It will be Casey and I who are to blame. It is up to us to teach them how to beautiful and valuable princesses.

And in the mean time, while they are still little enough to enjoy the fairy tails and have the blinders on to the wretchedness of this world, I am going to let them be little girls who want to live happily ever after. And I am going to be sure they know where that happily ever after is, with the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

Friday, August 31, 2012

{school days, school days...}

i am just going to come right out and say it.
i. am. inadequate. 
i even just spelled inadequate wrong.  {twice}.
today was delaney's first {official} day of kindergarten.
last year, we sort of did kindergarten, only because it seemed like every friend that she loved dearly was either {going} to school somewhere (pre-k or Kinder)
starting school at home. and she so so so very much wanted to do school as well.

now, for the things that i'm going to say regarding, when i started school for her, my reasons why, and how we are schooling are all my families {personal choices} and are not a reflections oh how i think you should do it. 
did you know that, how, when, where, etc. your kid goes to school can be quite the controversial issue?
anyway, i just wanted to put that disclaimer out there.
the reason i said we {sort of} did kindergarten last year is because i am not big on starting my kids schooling at 2 or 3 or even 4years old.
my take is this: your child only has the tiniest span of time
 that they can wholly, truly just play and be a kid.  and then, school starts.
once they start school, that is pretty much their life until they graduate college (if they choose to go) .
and i really just wanted to give them the opportunity to be kids.
and, if i am being really honest, i wasn't ready to be that self sacrificing yet.
since delaney is an older kindergartner (due to an october bday, she is at that weird cutoff age)
i really wasn't prepared to start kindergarten for her until this year.
but like i said, she so very badly wanted to take part in school like her friends.
so i got a kindergarten curriculum and we did it 3 days/week all year and through most of this summer.
we had good days and bad days.  but we learned to enjoy the schedule to a degree.
yet, it was still totally my choice if we did school that day, or if we took a week off here and there.

all of that ended {today}.
and i am terrified.
for a multitude of reasons.
i don't feel smart enough.
i am afraid that i am not selfless enough.
i don't feel organized enough.
i fear we will come to the end of they year only to find that i totally dropped the ball.

i don't feel smart enough because i am not creative in the {teaching} sense.  
the curriculum that we used last year was literally scripted for me, and i  {loved}  it.
the curriculum that we are going with this year is the furthest thing from scripted and i have no idea what i am doing.
i decided to get amelia a pre-school book (mostly because i needed something for her to do while i did school with delaney) and you guys, i wish i were kidding about this, but i am not: i am utterly confused by the pre-school teachers guide and the child's workbook. 
 i have no clue how to make sense of the two.
wow.  that took a lot of humility for me to just admit.
and, look how i said earlier that i wasn't a fan of pre-school necessarily and here i am with a pre-school book for amelia!  double standard, i know. things and ideas change when you have a kindergartner and a pre-school aged child who wants to do everything their big sister does.  
and, honestly, if i just left remi and millie to play together while i did school with delaney, neither of them would survive the first week.  they would kill each other.

i am afraid that i am not selfless enough because i have seen hoards and hoards of pictures of friends and family on facebook sending their precious little people off to school.
and i am jealous.
and i think to myself, ahhh, now {that} would be nice.
i think it is totally up to an individual family if they choose to homeschool or send their kids to school.
no judging.  for real.
however, for various reasons {feel free to email me if you want to know the knitty gritty}
we have decided that the wisest, safest choice for {our} family is to homeschool.
and it takes a lot to accomplish this with a 5yr old, a 4yr old and a 2yr old all running around the house.
i truly admire the great women who do it with many more children then i have.
seriously, how do you do it?
when i think of what this will look like, doing school 5days a week for 3 or so hours a day, i feel scared.
i feel selfish, because i think about how much easier it would be and how much more peaceful for me to be able to just send them off and have someone else do the work.
(remember, if you are a mom who sends their kids to school, i am not saying this is what {you} are thinking.  i am being honest about how i would feel about it if i did it.)

i don't feel organized enough because i have never had a knack for organization or administration.
it takes a lot of work to be organized enough to figure out, schedule and put together school work and teach my kids, keep up my house, get individual time with each child outside of school, try and maintain friendships, serve others, cook dinners, etc.
it feels outside of my ability to pull this all off.

but there is one saving grace in all of this, and there is a truth that i am white knuckle gripping onto.
God's grace is sufficient for me.
i will not be able to accomplish this on my own.
it will be by God's grace that any of this is pulled off in any sort of successful fashion.
i. am. inadequate.
WOW!  i spelled it right that time!
and honestly, as afraid, and as unprepared as i feel, this is sort of where i want to rest.
in the fact that i cannot do it on my own.
if it thought that, i would be so puffed up with pride that no one would want to spend a minute of time with me. 
it is good to be in a place of humility, in understanding that God has foresight that i do not have.
he placed me in this role of teacher for my kids, and he will ensure that i do not fail if i trust in his grace to get me through.
i. am. inadequate.
but god is not.
praise his blessed name for that.

and, for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures of my {kindergartner} and my {pre-schooler}

Monday, August 13, 2012

{share the LOVE}

Hi blog readers.
I have something dear to my heart to share with you.
Really, this is {someone} dear to my heart.
I have had the privileged of  being friends with/knowing Liz for about 10years now.

She is the kind of girl you {want} to know, {be} around, have {in} your life.

Liz has this incredible and inspiring heart for {motherhood}, but this road has been scattered with challenges and obstacles that could have demolished her faith and cause her to doubt God's goodness.
But instead of growing a heart of bitterness and distrust, Liz (and her hubby, Joe) have chosen to
trust and believe God for their family.

When Liz was pregnant with their first child, a little girl, she had some complications and had to have an emergency c-section at just 29weeks.
Their precious daughter was born, and was the size of a coke bottle.
While Micah was in the NICU for an unbearably long time, Liz blogged so vulnerably and so honestly that I was moved to tears on virtually every single post.
Now, as a friend said it, Micah is a bundle of adorable blond curls.  This describes her so perfectly!

Last year, Liz and Joe found out {with joy} that they were pregnant with their second child.
In the most heart wrenching and devastating way, due to complications from her last c-section they lost their little boy when her c-section scar ruptured. By God's mercy, Liz survived.
I remember when I found out they had lost their precious Liam, just thinking about how their world had stopped.
Everyone else's kept going.  But their's was at a standstill.
And I was so so heartbroken for them.
It brings me to tears as I think about it now.
But their faith, Liz's honesty in her struggle after loosing Liam, her son, her only son was so inspiring to me.

But God is good, and faithful and He has laid it on their hearts to {adopt}.
They are trusting Him for this, and for a little boy or a little girl to join their family.
But adoption, it is {so} expensive.
The Messer Family has saved and saved.  Joe has taken extra shifts and certainly they have been able to save some money to put towards this.
But they have about $10,000 left to raise to be able to bring {baby} home.
To do this, they are having {Share the Love} week over on Liz's blog.
People have donated tons of {scrumptious} handmade items that Liz has assembled into various packages.
As well as a few {uh-mazing} individual items.
And guess what?
You can win them!
With only $5/entry, you can win one of these incredible packages.
Trust me, you will be {competing} with me to win, but even if you don't, your money will not be wasted!
Here is a link to the Messer Family's blog with {all} the details.
Even if you don't know them, if you would be so generous to donate towards their adoption, it would be simply amazing.
Let's help bring {baby Messer} home!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

{labor of love}

a labor of love.
what does that mean?
what does that mean to {you}?
let's break down the words here.
at first i was going to define only labor and love and leave {of} out of it.
but then, i realized the {of} is pretty much the most important part.

la-bor: n
physical or mental work, especially of a hard or fatiguing kind; toil

of: preposition
used to indicate cause, motive, occasion,  or reason

love: n
a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person

physical or mental work that is fatiguing  {because} you wish to create feelings of profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

you don't labor for nothing.  it is hard.  it is costly.
and love, those feelings of profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person ---does not always come easy.

let's put this to illustration.
when creating a quilt, you must carefully select the pieces that will form the whole.
you look for the texture of the material.
what pieces match, which clash?
the design of the quilt.

similar to relationships.  you choose who you want to relate with, and you decided which things are going to mesh well together.
a spouse.
a spiritual path.
a town.

with a lot of sewing projects, the one's i specifically take the quickest to, are projects that glean pretty instant gratification.  meaning, i want a project that takes maybe an afternoon to complete.  i don't usually want to spend {hours} and {days} working on something.
with quilting, it's a whole different mindset.
quilting takes time.  you have to go slowly.
you have to pin and pin and pin to ensure things are lined up properly and you don't get wrinkles.

once things seem in order, you begin the actual stitching.

again, like relationships.  things have to be lined up.
relationships take time.  you don't want to do a sloppy job of piecing a relationship together, you don't want to skip seemingly tedious steps.
if you do, you will end up with some pretty serious wrinkles.
this will make the entire {stitching} process, the beginning of binding your relationship together so so hard.

stitching a quilt takes {time} and patience.
this is a big piece of material, with zig zags that have sharp corners.
you cannot just whip this out.
you sew for a few seconds.
stop. plant your needle. turn your fabric and realign with your stitching guide.
sew for a few seconds.
stop. plant your needle. turn your fabric and realign with your stitching guide.
sew for a few seconds.    
stop. plant your needle. turn your fabric and realign with your stitching guide.
sew for a few seconds.    
stop. plant your needle. turn your fabric and realign with your stitching guide.
sew for a few seconds.    
stop. plant your needle. turn your fabric and realign with your stitching guide.
sew for a few seconds.
{that's not a blog error, i purposefully repeated those lines again and again!}

in a relationship, it's easy to think we can just go easy straight lines.
but we can't.
we go along with life for a little while.
 stop. plant ourselves.  turn and realign with the vision for our relationship.
we go along with life for a little while.
 stop. plant ourselves.  turn and realign with the vision for our relationship.
we go along with life for a little while.
 stop. plant ourselves.  turn and realign with the vision for our relationship.
we go along with life for a little while.
 stop. plant ourselves.  turn and realign with the vision for our relationship.
we go along with life for a little while.
 stop. plant ourselves.  turn and realign with the vision for our relationship.
we go along with life for a little while.
 stop. plant ourselves.  turn and realign with the vision for our relationship.

finally.  {finally}. FINALLY!
we finish the quilting.
it seems as if we are {so} close to being done.  so close to having the whole picture complete.

in relationships, after a few years, it seems like we have gotten a hang of things.
we are good to go.
we are quilted together.
it seems like the {tough} and {tedious}  part of the relationship is over.

but no.
no no no.
to get the full effect of this quilt, you have to cut it up.
it seems so wrong.
i worked so hard on quilting the pieces together.
and now, to just cut it up? 
it's hard to wrap the brain around this.
and the cutting.  this takes so much time too.
there is a specific tool that you can use when making this kind of quilt.  it's called a {chenille cutter}.
this is the easy way to create this effect.
but with the chevron pattern, it is impossible to use. 
you have to make each cut.  purposefully with very very very sharp shears.

when it seems like our relationship is well quilted together, we can think that we are pretty much done.
then, something comes along and starts tearing us to shreds.
our relationship!  it was so prettily pieced together, it looked good on all angles, to all appearances!
it's hard to understand that in order to see the full effect of {mercy} we have to be cut up.
and we hope that it's done quickly and easily with the tool specifically designed for the task.
but sometimes, it's not.
sometimes it takes cut after cut after cut to fully shred us.
and it's torture.
it hurts.
it feels never ending.

and then.
then, the cutting stops.
is it ruined?
it's been hard having the patience to cut the quilted pieces.
being careful not to fully poke through.
it's taken time, and effort.
but then, we see the bigger picture.
we remember,oh yeah,  there is a greater design in mind!

the cutting of our relationships can take an immeasurable amount of time.
it takes patience.
you have to be careful to not poke through the whole thing.
when the cutting of the relationship is finished, you sit back and take a look.
you evaluate.
is it ruined?
was it worth the effort?  the time?
do we recognize the bigger picture?
do we trust that there is a beautiful design in mind?

after the cutting of the quilt, you have to put on the binding.
the piece that holds the entire thing together.
for the binding on this quilt, i didn't have quite enough of one solid color.
so i had to piece 3 different colors together.
i had to measure and piece. measure and piece.
what will finally hold this all together?
i want it to be neatly done.
again, it takes {patience}.
i have to iron out the creases in the binding, it's hot and if i am not careful i can burn my fingers.

the binding of our relationships.
the thing that is going to make it whole.  one piece.
sometimes we have to pull from all the resources we have to create a binding that is big enough to hold it all together.
our family.
our friends.
our church.
our savior.
it's colorful, that's for sure!
the pieces have to be ironed out, because even with all the work we've already put into the relationship, creases can still ruin it.
we always have to be watching for and taking care of the creases.
the sin.
the selfishness.
the things that hold love back.
and boy oh boy, that iron is hot every time we put it on.
how we hold the iron, where we place our fingers can determine if the ironing will benefit or burn.
it's our choice how to work the iron.
with care or recklessness.
care will prove to be the safest way.

back to the quilt.
the binding is finally on.
and even though it seems like we might be done, we are still not finished.

you have to wash the quilt.

you have to wash the relationship.
with the {WORD}.
we have to repeatedly wash our minds with the truth of the Word of God.

you have to wash the quilt on heavy duty.
to achieve the beautiful and soft ripples of the chenille, you cannot wash this quilt on delicate.
and you cannot wash it only once.
you have to wash it repeatedly.

we have to repeatedly wash our minds with the truth of the Word of God.
there is no way to complete the quilting of our relationship without repeated washing.
not just an easy, delicate washing, not an express wash, not a normal or casual wash.
 it needs to be heavy duty.
we need to soak ourselves in the Bible.
we have to get roughed up by the Bible.
by the people speaking and exhorting truth into our lives.

and then, the quilt comes out of the dryer.
fluffy and warm.
sometimes there are little threads still clinging to the quilt.
you have to give it a good shake.

after our relationships have been washed, there is still clinging sin.
clinging wounds.
we have to give ourselves, our hearts a good shake.

then, lay the quilt out.
admire it!
this quilt was greatly labored over!
it took time.
careful planning.
it took cutting it up and binding it back together.
it took washing.
and washing.
and washing.
and washing.
it had to be dried and shaken out.
the creator of the quilt is {pleased}.
it turned out just as i had hoped!

 when we can finally  lay out our relationship we want to admire it!
this relationship was greatly labored over!
it took time.
careful planning.
it took cutting it up and binding it back together.
it took washing.
and washing.
and washing.
and washing.
it had to be dried and shaken out.
the creator of the quilt is {pleased}.
sometimes, we can be fooled into thinking that {we} are the masters of our relationship.
fooled into thinking that we labored for this love.
and we took part in it.
but the creator, the master of our relationship is the {LORD}.
we had to be the materials, sewn and manipulated and shaped and cut and bound together and washed and dried out and shaken of our sin.
but it's worth it.
it's worth the time. the pain.
praise be to {God} that He can see the vision.  He planned and purposed our lives.  
God knit us together and hemmed us in.
All Glory be to God.