18 August 2015

rescue

Seven weeks ago while Brad and Wilson were at camp, we met friends at their neighborhood pool for a cook-out. The kids swam while the food was cooking. We all got out out of the pool to eat, the little dudes needed their puddle jumpers taken off because they couldn't get their hot dogs to their mouths otherwise.  Lincoln finished eating first and forgot that he didn't have his puddle jumper on -- he jumped in without it.  My friend Amber saw him go in and jumped in just after him. I turned around to see the last few seconds before she grabbed him. In reality, it was less than a 30-second incident; it did shake us up a good bit though.


We talked about never jumping into the pool without a puddle jumper on.  Lincoln got right back in the pool -- with his puddle jumper on -- and swam around as if nothing happened.

But a week or so ago, he saw something on TV that reminded him.  And he said, "when I was in Miss Amber's pool and I was drowning, you didn't come get me."  I was so surprised that he brought this up after five weeks had passed, and the way he stated it caught me off guard.   I replied, "I know, honey, but Miss Amber got you right away, didn't she?"  And he sadly whispered, "why didn't you come get me?" My heart was breaking.  He was tearful.  We went back and forth on this a bit and then I realized something -- Lincoln could see me the whole time.  He couldn't see Amber because she was behind him.  He called out for me. By the time I heard him and turned around, I could see Amber on her way in to the pool.  The whole event was less than a minute, likely less than 30 seconds.  I turned toward him, screamed his name, and moved toward the pool as Amber grabbed him.  I don't know how long he saw me before I turned around.  I can only imagine what it looked like from his perspective as he went under the water and saw me standing there.

I tried to explain that I could see Miss Amber coming for him, that I knew she was on her way.  But it didn't matter to him.  He was devastated that I didn't come get him.  As we discussed it, he hit my arm a few times emphatically puncuating his questions, "why didn't you come?" "why didn't you get me?" It was all I could do to hold back my own tears.  I assured him over and over that I could see what he couldn't see.  My words didn't seem to offer much comfort, so I just snuggled him close.  I asked him if he wanted to talk to daddy about it and he shook his head no as he cried into my shoulder for a good long time.  I held him tight. I kissed his head.  I felt his little heartbreak down deep.

I am still reeling from that conversation with my precious boy. I struggled with whether or not it was a story to share.  I hurt for Lincoln's heart that was so puzzled because I didn't come to his rescue.  So I find myself praying that Jesus would reassure his little heart.  I am asking God to make his heart brave, and fearless and certain; that if someday Lincoln finds himself in a mess and can't see me coming, that he would always know the Rescue is on its way.  In a way, I am praying God would do the same for my heart too.  And yours.

Many of us have been in those deep waters.  And we've looked for the rescue to come. We can't see the bigger picture, we just see the part where we thought we'd be pulled from the depths.  And we wonder why it isn't happening the way we thought it would. Sometimes its a small thing and we shake it off, and say, "well God has His reasons" and move on.  Other times, its hard to even breath, hard to even have complete thoughts, harder still to try and whisper prayers asking God to come rescue us -- begging Him to pull us through. So I decided to share this story for you, my friends, in those depths today. I am telling you that Rescue is coming.  It may not come the way you are hoping and it may take longer than you would like, but I promise you that Rescue is coming. Our Savior sees you and knows every detail, He is with you always. Even in your biggest mess, even if you've made the mess yourself.  He will never leave you.  He will lift you up.  You will not always flounder, your weariness will one day subside.  He will restore you.  Hold firm, dear one, Rescue is coming.  If you cannot see it from where you are, I pray you believe me when I say I can see the Rescue coming.

"Israel, The Lord who created you says, "Do not be afraid - I will save you.  I have called you by name - you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.  When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you."  Isaiah 43:1-2 GNT

07 August 2015

twelve









I just cannot believe you are twelve.  Today you are wearing pads and getting hit for the first time this year at football practice, so it seemed like a good time to be all nostalgic about my baby growing up.  And also because your birthday was three weeks ago.

When I met one of your teacher's last night, and she put her hand over her heart and gestured toward you and said, "he's just...{big content sigh}... well, you know."  It made my heart happy.  It never gets old hearing a teacher compliment you and your hard work.  I am so proud of how well you transitioned to middle school.  You repeatedly astound me with your confidence to go after things -- football included. You work hard, you play hard, you give your best.

You continue to surprise me with your big brother skills.  I know you mostly hear me critique you and remind you that you are setting an example.  But sometimes I see such tender moments unfolding between you and your brothers {I rarely say anything about it because it might just wreck the moment], just know it makes me feel all mushy inside when I see it.  You are tenderhearted toward your brothers most of the time and generally try to help them out when you can.  I especially realized what a big helper you are when you were at camp.  Its fair to say that I had taken your helpfulness for granted up to that point!

As you get older I see new parts of your personality emerging.  You have a snarky sense of humor.  You make me laugh pretty easily, occasionally at the wrong time.  We've seen some hard things unfold this past year.  When the tears come easy for me, you are comfortable to just sit with me in the quiet.  This takes a special kind of maturity.   Its been delightful having you with us in church service this year, I love looking over at your notes in your notebook -- even if you won't let me take pictures of your doodles. I hear growth in your prayers and trust that your faith will continue to grow as you do.

You probably don't know this because you aren't a parent, but in some circles there is a lot of dread about children getting older and turning into horrible creatures.  The teen years are characterized as something you brace yourself for and hope to make it to the other side.  I want you to know that I hope for more.  We are just on the edge of those years, and we've hit some attitude bumps for sure.  I am guessing there will be more. But the truth is, I still like you and you still like us.  I love that last hour of the day when you are the last one awake. Sometimes I want to start on a sewing project or get the laundry folded, but mostly the idea of sitting on the couch with you wins.  Its a joy to be your momma, son.

I hope time and again you will go after life with confidence; trusting that God has big plans for you and believing that He will lead you well.  Always.


21 July 2015

NINE!







Walker!  You are nine {+ 3 weeks} old!  You continue to amaze me with your free-spirited attitude.  You don't even mind if I write your birthday post 3 weeks late.  You've never been one to get hung-up on whether everything is fair.  You give grace easily and forgive quickly.  At least to your daddy and I, at times it takes a little encouragement to do the same with your brothers.

Speaking of your brothers, you continue to rock the big brother roll and have settled into a more balanced approach to pestering your big brother.  You love to laugh and make others laugh too.  You are usually quick to help a brother in need, and I am so proud of you for that.

At school this year, you walked into a new building with new teachers and new kids. You handled the transition well, and shined your light all over the place.  You excelled in the classroom and as a friend.  One parent even told me that you were an outstanding young man.  It made me get teary-eyed.  I feel a little bad that you are starting a brand new school again this year, but as well as last year went, I am confident that you will flourish.  And I am really excited for all the extra time we'll have with you at home.  Woo hoo!

You keep making me a better runner.  I am so glad we get to do this together.  I will be sad if you decide you don't want to run anymore.  For now, though, I will just enjoy our time together.  Sometimes you have to encourage me to pick up the pace and sometimes its me telling you to get moving.  Either way, its always a good feeling when we finish a run side by side.

You are growing up so fast, so strong, so healthy.  You are compassionate and energetic.  You have moxie and you enjoy spreading it around to others.  You are a joy to parent and fun to hang out with.  Keep being YOU, Super Walker, you are loved and cherished and just exactly the way God intends you to be.  Keep trusting Him to show you the way. 

16 July 2015

summer + some needs

Wow!  This summer is zipping by, not in a bad way, just a quick way.  We've had lots of visitors and lots of fun, so I am not complaining.  Its just weird that we haven't had a minute to be bored yet!

I think I have mentally written about 5 or 6 blog posts over the last few weeks.  But I just keep carrying them around in my brain.  I am convinced this makes me more distracted, so I am going to try and put a solid effort in to getting some of the words out of my head and onto the screen.

I am starting with perhaps the easiest of the in-my-head-posts.  This one is about the foster care emergency clothing closet.  I went there in June with a few boxes of donations to unload.

It was a bittersweet visit.  Our church is switching up how the preschool department works which means I probably won't have free childcare every Tuesday morning anymore.  This has been my go-to volunteer time slot so its hard to think about not doing it anymore.  Of course, I know God will send someone else along to do the job, and is actually already doing so.  I have had a lady from our church come with me a few times and she has also gone on her own a few times too.  I have no doubt that the space will be well-organized and will continue to serve the children and caseworkers well. 

It'll just be a little hard for me to not be in there so often.

More times than I can count I have walked into that closet feeling down or rushed or irritated.  You name it.  But I walk out refreshed, renewed, and reminded that a glimpse outside my own little world is an excellent perspective shifter. 


I walked in feeling a little heavy and dumped those boxes out on the floor.  As I began unwrapping the clothing and finding hangers for it my heart felt grateful. I thought about how often I have been privileged to carry in donations from my generous friends. I thought how special it has been to be the middle-man in this place.  Time and time again I have been blessed to see generous hearts pour out goodness for children they will never meet.  People that heard of the need and decided they could do something to help.  I'm not sure I will ever adequately be able to express what an extraordinary gift this has been to my weary soul.  When the need seemed just too big to me, y'all just offered your part and it added up to enough over and over again.  It was fun to spend a few moments reminiscing on where the place started and where it is now.

As I finished hanging all the new items up, I cleared off another cart.  It had an open suitcase spilled out on top of it.  The clothes looked as if they had been scooped off the floor and shoved inside, then half-dumped out on the cart.  I wasn't sure why they were there.  I found a file folder with an award certificate inside of it.  The name on the certificate matched the name on the tag on the suitcase.  I wondered if anyone had congratulated the child on the certificate.  I wondered if anyone kept a file of his best school work or past awards.  I tucked everything back into the suitcase the best I could.  As is often the case, though, I couldn't stop thinking about that award and its recipient.  I prayed that he would feel valued and celebrated wherever he was.

I did a quick inventory and wasn't too surprised to find that we were lacking in some areas quite substantially.  I know some of y'all will want to help again, so here is the current list of needs.

  • Shelf-stable individually wrapped snacks
  • shelf-stable single serving drinks {or water bottles}
  • underwear ALL sizes {and sports bras for girls}
  • diapers size 2, size 3, size 4, size 5
  • socks for both boys + girls




11 May 2015

a present parent

Oh nap time.

I love you and I hate you.  I love you on the days that you come easy + early.  I hate you on the days that require repeated conversations about expectations.  Or the days when you just get started too late.

Today, nap time started early.  We had a brief conversation about laying quietly in bed.  I didn't add reminders about leaving toys on the floor or keeping hands off of the blinds.  I walked away, leaving the door open so they would know I was listening.

I heard a little giggle.  I quietly tiptoed down the hall to see what was happening.  One brother was playing peek-a-boo with the other - almost silently.  Nearly doing exactly the right thing.  Except not.

One brother spotted me first and immediately became still and disinterested in the peek-a-boo game.  His changed expression caused his brother to glance at the doorway too.  He rolled over.  Almost at the same time they reached an arm back to pull their covers up.  Their bodies were still.  No more peeking across the chasm at one another.


Almost instantly I had that familiar sensation that there was a lesson wrapped up in this moment for me.

The boys were doing almost the exact right thing.  Except not.  They were supposed to be laying quietly in their beds and they sorta were.  But the purpose was rest.  And as long as they were engaging with one another they were never going to find that rest.

Not until they realized my presence in the doorway did they become still. 

So often, I think I am doing the exact-right thing.  Almost.  Which, I mean, is certainly close enough, right?  Um, no.

It is hard for me to be still.   I often engage others instead of just allowing myself to be quiet.  You too?   But when I sense His presence, the stillness washes over me.  Rest comes, clarity comes, peace comes.  I don't know why I distract myself from the goodness that He has for me in this quiet place.  It seems silly when I think about it.

Oh that I would remember that our Father is an ever-present parent, consistently urging me to do the right thing that I might find His rest.




05 May 2015

He is Good

It has been one month and two days since I blogged last.  It was Good Friday.

The post ended with "His love for you - and me - is what makes a day like today a good one."

I've tried to write three different posts since then and I just haven't been able. 

I could have never predicted that in a couple hours after writing that Good Friday post, I would be at the hospital in utter disbelief.  My friend's full-of-life, bubbly, sparkly little girl had left this earth. We sat in a tiny room grasping for something to hold on to. It felt like much too much for this family to bear.

So many questions swirled in my mind.  So many answers were nowhere to be found.  My hands were clenched tightly.  I felt an urge to just crumple on the floor but an inner voice would scold me, telling me to get myself together. My prayers were reduced to phrases that on their own might sound trite or cliche.  They were the only words I could string together.

"Jesus, please come"

"Lord, have mercy."

"Dear God, please!"

I don't remember saying much else.  I just remember feeling so desperate. I wanted to be a better friend with more wisdom for how to walk through this valley of grief. I wanted an instant miracle to restore this little life.

Two days later, I prayed for a worldwide revival on Easter Sunday so that perhaps Jesus might come back that day.  It was a bold prayer and I absolutely believed it possible.  I truly did.

But He didn't come back.  Not yet.

Today, one month and two days later, I still feel so desperate.  I still wish I were a better friend with more wisdom for how to walk through this valley. My prayers remain broken phrases that sound worn-out. At times, I still feel angry that the instant miracle didn't come.  Other times, the utter disbelief washes over me just like in the early hours.

But God.

Even in this darkness, He shows His goodness.  Ever since that day, I have seen glimmers of goodness.  If I were to try to write them all it may get jumbled-up here.  But I've seen these good things, these small reminders of His goodness.  For weeks, every time that I noticed a 'good thing' I immediately felt a tension.  An inner nagging that couldn't quite complete a thought but lingered in the balance between "but if He's so good in these tiny, little ways then why..."

I still can't complete the question -- and certainly cannot answer it.  But I realized that the miracle is that I still see His goodness.  We still see His goodness.  Even in this darkness, we see His Light shining.  These small glimmers of goodness light the way through this dark valley.


"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting." Psalm 136:1 NASB

So I keep looking to Him.  I keep begging Him to come.  I keep asking Him for mercy and keep seeking glimpses of His goodness. I have nowhere else to turn. So I just keep coming back to Him. I offer up my brokenness and my lack and I find Him faithful even here.  I believe Him to be good even now.

I will continue to stand witness in this dark valley, squinting through the darkness counting the shimmers of God's goodness as we make our way through.  Believing every 'good thing' is a glimpse of his loving-kindness toward us, His tender loving-kindness that is everlasting. 

I first heard this song at the funeral.  I watched my friend raise her hands in worship as I listened to the lyrics for the first time. There are no words to describe the depth of emotion that I felt - I think all of us in the sanctuary felt - in those moments.  It was holy.  And He is good.




03 April 2015

Good Friday

We sat around the fire this morning and asked the boys if they knew what today was. . . Good Friday.  We talked about Jesus dying as we ate our lumpy oatmeal.  One of the boys asked, "but why do they call it 'good'?"  And I admitted that was an excellent question.


We reeked a bit of campfire + funk from a night of camping and I explained that if Jesus hadn't died for us we'd have no hope at all.  I said something about how all of us needed a Savior.

It wasn't a long, planned-out conversation - no colorful eggs to tell the story, no object lessons, I didn't even open the Bible app on my phone.  We just talked about His death which gives us Life.

But as this day unfolds, I keep thinking about how desperately we need a Savior.  About how we all just reek a bit of smoke + funk + we're broken down in this world.

He came for all of us.  Not a single one of us is enough on our own.  We need a Savior to rescue us.  And so He came.  For each of us.  He comes now still. He comes with Love for the broken + the messy + the smelly + the lost.

He chose the cross, for you and for me.  He suffered for us.  Willingly because of Love.

Not because we deserved it, or because we were trying really hard to be good.  Rather He did it precisely because we could never be good enough nor could we ever deserve it.  His mercy and grace and love drove Him to that cross.  His obedience to His Father endured death on our behalf.


If you aren't sure that His love is for you, I pray you'd find out.  I pray you would be brave and walk into a church and ask, "Did He really do this, even for me?"  The answer is "Yes. Especially for you."  I promise you it is.****

Right now today, not after you get yourself clean or after you read the Bible in a year.  No, right now, today, just as you are -- His love for you is unwavering.

 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8 NASB"

His love for you - and me - is what makes a day like today a good one.




**** p.s. You don't have to actually walk into a church to find out these answers.  You can ask me or anyone you know that knows Jesus.  I do believe the Church is a great place to find out more about Jesus though.  If you need help finding one, I'd be happy to help with that! :)