Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Gift of Suffering

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

1 Peter 4: 12-13

"Suffering does not mean that God's plan has failed. It is the plan. Suffering is a sign that we are in the family of Christ and the army of the kingdom. We suffer because we carry his name. We suffer so that we may know him more deeply and appreciate his grace more fully. We suffer so that we may be part of the good he does in the lives of others."

"Even our suffering does not belong to us but to the Lord. Perhaps it is easier to recognize that our blessings belong to the Lord than it is to recognize that he owns our sufferings... A whole host of self-absorbed temptations greet us when we treat suffering as something that belongs to us. This passage reminds us that our suffering belongs to the Lord. It is an instrument of his purpose in us and others. The way we suffer must put Christ on center stage. The Redeemer owns our disappointment and fear. He owns our physical and spiritual pain. He owns those crushing past experiences. He owns our rejection and aloneness. He owns our dashed expectations and broken dreams. It all belongs to him for his purpose. When we feel like dying, he calls us to a greater death. He calls us to die to our suffering so that we may live for him." (Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, by Paul David Tripp)

This was part of my morning read, and worth repeating here as a reminder. Our sufferings--both the aggravating and the crushing--belong to him and were delivered to us with love for a holy purpose. What a relief it is to understand this truth! There is freedom to put away self-pity, anger, and discontentment, to be released from the debilitating weight of it all. By the grace of God there is freedom and power to die to our suffering so that we may live for him.


One of Olivia's b-day gifts arrived late... all the way from Romania. She has been wanting a vintage alarm clock for some time. Thank you Etsy. It ticks loudly and rings rudely, and she just loves it. It looks darling on her nightstand and fits in so well with her decor.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thirteen Today

We are celebrating Olivia today. I am so thankful for her life and presence with us...

People say, "Oh, a teenager now!" with either a sense of warning or pity. I don't see it that way. She is pure delight, and it is a privilege to be her mother and friend.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Weekend!

Kinda disturbing, wouldn't you say? 

We're happy it's Friday.


Thursday, March 27, 2014


One of my boys came running in from the back yard and told me to come and take a picture. He said the light was shining through a bottle brush flower in a cool way, but by the time I retrieved my camera from the car and made my way to the back, the lighting had changed and I missed it. I get that-- I know that angles and light and moments shift quickly, but I was so happy they had eyes to see and appreciate beauty. God is kind to give us glimpses of unusual beauty; it is His artistry and it is all around if only we have eyes to see.

So I had him move the branch around in an attempt to re-converge light and angle, but we couldn't make it "glow" again. I snapped a picture anyway, partly to validate his claim amidst the skeptical remarks of his brothers and partly because it was still pretty.

Michael tends to be an auditory learner, so we let him listen to good material via an iPod quite a bit. Not a bad way to do school, or to spend an afternoon...

The handmade hammock was given to us by some friends, and the kids have really enjoyed it. I have yet to test it out. Not sure what my excuse is, but I'm sure I'll like it when I finally do.

I've been thankful for space for the kids to play. It has been good for them and for me. I think the years spent in apartments, condos and town homes really make me thankful for our own space, and the safety  of a private backyard.

The hours of sunlight are getting longer, and since the time change a few weeks ago, so have my days. I can't seem to get a good sense of time and our dinners have been consistently late, which mean bedtimes are late, and then the morning too. The sunlight is throwing me off and I just can't seem to get with the program. I think Jon needs me to get adjusted asap.


I've been waiting. 

I've been waiting on something for a very long time, but now that the waiting could possibly end, it's all the more grueling. It has been grueling at other times too, but now it just seems, well, kind of frustrating. 

Because our lives could be changed. Or not. 

And the waiting is hard. 

Last night I looked to see what the Bible has to say about waiting. Reading through those verses brought me to the realization that I ought to be waiting on the Lord, not on opportunities, situations, events, or whatever. Just waiting on the Lord.

It's hard not to place my hope on a certain outcome or circumstance. It's difficult not to hope for my desired plan to unfold. It's aggravating to be in a place where, if only I could, I'd do anything to just get the waiting over with. I've never been good at waiting on a surprise, much less waiting for something I have no clue which way it will go, whether as desired or not. 

I've been waiting and hoping on something to happen. I've been waiting on people and outcomes-- earthly things-- instead of God.

"And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You." Ps. 39:7

It is God who is perfect WISDOM, it is He who is LOVE. He has time and eternity in His hand, planned before the beginning of time. He has my life ordained, purposefully measured out for His glory and my good. And He is GOD.

Oh, that I would remember it and stop fretting about what could be, might be. He is God and He has regarded me. I remind myself again tonight to rest in Him, hope in Him, and wait on Him. 

His purposes, His time. Always perfect.

"The Lord will fulfill his purposes for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands." Ps. 138:8

"Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them." Ps. 139:16

"But for you, O Lord, do I wait; 
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer." Ps. 38:15

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, 
for my hope is from him." Ps. 62:5


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Small Talk

It's true, I've never been good at small talk. I'm socially awkward that way, even though I try hard to overcome this trait. I'm like a little kid who wants to hide behind a parent's leg, and squirms with discomfort when forced to make small talk with someone she doesn't know. I like the comfort of hiding behind a strong something. That's why I often search for Jon, who is  comfortably conversing, and I give in to the urge to intrude into his conversation, wedge my arm around his and clasp on for dear life. His arm is like that strong leg. It annoys me when I hear people say that shyness is a form of pride. Clearly they don't get it.

I guess this blog is a safe place to hide behind, a comfort zone where I can make a little small talk with ease. I can show pictures, describe thoughts, and tell of the things we've been up to without having to see some one's reaction, or try to read what they don't say. I just write to remember our days. It's kind of small talk for the pleasure of it, knowing that behind the casual words there are deeper memories and impressions.

So doesn't small talk often begin with the weather? Yes, today was drizzling for much of the day. Jon and I hung out way too late this morning before getting on with the day (one reason I love homeschooling) because the grey weather was so cozy and un-energizing. Jack complained of a sore throat and tummy ache, and by breakfast time he clearly had the stomach flu. All over.

The day's plans were pretty much cancelled, except for schooling the older three. The power even went out for a couple hours. I spent much of the morning and early afternoon next to the toilet bowl with my little boy, stroking his hair and rubbing his back as he hurled. He would rest his head against me, crying, until he'd fall asleep and I'd carry him back to bed. He would sleep for twenty minutes and we'd repeat.

My days aren't always so. No, last week as the kids played outside and I reveled in the beauty of the afternoon light and the blessings all around, as I happily chopped fresh veggies for dinner in a relaxed kind of way, I noticed a small movement from the corner of my eye. Behind the refrigerator, I was pretty sure I saw something peek out... something like a large lizard or a snake! I screamed.

You must understand that I can tolerate the lizards the boys bring to me like prizes; I can get up close to "admire" their finds, and I even pet their little heads or stroke there bellies. I'm fine with small lizards. Not so much with snakes, though maybe very small garden varieties I'll get up close because I love my boys.

But wait. A snake in the house?! No way. Yes, I screamed loudly and sincerely, and the boys came rushing in. They were thrilled with this adventure, pulled the refrigerator away from the wall and out came a loooong Alligator Lizard! These are pretty much like snakes with legs and they have a snake head, in my opinion. I hate snakes, and I strongly detest alligator lizards making their home in my kitchen. I surprised even myself and repeatedly screamed with horror from the counter top. The kids laughed and laughed at me, saying that the only thing better than finding a really big lizard (about 1 foot long?) was watching my reaction. They said it should have been recorded and sent in to AFHV. They were just lucky I didn't kill the thing with the tazer we recently found on our walk.

I haven't been the only crazy lady in our home, either. A couple weekends ago we had a group of people over from church, and in walks a real crazy lady. She just let herself in, totally confident that she was at the right address for a meeting with a certain lady, and she couldn't be convinced otherwise. She was not all there, obviously, but felt right at home with us. One of the boys said if she comes back again while Jon is away, they just might have to tazer her. Oh boy. I have made sure the door stays locked.

We've been gardening some more. Flowers make me happy. They brighten and beautify even the dumpiest places. You could live in a shack, but with a little bunch of fresh flowers, it can be a place of beauty. I have always thought so.

After gardening this weekend, play.

Michael's a neat guy. He knows what he likes with certainty. He doesn't look around to see what other people like and flip-flop on his preferences. He likes old things, unusual things, and unexpected uses for objects. His favorite Christmas gift was a fountain pen, and he has been wanting to create an unexpected/secret case for it. We took him to a thrift store where he found and bought this $3 book...

...and he carved this spot out to store his pen. He was determined to do it himself, even though Jon had suggested a certain drill bit, and was a little regretful that the old book with cool type was ruined. Still, he is very happy with his fountain pen holder.

It now sits on the shelf between the American poems and Dickens. (The thought just came to me now that this would book would have made a good prop for Andrew's St. Patrick's pictures!)

After I took the above picture this afternoon, I looked out the window to find Jacob up and out of his sickbed. In my garden boots, no less. I was glad to see the illness had past.

Here's Andrew's recent gift to me made from twisty-ties. He has decided he doesn't like me to kiss him anymore (but he squeals out laughter when I smother him with kisses at bedtime), or run my fingers through his hair in public. He's growing up, so I savor his little gifts.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Look What I Found...

A little Irish leprechaun boy.

At first he was afraid, all timid and shy...

...but he was easily coaxed out from behind the tree. He quickly struck a dapper pose...

 He then found a moth, but his little heart of gold became so sad when he realized it was dead...

So he pulled out a flute from the inside pocket of his coat and played a dirge in memory of the moth he never knew...

...until he fell into a peaceful sleep.

After his short nap, the little leprechaun boy settled into the green grass to enjoy the late afternoon with his pipe...

...then realized that, perhaps, his mother would catch him smoking!

Not to worry. This mother has French roots and has her own vices! 

Happy St. Patrick's!


Thank you, Andrew, for making fun memories with me! You were so spontaneous with all your creative ideas! Be proud of your Irish heritage!  ~xo


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Snippings and A Motto for Moms

Making things pretty is part of the fun of life, at least in my opinion. Jon and I purchased some dining chairs, thanks to a sale and a generous gift certificate I've held on to just waiting for the right moment. We are still expecting the delivery of two more chairs, but last night was the first time in a long time that each family member had actual chair at dinner time. The table was also a recent purchase-- a farm table I bought off of Craig's List. Most of our furniture have been CL finds. The black buffet was a piece Jon found at a sidewalk sale 8 or 9 years ago.

Olivia and I had the idea of gathering little snippings of the various blossoms around our yard at present. We decorated our dining table just for fun, just for us. The lavender in the center was from Trader Joe's to decorate the table for an evening of cheese tasting last weekend, but everything else was from around the house.

I've found myself taking more every-day type pictures recently. These are from this afternoon while the boys made houses and tanks from the boxes that the chairs were delivered in. The first one was taken before breakfast, the boys being funny little characters.

Above, Jacob is peeking out the window made of plastic wrap and tape. He looks in distress!

Below, Olivia always swinging or climbing in the trees.


It's nearing midnight here, and I'm waiting on food to cool before I can store it for the night. We're going to be getting up early tomorrow and starting our school day in earnest. Later in the morning we are heading over to a friend's for brunch, then taking our kids out on a field trip. This kind of stuff makes me so thankful for the way I school my kids.

These late nights are fine with me. It gives me a chance to record the things I need to write for myself; the things I am learning and prone to forget. Here are some words from the first chapter of Nehemiah that have encouraged me to pray in similar fashion:

"O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night..."

"O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy..."

The second chapter continues with a record of Nehemiah praying and of God putting into His heart a plan and granting him strength and confidence. God was with him and for him in the midst of opposition and difficulty. True and fervent prayer allows us to move forward with confidence and say:

"The God of heaven will make us prosper."


Tomorrow morning, when the alarm sounds earlier than my body wants to respond,  I will lean over to my bedside table and grab my Bible. Just as I have done the last several days, my eyes will turn to this verse, a two-lined motto which fits perfectly during these days of motherhood:

"God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns."

Ps. 46:5

Yes, I know that in context the "she" refers to Israel. But now, in the age of the New Testament, God's Spirit is within each one of His children. And so because of that, because He has personal presence with me, I can have both strength and tranquility at all times. And so I pray for it, and endeavor to hold fast to what God says.

Finally, a prayer as I head up to bed here in a bit (The 'us' inserted as I pray it for my family):

"The Lord bless you (us) and keep you (us);
 the Lord make his face to shine upon you (us) and be gracious to you (us);
 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you (us) and give (us) peace."

Numbers 6:24-26