Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Mornings, Evening Thoughts

There is something just so wonderful about summer mornings. As hard as I've tried over the years, I am decidedly not a morning person. I thoroughly enjoy the times when the pressure is off and I don't have to start the day in painful sleepiness. Jon is usually up and busy by the time I become conscious, and he helps me by delivering bedside coffee each morning. It's one of the many reasons I like him so much!

I savor those moments when I can linger in restful thought. As of a few years ago, I typically find myself waking up in prayer. Sometimes it's in petition, occasionally in desperate pleas, but most times it's just simple praise. It's like an easy talk with God, honest and hopeful before the troubles of the day are in full view and I am sidetracked by responsibility. I've been waking up with a sense of thankfulness recently, just feeling so care for by my God. Following the events and heartache of recent months, I've experienced such comfort and joy in the presence of God. He has granted a sense of well-being in Him, comfort and contentment in understanding who God is and who I am in Him.

More than relaxed mornings, I am thankful for relationship with God. I have prayed for that, too! He promises that He will draw near to those who seek Him, so I've repeatedly come to Him with that request.

Some of my favorite things: white bedsheets, soft pillows, open windows and a gentle breeze...

...and little boys who like to hang out with me in the morning. He is sitting on the deck in the hammock chair I received for Mother's Day this year.

I entertained 6 boys today. They swam, biked, and played sports at the school nearby. Mostly, they just ATE ALL DAY! I also noticed that when a group of boys get together, they begin to lose their sense of manners and always leave the toilet seat up. There are foot prints across the floors and piles of clothes and towels everywhere. And smiles all around. I love it.

Olivia came home from church high school camp this afternoon, and I'm happy to have my little feminine sidekick back. It will take her a day or two to catch up on lost sleep, so I'll have to be patient.


It's a day later now and late in the evening. Church tomorrow, kids in bed, Sunday preparations made... and the thoughts return: The questions, the confusion, the disappointment... I am gripped by it all once more.

I have a need to understand. I want to know the reasons for things, to see the sense in it all. I am constantly reminded that God's ways are unlike mine, and I am truly thankful that He directs my paths even when I don't understand. I rest in Him, trusting that He has always had a purpose in the circumstances and events of my life. He heard my prayers, my desire to extend my life and family and home to two children, to become a mother to them, and to point them to Jesus Christ. For so long that's what I waited for, it's what I wanted to do for the Lord. I believe this was a desire that He gave to me; I believe also that the subsequent events and outcomes were not outside of His control and will. So the sovereignty of God anchors me.

There are some things I understand more clearly now, though it felt safer when I did not. My eyes have been open to a deeper darkness, to the reality of the utter entanglement of sin and the despair of the human condition. It was my condition once too, and were it not for the Lord, there I would still be in complete blindness. There are two precious souls that are inextricable part of my heart, and I will boldly bring their names to the throne of God in prayer for as long as I live. He is mighty to save and to redeem for His own. The Lord is a compassionate, for He came to seek and save the lost.

So my work is not as I had imagined-- not in the nurturing and bringing up of children adopted into my family-- but rather in a labor of prayer.

While on vacation a couple weeks ago, I was scrolling through past blog entries and I came across this which I wrote on October 21 of last year (part of a "Miscellany" post):

This has been a concept worth understanding:

Just because I have a dream or believe with all my heart that I've been called to something, doesn't mean I'll get what I hope and pray for.

I may earnestly desire and pray for something, even something God says is beautiful in His sight and fully believe He is leading me and preparing the way, only to discover it is not His desire for my life.

The Bible says God fulfills our desires (Ps. 37:4). Sometimes He gives us the actual desire, placing something in our heart that clearly wasn't of our own; other times He simply grants the wishes of His children as a gracious act from a loving Father.

I am learning that my desires, even the godly ones that are for Him, must be held in my hand wide open. If my life is His, then so are my hopes and dreams. I cannot clutch onto anything or anyone with a sense of entitlement.

Maybe the journey in preparing my heart for a desire He gave me was the very purpose God intended. Maybe the outcome was a transformed heart, and a new willingness to obey. Maybe sanctification was the goal, and not the fruition of a dream or desire.

This would still be precious in His sight.

God answered in an unexpected way. Even in the midst of disappointment, confusion, and sadness, I am OK with it.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

Romans 11:36


Friday, July 3, 2015

June (Pt. 2)

Looks like June ended before I posted my follow-up post. This blog has been on the back burner for several reasons, mainly because I'm choosing to just live life with my family and sort through the events of recent months in a more private manner. Plus, June brought all sorts of computer/tech related issues for me. After the crash of my hard drive several weeks ago, I've been forced to learn new things and to rework the way I've done things in the past. This is hard for me since absolutely nothing is just "intuitive" and straight forward as some would suggest. No, no. I am clearly a moron in the tech department, and it could be that I was born in the wrong era.

But learning is good, as frustrating as it may be at times. I'm currently irritated by the lack of crispness in my uploaded pictures here, and why the problem is inconsistent. I've checked and re-checked all the steps, check and un-checked the related boxes... but to no avail.


June has wrapped up. It was a nice month, full and relaxing, a time of transition. I've made it a goal to set apart time with just the kids away from home and separate from responsibility, and the beach was on the top of our list each week. We wanted to explore the tide pools at this particular enclave at least once this summer, since this type of beach day is so different from riding the waves. The kids are at a fun age, and picking up and heading out is so simple in comparison to when they were all little. We listened to fun music as we drove, the younger boys counted trucks (stopping at 1000 just before arriving home that night-- Andrew likes things nice and even!), and another time together was slipped into the memory bank.

They are all fascinated explorers. Maybe that is innate to all children. I believe curiosity just needs to be fed by parents before it dies out. The best way to snuff out appreciation for nature and inquisitiveness in general is to keep children indoors and in front of a screen. That's just my opinion, of course, but I'm holding on to it with conviction!

A warm southern current brought these little red crabs from Mexico. Thousands upon thousands had been washed ashore.

I manually focused into my shadow to see through the glare of the water.

Our little spot

First batch of cherries this summer-- Olivia divided them evenly among our hats.

No one realized we had ALL brought our hats. When we started unloading, one of the kids said, "Oh great! Now we look like homeschoolers!"

Heading out together with their portions of cherries.

This picture makes me smile. Andrew's face, his funny way of doing things, his tender heart...
Here we were nursing a deep gash on the sole of his foot. It is necessary to carry band aids nearly everywhere we go.

At home, the pool continues to provide endless entertainment. They were having a "Swords & Boards" competition where two kids stand on a surf board each, and fight with foam swords till one person falls in. Michael constructed this victory crown.

Olivia stands her own among the boys!

Father's Day is in June, of course, and this year the kids followed tradition and made another poster board for Jon. We have quite the collection of funny drawing, inside joke, and little notes of appreciation to display each year. In Jon's generous manner, he took us out and bought the kids a short board on this day. 

The beach again. It still amazes me that we live so close; I'm just so thankful. Everyone seems to be at the beach now that school is out, and our local surf spot brings all sorts of crowds. It's OK cause some of us are people watchers! After several days of surfing, Michael opted to hang out with local fishermen while Olivia and her friend honed their surf skills. I'm generally not one to take pictures in crowed places, so these sandy ones of Jack is all I've got for now.

I found Jack up on the fence one evening, checking out the neighbor's fig tree. He is impatiently waiting the arrival of big, beautiful beetles that come each year to feast on ripe figs. (Click HERE to see what he is waiting to do.)

Waiting for me to trim his hair in the evening glow of sunlight 

And then there is this man-- The love of my life. He has kept me standing, moving forward and stable, and he does it in ways he doesn't even realize. I've been so thankful to the Lord for him! 

Two are better than one; if one falls the other lifts him up again (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).


Thursday, June 25, 2015

June: A Journal of Pictures (Part 1)

June has been for re-grouping. It has been a long, extended sigh. It was a good thing school wrapped up earlier in the month, giving us more time to just be.

Several people had recommended we get away, just us, in order to process the things that have taken place in our home and life since the beginning of the year. We were not able to do that, but we have had much time together as a family. We have needed it, and we have felt such enjoyment in it. We've needed time to talk, yes, but more so time to just exhale together. We are more attune to the simple, familiar aspects of our family of six, and we've found much relief in expressing our appreciation for all that God has given us and all that He has brought us through.

Jon and Olivia each had obligations on the first weekend of June, so I took the three boys out for a time of... um, messy memory-making! This may very well be our first annual MUD RUN!

Before the race:

I positioned myself on a stump with my zoom lens, ready for them to pass through this portion of the race. They were in heaven!

I saw him think about it, then take the plunge. Why not see what it's like?!

Andrew opted to just roll a bit. At this point I'd say most of the kids forgot it was a race!

Jack trying to find his brothers.

As they waited in the parent-pick-up section, they spotted me taking pictures from the top of the embankment with my zoom... Big, proud, happy smiles!


For a while I thought I could keep myself from getting muddy, but that was a pointless thought!

Some days the kids spend hours in the pool. Tonight Olivia has a friend over, and I called them in at 9:30-- they had been in there for nearly 5 hours, with the exception of dinner on the deck. This is quite normal with the boys, too.

Growing kiddos. Olivia will be a HS freshman, and Michael is starting Jr. High.

Once again, my camera has been instrumental in my discovery of "good things" in a way that is like therapy! Here I followed what is common-place with Jacob. Picking wild flowers to give to me is such a simple childhood act, but its beauty easily gets lost in the shuffle of life. Following the trail of his gift made me appreciate love and relationship within our family in a new way. All the simple little things add up to a life quite wonderful indeed!

Sweet boy. It's a good thing he's still so kissable!

Hiking. It's one of my favorite things. We figured we should get one last hike before the summer heat  keeps of from voluntarily moving east of the coast. I would have liked to hike further, but it was hotter than expected and we were running low on water.

Always flowers.

This boy only occasionally brings flowers now. At least he warned me not to freak out.

Psalm 40 has been particularly personal to me this month. A few of the verses...

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
 He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.
(40: 1-4)

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
(40: 6)

But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God!
(40: 16-17)

And also, Ps. 37:23-24

The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;
 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
    for the Lord upholds his hand.

The Lord's faithfulness to His children is sure, unfailing, and consistent. When I read this verse, I picture a small child holding onto his father's hand. When that child stumbles, the father keeps that child from falling to the ground and he swoops him right back onto his feet. The child does the walking and the stumbling, but the father does the swooping and stabilizing!

His faithfulness indeed never ceases-- toward me and all who call upon His name! This gives me great hope!