Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wonderful

A big pot of chicken stock simmered all afternoon, the kids played with each other like good friends, someone drew silly faces on the bunch of bananas on the counter, and we had a "dance fest" to the introductory music of an audio book in the little boys' room before bedtime.

January has been good. I've had to skip writing much of this good stuff, but my heart overflows with thankfulness. Truly, sometimes it beats hard with anticipation and trepidation, but wonderful things are transpiring and there is goodness all around.

I've learned more of God's love for me in brand new ways this month. I've especially been struck with how He chose to set His love on me before I yet knew Him, and loved me despite all my sin and shame. He loved me before I knew Him and waited patiently for me to come. I've thought of the way He willingly entered my world, leaving His glorious heaven to enter my place of sin in order to rescue me from it. I've thought of how He laid down His very life for me, died and now lives victoriously, my freedom purchased by His blood.

The depth of His love and the magnitude of His sacrifice are in comprehensible, but bit by bit I am finding joy and abiding satisfaction in sacrificial love. Did Jesus not say, "Come, follow me"?

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

Luke 9: 23-26

Strong language? Maybe a little terrifying? Oh, but what a wonderful promise if we believe and live by it!

->:<-

Some of my most favorite times this month have been in prayer with Jon, his end-of-day praise and petitions before we fall asleep. His leadership in this way, his words, his humility... they are a transformative thing for our marriage. Even though he is not speaking to me, his prayers to God communicate depth of love and unify us well beyond the minutes spent with heads bowed. And I believe God is in the business of answering prayer, so together we lay our petitions for Him to work out, trusting in His perfect love and His perfect timing.

I have such admiration for Jon. He is a confident man, yes, but can also be hard on himself. He is always striving after righteousness, for humble obedience. I see the Lord working in him, fruit of righteousness becoming evident in new ways. God has given me a great gift in this husband of mine.

->:<-

Pictures from early January during the Christmas break-

Hiking after the rain
 After a long ascent, a snack in the grasses off the trail





Sharing sunflower seeds with a brother



 Funny how many pictures I took of their backs. They don't know how much I enjoy watching them...
 Miss Long Legs waiting at the end 

->>:<<-

I fully believe life can be wonderful, if only we look for the wonder. There are certainly wearying things, hardship, sadness. But there is also much beauty, and joy, and contentment. Beauty is all around for those who look for it, joy is a fruit that can be cultivated, and contentment comes by way of discipline in thankfulness. Maybe you are depressed by the bleakness of a frozen winter, but by looking you see the beauty of God's creation in ice crystals and the joy of a cup of warmth shared in the company of a friend. Maybe you are going through a trial, but you remember the growth you've experienced in past sufferings, knowing that all things are for the good of those who love the Lord. Maybe your pain seems more than you can bear. Let me remind you that God's promises are true, His word never fails, and He draws near to those who call out to Him. And maybe now, for a little while, life is just plain good. Don't forget who to praise for it.


~Katherine

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Clothes to Share

She is my Olivia, and she is a girl like me. We are more alike than not, I think, and this season of life has been so fun. We are now entering a new phase, one that will means more clothes and more sharing. This was her last Sunday: my boots, my coat, my dress (which I wear as a shirt-- it's so short!), and the leg warmers and cardigan (not visible) were also once mine. I can't quite wear much of her things yet, but I do borrow items like scarves, a vest, and other accessories. We love it!


Last night I lay in bed trying to solve a problem. This one has to do with Jon and Michael and all the black men's socks I have to sort, fold, and keep in the correct dresser. I'm having a hard time keeping things straight and remembering if the Puma socks with the emblem at the top are Michael's and if the ones with the emblem on the bottom are Jon's. Or is it the other way around? What about the ones I bought for Michael and ended up being used by Jon-- Which ones were those again? 

So I lay there in the dark thinking: What am I going to do when all the boys wear men's socks? Will they have to have communal socks? What about the underwear?! There has got to be some sort of system out there...

It's a funny problem to have, I suppose, but I seriously wouldn't mind knowing what other moms do. Any suggestions?

~Katherine

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Lessons From Mary

Just a few minutes ago it was hailing outsiding. The sound of ice pelting against the house woke everyone except Jack, and we all stood at the sliding glass door staring out into the dark for several minutes. The house is now quiet again except for steady rain, some gentle crackling from the fire, and occasional thunder. It's a good time for writing here by the fire. I don't normally prefer tea, but maybe a cup would be nice, too...

The year is coming up to its end point, and I find myself unusually less sentimental. Typically I tend to look back and become somewhat saddened by the swiftness and brevity of time, and marvel at the coming date. Really? 2015! How can that even be? It's true the year did go by quickly, and I'm sure I missed a ton of moments I'd like to reclaim. My kids have grown, I have aged, and time seems to tick so darn fast.

But this year my focus is a little different. I don't find myself looking back very often, or lamenting the passing of time, or fearful of possible challenges around the bend. This change of perspective is more by default, not on purpose or by determination, but it's definitely a nice place to be. Yes, I much prefer being the kind of girl that can smile at the future. It makes me wonder what it would feel like to "laugh at the time to come" (Prov. 31:15). To smile is one thing, but to laugh takes faith and contentment and courage to a whole new level.

Throughout the month of December, I've found myself reading and thinking through Luke's passage commonly know as Mary's Magnificat. Several messages at church focused on this section; I was also asked to read the preceding section to the women at our ladies event several weeks ago. So many aspects about Mary life struck me, but the one verse I kept re-reading was her response to the angle Gabriel in Luke 1:38. She said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." Her magnificat - her ability to praise and exalt the Lord - could only come after she submitted herself entirely to the will of God.

Mary was an ordinary girl from a nowhere town. It's true that becoming the mother of Jesus would elevate Mary's humble estate and that all future generations would call her blessed (v. 48), but she did not experience those blessing during her lifetime. Instead, she would know a loss of good reputation and perceived moral standing, she would know fear (ex. the punishment for adultery could be death, she and Joseph fled to Egypt for safety from bloody murder), and she would probably feel confused and alone as the years went on. I wonder if she ever felt a little crazy, especially as Jesus' life and ministry was so different from what the Jewish people expected from the Messiah. Most importantly though, Mary would feel a sword pierce through her own soul (Lk. 2: 35).

But Mary's soul was submitted to God, and she had faith in His sovereign word. All the loss and pain did not matter in comparison to being used by God in the exact way He intended.

Mary was indeed a special mother. No other woman can boast of the same divine favor, or compare to her pain. And yet, somehow, I cannot help but see similarities between Mary's response to God's call on her life and the call God has on Christian mothers. Motherhood is a call to submission to God's will for my life, and I know it is a call that can lead to great pain. I must be willing to say, "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." I want to be that servant, the one who willingly lives out the work that God has prepared for me, knowing that there may be much pain and sorrow involved.

And there most certainly is sorrow in motherhood. It could be a loss of personal pursuits, the loss of health, or status in society. Sorrow could be the result of a child that rejects us, or even worse, rejects God. Motherhood unquestionably brings great vulnerability to great pain. Within the last few months I know two mothers that have lost their children: The 10-year old daughter of my best friend in Jr./Sr. High was killed in a tragic accident, and a mother in our church lost her son in a car accident this last Christmas day.

"Here is my heart and my very life. I will serve You according to Your plan. Do to me as You have purposed." Can I stand with Mary and utter those words wholeheartedly? I want my love for God and my trust in His sovereignty and lovingkindness to exceed the love I have for myself and my own happiness. May I live in a way that magnifies the Lord.

>>>:<<<

December Closing:

Special times with the kids on the 26th. Andrew was testing out his new football.


Michael. He goes out daily for a ride.


California. Definitely not a white Christmas. Temporary hail not counted.


Little feather pendant from Michael.


Olivia was away all of yesterday, so I took the boys on a little outing of their choice. We parked and walked/scootered/state boarded up the coast. The weather was blissful, and the holiday tourists were numerous! 



Looking out to see what we could see. The water was so clear we could see tiny fish and the ocean floor rippled below in between waves.



A pelican glaring at my boy who badly wanted to pet him.



Racing me up the hill. I took the shorter, steeper route, and they took the longer, easier ramp. I won.


My boys. Couldn't imagine life without them.



Andrew admiring his favorite house. It's a tiny house, smaller and set further back in comparison to neighboring homes. He's thought of writing the owners to let them know he'd be interested in buying it when he grows up.



Our December plans were changed more than once in pretty big ways. In the end though, it was just right. The more-relaxed-than-expected schedule allowed for plenty of gatherings with friends, with late night conversations and games. Some among us have significant changes on the horizon, and it was good to huddle together and rehearse God's faithfulness.

Happy New Year to you...


~Katherine




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Antidote for the Cold

We've got a cold front moving in today and rain in the forecast. It's cold in the house because we don't have a very good heating system, and last night I slept with heavy socks and extra blankets. I kept waking and I worried that the kids might also be cold downstairs, even though I left the space heater running. It seems that the house is always colder when Jon is away.

This morning the little boys were awake before I was (not at all unusual), so I cashed in my snuggle ticket from Christmas. It was a lovely way to start the day....


He told me it's a never-ending ticket.


It went with the chocolate Jack bought me for Christmas. Some of the best presents in life are the most simple.

Now I'm going to make a fire and some hot chocolate for the kids, and (sadly) the Christmas decorations must come down.


~Katherine

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!


As we celebrate the arrival of the Savior, our promise of hope and life, our hearts overflow with gratitude for His love toward us and for His vast blessings which we do not deserve.

He is the radiance of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3), and He has done the unimaginable in condescending to us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. What a wonder!

He is the reason we live and love...
















The Unbelievable

Come and see the inconceivable
And believe the unbelievable
God has come to dwell with us
Begotten Son born into Adam’s earth
Promised One fulfilling ancient words
God has come to dwell with us

Who could ever know the depths
Of the myst’ry of Your grace?
Though our minds can’t take it in
Lord, our hearts are filled with praise

He will heal the unhealable
He will save the unsavable
God has come to dwell with us
Heaven’s joy will drink our bitter cup
Emptied out as He is lifted up
God has come to dwell with us

Lord, we’re lost in overwhelming awe
At the thought of such amazing love
God has come, God has come
God has come to dwell with us

By Sovereign Grace



~Katherine



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December Things


We're in full Christmas mode here, and before calm breaks way to crazy I thought I'd sit for a while and write of recent days. I just came back from the store, twice, because there's always something I forget to write down on my list. This time it was the Gruyère. With the exception of a few last minute items still on their way, the gifts are wrapped and all nestled under the tree. My menus are pretty much determined, and I'm about ready to start with the preparations. So my apron will accessorize the kitchen once I hit "publish" and the activity will officially be on! What a privilege it is to celebrate God's love for us, and how humbled I am by His humility for our sake!


Little gifts the boys prepared for each other (above).



This is the first year where all my kids insisted on taking a portion of their savings to exchange gifts with each other. The space beneath the tree is quite full, and I am thankful for the expressions of love it represents.




>>>:<<<

We recently had a time to celebrate Michael, my December baby who's not exactly a baby anymore. This months marks his twelfth year. I will forever remember that quiet, solitary December when he was born, and those December nights all cozied up with him by our first Christmas tree. He was such a cozy baby and made such a wonderful gift to our family.


He normally chooses something other than cake, and this year he wanted fresh cinnamon rolls as a birthday breakfast celebration. It was a nice way to start an otherwise cold and rainy weekday morning! We took a day off school and went ice skating-- around and around the rink we went for a full 4 hours!



Skateboarding: His new afternoon pastime.


At twelve years of age, this boy wasn't exactly keen on letting me take a ton of pictures, but he did let me snap this one yesterday morning. He uses hair product now, and he enjoys making goofy styles in the morning when he's still in his PJ's. (BTW, HK= Hong Kong)


Michael. Where do I start with him? Oh my goodness, he is becoming such a funny guy! Mostly it's on purpose, sometimes it's not. I think my favorite quote of the year was back in the summer months when the kids were all playing in the pool and I was sitting on the edge with my feet in the water. Michael got out and walked around the edge. A little surprised, I said, "My goodness, Michael, you are  becoming such a handsome guy!" Without skipping a beat and in all seriousness, he replied, "Thanks! I was just thinking so myself!"

Michael is our global, outside-of-the-box thinker. He is confident and social, and I have no doubt he is more like his father than he is like me! It's so neat to see him change and grow, boyhood beginning to show signs of fading, and maturity becoming more promising. I sense I need to communicate trust in this maturity, letting him take a little more charge and responsibility in certain areas. It's an interesting time for sure.

He still loves the outdoors, though now he is no longer content to huddle beneath a bush and inspect the insects. Now he wants to go far, deep in the woods or far from the shore. He loves to mountain bike around our neighborhood, always begging me to let him go farther. He comes back with stories of talking parrots, a tatoo-faced man, and the pressure of figuring out how to fix his bike chain before darkness fell.

He LOVES the beach. He's my California boy all the way.

Yesterday afternoon I took the kids for a short outing. Our mode of transportation was a choice between scooters, bikes, or skateboard. We all chose bikes except for Michael (who got a great workout on his skateboard) and he was the only one to assume it would be warm enough to go swimming. 

Birthday pictures? I'll take it.



This is our December...






The sun was warm and pleasant until this cool marine fog appeared. It took less than 5 minutes to reach us, then we were enveloped.



This is our "weather."







The fog horn in the distance were the last sounds I heard as I drifted off to sleep last night. 



p.s. For those who have asked and expressed concern, I want you to know I am feeling significantly better. My "fog" has lifted. I feel refreshed and I am finding enjoyment in my days again. Thank you to those who prayed or offered words of encouragement.


~Katherine