Thursday, July 25, 2013

It's On.

I've taken part in a battle. I've seen moments with no sword and far worse with no shield. No one knocked down my door, or declared a siege on my home.

Or maybe they did.

I'm not a nutcase, I promise, but there is more going on than most of us see with our eyes.

You whom God bought with His most precious, expensive fragrance, Jesus -- Satan wants you. Destroyed, defeated, desolate, degraded, devalued.

You who hold your hands palm up, waiting for refreshment from the Lord -- Satan wants you.

You who lean toward that steep cliff with sharp rocks below and are waiting for that phone call from someone, anyone, who cares--who'll talk you away from the edge -- Satan wants you.

You who heard something sweet, who received purpose in the morning and are now talking yourself out of it by night -- Satan wants you.

You who have a dream, a vision that could touch others and point in surrender to Christ --Satan wants you.

He is pursuing you.  

Here's a setback.  

Jump. No one cares.

You made that up. 

You can't do that. You're a failure, remember?

Because you are a risk. If you love with abandon and shout Jesus' name with loose tongue and serve without expectation, others might find out the truth.

That God is love, and love wins every time.

But like every other aspect of our enemy's repulsive nature, his desire to pursue you cannot compare to the depth of desire by which God pursues you.

How much Satan hates you and wants you thrown off that cliff, drowned in that puddle, and pierced by that sword, God's love for you exceedingly and abundantly transcends.

Truth is, if you want Jesus proclaimed and you have something stirring, burning inside of you that is just not "normal" because "normal" Christians aren't doing it, you will be fought. If you awake one day with a dream to see people living in the hope, freedom, and acceptance of Christ, you may as well get out your red paint and draw a generous target across your shoulders.


Maybe your dream is like mine--to help others find hope and to know that God has not left us, nor does He plan to tomorrow.
Maybe you should start sharing it. Your next door neighbor is waiting for something to believe in.

Maybe you're barely hanging on, waiting for someone to call you theirs.
Maybe He's been asking to make you His, to write your name on the palm of His hand. Let Him.

Maybe you're waiting for Him to show you He's still listening.
Maybe He's telling you now. 

If you close your eyes and rest, if you believe in His power and gift of spilt blood,
maybe you'll hear it.

Back off, Satan. That one is mine.

Peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dirt

I'm not sure what words should go with this post. I've typed several sentences and deleted them all. I can't fancy up the way I feel about these two pictures.

I guess it makes me think of how quickly things can change.
How we can dream up one life for ourselves, and then be handed an entirely different one.

The kids and I saw the lot today that is now completely bleached of any smidge of our lives there, and I'm pretty sure at least three hearts broke again in that van. It's one thing to talk about selling our land and having the foundation of our home broken up, but it's a whole other thing entirely to see the carried out result.

Dirt. Thick, rain-soaked dirt.

That's all there is, and you would never know about all the mud holes our children dug in the backyard or the tree that always got in the way of a great soccer game.

I remember the day I took the first picture. It was nearly one year ago and I was nervous. We were about to close on the house, and I wondered what it'd be like to live inside those walls. I wondered if we'd truly grow to like it as much as I hoped. I wondered if the neighbors would welcome us or not. I didn't, however, in my worst dream at that time think that I'd be taking the second picture a mere 11 months later.




And still, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that I have the first picture. I'm thankful that it's not only a picture--but the first chapter in a story so precious and dear to my heart, one where a family got a fresh start and a place to call their own, where they laughed often, cried sometimes, and learned so much about what it means to be a family. To be a family chasing God.

And the longer I stare at the second picture, I can see it.

It, too, is another fresh start. It's the end of the first chapter and something sad has happened. But you know there's a page turn, and you know there are more chapters ahead. Hopefully, those chapters will hold many, many happy moments. I'm secretly hoping for vacation moments! I'm hoping for more moments of my children digging in another backyard, playing soccer around another big tree, and dancing in front of another fire place. And something tells me the plot gets better because I know the author and His other works are filled with hope, new beginnings, and lots of dancing.

But the second picture--it's not done yet. This fresh dirt will be the beginning for someone else. I know a new home will be built, and a new family will come and stand in front, taking a picture much like the first, full of hopes, anticipation, and worries about the neighbors and the right wall colors. I hope they get to dig mud holes and ride bikes along the sidewalks, careful not the hit the fire hydrant. New grass will sprout, and along with it new hope, and healing.
Peace of Christ to you,

Monday, July 15, 2013

On Being a Mean Mom



Today lets' be frank. I know people have been wanting to know how we are doing, and I have wrestled with how to effectively and graciously relay one of our biggest struggles because I don't in any way want to sound ungrateful for all that has been given to us. But I also am discovering that those who are following our journey just want the truth, even if it doesn't come with a lollipop.

Raising kids is hard. Whether you've gone through something disquieting as a family or not...it's not easy. They argue, they contort their little faces in ways you still can't understand just to let you know how unreasonable of a parent you are! They. Are. Tough.

Oh yours aren't? Well, then this post was designed specifically for your entertainment! :)

Wrapping the month of May up involved so much emotional pampering with the kids; we were just so overwhelmed and grateful to be alive together. I found myself sitting and gazing at the kids, just soaking in every detail of their eyes, their long lashes, their soft cheeks. I'd run my fingers through Kate's hair and scratch Keagan's back just to be near them. It was a second honeymoon, in a way.

When you have lost every single stinking thing you once owned, the process of replacing it all--everything--does something to a person. That thing is hard to name, to categorize with words, but I'll try to draw it for you.

June arrived and while I was still enamored by our second chance at life, the effects of all the lavishing was beginning to show. The generosity of people was something I was not prepared for, and by that I mean--HOLY COW, people are generous!! So many resources were brought to us, sent via other friends, cards, gift cards, checks sent in the mail. I wish I could remember every little piece of sacrifice given, but I can't even name them all! They blessed us immensely, and we were able to function day to day and just survive because of other people's gracious giving. There's no way I could properly express the adequate thanks for that to you each. You know who you are, and if you gave anything at all, please insert your name here!

Unfortunately, because we are human, there is another part that eventually accompanies such generosity and selflessness. Our kids started expecting gifts, I noticed. If someone came to the house, they just knew that person would have something for them! And while they certainly had used some solid scientific reasoning to reach this conclusion, it simply was not acceptable! I didn't know how to address it, and I still struggle with it. They were robbed of all their normalcy, their every little possession by a natural disaster, but heaping it all back in their arms at once was proving to be quite detrimental to their personalities.

Naturally, the gifting has dwindled and we truly have replaced the most of what was lost that day. Matt and I both agree that the process of replacing everything has not been easy at all. It sounds so great to just go on this once-in-a-lifetime shopping spree, but most of the things we lost--we want that very item back, not a replacement of that item, if that makes sense. We are not usually materialistic, but we can tend to get a little sentimental. For instance, Matt lost a mess of tools, saws, sanders, etc. He has not replaced many of them because they weren't just tools. They were his grandpa's who passed away last August. They were a piece of him. So, a brand new drill just isn't the same as the very one that his grandpa held in his weathered hands.

I feel the same about many of my kitchen and craft items. My tape measure was from my mother in law, one she used to use herself. My cork board was a sweet "welcome to sewing" gift she made me two Christmases ago. My bookshelf was handmade by my dad.

Anyway, back to those precious kiddos: So today I decided to begin the process I've dreaded--the one where I become the bad guy and my kids lose momentary admiration for me! I asked them to clean the toy room under the stairs precisely two times, and they did...sort of. By that I mean, Kate picked up one load of toys to transport up to her room. While there, though, she became distracted by leading her new kitty (a.k.a. Caleb) around with a leash and somehow completely forgot to finish the effort. Keagan came back in, flying a plane made of Legos around my head while I picked up the remaining toys. I said nothing as I cleaned the rest of the room.

Don't worry--I had a plan! :)

I chose not to say another word about it. Not one. I made lunch (one they don't LOVE...I know, I'm so mean) and called them to the table. Kate and Caleb surprisingly did great and ate their meat and cheese sandwiches without much drama. Keagan, on the other hand, can sniff out a betrayal from a mile away. He hates anything that even remotely resembles meat, so this was a travesty! No PB&J?! I told him he could eat that or be hungry. I know, I've said it before, but today I mean it! ;)

Here's where I really got mean. After lunch, I laid Caleb down for a nap and then proceeded to haul out my dessert and place myself on the chair in the living room where Keagan and Kate were playing and could watch my every blissful bite. Their eyes grew five sizes and before they could even make their desperate pleas, I put my hand up to shoo them away.

"Nope. You know what? Today you do not get a snack because you didn't obey and finish picking up the toy room."

Oh, how my children hate me today.

But I bet tomorrow they remember to finish doing what I ask, don't you?

So this is something you can pray for us about, if you will. Recovering after a life-altering moment is, well...just plain hard. But we really need to regain the control we had over our children, to restore the direction of their character traits. Those have simply disappeared before my eyes through this entire event. I want them back. I want my sweet seven year old boy who doesn't back talk me again. I know this was going to happen anyway, truly I do, but again--that doesn't make it acceptable. Talking with other parents of children directly affected, I'm discovering that Keagan's sharp turn in personality is quite common. Irritability and back talking, I mean. But I'm not doing him any favors by allowing him to wallow in it.

So here is where we stop. I think I just scared myself!  :)


Peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Studying Children


I have been overly focused on children lately (hopefully I will get to tell you why soon!), so I thought I'd go ahead and talk about the kids' counseling.  Our counselor is very nice and jumps straight in with them, knowing exactly what she's looking for in their behavior and expressions.  Keagan and Kate have some more healing to do emotionally, but they are making some terrific headway.



Here are a couple of their drawings from this morning's session.




The first is Keagan's drawing; the second is Kate's.  They are learning about feelings this week and are giving specific names to each one they have and where they see it manifest in their bodies.  (The face is red for sad, the stomach is yellow for scared, etc.)  We talk about the tornado less and less, but I know their fears and anxieties are still buried deep down.  I hear Kate play with Caleb, and her character is usually hurrying to get away from an approaching tornado!  I figure this is very normal, so I'm not concerned.

I have been writing a lot lately, just not on here!  I will try to update more, and I still have a slew of pictures that I have never gotten around to posting.  Life has been difficult at times, and then it has just felt normal in other moments.  Matt and I will enjoy an evening together and then two hours later find ourselves crying over a photo we've found or just the thought of something special that's been lost.  He went to buy himself a new Moleskine journal yesterday, for instance. As he showed it to me, I caressed the cover of it and was suddenly struck with sadness because it finally sunk in that mine was gone.

I never know when something will hit me or if I will catch a whiff of something that smells like the debris.  Even landscaping at a restaurant can completely assault my emotions!

But we are doing really well, truly.  We are sleeping better.  We are finally starting to get some normalcy in our home.  I was living out of a suitcase until very recently for some random reason--even though we have owned bedroom furniture for over a month.  I honestly don't know why that was--it was like I was paralyzed and couldn't move forward.  The act of replacing things is an interesting adventure.  It usually involves me crying my way through a store, so I try not to do that too much!

We have some serious blessings going on as well.  The other day, I opened my front door and found a sewing machine!  I thought it was one of Matt's packages until the picture on the front caught my eye at last!  At that point, it gets a little blurry.  I do know there was jumping up and down and squealing!  I think I remember Keagan laughing at me hysterically.  :)

Isn't God good?

New things are brewing as well--new beginnings and new projects that I will share soon--very soon I hope!  I need to wait until I get more information regarding them before I let those cats loose.  :)

At the moment, I could use prayers for endurance, patience, clear direction from God, and I wouldn't mind if you threw a little of God's favor in there for me!



Peace of Christ to you,