A Choice

She wrestles through the weekend with thoughts of inadequacy, fear, and restlessness.  Tears fall and doubts creep in.  And on a Tuesday she decides to call it what it is: a battle for her heart and mind.

Satan’s game is to make us want what we don’t have, to make what we have never look like enough, and to make us doubt everything we believe, so she calls him on his dirty tactics.  If we stay at home, we want to have a mission outside the home.  If we are out in the workforce, we wish we could be home with our families.  When our children are young we long for them to grow up and become more independent.  When they grow up we miss the simple days of early childhood and naps and Nick Jr.  When marriage is rocky we wish for the smooth everyday type days.  When marriage is mundane we wish for excitement.  When we are alone, we wish for more friends.  When we are surrounded by others, we long to be alone.  And it’s true what they say: Jealousy comes from counting someone else’s blessings instead of our own.

So she calls foul and she sets her eyes on Truth.  And she plays music and she puts words in her heart.  And she knows that Satan knows her weak spot and he will be back but she knows every time she fights and rises again, she rises a little stronger.

When Jesus sets me free, the freedom is also eternally done, for no chain can ever shackle me again.  Once the Master says to me, ‘Prisoner, I have freed you,’ it is done forever.  Satan may plot to enslave me, but ‘if God is for [me], who can be against [me]?’ (Romans 8:31) – ‘Whom shall I fear?’ (Psalm 27:1).  The world with its temptations may seek to ensnare me, but ‘greater is he’ (I John 4:4) who is for me than all those combined who are against me.  The scheming of my own deceitful heart may harass and annoy me, but ‘he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion’ (Philippins 1:6).

Look Unto Me, Spurgeon, November 25

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.

For His Glory ~

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Nine

This beauty turned nine yesterday.

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Seems hard to believe the baby of our bio girls is going to be double-digits in just a year.  Ellie is our resident book worm.  She’s also our resident “messy”.  Pictures like this next one embody the (tidied up by mom) path she leaves behind in every room.

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Reading, piano, ballet, and drama (the organic kind, not a class) define her life right now.  Whatever she feels, she feels it strongly and she doesn’t experience much of the in-between.  She remains my primary snuggler and the one most eager to do school.  She can talk more than all of our other girls combined and may be the reason this blog is titled what it is, but she is definitely one of my five favorite girls in the world.  I’m thankful for the gift of this girl’s life and the blessing it is to be her mama.

For His Glory ~

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Wait

For two weeks she wrestles with insignificance and discontent and the desire for more out of life.  And she wonders where is the line between contentment and complacency, between feeling settled and feeling like you were made for more than menu plans and car pools?  On one hand she’s more than satisfied with this simple life and on the other she longs for adventure and creativity and a little bit of the unknown.  And she wonders what does God want for this one life He’s given?  What is His best?

And she comes to the end of two weeks and has no answers, only more questions, more wrestling.  Her husband encourages her to find what she’s passionate about and invest in it.  But that takes time and energy, neither of which are found in abundance these days.

So she reads.  She reads Found and has thoughts on prayer and drawing closer to God, but is most struck by the one line “Maybe….I want God to like me most.”  And maybe that cuts to the heart of it a bit?  Wanting to be liked the most….by God, by others.  It’s a disease called people pleasing and it’s a hard one to reconcile with that second-born nature of also needing to be a little bit different from those around you.  She finds herself in constant paradox.

And she thinks on the words of The Nester.  Words on contentment and that “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”.  And those words spoke peace to her domestic side over the summer but now maybe they are speaking on a deeper level.  Perhaps this imperfect, obscure life that feels so small is a place to learn contentment, patience, trust, faith.

And she knows that it’s in the hidden places God grows us, deepens our roots to make us strong for the future, and like winter for trees, dormant seasons give us rest.  But she longs for spring and life and productivity.  She longs to see fruit and abundance and growth.

She has no answers and so she waits in the silence.  She waits for the rain.

For His Glory ~

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A Letter to My Daughters: On Kim K and the Pure in Heart

Dear Girls,

Apparently this week the internet broke when Kim Kardashian posed with her bare butt for all the world to see.  And I would say that if that’s news the internet broke a long time ago.  But thanks to her my Facebook feed has been littered with various parodies and knock offs and far too many bare rear ends today.  And Kim’s not doing anything new or fresh, only the same song to a different tune.  A desire for fame and celebrity and to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue for a day, maybe two.

Meanwhile, in middle America, we’ve been hiding Beatitudes in our hearts, committing the words of Christ to memory, training to be more like Him.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart….

Purity.  It’s a hard thing to come by these days.  And a harder thing to hold on to in this flashy, high tech, always want more, sex driven world.  The anti-thesis of purity is everywhere – in books, on televisions, magazines, movie screens, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and other places I probably don’t even know exist yet.  Impurity is easy and heralded and cheered and celebrated.  Impurity, the world will tell you, is cool and fun and now.  Because you only live once, you know?

But purity.  It’s work and it’s weird by the world’s standard and it means choosing to go against the flow.  It means not reading certain books, not pinning certain pins, not watching certain videos, not listening to certain songs.  It means missing out on certain conversations because you chose to abstain from something your friends did or watched or read.  And it’s a choice.  A choice you have to make daily, sometimes moment by moment, because the opposite of purity is everywhere.  Everywhere. But shock for shock’s sake is never redeeming.

Purity, it comes from the heart, from a relationship with God and time spent in His word.  The closer you are to Him, the less you want the stuff of this world and the more you see it’s just a fraud, a poor imitation of what we were truly made for.

You were made for more than this world has to offer.  Be better.  Be above.  Be set apart.  Be different.  No one ever regrets remaining pure, keeping their heart tuned toward God, seeking His glory.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Because you’ll really live forever, you know?

Love,

Mom

Week in Review: 2014 {Week 45}

Woah!  I’m back in less than seven days (let alone seven weeks)!

This week was:

    • thoughts of Haiti

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    • a pinched nerve in my back
    • five movies with the girls (for a non-move / non-tv watcher, that’s downright amazing.  I’m not even sure how we made that happen.)
    • yard work

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    • the start of a plank challenge with my older girls
    • lots of puzzles by the little girls

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  • some “in-service” work for school
  • and sorting / deleting / organizing / backing up nearly three years of photos on the computer.  This was my **big** goal for our week off.  Other than random shots for Instagram and obligatory special occasion photos, I have lost my love for photography and all but stopped taking pictures.  All because the mess on my two computers had become downright overwhelming and I didn’t want to add to it.  I am super excited that this job is now current; I nearly threw a party on Thursday night when I finished!  Next step – getting photo books current (also two to three years behind), but that job is much less daunting and depressing.  That will actually be fun!

Counting the gifts from this week….

3072.  Sunday quiet

3073.  a working furnace

3074.  election day and freedom

3075.  older brother’s birthday

3076.  giggles with the oldest before bed

3077.  long overdue project nearing completion

3078.  long talk with a good friend

3079.  bright November moon

3080.  project completed, house clean, my people headed home

Tonight it’s pizza and (another) movie with the girls and eagerly awaiting Matt and Emma’s return home.  What a good week!  And what a great feeling to be catching up on seven days rather than seven weeks!

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, friends!

For His Glory ~

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2014: Weeks in Review {Weeks 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, annnnd 44} (Holy cow.)

It’s November 2nd, and I find myself with a couple of quiet hours in the house.  Alone.  For those of us that need times of quiet, this is truly a Sabbath rest.  Wind blows outside and leaves fall like ticker tape.  The calendar page has changed, Halloween is past, and the holiday season is officially upon us. Christmas music is playing at the mall and I finally turn it on at home because I can’t have Simon Management beat me to my favorite time of year.

September and October were wonderful, crazy, beautiful months that flew by, filled with sports, sports, and more sports.  Having avoided the sports circuit for so long with our girls, this was a wild and fun (and sometimes overwhelming and exhausting) season for our family.  We learned that having five kids in four different activities during the same eight week period with only two drivers in the home made for some interesting challenges and a lot of calling on gracious friends with extra room in their cars and on Grandpa and Grandma to help with the shuttling.  We are crazy thankful for everyone that helped us make that schedule work!

 

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So September was a little nuts.

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Soccer season and road trips always make me wish we had a Suburban.

The beginning of September brought us the third annual Capitol Craze 5K Mud and Obstacle Run.  This event benefitting Haiti Lifeline Ministries has been a highlight of our fall since its birth.  It was a beautiful day for a race (although the poor kiddos had some chilly, chilly temps to run in) and it was a very successful fundraiser for the ministry.  We are so thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside our kids as well as many wonderful friends and family members while benefitting some of our favorite Haitian cuties.

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Behind the scenes work on registration and social media for the race meant some late nights, which means I consumed a lot of coffee the first two weeks of September.

The 300 foot water slide was a huge hit.

Race day started off foggy and cool, but it turned out to be an amazing day.

September also took us to Branson, Missouri, where we celebrated the marriage of the girls’ youth pastor (and our friend) to his beautiful bride.  The weekend was a wonderfully refreshing time for all of us girls.  We rented a condo, did absolutely nothing on Saturday (until it was time to go to the wedding), and just generally enjoyed being together without being busy in the midst of a very busy season.  The wedding was one of my all-time favorites.  It was a beautiful, peaceful ceremony that showed the couple’s spiritual maturity and love for the Lord and each other.  It was a beautiful thing to see with my daughters all watching as well.

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Ready for the wedding!


I had to introduce the girls to hot, fresh Krispy Kreme before we left town!

While the girls and I were in Branson that weekend, Matt stayed home and started our kitchen renovation.  I would have loved to have him join us at the ceremony, but I also love that my kitchen no longer looks like a doctor’s office waiting room.  It’s still a work in progress (the joys of a DIY), but so much better.  I even scored a gigantic hole in the wall between the kitchen and dining room (a much needed change).

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Before: 1970’s Jenn Aire cooktop that was top-of-the-line back in the day, but not equipped to serve the small army that is my family, and the beautiful backsplash tile. (#sarcasm)

Before: Sink, counters, backsplash.

Before: wallpaper and countertop matching – Level: Expert.

When you order a cooktop and have it shipped you take the very real chance that it will arrive looking like this.

After: Cooktop, take two.  And a glimpse of the countertops.

Before and After: the old doorway and new opening between the kitchen and dining room.  Also paint colors.

Late September and all of October were marked by extensive fundraising by Emma as she prepared to leave for Haiti.  She baked and baked and baked to raise the funds she needed and the Lord provided most abundantly.  As her mother, I was so blessed to watch the Lord provide through her hard work and watch her faith grow with each donation, large and small.  She has experienced first-hand now the lavish love of the Owner of the cattle on a thousand hills and has witnessed His extravagant provision for her.  And for the next several days she is enjoying the fruit of her labors as she plays with and ministers to the children at Lifeline.  I can’t wait to hear how God uses this time to work in her life.

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Fundraising: cookie dough and Oreo truffles were among some of the goodies Emma made and sold to fund her way to Haiti.

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I’m so thankful that both of our girls have had the opportunity to travel with Matt to Haiti.

October also brought the Kansas City Royals to the playoffs and eventually the World Series.  Matt has always loved baseball and has faithfully cheered on the Royals every summer, but even the girls and I got swept up in the excitement that was the Hunt for Blue October.  Their games brought a lot of baseball instruction as well as late nights and great memories as a family.  And I think it probably earned the Royals at least five more lifelong fans (Minion #4 never really got into it all and often read a book during the games 🙂 ).

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Early in October I had told our Chef-in-Training that **if** the Royals made it to the World Series she could make bacon bowls the night of one of the games.  Well, Game 6 brought us bacon bowls, scrambled eggs, and chocolate chip pancakes, courtesy of Minion #2.

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Game 7 brought us a ballpark themed dinner with hot dogs, nachos, and soft pretzels.

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Late in October, Matt’s grandmother Marcye went home to be with the Lord.  She lived 95 years and left behind a legacy of love, forgiveness, mercy, generosity, and prayer.  She was a wonderful, godly woman that I am thankful to have known and that our girls knew and will always remember her.  We are thankful that she is whole and strong and dancing with Jesus now and that we will see her again one day.

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Chandler shared a birthday with Grammy and also a certain fondness for her.  This is the last picture of them together, from their birthday last June.  Grammy was turning 95 and Chandler 11.

And it wouldn’t be a complete Week (Months) in Review if I didn’t also count the gifts, because they have been many and because I never want to forget.

3029.  late summer storms

3030.  remembering how much I’m needed

3031.  being available

3032.  learning to overflow

3033.  a weekend experiencing and contemplating lavish generosity

3034.  a 300 foot water slide

3035.  turning 37

3036.  birthday wishes and calls

3037.  generous girls and husband and brownies with candles

3038.  fall evening and girls playing hide and seek with walkie talkies

3039.  another Capitol Craze completed – exhausting, hard, wild, fun, and always worth it

3040.  time to reconnect with far-flung friends – glory in how our love for Jesus and our love for Haiti keeps us connected

3041.  time to slow just a bit with the girls

3042.  sleep and lots of it

3043.  a wedding weekend for our favorite youth pastor

3044.  slabs of granite that sing glory to God

3045.  the gift of kitchen progress

3046.  fall showers and grace that rains down

3047.  walking out this faith in front of the girls – teaching them to live out their faith

3048.  long talks about loving difficult people – living out love

3049.  hot tears and tired children

3050.  messy days that make us lean hard on each other, on Jesus

3051.  no sleep, nights of prayer, late starts

3052.  still eating dinner on the deck; these beautiful fall evenings

3053.  weeks that feel disjointed and disconnected

3054.  Saturday soccer and shopping

3055.  Sunday that feels like a Sabbath

3056.  watching baseball history as a family

3057.  hard days

3058.  installed cooktop

3057.  surviving the wild weekend of sports

3058.  lessons in character, grace; inner beauty shown

3059.  Spoken banquet and time with friends

3060.  an empty calendar page

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3061.  rainy days, quiet evenings

3062.  a wonderful, wild, fun, hectic sports season ended

3063.  sermons on prayer and more fall dinners on the deck

3064.  Grammy

3065.  knowing Grammy is with Jesus and whole and healed and home

3066.  a beautiful celebration of the life of an amazing woman

3067.  mourning as those who have hope

3068.  a clean house and a hole in the wall

3069.  date nights and Royals wins

3070.  long weeks and late night baseball

3071.  a girl with her Haiti trip fully funded; praising our Jehovah Jireh

I’ll close with a few more random photos from the past few weeks…

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Last swim of the season

Amania got to have “flat” hair. Finally.  🙂

Chandler wearing nearly a dozen ties destined for kids on Haiti.  Because Chandler.

A welcome sight after nine months in the Old Testament.

The trouble with trees.

My kids make amusing to-do lists.


How you shop for clothes in a large family.  #HandMeDowns

I call this one Costumes for Lazy People – an old Tinkerbell costume and “Starbucks”.

May your coming week be blessed my friends.  May God meet you where you are be real and present in your life and may you glorify and enjoy Him in all you do.

For His Glory ~

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