Kept Promises

I cannot count the times that I have broken promises.  To my husband, to my parents, to my children.  From tiny insignificant ones to big nasty ones.  Sometimes it crushes my heart, and deeply grieves me that I have broken trust; other times…it doesn’t.  The devastating thing is that this will keep on happening, hopefully less frequent, but it is a guarantee that I will continue to fail, either by forgetfulness or selfishness. 

Strangely, even though I have this great ability to break promises; I am offended when others break their promises to me.  Observation has shown me I’m not alone in this.

There is one.  One who has never broken a single promise, whether tiny or massive, he has kept his word Every. Single. Time.  You probably know him, or at least you’ve heard of him.   
Difficulty mounts in my heart when he beckons me to trust him with the lives of my children.  When a little voice on the other end of the phone cries because of the pain he feels from the words and actions of another.

It is so hard for our human hearts not to assume God will break his promises just like everyone else we know.  But the absolute truth he keeps pressing in on my heart is that he is just as faithful to my children as he is to me.  He will keep Every.  Single.  Promise.  I can bank on it. 


It's Not Easy Being Green

A friend on Facebook said to me a few weeks ago, "You make being a mom seem so easy. What is your secret?"  I replied to her, but the question just keeps eating at me.

First of all, because there are no real secrets.  Sure, there are things I do and don't do differently, but I don't have an MLM going with an inner circle that receives my strategies and tips in a weekly email. Secondly, I know a lot of moms, and it seems very typical of these mothers to question themselves, or second guess their methods, even if they aren't posting it on Facebook.

I typically just tell my story, because I'm pretty overwhelmed and fascinated at the beautiful threads the God of the Universe is weaving. He has graciously written me into His magnificent story, and I do not want to forget that, ever, so, I tell my stories; but like I said, this question just keeps itching a certain spot on my heart.

So I started thinking practically about how I mother.  Much of how I mother comes from how I was mothered (bless my mother's soul, I owe so much to her), but there is also so much (heavy sigh, so much) that is different in the world while I am embarking on this same journey.  I wondered if I could possibly offer any valuable insight or information to other mothers.  Because, let's be honest there's a bajillion mom-blogs out there and you probably don't need another one of those to read.

As I would say to my friend Jina, high five for new experiences; if none of this helps you, find a different mom blog, but if it does, praise Jesus.

look ahead of you, not beside you
Facebook can be a good thing, but it is a thorn in every mother's side.  Why?  Because you are constantly comparing yourself to every other mother in your news feed.  We have to get our faces away from the screens in our lives and onto the children at our feet. God gave you the child(ren) you have, He has entrusted them to you, so trust Him.  He gives better feedback, and no amount of likes will ever compare to how much He loves you.

I'll be really honest, this one is hard.  Laughing is critical, though.  The reality is you have very little control of what happens during your day, what you do have control of, is how you respond.  Will you let the little inconsistencies drive you crazy, or let the constant mess get under your skin, or let the disobedience determine your self-worth?  Your children are (wait for it.....) children.  And they are supposed to be exactly that.  If the day becomes too much of an endurance race, I find dance parties are really helpful.

be loved
If you feel that it is difficult to love your kid(s), I'd be willing to bet, you feel unloved.  The God of the Universe really did send His only Son to the earth in the form of a baby boy to live a perfect life and die the worst death, then live again so that you and I can have life....because He loves us. He gets so much glory when you will be filled up with His love so you can love your little ones.

and lean....
You are not alone, and you cannot do this mothering thing alone.  You need Jesus (I need Jesus).  The crazy amazing thing is that He will be enough for you every. single. time.  Failure is inevitable, but it does not define you.  When you do something wrong, say I'm sorry.  Jesus never said life would be easy, what He said was, "I will be with you."

Often, when I read the Old Testament, I am awestruck at how quickly God's people forget what He did for them.  But, I find this true of myself far too often, which is why in Psalm 77, David even tells himself, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord...and therefore I will have hope."  So when you wake up to the sound of a baby crying or a toddler whining or a child begging for breakfast, remember what the Lord has done.  


a Mother's Day poem

I was showered with love and wonderful homemade cards for Mother's Day, a few have requested I post the poem my husband wrote, so I felt this was the best place to do it.  His words were and will continue to be such a blessing to me; hopefully they give you a glimpse into our world from his point of view.

From the time you were young you heeded the call,
"Come follow me and give me your all."
Obediently you came ready to Go,
Excited to be spent, ready to grow.

India on your mind you studied and read
Mild confusion when you heard, "Stay" instead
Just as before you were obedient to His voice
Submission to your Father your only choice.

Then came your first and second eclipsed by the Army
Your husband came back wounded, whom you loved abundantly.
The twins what a roller coaster, them you almost lost
you were ready to give them to Him, no matter what the cost.

And then your girl who has been a blessing
He knew what to give you even if you weren't asking
And now I salute you and praise the Almighty
For heeding the call to be a missionary to your family.


Selfies might not be so bad

I am not of this current generation obsessed with taking pictures of themselves.  In fact, most of the time, when I look at a young person's profile on Instagram and see most of the pictures are of themselves, I decide almost immediately: do not follow.  So this selfie-insanity that goes on, well, I'll be really blunt, irritates me. 

It seems to just bring to the surface that our society, our culture, is becoming more and more narcissistic.  An "all about me" attitude saturates our society.  It's so acceptable and normal that even as Christians we start to normalize this infatuation with ourselves and deem it appropriate at times.

There's a video that has gone viral on Facebook about the worth of women done by an attractive guy on an empty stage.  He preaches a false gospel to all women of their innate worth, strength, power, beauty, etc.  The problem is, he pulls directly from the Bible to help us all believe the lie that we have value in and of ourselves.  

I do have worth.  I do have value.  I am even beautiful.  But only, only, only because the Creator of the Universe, the Maker of all things, has made me.  My worth, value, and beauty would be the same if I had a deformed face--He still made me.  And what's more than all this, is that when I became a child of God, (when I became a Christian), He attributed more value to me than I could ever achieve on my own, because He named me His own.  The blood of Jesus covered up every sin and inch of darkness in my heart and made me beautiful to look at, where once God's eyes only looked upon me and saw wrath and death. 

So, yes, women of the earth, you are beautiful, just as men, sunsets, and babies are; because the Almighty God who reigns over the entire earth made you.  That beauty however, comes from Him, and exists to draw you to Him and adore Him and worship Him and see His infinite value and beauty. 

Because I'm a mother, I am always on the other side of the camera, trying to capture those precious moments.  I have very few pictures of me with any of our children, even during the years Kevin was deployed, there are more photos of him with the kids than with me.  

The iPhone has enabled all of us to be on both sides of the camera.  Now I am finally able to be in pictures with my children.  Yet, I still hesitate because I want to fight the self-absorbed inclination that all of our hearts have.

I have this beautiful new daughter, who I love dearly, and has captured my heart in a way different than any of her brothers did.  I was, indeed, attempting a "selfie" with her to send to my mom.  

She could see herself, but what did she look at?  Me.  She turned to look at me.  Our Savior sits near us, and holds up the mirror to our hearts to show us we have been made clean and are more beautiful than ever, but the Spirit moves that gaze from ourselves to the Father.  Only in being justified by the blood of Jesus can we see all along it was because of what He has done.


Biggest dandelion ever

And letting the little seeds spread was even bigger fun


Full Bellies and Full Hearts

When we see Kevin’s parents, our kids enjoy days full of adventure; exploring in the woods, driving motorized mini jeeps, building forts of real wood, hunting for turtles and lizards, going on ranger rides, and taking hikes.  Not only do we enjoy adventure, but the beauty of nature, and my mother-in-law’s wonderful cooking. 

By the time we are in the car on our way home, our bellies are full, our hearts are full, our legs are tired, and our imaginations expanded. 

In this place, I looked back and Evan’s eyes were fighting the sleep that was seducing him.  I reached out to hold his hand, and we were caught in a gaze together, and that’s when he asked, “Can I have some friends?”

I had to turn my face from laughter, and my giggles almost immediately turned to tears when I answered him and said, “I can’t give you friends, but I’ll be your friend.”

Hasn’t this happened to each of us?  We experience some aspect of life in a measure so full, and then find ourselves wanting even more.  The fullness only whet our appetite for more. 

More what?  At times, our own hearts cannot put words to what it is we want.  Yet, my three year old was able to articulate his heart.

This is exactly how we come to Jesus.  We look at Him and ask for Him to fill our bellies, to give us adventure, to give us aesthetic pleasure, and He says, “You can have me, that appetite that seems unquenchable, it’s for me; and I satisfy.”


expressions of God through my children

People ask me all the time lately how my little girl is doing. 

Wonderful.  She is wonderful, sincerely, she is a delight.

She is still a baby and so she cries, gets cranky, and has poopy diapers, but still in all of that she is a gift.  My heart has been overwhelmed with love with each of our children, but she is different.  And because the question comes at me so consistently, I began to contemplate a better answer.

As I laid in bed a few nights ago, it was clear:  she is, more than anything, an expression of God's love to me.  Moments later, I realized this was true of Davis and Ronin and Evan and Eli, each has been an expression of an aspect of God's character to me.

Davis was and continues to be an expression of God's provision to me.  He was an extreme surprise to us; I was pregnant a month after getting married while on birth control.  While he was unexpected to us, four months after he was born when Kevin left for Basic Training; there was no doubt the Lord had provided for me a son--a son that had the eyes and heart of his father.  Davis was so much like his Daddy, it seemed sometimes I wasn't without him.  During the very challenging days of Kevin's PTSD, Davis was an incredible help to me with his younger brothers, and still is a huge helper to me.

Ronin is an expression of God's grace, of His undeserved blessing.  Kevin left for the Mojave when Ronin was two days old, and was gone for a month.  As a baby, Ronin was incredibly laid back, a means of grace for a mother who was helping a certain 3 year old adjust to life outside the spotlight.  When Ronin was five months old, Kevin left for the 15 month tour to Iraq, and we went 10 months before we saw Kevin.  Little Ronin seemed to lavish grace on me through smiles and giggles and a general sweet disposition (though he did have a bit of an aversion to discipline).  He consistently surprises me with his humor, his ability to understand without words what I sometimes feel, and his ability to make me feel valued and honored.

Evan and Eli are expressions of God's miraculous power and redemption.  If you don't know their story, it's blogged and you should read it--because if you have ever doubted miracles happen, their little lives are evidence they still do.  Not only do I see the hand of God to work miracles when I look at them, but also I know He redeems what has been lost--in part now and in full later.  Kevin missed the age of six months to about one and a half with Davis and Ronin, which is the reason we tried for a third child, because he was out of active duty and wouldn't miss that precious time of growth in this unborn child.  Well, there were two instead of one.  And the younger two were so like the older two during those stages it was as though the time lost with Davis and Ronin was redeemed in Evan and Eli.

And then there's Baylee.  Since nearly the beginning of our marriage, we have been operating at a pretty high pace.  One adventure after another after another.  While five kids does not quite seem like a time to rest, it is.  It has come with a set of different challenges that my heavenly Father has given me a precious girl as a means of saying, "I love you." 

This season will still be an adventure but a different one, one where I can catch my breath, one where I see His hand of provision in a more mature way, His grace in a new way, His power and redemption in a new way, and one where He wants me to know the depths of His love.