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.



My wonderful husband, at one time, was like a big brother to me.  I only dreamed I would marry someone like him one day (but I got him, bless my soul!).  We were nerds, and would actually spend our free time with others just praying; praying for revival, praying for God to move in ways we had never seen in our measly sixteen to twenty years of life. 

And move, He did.  So later we would talk about how we wanted to be soaked up in affection for Jesus, about sin that was keeping us from doing just that, and all sorts of other things.  Kevin has always been able to articulate things I have not.  I often found myself (even in our early marriage) saying, "Ahhh, yes!" Because he had given words to things my heart longed to say. 

A few nights ago we were sitting in bed, talking; talking about these last three years (which have been incredibly challenging). And I spoke to him of the hurt my heart has endured honestly, for the first time.  I explained my anger was a result of this hurt.  Anger was the only emotion I felt I could express because I could not express need or hurt, so anger came out.

Right then, Kevin had an "Ahhh, yes!" moment.  I had given words to things his heart didn't even know how to say.  I cannot even begin to pretend I know how much pain Kevin saw and endured while in Iraq, but I can tell you there was not a single time he expressed it.  So, what we experienced as a family was anger instead of the hurt that was trapped inside of him for so many years.  

We are embarking on a journey of healing, and it's beautiful.  Wet with tears, and beautiful. 


"She looks just like you."

Hearing those five words makes my heart swell.  Swell.  I think our brand new baby girl is quite possibly the most beautiful baby I have ever seen.  I want people to know she is mine, to know she belongs to me.

Parenting brings many insights, I'm on baby number five, and they are still coming.  Honestly, I thought there wouldn't be quite so many after having five children, but alas, I was absolutely wrong.  Some of the most profound ones have been because of this girl, Baylee.

When I first heard someone say those words to me, "She looks just like you," I felt my entire being smile.  As God's children, He is pleased when He hears someone say, "She looks like Jesus."  I don't mean we look Jewish with an angular nose and olive skin, but that our heart, attitude, words, or actions displayed the love of Christ to someone.  His heart swells when someone looks at His children and they actually look like they belong to Him, when people know whose you are.

Baylee is beautiful, I promise (I'll post pictures eventually), and as the thought settled into my heart, I realized that if people think she looks like me, there must be beauty in me.  The illumination from earlier just got brighter; when people see Jesus in us, it points to the beauty of our Creator, of our Father.  In those wonderful moments when we look like Him, we are showing people that He is glorious, that He is kind-hearted, that He is forgiving, that He is beautiful.


a bit of news

I am pregnant (yes, again) with our fifth baby (yes, fifth).  This changes things here on the blog just a bit.  We will now be a family of seven!  Aaaannnnd.....it's a girl, so I'll need to be changing the entire blog name soon, since she will be arriving at the end of April. 

from the other side (a spouse's struggle with PTSD)

I would never have dared speak of my struggle during the depths of Kevin's struggle with PTSD, in fact, there are few with whom I shared my side of the journey.

Now it is different, Kevin really has experienced healing, he really does still struggle, but he also knows there was a struggle on my side as well, and acknowledging it doesn't make him angry, but thankful for God's overwhelmingly sufficient grace.

I will say with confidence every spouse who has dealt with a veteran who struggles with PTSD has felt very alone.  Strangely, the veteran feels totally and utterly alone too.  This seems paradoxical, to have two people fighting against the same thing, but both feeling so alone.

My experience was not my husband's, but I don't hear many spouses tell their story, mainly because we're afraid to and even feel we are not allowed to express our hurt, struggle, or fear.  Because of the REACH program at the VA, I've actually spoken to other wives, and I was amazed at the shared feelings among all of us.  So I decided to write.  About our side, our side of the fight.  

There were days I felt like I had PTSD, days I wanted to lash out in anger, days I wanted to give up.  That is where the greatest challenge lies:  the man who you knew as a rock, who could not be shaken by mortar rounds, by incessant patrols, by days on end without your companionship, now seems unable to bear your 5 year old's fits of frustration or even just being in a room full of people.

I finally learned the worst thing I could ever do, was to get angry when he got angry (even though that is exactly what I wanted to do).  I learned how to cope with this new man, how to give him space, how to take the blame for every argument, how to always say sorry and expect to never hear him say the same words.  I learned his triggers, how to avoid them (as best I could), when not to leave him alone with our children, and when not to leave him alone.

I felt afraid, alone, and unsure about our future.

What do you do?  In that place of fear and uncertainty.  Trust Jesus, pray, believe unswervingly in the power of the gospel, pray, wait, and pray more.  As a spouse, you must remember you are not alone; yes, because God is with you, but also because there are thousands of wives fighting this fight with you.  Most often, they are fighting silently, just as you are.  Help is out there---for you and for your spouse, you are not weak if you get it, and neither is he.  Some days stick with the Army motto, drink water and drive on, but not in desperation, rather clinging to the hope of Christ and the knowledge that God is still God, and nothing will change that.