Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Dinner #74

    In January, I found myself so often clinging to verses about healing, rest, and comfort.  In February, there were many verses on having hope and not fear.  Psalm 16:9 preciously linked the two, in my heart“ . . . my flesh also shall rest in hope.”  There can be many fears after a miscarriage, regarding future pregnancies.  There can be many fears concerning cutting-ties with a family’s income, and starting deputation.  There can be many fears about taking your little ones to the other side of the world.  But God’s Word reassures me that I can “Trust in him at all times . . . (and) pour out your heart before him . . .” (Psalm 62:8)  God knows my heart; He knows my fears.  Because of Christ, I can be counted as one “Who against hope believed in hope . . .” (Romans 4:18) Even when things seem doubtful, I need not fear. 

     Romans 15 has some powerful verses for an often-pessimistically- practical person, such as myself.  You see, sometimes “being realistic”, can be the enemy of “having faith” or “having hope”.  The Bible says,  “ . . . that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  Now the God of patience and consolation . . . Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  He is the “God of patience and consolation” and “the God of hope”, and He wants ME to “abound in hope”!

     How do I come by such hope?  Do I muster it up within myself and just seek to become a more optimistic “it will all work out” kind of person?  No! Psalm 146:5 declares “Happy is he . . . whose hope is in the LORD his God.” My hope is founded in my Savior!  “ . . . that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4) My hope is founded in the Word of God! “ . . . that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13) Such abounding hope comes through the power of God’s Holy Spirit! I cannot be thus hopeful on my own. 

     Acts 4:13 says, “ . . . and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”  By my actions and my words, do my husband and my girls know that I’ve “been with Jesus”? Or do I live a life of fear and trepidation? Is there any kind of difference, when I emerge from my quiet time with God?  Have I left all fears aside, and emerged a more HOPEFUL person, because of WHO my hope is founded in?  “ . . . until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” (Psalm 71:18)  If we do this – trusting God for deputation, for future babies, for our finances, etc. – even our daughters may see God’s strength and His power in our lives. 

     In Psalm 71, David declares, “But I will hope continually . . .” Hope and not fear! This is a SPIRITUAL resolve! Not a mustered-up will-power, but a determination founded on the right things – God Himself, His Word, and the power of God’s Holy Spirit. 

     Thinking on these things, in recent months, I compiled a list before the Lord.  This is from my heart, Ladies.  This is my prayer:

·         I will hope that God will give us life and not loss . . .

·         I will hope that we will be safe on the road during deputation . . .

·         I will hope that we will raise the support to go to Indonesia . . .

·         I will hope that my blood sugar issues will not hinder us . . .

·         I will hope that we will still have homeschooling and parenting successes, while on the road . . .

·         I will hope that our children will make many friends all over the U.S. and the world . . .

·         I will hope that Brandon and I will stay romantic and fiercely in love, amid the challenges . . .

·         I will hope for strength in my weakness, peace in my fears, and victories on every side . . .

·         I will hope for good attitudes, gracious words, and God-given opportunities to be witnesses of God’s love and of His work in our lives . . .

·         I will hope that others will desire to love and reach Muslims, because of God’s call on our lives . . .

And most recently . . .

·         I will hope that the flu leaves our household very soon! SMILE!

With God’s help, “I will hope continually, and will yet praise . . . (Him) . . . more and more.”

And “I will go . . .” (71:15) I will go overseas with the Gospel of Christ, because my hope is in Jesus Christ!

“For thou art my hope, O LORD GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.” (71:5)

“ . . . God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty . . .” (I Corinthians 1:27)

“Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . .” (Psalm 46:2)

I WILL hope . . . I WILL go . . . I WILL NOT fear . . . Spiritual resolve and hopeful thinking . . .

We ALL need hope in our lives.  “Happy is he . . . whose hope is in the LORD his God.” (Psalm 146:5)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Healing & Trusting

Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us that there is “A time to weep . . . a time to mourn . . .”  It is hard to explain all that God has brought us through during the past six weeks . . . In some ways, these weeks have been some of the longest in my life . . . The ups and downs in spirit . . . Such waves of weeping and peace . . . Feeling strong, and then feeling weak . . .  But, as our Pastor preached on, New Year’s morning, our Lord has left us His Comforter!  (John 14:6) And how thankful we are, that He did!  Psalm 71:21 declares, “Thou shalt . . . comfort me on every side.” And how faithfully He has done that!  Through His Word, through the prayers of His people, through song . . . Psalm 147:3 “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”  This month of January has been a month of learning about God’s precious healing – a time like I have never known in any other stage of my life.  So many afternoons, I’ve sat on my bed, with my Bible, a hymnal, a journal, and a ladies’ devotional book, and felt God re-wrapping the bandages on my heart.

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . .” My Lord KNOWS, and He CARES . . . Through the alternating gloom and sunlight, I can pray the words of the beautiful hymn, “When life’s dark maze I tread, And griefs around me spread, Be Thou my Guide; Bid darkness turn to day, Wipe sorrow’s tears away, Nor let me ever stray From Thee aside . . .”
Sometimes, I have been much weaker than I expected to be – both emotionally and physically.  But I try to say, along with the apostle Paul, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities . . . for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (II Cor. 12:10) I do thank God for these past several weeks in our home – even with cold viruses, and the like - snuggles and school with my girls; special projects and memories; being spiritually comforted, healed, and fed . . .
Even as our Healer, God knows best.  The Bible tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)  This was my verse for Joshua, since the very first day we knew we were pregnant with him. In my human mind, despite our grieving and our physically recovering from a delivery of this kind, I thought we would be on a plane headed for Indonesia, come January or February – but that does not seem to be our Heavenly Father’s plan for us.
Psalm 143:10 “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good . . .”

Psalm 145:9 “The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.”

Psalm 145:17 “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.”

Even when we do not understand . . .

Our support for this trip was raised in a remarkable amount of time. Brandon had an approval for all the vacation days he needed.  We were at a good point in our pregnancy for safely flying that distance, and everything appeared fine . . . But then we found out that God had wanted our little boy in Heaven with Him, and everything changed . . . As most of you now know, we found ourselves delivering him, shortly before Christmas.  It became necessary to cancel our original tickets, because three weeks later was not nearly enough time to recover for such an important flight, half-way around the world . . . Then we encountered the paperwork, and the phone calls, and the emails, as we tried to get things sorted out with our travel agency.  Our host missionary wife had to suddenly make an unexpected trip back to the States, for an unknown duration . . . And present world events began making it more unsafe to fly with certain airlines or to have lay-overs in certain countries . . . The emotional strain has been difficult.  Every time we’ve thought, “We can go!”, God has said “No!”, and every time we’ve thought, “We’re ready now!”, God has said “Wait!”  But the Lord is GOOD, and His “. . . tender mercies are over all his works.” Even when we do not understand . . .

Ecclesiastes 3:11 promises us, “He hath made everything beautiful in his time . . .”  God knows!  Perhaps, we will be on a plane, only a couple of months from now! Or, perhaps, we will have to wait until after missionary candidate school . . .  Or, perhaps . . . “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”  We must surrender every detail to Him. 

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Even Joshua’s death . . . even our trip plans needing to be changed . . . ALL things – our verse for our wedding and our marriage still working itself out in our lives . . .

I have been reading through the book of Joshua in my Bible, this month, while thinking about the man of God we named our son after.  Joshua 1:13 says, “. . . The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.”  I believe with all my heart, that, just as God has been giving us His rest, He will also, one day, allow us to actually set foot in Indonesia. But it will be in GOD’S TIMING, and not our own . . . SMILE! 

When the Israelites came to the Jordan River, God gave them a dry path, right in the midst of it.  With water held back, on either side, they knew the path they should take, and it was dry and plain to them.  In the book of Psalms, David prayed, “Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path.” (Psalm 27:11) This is where we currently are, My Friends – feeling God’s healing, finding God faithful, praying for feet that are ever-ready to step into “the brink of Jordan”, and waiting to see God continue to do wonderful things in our lives.  

We thank God for the encouraging prayers and words of His people – We thank God for EACH OF YOU! God Bless.

With Our Love in Christ,



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Saying Goodbye - A Mother's Testimony

     There is so much about this type of grief that can’t be shared, but my heart longs to write . . . has always needed to write, during the emotional moments of my life.  What I CAN tell you is that the labor was long, and difficult, and tearful.  I can tell you that my husband was wonderful, and went through every step of this tragic journey with me.  I can tell you that people were praying for our family on every corner of the globe, and that we felt God’s Presence, His grace, and His strength, in a way we had never known before.  And on Friday morning, December 16th, 2016, Our Little Boy, Joshua David Kelley was delivered.  He was very small – his face not quite as fully developed as we had imagined – but his tiny legs, and knees, and feet, his arms and his hands, were precious.  Mommy kissed his feet several times before she told him “goodbye” . . . I kiss our Charlotte’s, now, and think about those sad kisses, every time.  How VERY grateful we were to God that we had our sweet girlies to come home to! Whenever they give us a hug or rub our backs, it heals us.  Whenever they smile, or giggle a contagious giggle, it heals us.  Whenever they ask a child’s question about the loss of our baby, or about heaven, it heals our hearts to answer them. 
     A Methodist church group in the area, evidently donates blankets to the hospital for sad deliveries such as ours, and we received a purple one.  It is a soft blanket, that, for now, still smells like the hospital.  The familiar smell and sounds of that floor made me weep when we first walked up to the registration desk, but now the smell of the hospital on that blanket brings me comfort.  I’ve been sleeping with it, lately . . . maybe to somehow help the Mommy heart that would have been snuggling a newborn . . . And we have the most precious wind chimes hanging in the kitchen – “Forever In Our Hearts” wind chimes that friends in college sent to us, after they learned of our sad news.  Joshua never made a sound, but those wind chimes do, and it, too, heals Mommy’s heart.
     On Sunday, I tried to rest the remainder of the day, but my heart craved the blessing of sitting in church and hearing the Christmas hymns being sung.  I was so thankful to be there with our family, even for just the morning service.  The girls wore their Christmas dresses – Jacqueline’s was a special sparkly present from Grammy & Grampa – and Charlotte got to ride in her new front-facing car seat for the first time. She must have felt like she was on the rocket ship from the “Little Einstein” shows, because she automatically began saying “pat-pat-pat-pat” for the take-off. J Even amid our grief, we smile and we laugh.  Only God can do that, Dear Friends!  I pray that none of you ever have to go through such a horribly dark tragedy as we walked through, this past week, but if you do, GOD IS THERE!  And you have no idea how beautiful those valleys can be, when He is by your side! 
     This past Wednesday night, I stayed at home and rested, in anticipation of labor the following day.  I’ll never forget how in the quiet peacefulness of those hours alone, I was able to listen to instrumental music and stitch a little blanket outfit to put on our baby.  The photo of it makes my heart smile.  It was what he was wearing when we said our sweet goodbyes.  Only God can make such moments beautiful.  From the delivery and the precious farewells, to all our memory-making for Little Joshua, to our hugs and family moments with our girls, and even anticipating a special Christmas – How we thank and praise the Lord for such unforgettable days!  He is our Rock and our Fortress, and He is good! Please always know that, Friends! We have been walking through the “valley of the shadow of death”, and God is here!  My husband and I are going through that valley together, and are becoming more in love with each other than ever before.  There is no anger in our grief – Our God is trustworthy! And how He sweetly sends His comfort our way! People from church have brought us meals and washed our dishes; have even offered to help us wrap our Christmas presents . . . I will never, ever forget this December . . . And that is why I desired so to write to you all, and to share . . .
     Psalm 145:2 declares, “Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.” Every day . . . not just the good ones . . . Even on the day your body refuses over and over again to accept the sorrowful fact that you are being forced to go into labor . . . Even on the day you hold a very tiny, lifeless body in your hands, and have to say “farewell” . . . Even on the day you come home from the hospital with no little newborn to cradle and kiss . . . EVERY day . . . Psalm 55:17 “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”  No matter when the tears come, God is there.  He loves me so much that he even keeps every tear in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).  “ . . . yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.”  (Psalm 57:1) He is the “God of all comfort” (II Corinthians 1:3).  Do you know my Sweet Savior?  Have you trusted Him to save your soul?  Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  He stretched out His arms, when He died on the cross for your sins and mine, and His arms are still open for you to run to, today.  Romans 10:9 promises us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
     This peace that we know in our trial and our tragedy?  That isn’t something you can find in a medication, or in a counseling book, or even in the sweet reassurance of a friend.  Our peace comes from GOD, and YOU can know His peace, as well! His salvation “full and free” is available to ANYONE who calls upon Him in sweet, childlike faith.  I pray that if you know Him not, that you will trust in Jesus Christ, today! 
     Do you know why this Christmas Season can still be bright in our sorrow? Because I have not “lost” our Baby Boy . . . This Mommy knows exactly where to find him. J We shall see you again, Little One – because Heaven is our home. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

God Is In Control - Dinner #73

     A couple months back, our youth pastor taught a lesson on Job, in which he made the point that “there is really SO LITTLE in life over which we have any control.” And that thought has really stuck with me, since then.  We THINK we have control – We sometimes think that it is entirely up to us to keep our children safe, or to keep our plants alive, or to put the right President in office – and, no, we are not void of all responsibility, but, ultimately, GOD is the one Who is really in control of our lives.

     Psalm 104 speaks of a loving and kind Creator who cares for the world which He has made: “He watereth the hills from his chambers . . . He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man . . . He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night . . . The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. . . These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. . . Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.”

     On the flip-side of this, what have WE created? What are WE in control of?  “Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? . . . Hast thou given the horse strength? . . . Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” (Job 39) The answer is quite obviously, “No!” WE are not in control of such things! The truth of the matter is, we are in control of so very little that occurs in our lives. 

Deuteronomy 4:39 “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.”

Psalm 86:10 “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.”

Romans 11:33-34, 36 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? . . . For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

     We worship the One True God! He is WISE and He IS in control! He is in control of EVERY aspect of my life! He is in control of the very breath I breathe! Job 12:10 “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”

     God was in control when, as a first-year teacher, I had to be rushed by ambulance, for an emergency appendectomy. God was in control when a doctor later told me that if I didn’t follow his worldly advice, I might never be able to have any children. God was in control, when we moved here with two little ones, and Brandon lost his job only a couple of months later.  God was in control, when He started laying Southeast Asia on our hearts.  And I have to believe that God is in control, even if we take 4 – maybe even 5 – little girls to a country that is predominantly Muslim.  I have to believe that He is in control, even if I end up wrapping Christmas presents, early, in case we never make it back from our survey trip.  I have to believe that He is in control, if we have to postpone our trip until the beginning of January, because of a missionary visa situation.  Because My Bible tells me that God IS in control! And God is in control, no matter what you are going through in YOUR life.  Whether it’s health-related, or family- related, or presidential-related . . .

     Do we all have anxious thoughts, at times? Absolutely!  But the Bible says, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19  If you’re tempted to be up until the wee hours of the morning, tonight, watching the little red and blue State results on the screen, open your Bible to the book of Psalms, instead, and “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . .” Colossians 3:15

Psalm 91:2, 4-5 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust . . . He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”

     We can place our vote - and I hope you did, today – but we really have no say in who gets elected to be the next President of the United States of America. My Bible tells me, “But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” (Psalm 75:7) “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings . . .” (Daniel 2:21)   And we can trust Him!  

Psalm 84:11-12 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”

     God is in control – and God seeks my GOOD.  Does evil sometimes befall us? Yes.  But God means even THAT for our good. Remember Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20? “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good. . .” Had bad things happened in Joseph’s life? Yes!  But God was in control, and God “meant it unto good.” He always has a BIGGER and a BETTER plan than our human ones.  Even if the opposing candidate wins . . .

     It’s all about TRUSTING God and GLORIFYING God . . . and, no matter, the results of this election, not waking up in despondency, tomorrow, throwing up our hands and wondering where God is in all of this. Because “ . . . I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39  Not even Mrs. Hillary Clinton. We serve a LOVING God.  And NOTHING that occurs in our lives is out of His control. 

     There might be dark days ahead of us as a country.  There might be dark days ahead of YOU, as an individual, or ahead of me.  But we have to trust, that whatever befalls us, God “means it unto good.”  Romans 8:28 holds the very special promise, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I Timothy 1:17 “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Mother's Strength - Dinner #72

     One of my favorite projects, this year, has been writing “The Mommy Letters” . . . I don’t write them every day, but I write them whenever I can.  Sometimes it’s a letter to just Brooklyn, or just Charlotte . . . Sometimes it’s a letter written to all 4 of the girls. . . But it has ended up being much like journal entries, describing what is happening each month, in our lives, and telling them about their strengths and weaknesses, and their latest accomplishments.  
     Each one of us has our strengths and our weaknesses. And then, there is our personal health to add to the daily equation, as well.  There are entire DAYS, or even MONTHS, where you just feel WEAK.  Some days you’re dealing with hour-by-hour waves of “morning sickness”, while still trying to keep up with the rest of your “crew”.  Some days your children are quite sick, and you’re sick, right along with them.  And, most of the time, your husband can’t stay home to help you – the duty of the job still calls.  And so does yours . . .
     It has often been said, “The Lord won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Yet, I have also heard, “Yes, He sometimes DOES give you more than YOU can handle, because it is something that HE can handle!”  Some days, He wants us on our knees, humbly crying out to Him, “I can’t do this on my own! I need THY strength, O Lord!” One of my favorite “verse phrases” to cling to, in the last couple of months, has been Psalm 84:7 “They go from strength to strength . . .”  When Hubby has a 12-hour work shift, the Wife’s strength comes from her God! On the days when Mom has to take all the children with her to one baby’s doctor appointment, Mommy’s strength comes from her God!  “How do you do it?!” people will ask.  We “go from strength to strength.” Strength for today; strength for tomorrow.  Psalm 80:17 says, “ . . . whom thou madest strong for thyself.” When GOD’S strength is required in our lives, it brings GOD glory!  It is a BLESSED place, when we find ourselves needing the Lord! Psalm 84:5 “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee . . .”  And the beautiful thing about God’s strength is, it never runs out!  Psalm 71:3 “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort . . .”  
     Sometimes we go through whole periods or stages of our lives where we need God’s strength . . . When I look ahead to adding Baby #5 to our home and to heading out on deputation as missionaries, that is what I see.  A whole stage of life requiring God’s strength.  You see, one of “my verses” from the Lord, regarding the country of Indonesia, has to do with God’s strength: “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD . . .” (Psalm 71:16) I know I can’t do it on my own - “ . . . I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” And then, the Lord receives the glory!
     It is a rather crazy thing to haul five little ones around the country, raising support, so your family can live as missionaries, overseas.  Most churches don’t vote to pay your electric bill or your van payment, every month.  Some can only write you a one-time “love offering” check, or send you $25 a month . . . The process of raising funds “to GO” is a very lengthy one.  No, we can’t prepare our children for all that deputation is going to bring them – the 7-hour car rides, the frequent McDonald’s “Value Meals”, the lack of familiar faces, and the constant change in church nursery workers . . . But we “will go in the strength of the Lord GOD”.  We know that He will help our Little Ones find peace along this journey, as well! Psalm 71:18 “ . . . until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” 
     Having God’s strength is “The BLESSED Life” – for Mommies, their husbands, and their children.  Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”
     But, “Can God really give ME strength?”, you might ask . . . This day is just too much for me to handle!  This LIFE is just too much for me to handle!  Psalm 29:11 has God’s answer: “The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”  It is His PROMISE to us!  All you need do is ask Him!  Psalm 18:30+32 “As for God, his way is perfect . . . It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.”
     May we wake up in the morning, Dear Mommies, and fall on our knees, to ask the Lord for HIS help to get through our day!  We can pray with the Psalmist David, “I will love thee, O LORD, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1)  And so another day of God's blessings will begin . . .

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Butterfly Plans - Dinner #71

   My Charlotte Baby turns a year old, tomorrow, and I am SO very excited about “all things butterfly”, right now!  Brandon and I came across a darling butterfly onesie for her to wear at her party, and then Auntie Ashley bought her an adorable butterfly costume to go along with it – complete with wings and a wand. SMILE! The older girls and I made finger-painted butterflies to hang off the pretty white railing in the kitchen . . . I have bulletin-board-style “books” on the wall, representing each of the classics I’ve posed her with, as she’s grown a month older . . . You’d think she was our first!  But EACH baby is special in our home!  When I look back, we never would have decided on our own to have two babies just 15 months apart, but God had better plans – beautiful plans – “Butterfly Plans” . . . Charlotte Allison has filled our home with such sunshine!  Such sunshine we would have missed if we had “planned” our babies, rather than being BLESSED by them! 
     I know I amuse the masses, when a 4’10” woman walks through the grocery store, pushing 2 carts, completely loaded down with 4 children and 2-weeks-worth of food and diapers.  I realize there are many who think we “ended up” with this many babies, because we were “trying” for a boy . . . Or, perhaps, because we are somehow uneducated regarding birth control . . .  A sweet friend recently commented to me that she didn’t realize I’d gone as far as “Advanced Mathematics” in high school . . . There’s a lot that people don’t know about me when they see me with my Little Crew . . . My Magna Cum Laude honors in college, the unpublished poems and works of historical fiction on my shelf, the detailed scrapbooks I designed in my teens and early 20s . . . Right now, I’m “Mommy” more hours of the day than any other role.  But I haven’t “lost my identity” . . . I know that one day, some activities will return to my life again.  And so much of who I am and what I enjoy IS being used, even during this stage of life – just in different ways than they were before.  It is the same way with you!  Somewhere down the line, you learned how to keep on going, even on very few hours of sleep.  You acquired skills that help you document your home schooling, organize everything from toys to socks, and plan weekly meals for your family.  You can decorate for a birthday party or host a holiday celebration.  There are so many personal touches that make your house a home.  You are WHO GOD MADE YOU TO BE! Having a family doesn’t change that! 
     But the devil likes to make us feel lost, overwhelmed, and uncertain of who we really are.  He feeds us the world’s philosophy that children are a burden, and that having “too many” makes our life meaningless and leaves us miserable.   Does it feel wonderful to put on a fancy dress and to have time for bobby pins, once in a while? Of course it does!  Do you sometimes feel as though you’re getting a breath of fresh air, when you put on make-up and remember you have a pair of heels that actually MATCHES the dress you’re wearing?!  Absolutely!  But you haven’t “lost yourself” in this realm of motherhood!  I promise you!  You are someone incredibly special and important – to your husband, to your children, and to your Savior!  Seeing the dishes filling the sink and overflowing onto the countertops may bring you to tears, tonight, but you are a DAUGHTER OF THE KING!  “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ  . . .” (Romans 8:17).  You are UNIQUE!  Yes, YOU!  The precious Mama who changed 10 diapers, today, and scrubbed the kitchen floor with your bare hands . . . YOU are unique!  You are PRECIOUS and PRICELESS! “For ye are bought with a price . . .” (I Corinthians 6:20) A price so high, we cannot even fathom it – the very SON OF GOD GAVE HIS LIFE FOR YOU! 
     Do not be downcast and discouraged!  Do not wonder if this “journey of motherhood” is for you!  It IS!  If God has made you a mother, then it is His PLAN for you!  His PERFECT plan!  And no amount of dirty dishes is going to keep Him from using you in a very special way . . . “ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (I Corinthians 2:9)  It is a PROMISE!  Don’t give up hope!  Things may seem dreary and bleak, but God has given you your talents for a reason, Dear Mama! God has made you WHO YOU ARE for a reason!  No talent is a “waste” . . . No life is a “waste” . . .
     Yes, there were days, last year, when I wondered if any part of the “real me” still existed . . . When I felt like motherhood was “closing in” on me . . . It was a bit overwhelming when we found out we were expecting Charlotte, just 7 months after our Cheyenne was born!  But how VERY grateful I am that, “ . . . my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)!  What smiles and joy she has brought us!  How delightful and precious she is!  How MUCH I have ENJOYED my role as mother, this fourth time around!  And what would our lives have been like without her?!  How plain might my kitchen be through this month of August, were it not for a certain Baby’s “Butterfly Party”?!  God had better plans – beautiful plans – “Butterfly Plans” . . . And amid the laundry, the dust, and the mess, God has “Butterfly Plans” in store, for you, too, Sweet Sister in Christ! Please don’t let your calling as “Mama” become something bitter or sour!  Hold onto the joy that is found in our Savior! Hold onto the beauty of the life God has given to you! Trust HIM with your future! And remember that YOU are SPECIAL to GOD!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Running Away - Dinner #70

     What were the days like, when it was just you and your husband? Can you remember?  Do you feel extremely close and “connected” with your husband, right now? When was the last time you truly felt like singing the words of Song of Solomon, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine . . .” (Song of Solomon 6:2)?

     A few days ago, I posted the following “status” on Facebook:

Brandon and I were apart from each other, the majority of our dating and engagement years . . . Our first baby was born just one day after our 1st. wedding anniversary . . . We've had four baby girls in the past five years . . . Our story is beautiful, but very different than most! How grateful I am to the Lord for a loving husband who always seeks to safeguard our relationship, and make time for US! Home from our 6-Year-Anniversary second Honeymoon at Crystal Coast's Atlantic Beach . . . We had an AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL time, and made so many special memories, just the two of us! Photos to come . . .” 
     And when I DID go through all the photos, I wanted to cry . . . And cry some more . . . How could just 3 days and 2 nights away with the Love of My Life be so incredibly special?!
     I can hear some of you ladies saying right now, “I’m jealous!” and “You have 4 little ones – 2 of which are still in diapers – How can YOU afford to go on a mini vacation?!” I think the far better question is “How can we afford NOT to?!”  When Satan wants more than anything to wreck godly marriages and destroy that symbol of the love that Christ has for His church, how can we NEGLECT the building of that special relationship with our spouse?!
     Priscila Shirer, the main actress in the recent Christian film “War Room”, wrote a book on prayer for ladies, in which she said of Satan, “He wants you miserable and exhausted and joyless and undone.  He wants that picture of the gospel – that one you call your marriage and your family – he wants it tarnished. Ripped up. Smeared in the mud of failure . . . As much as the Father loves and embodies unity, your enemy loves and embodies division. Wherever discord is present, he’s never too far away.”  Do we ever really realize how SERIOUS this all is?  I have personally known far too many Christian couples who have separated or divorced . . . I have heard far too many couples tell me that they went, literally, DECADES, without having a night away from their children, during their early years of marriage . . . God WANTS you to have a strong relationship with your spouse!  He is The One Who lovingly DESIGNED marriage!  And I truly believe He honors our desire to “run away” with our spouse – and He provides!  Just as He provides for every single baby that enters your family, He can provide what you need to strengthen your marriage, as well! 
     The truth of the matter is, when you have children, that “alone time” ISN’T something that is “in the budget”! It NEVER is!  And in all honesty, we returned from our vacation to menus of baked beans, quinoa, and tortillas with cheese! LOL!  Why? Because this was something that my husband had on his heart to do FOR US!  And we NEEDED it! And it was WONDERFUL! And you know what? The baked beans and quinoa mean far fewer dishes, for me, now that I’m back in the world of potty-training! LOL! I mean it! God has taken care of everything, and we have been BLESSED!
     Really, it is my husband who should be writing this blog post.  Ever since our first baby came along, it has been his vision for us that we get away – at least once a year – for at least one night.  I think sometimes we forget how VITAL it is to SPEND TIME with our husbands!  Not time where the children are vying for our attention, or getting out of bed every ten minutes asking for “more water” or “another hug” . . . Time AWAY!  When was the last time you RAN AWAY with the Man of Your Dreams?  “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10)  No children, no food to prepare, no dishes . . . Just THE TWO OF YOU . . .
     This could easily become a “how to” article, involving tips on saving money, finding willing babysitters, or praying for maternal peace when it comes time to pull out of the driveway . . . But I don’t wish for it to become that.  Rather, I hope this will be like a letter, URGING you to safeguard the relationship you have with your husband! 
     I recently read a short post, where a mother with 9 children ended up being slammed in the comments section, below it, because of her remark that she didn’t think she could live without her children being around her.  It is a BALANCE.  We LOVE our children – without a doubt – most of the hours of our day (and sometimes even our night) revolve around them!  We OUGHT to find joy in the “ministry of motherhood” the Lord has given to us!  We OUGHT to feel a sadness over the thought of ever losing them or leaving them behind!  But we also need to be alright with RUNNING AWAY! Not because our daily “Mommy Life” is “horrible”, but because we want our MARRIAGE to be BEAUTIFUL! Because we mustn’t pray that our marriage will be blessed, and then leave it to fend for itself! I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
     You won’t find an example in the Bible of a couple getting away by themselves for a date night, I’m afraid . . . but the principles of STRENGTHENING YOUR MARRIAGE are there!  In Deuteronomy 24:5, God instructs the newlywed husbands that they must not even “go out to war” or be “charged with any business” for the whole first year of their marriage! – Why? Because marriage is a BUILDING PROCESS!  And it IS IMPORTANT TO GOD! Marriage is a symbol of Christ’s relationship with the church . . . Ephesians 5:23-25 “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .”  If it is vital that we spend time alone with God, isn’t it also vital that we spend time alone with our spouse? Ephesians 4:27 declares, “Neither give place to the devil.”  Don’t give the devil any room to destroy your homes or your marriages, Ladies!  It isn’t easy to “run away” . . . there’s “pinching pennies”, and cooking ahead, and cleaning, and packing – but it is EVER SO WORTH IT!  Don’t wait until your children are grown, merely HOPING your marriage makes it through the grueling days of child-rearing!  Your husband NEEDS YOU! And YOU NEED HIM!  Be willing to RUN AWAY!