My heart has been so happy that you are on an adventure with the Lord that you’ve wanted to take for a very long time! Because I’m so happy for you, I’ve had to ask myself during the week this question: “why do I feel sad? Why the downtrodden spirit?” I’ve prayed for you and your team and I’ve worshipped and rejoiced that you are in Haiti. But this nagging sullen spirit is plaguing me. It occurred to me this morning that the problem is not that you are away. The problem is that I haven’t had a chance to communicate directly with you. Daily you and I share thoughts and dreams and hurts and disappointments. I cherish knowing what the Lord is teaching you day by day and when you share Scripture that has jumped out at you and how that is changing who you are. I rely on knowing how you are hurting so that I can be in prayer for you and so that I can encourage you. Knowing the lies satan has planted in your head is good for me so that I can help fill you with truth and encourage you. These are the reasons for my melancholy spirit! It isn’t that you are away – for that is certainly wonderful – you are following Jesus’ call to be sure. It’s the maternal ache that I have to pour into you directly – that is what it is! And that, dear, is a happy revelation because it means that I do have my hands open and I am willing to release you to the world waiting. It means that I just treasure that I have the honor of having our hearts knit to one another and that I value my maternal responsibilities to the highest.
All my love.
Everyone is always up for a funny story, right?
Well here goes.
We live in a very middle class subdivision in Wisconsin. It’s quite quiet and we’ve lived here for a long time.
In our little subdivision, there dwells a board. The board rules over the subdivision under the guise of maintaining property values. I appreciate most of the work they do and the time they put into their work because quite frankly, I don’t have time to be that involved.
Don’t worry, this is going to get funny. I just have to lay the groundwork here.
Our family owns a boat. It’s truly been such a blessing to us and a way to get away on the water together – a way to leave everything behind. Now, the rulers of our neighborhood have written into the covenants that no boats may be parked in the drive during certain hours. There is quite a list of things they dictate, however, for this comedy we are only concerned with this one.
We’ve been so busy this year that we just had the opportunity to get our boat out of storage this past Friday. My dear husband picked it up and parked it in the driveway in anticipation of making room in the garage. Today – Tuesday – we received the annual notice in the mail that if we don’t get the boat out of the driveway within 24 hours, the rulers will take further action. Within three days we received the notice. Isn’t that fabulous?
Several years ago we went to one of the board members – his name is Grant – and very politely asked if we could get a petition executed by our neighbors to amend the covenants in order to allow the boat in the driveway during the summer. Of course in good working condition – yada yada yada. After all amendments to the covenants had previously been made to accommodate hot tubs, so we thought for certain our request was reasonable, especially if our neighbors agreed! Sir Grant told us not to bother because the board would never permit it regardless of how many signed agreeing to the modification. Well, ok, then Sir Grant. You’ve got us. You powerful person, you!
If only we knew who was bothered that in a middle class subdivision, in Wisconsin, near many lakes, in the SUMMERTIME a boat would be parked in the driveway. I would gladly have a nice cup of coffee with such a person and explain that this is NOT an uppity neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. This is not Highland Park. This is not Lake Forest. People! This is Bristol, Wisconsin. In the summertime.
Isn’t it amusing? We can only laugh. And park our boat in our garage.
Well, and draft a nice article about the rulers and rules in this little neighborhood, send it to all of the real estate agents in this area and the local newspaper so that potential buyers are duly warned. That’s only fair. If only someone had warned us.
Now I wouldn’t let you go without seeing a photograph of this incredible eyesore:
Dear Mak & Liv,
These days your sporting events are often scheduled for Sundays, which as you know causes a problem. Sunday is for the Lord.
It all began with you, Mak, and club volleyball and continues this day with softball tournaments. As I thought about it today on our way to Livy’s tournament, it occurred to me that some of my favorite Sundays have been those when sporting events are scheduled because it means that we do church – just the four of us. Praying together, choosing and studying a portion of Scripture together and then you both leading us in worship has been food for my soul. Your papa feels the same way. Today’s short study was on Job and God’s sovereignty and goodness. Thanks Lu for choosing the perfect study for this morning.
In other news, the best song lyric I heard this weekend was this: ”There ain’t no shame in a blue collar 40″. The authenticity and truth in country music IS the reason I love it like I do.
Finally, last week, Mak, you were honored for 4.0 or higher all four quarters last school year. I mention that here not to brag on you but to set the record straight. When I told you that you did a great job and you asked why I came to the awards day, I told you that I was grateful that you’ve worked so hard and your accomplishment was worth celebrating. Your words back stung “it’s not a big deal, mama, you saw all of the other kids who did the same thing.” I did babe and that’s great. However, I want you to know and see in black and white that earning those grades is not easy, especially with your class load. Therefore, you (and your classmates) should be honored for such hard work. None of you should feel belittled that many of you achieved what you did just because there are many of you with the same results. I think that means that you all work hard AND that you have support that a lot of others don’t. I told you that the Lord has something to teach us there……let’s keep praying about that.
And so, these are just some random things I thought you should know.
Love you forever and ever.
Your mama is a fairly simple girl, however she does have lots of dreams. Most of her dreams are relatively common dreams. They may not even be considered worthy dreams to some. However, they are hers. She holds them tightly and she often prays that God will show His favor on her.
Today you made one of them come true. Did you think you had the power to make your mama’s dreams come true? You do, darling. You really do.
This afternoon in the sunlight and warm April air, you said something that set your mama’s heart on fire. Your sweet little voice gently broke the silence during our traveling time when you said “mama, do you know what the most wonderful memory is from my childhood this far?”
Your mama thought for certain you would speak of trips or things or delightful holiday gatherings. Instead you melted your mama’s heart with these very words: “you read to me. you read so many books to me and I loved that. I still love it. I love when you read to me and I love that you read to me.”
As the tears covered your mama’s eyes, she softly whispered to God in the quiet of her heart “Oh Father, there could not possibly be more joy in my heart at this very moment. This is the sweetest gift and one that I hoped would be showered on me.”
The idea that you, Liv, at 11 years old can appreciate and articulate something that has meant so much to your mama is truly a dream come true.
These are the kinds of dreams that inhabit your mama’s heart. It’s a mama heart ……….. and a mama heart dreams these dreams with longing and hoping that could fill up entire oceans. Today you poured gladness and happiness into your mama’s heart that filled it to overflowing.
I love you, darling.
You are a gem at seventeen. I want you to know how loved you are and how special you are. Thanks for letting Papa and I take you and your sweet friends to Milwaukee for the weekend. And thanks for a great photoshoot.
We love you so.
Oh Lord, what have you done?
You have gifted me with many things. With many people. Oh Lord these, however, You have woven into me. You have taken me, made me Yours and then granted me that which I could barely dream. The things I would whisper to You when I was younger, You heard and you gave. When I got older, I got louder, “Father, please give me more!” Lord, just when I thought You would – they left my womb. I cried with You and I yelled at You and You sat there with me and loved me. You knew, Father, that these three were all I needed here on earth. The tears fall now at the wonder of it and partly because I still whisper to You that the painful things are not simple to understand. I trust You, however, and I adore these three – You chose these three for me! Help me to pour into them all that I thought I had left for more. You are the Author of all and this story, this story, it is beautiful.
Oh friends, the way this child is; they way God has made her and grown her is remarkable. My inclination is to list every lovely adjective I can conjure up to describe her to you. I will not. Suffice it to say that I think she’s remarkable in every way. Understand that she is so drastically and beautifully different than I was when I was 16 and for that I could not be more grateful. She walks closely with Jesus and that has made all of the difference – there are very few things of which I am so certain.
Recently the Lord has brought me very low. Very, very low. And while Mak & I are extraordinarily close, I do not share specifics with her when I’m hurting. I never want to cloud her mind and therefore, she sees me crying but truly doesn’t ask questions. She hugs me. And then, my friends, then she sends me messages like this (she sent this today when we were apart from one another):
Though I don’t know the specifics, I know these last few days have been quite stinky for you. And I love you, so I want to encourage you. You know what? God sees you. And He is so deeply in love with you. Even when other people don’t act like Him and aren’t good at showing you how valuable you are, you’re still valuable. What you have to say is important and you are an awesome display of God’s creativity. Please don’t let the behavior of other people make you feel less than. Don’t let those lies speak deeply to you. Because I want you to walk around feeling free and worthwhile, because you really are. And God has given you that gift. He sees you. I see you. And we both know how precious and how much of a good idea you are. ”after your season of suffering, God in all his grace will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” 1 Peter 5:10. ”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Don’t hesitate to run to Him, mama, He’s already there and His hand is already holding you. I’m so sorry that things haven’t been great. Because that’s not cool. I just wanted to let you know that I see you as so important and so valuable. Keep trusting and running. I love you. And God loves you a lot.
People! This child is 16 years old and she can lift me up and set me on firm ground when I feel like I’m sinking. Could there be a more blessed mama?
It is insanely crazy that somehow God changes our hearts so dramatically when he enters our lives that we can actually be thankful for trials. That’s where I am today.
I haven’t faced many trials and the ones I’ve faced may not even be considered trials as compared to others of which I’ve heard. Nonetheless, to my tender heart my hurts are my trials.
It seems to me that when we enter into trials, tears come very quickly. Maybe it’s just me – but maybe not. I cry pretty easily when my heart hurts; when I know I’ve disappointed someone; when I can’t properly communicate with someone. I also get pretty angry when I think I’m unjustly accused. I suppose I’m no different than anyone else in that regard.
However, I’ve learned to say “Lord, what are you teaching me through this?” I’ve learned to ask, “Lord, help me to see like you see; help me to see myself clearly.” I’ve also learned to be very gentle with myself. I have a tendency to believe every bad thing anyone says about me. I know for certain that I’m not alone there.
The beautiful thing about trials is that they always bring me to my knees. They always make me press into God. And they always – ALWAYS – make me realize that I need no one nor anything other than Him. He is there for me. Jesus has my back. Even though I’m quite the sinner and I don’t deserve Him, He is compassionate to me. He loves me. He helps me to know when to apologize and He helps me to discern when I need not. You see, I believe in truth. I believe in standing firm with Jesus in love and gentleness – and often alone. Alone is not fun. Sometimes, however, it is necessary.
Today I’m grateful for trials because when I am low, then I am close to Him. Closer still each moment.
She turns 11 today.
She’s spunky and happy and full of life. This home would be quiet without her.
She is blond, turning brunette. She is joyful, growing more serious by the day. She is a reader, eating up good things to ponder. She is athletic, charging around a field or court like she’s the bomb diggity. She’s a sister, lavishing encouragement and unfailing love. She’s a daughter, smiling love right into my heart. She’s a granddaughter, passing out hugs and kisses completely uninhibited. She’s a niece, shouting I love you with every story. She’s a friend, helping some see Him clearly.
She’s something. That’s who she is. Something amazing and wonderful. And a gift – through tears I tell you I do not deserve. Another gift my poor heart loves so much but does not deserve for one moment.
She’s our girl. Ours. God’s really. But He’s let us have her for a time.
And for that I’m grateful. To the depths of the sea, I am grateful.