Gratitude from this week…

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For coffee, hot, all day, helping me obey cheerfully.

June in an oversized hoodie, licking the bottom of the salad bowl, face breaking into a grin when she catches my eye across the room.

For vaccinations.  Can we set all the opinions aside? Because we really should start with thanking the Lord for them.

Burning pink skies as the sun goes down, car full of pajama-ed, freshly bathed children, ice cream cones and blankets all around.

Deep red cardinal on a backdrop of snow, eating his fill of the seeds we placed out for him, while we watch from inside, still and barely breathing.

My favorite six words from my love: I don’t have to work tonight.

For the resurrection of the body, because no decay means no dentists!

For my boy, strong and tall, trying with all his might to roll over, getting stuck on his arm.

Thank you, Lord, for another week of Your Grace and Kindness.

Dear Darcy,

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Dear Darcy,

Five years ago today we went rushing to the hospital in the middle of the night.  We didn’t know if your heart was still beating or not, but things did not look good.  The drive was only 20 minutes, but it felt like an eternity as I gave you over to our Father and asked Him to let you live.  Just past midnight, we had an emergency c-section that saved your life.  The Lord answered my prayer that night, and every day for five years.

I love planning your birthday party every year.  I always have to set aside some extra time for planning and making favor bags and shopping and baking.  I have to stretch our budget a little bit in the weeks before.  We don’t do this just because you want it.  We don’t celebrate because we think that it is just your special day, although we do want you to have a blast!  We celebrate because it is OUR special day.  This day commemorates another year that our lives have been sweetened with your presence.  God has given us five years with you, and we rejoice in each of those.  We want cake and favors and balloons and piñatas and presents because this is a holiday for our whole family, to thank God that He has chosen to place you with us.

I have seen so much growth in you this last year.  You have grown out of naps and sippy cups and many pairs of shoes.  But you have also grown to love Jesus so much this year.  I have started to see more and more fruit of your faith.  When your sister broke your favorite Christmas present, just a few weeks after Christmas, you did not hesitate to hug her and say “June I love you more than all my stuff.”  And I choked back tears of pride.  When you came to me late one night, in tears because you “felt so terrible for all the bad things you had done, and all the fits, and you just wanted to obey God.”  Again, I choked back tears of pride and talked to you about God’s forgiveness and His grace and I told you I couldn’t remember any of the bad things you had done because I forgave you.   Love keeps no record of wrongs.  When you told me that you hated Satan and you hated it when he tried to control your heart, I again saw the Spirit at work within you.  I thank our Father every day for this work, for His promises, for His faithfulness in you.

You are such an incredible big sister.  One of my greatest joys in this life has been to watch you love your sister and brother.  June never stops copying everything you do, and you are a good example to her.  You can get Miles to laugh faster than anyone in this house.  And you are always the first one to come running when you hear a cry.  My favorite memory from this year was the look on your face when we told you that a new baby was on the way.  You kept saying “I can’t believe it!!  I love it!!” You couldn’t stop smiling and you told everyone you saw, friend or stranger.

One of my favorite things about you is that you love art.  You always tell me that you want to be a mommy and a painter when you grow up.  I love watching your little brain work as you flip through a book and then pull out paper and try to copy the pictures.  You have a very sharp memory.  I love how you always want to paint or draw for people you love, and it is hard for anyone to leave our house without at least one of your masterpieces folded up in their pocket.

Happy 5th Birthday, my beautiful girl! Don’t ever stop filling the world with your beautiful drawings.  We are so blessed to have had you with us these five years.

Moving Advice

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The first time I moved out of state was when I was around the age of 6 weeks.  Needless to say, it was probably the least traumatic of all my moves.  Since then I have lived in 5 different states, 2 different countries, and I have lived in 13 different homes.   You would think I would have some mad packing skills by now, but no.  The truth is that I’m too cheap to buy the right sized boxes and we find ourselves in  ridiculous situations with my comforter duct taped around the TV.  True story.

A year and a half ago we had a big move from Idaho to Kentucky.  I have done many big moves, but not as a mother.  As it turns out, the temptation to worry and stress during a big move is greatly multiplied when you are the one responsible for everything.  Who knew?!

I moved to Louisville without ever visiting, and knowing exactly two people in the whole city.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I should probably spend some time here giving you organizational tips and pricing trucks and whatnot, but let’s be honest, we already know that I’m terrible at that and who cares anyway.  I didn’t know how to move across the country practically, and on a practical level, I still have no clue. Just buy a lot of tape a couple weeks before the move.

The summer that we left Moscow was insanely crazy.  I had a stress headache for 3 months.   I remember standing on the gravel driveway that led to my parents guest house, where we were camping out for a month while we figured out our life and let Jon recover from some debilitating health issues.  I looked over at my three year old Darcy playing in the trees, searching for lady bugs.   I didn’t know where we would be moving or when, but I told the Lord right then that I would enjoy it, and I promised to make the most of wherever He led us.  I knew exactly how to do a move the wrong way.  I knew how to be stressed out and tired and worried and compare the new city with the old city and the new friends with the old friends and the new house with the old house.  I knew how to complain.  I knew how to look backwards at all the things I had left behind, instead of looking forward in the story.  And I knew that my discontent would stream down from me, quickly and undistilled, to my daughters.  So I told the Lord, whatever this new chapter held, I would be thankful for it and I would enjoy it.

That’s really my only moving tip. Moving to a new city is just a changing chapter in your story.  Don’t look back and wish you were still in chapter 3 when God has moved you on to chapter 4 and maybe even 5.

To be honest, I have hardly had to try to keep that promise to the Lord.  It’s sort of like telling someone you will eat whatever they serve you and then they give you Creme Brûlée. We have been surrounded by so many gifts here.  We have already been led through many changes in our family since we arrived, but each one has been wonderful!  The truth is, there is no place in this world that will be my forever home. Christ is king of all of it, and in Him, it all belongs to us.

So here is my hot tip:  start duct taping things together, pray they don’t break on the truck, and then determine to enjoy the new chapter.  And just wait to see what kind of goodness will come overflowing.

Honor God with Your Body

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I am making a new rule in this house! We are actually kind of skimpy on the house rules.  I try very hard to keep things simple: love God, love others, be joyful.  It’s really not complicated to avoid discipline here.  But I have found myself repeating this new rule over and over again: honor God with your body.  I suppose it falls right under the rule to Love God, but when I phrase it this way it keeps our correction short and easy and obvious.

June! No spitting at your sister!
Why did God give give you a tongue?
Answer: To taste delicious food.

Honor God with your tongue. Honor God with your body.

Darcy! No hitting your sister!
Why did God give you hands?
Answer: To help others.
Honor God with your hands.  Honor God with your body

June! No stomping your feet!
Why did God give you feet?
Answer: To walk and run and dance
Honor God with your feet

Darcy! No yelling!
Why did God give you a voice?
Answer: To sing and praise Him
Honor God with your voice.

It’s really all the same rule.  Isn’t that the way rules should be?  We are  just using them to maintain a certain standard, the standard of serving Christ.  I want my children to think of their bodies as gifts, as temples of the Holy Spirit, that they have been given responsibility for, to use to honor God.  At their age, honoring God with their body means things like no spitting, no yelling, no fits, no hitting, no pulling hair, no sitting on each other.  I want them to make the connection (and its a easy one) that their bodies are given to them for a purpose and it is very possible and very easy to misuse our bodies.

Of course the best way for me to teach this is for them to see me using my body to honor God, using my hands to serve instead of take, my energy to give instead of for my own hobbies, my voice to encourage and sing and tell stories instead of criticize, my imagination to create things for them instead of worrying about them.  Why did God give me a body?  What does He want me to do with it? Why a brain and an imagination and a back and a stomach and teeth and a tongue and feet and hands and hips and why are my arms so strangely long?  It doesn’t take much work to think of all the ways I can honor God with those things, instead of thinking of those things as ways to serve myself or of trying to preserve my body like a porcelain doll.  God gave it to me to use and to use up until it is gone.  This new rule is just as much for me as it is for the children.  We are all learning to honor God with our bodies.