Three Things Thursday: I’m No Quitter Edition

You thought I was done, didn’t you? All two of you, that is, who noticed I started my Three Things Thursday posts, made it just two weeks, then… nothing. Well, you were wrong. Here it is, 3 weeks (and a day) later, and I’m posting my third ever Three Things Thursday. Why? Partly because I started this post yesterday – a Thursday – but I got totally and completely entranced by watching “The Voice” on-demand for the first time (Um, LOVE!) By the time it was over, I had fallen asleep before finishing this. But also? Because I’m no quitter.

Mostly.

Just as long as you don’t count the time I was going to blog every day for 40 consecutive days and I only made it 8. And also, they weren’t even consecutive. Oops.

Or the time I was going to teach myself how to play guitar, and my dear sweet supportive husband bought me all sorts of guitar type things, like new soft strings (because I may have quit one other time when my fingers hurt too bad), a tuner doohicky thing, (yes, I think that’s the technical name), and several other inspiring guitar paraphernalia that turned out to be not quite as inspiring as we had hoped. (To be fair, I did learn how to play two chords. That I have since forgotten. Just WHATEVER.)

Then there was the time when I was 19 that my aunt and uncle announced they were going to have a baby, and they planned a Peanuts Gang themed nursery. I thought 9 months was plenty of time to cross-stitch 12 scenes of Charlie Brown and Snoopy for a home-made calendar as a baby gift. And then another 4 or 5 years to finish it off (before she was old enough to realize I hadn’t earlier), since I didn’t make the 9 month deadline. Except that now my baby cousin is 16, and I still have the 12 nearly finished cross stitch pictures in a box somewhere in the garage. And disappointingly, she no longer has The Peanuts Gang decor. Not only that, but if you were to visit her today in her teenage room, you would find nary a cross-stitched picture of any kind. Lame.

So maybe I’m a little bit of a quitter.

Except that is not what this post is about. No, this edition of Three Things Thursday is entitled “I’m No Quitter!” And I’m not. At least not when it comes to these 3 things…

1. I will not, I repeat, NOT quit going the speed limit when you’re on my tail. Sure, I may speed when you’re a safe distance behind me, or when I’m running late. Again. But start driving a foot behind my bumper? You might as well be a cop. Because I am suddenly law-abiding Lucy. And probably also, my windshield will be very dirty and require some crazy amounts of washing. This may cause me to slow down just a bit until I take care of all that window gunk. Sorry if that means you get a little wet, too.

2. This one is a bit more serious (although, I am completely dead-serious about that last one.) I will not give up on you, kid. You know who you are. In class, you’re the one who is frustratingly defiant. Or starved for attention. Or sneaky, or outright lies, or behaves in a way that makes me and everyone else want to scream. You are the one who thinks you’re stupid and has given up on yourself. I want you to know, I haven’t. I won’t. And while some might frown on me telling you this at school, they can’t stop me from actually doing it: I pray for you. At home, at school, sometimes in the middle of our toughest battle. I pray that your heart will soften, that you’ll learn from your mistakes and grow. When you’ve dealt with more in your short 8 years than anyone should have to experience in a lifetime, I pray you’ll find safety and comfort at school, and that somehow you’ll see Jesus in all of it. When you’re lonely, I pray you’ll find true friend. When you’re angry and hurt, I pray you’ll find healing and Hope. When you’re insecure, I pray you’ll see your worth and that someday you’ll know that you are a child of God, made in His image. The truth is, I pray for all of you. Before you enter my class on our first day, and many times throughout the year. I pray my prayers over you are not your first, nor will they be your last. And when I sometimes wonder if I’m meant to still teach or if God has another plan for me, I will remind myself that this is where He has me now, and so I will do what I can. And that is to pray. And I’m no quitter.

#3. Sometimes, this world seems to be falling apart. Beheadings, children’s innocence being stripped away, cancer, ebola and other horrific illness, poverty, hate.

Hopelessness.

Sometimes, you have to look hard to find the good.

On 9/11, Annalise asked me why people would attack our country and try to kill people. Then she wanted to know why other people would make and sell things that are meant to harm others, because, “Money isn’t important, Mom. People are. People matter, but money doesn’t matter at all! Why would they do that?

We had a good talk that day, about why our hearts need to be filled with Love. God commands us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and then to love our neighbors as ourselves. We talked about that when our hearts are not filled with love, it leaves room inside them to be filled with something else. Greed. Selfishness. Hate. It’s because of this that I know I can’t quit #3: I will seek Your face and pray I am filled with Love for You.

There is an American man, Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned for 2 years because he will not renounce his love for Jesus. Beaten, malnourished, kept away from his wife and two young kids. FOR TWO YEARS. Yet, his faith and his love for Jesus has grown stronger. From his vantage point in that prison cell, I wonder if there is anything good in this world visible to him?

Looking for the good in this world isn’t enough. We have to look for the God who made this world.

Saeed sits beaten and bruised in that prison cell, and he hasn’t quit. And so I won’t quit. I can’t quit… seeking His face. Knowing his heart.

Filling my heart with His Love so there is room for nothing else.

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100

WordPress tells me this will be my 100th post. Woah! I guess I have a lot to say. (No comment from the husband peanut gallery.)

100 seems like a monumental number. Like maybe I should celebrate somehow. I mean, it’s a pretty big deal if you live 100 years or throw a 100 mph fastball. I know, I know, those are actual feats. Writing 100 times and posting for 12 people to read isn’t exactly a noteworthy accomplishment.

Just the same, 100 didn’t seem like a number I could pass by lightly. And this is my blog, so I can do whatever I want, right?

I thought for a while about what I would post for this momentous occasion. 100 pics of the kids? 100 funny comments? (They’ve certainly been providing me with a lot of material lately.) 100 favorite family memories? Whatever it was going to be, it needed to be a celebration.

And then I read this blog post by Ann Voskamp. It’s titled “Why You Really Have to Keep Falling in Love.” (I’d encourage you to click the link and read this short post. Either now or later. It’s a very quick, very powerful read.)  But in case you don’t, here is a summary: Ann writes about a conversation she has with a girl in her twenties who, after telling her to stay in love with Jesus, responds, “I don’t think I’ve ever loved Jesus. So I don’t know what it means to stay in love with Jesus. I thought Christianity was about getting into heaven, getting saved, getting good No one ever told me that Christianity was about staying in love.” Ann’s post is a response to this conversation, where she writes some vitally important truths.

“Looking into the eyes of this hardly twenty-something girl, it’s about as crystal clear as it gets:

Our faith better be deeply connected to our senses and our heart, or a sensual world will destroy our faith and steal our heart.

If Jesus hasnt passionately wooed you the world eventually, definitely will.” ~ Ann Voskamp

As I read, my eyes welled up and spilled over. I’ve been that girl. I know her. I see her now in a thousand different faces. Maybe she’s in you? 

Right around the time I read that post, our pastor challenged us to “Do yourselves a favor. Tell someone how great your God is.”

Also right around that time, my kids got sick, and I stayed home caring for them, which means being secluded from the outside world. I spent a lot of that time thinking. Thinking about an upcoming 4th birthday party (which has since come and gone) and what gift to give. Thinking about being a mom and how important that job is. Thinking about our pastor’s challenge and how little I really do that on a daily basis. Thinking about this 20-something girl who knows that Jesus saves – has saved her – but she doesn’t know what it’s like to be in love with him.

It all struck me so hard. What if my kids grow up and never know? I have to tell them, show them, or the world will tell them something different. Who am I kidding? The world is telling them something different right now. Everywhere they look, they get lies thrown at them as truth. They are already beginning to be inundated with a watered-down version of right and wrong and what it means to be a Christian, and they haven’t even reached double-digits yet.

Annalise and Jacob, listen to me very carefully: Jesus saves, yes. But it’s so much more than that. He isn’t just a way to get to Heaven. You have to seek him, spend time with him, fall in love. And you’ll realize how much more he is.

“Our faith better be deeply connected to our senses and our heart, or a sensual world will destroy our faith and steal our heart. If Jesus hasnt passionately wooed you the world eventually, definitely will.”

Those words keep ringing in my ears.

I can’t make them believe, make them feel. But I can tell them, and I can show them.

I can’t live in fear for them. So I will live on my knees for them.

I’ve spent time, as many women I know have, keeping record of things that bring me joy each day. (This is also spurred on from Ann Voskamp and her book 1000 gifts.) The lists are just a way to unwrap the gifts God has given, as a way to remind ourselves of His great love for us.

But with a sense of urgency for my kids, for the world that is constantly muddying the waters of truth until there is almost nothing left resembling actual Truth, I wanted to write this: 100 Reasons I’ve Fallen in Love with Jesus.

And so, I am writing to him. And I am writing to my children, to anyone who may not know, or to anyone who just needs a reminder of why they once fell in love with Jesus. Read a little of it or all of it. Or even if you stop reading here and the only one that sees this list is the One I’m writing about, just know that I’m writing it because my God is great. He is personal. He is more than just “a way to get heaven, to get saved, or how to get good.” And I wanted you all to know, He is the best reason – really the ONLY reason – to celebrate.

And because I want to keep falling in love.

100 Reasons Why I Love My Great God

1. You are personal. You are not a distant God. I can come straight to you. There is no middle man that needs to do the work for me.

2. Despite you being perfect and holy and me being incredibly flawed (<— massive understatement), you are not repulsed by me. You do not turn away. In fact, “as I draw near to you, you draw near to me.”

3. You love me enough to die for me and pay the penalty for my sins so that I could come to you blameless and holy. My imperfections are washed away, and I can stand in your holy presence.

4. You are the giver of all good and perfect things. Every. single. thing. that is good in my life is directly from you. Thank you? It just doesn’t seem like enough.

5. Your endless creativity. I mean really, I get a little overwhelmed just going in the produce section. (Starfruit? Kumquats??? Cherimoya for goodness sake!) And then I realize, over 7 BILLION PEOPLEin the world (not even counting all the people that came before us or all those yet to come), and each of them are unique. YOU are AMAZING.

6. My own special people. You made them, and they have filled my heart to the brim.

7. You saved me from total deadness. I am alive because of you.

8. You know exactly what I need, all the time. And you will give me nothing less than that.

9. You know exactly what everyone needs. ALL 7+ BILLION OF US. Not one of us is overlooked. 

10. #9 doesn’t overwhelm you. Nothing overwhelms you.

11. When I am away from the ones I love most, you are not.

12. Your voice is never harsh when you pick me up from sin and despair. You are always gentle and loving. And you are always there to pick me up.

13. No matter how far I have or will run from you, I can never escape your hands.

14. You are patient. With me. With my faults. With this world. Oh so incredibly patient.

15. You are never too busy dealing with “the big stuff” to hear my prayers.

16. You chose to become a human and to come as a baby. You are God, yet you humbled yourself so.

17. You were fully tempted and yet without sin. I tend to gloss over that sometimes, but you could have sinned at any time. You were fully human, after all. And you are the only human who understands the full weight of temptation, since you are the only one who withstood it without ever giving in.

18. You went to Jerusalem, knowing your fate. You ate the Passover meal. You went to the garden, knowing they’d come. You went to the cross. You did not send legions of warrior angels to stop it all. You could have at any time. All you needed to do was speak the word. But you didn’t.

19. Judas. You loved even him. All along, you knew what he would do, and yet you loved him. So much that when the time came, no one knew who it was going to be that would betray you. You didn’t treat him differently than the others. (I can barely fake a smile to someone I think maybe doesn’t like me a little bit possibly. I clearly have a long way to go.)

20. You forgive. And you’ve forgiven me A LOT. (And as I’ve learned, those who are forgiven much, love much. Probably why I love you so much.)

21. When I struggle with forgiving others, I can give it to you.

22. You are just.

23. You are faithful to finish the good work you began in me.

24. I can trust that you will finish the good work you began in others, too. When I’m feeling skeptical of them, I know I can fully trust you.

25. You love children and see their pure faith.

26. You were purposeful in who you spent your time with as you walked this earth. It is so evident: You love all.

27. I love my children so much. I really really do. In fact, I can’t imagine much stronger a love. But I have to admit, when they are being naughty, I mean sooooo naughty it feels like they just gave me the middle finger, I don’t mind the thought of sending them to Grandma’s for a few hours days weeks. Yet you have no desire to leave my presence. And when I am soooooooo very naughty, you reach out your hand and draw me to you.

28. You don’t condemn me, but you do correct. It’s an important part of love, and you do it lovingly.

29. You are merciful. Thanks for not giving me what I deserve.

30. Your endless grace, which is greater than all my sin.

31. You fill my heart with joy.

32. You are my only hope.

33. You always keep your promises.

34. Any battle I face, I know I will not face alone.

35. You acknowledge those who are poor in spirit, and give them hope of Heaven.

36. You have not forgotten those who weep, and you give them comfort.

37. You recognize the meek, and you’ve promised them reward.

38. You have promised to fill those who hunger and thirst for you.

39. You promise mercy to those who are merciful.

40. To the pure in heart, peacemakers, and those who have been persecuted because of righteousness, you give a promise none other can fulfill. You give eternal hope.

41. When I was in my weakest state, you held me tightest.

42. When I couldn’t pray and had no desire to go on, you interceded on my behalf. YOU prayed for ME.

43. You are compassionate to all.

44. You aren’t a wallflower or door mat…. when tables need turning, you do it.

45. When lepers had to call out to let others know “what” they were so they could stay far away, you came to them. You touched them. You showed them love that no one else ever would.

46. You have authority over all. You are the God of angel armies, dominions of this world and all else.

47. The wind and waves must obey you. Even death is under your rule.

48. Even in your full authority and power, you allow us to make our own decisions.

49. You love us enough to let us choose you.

50. In all circumstances, you know all. You know best and I know little.

51. You didn’t just go to the cross. You asked your Father to forgive those who put you there while you were there. And that includes me.

52. You defeated death and the grave. The battle has already been won for us all. We just have to claim it.

53. Seasons. You made them. I love them.

54. You are funny. How do I know? Because we are made in your image – including Matt –  and Matt is definitely funny. And also, because of this guy:

The Tarsier. Funniest looking animal ever. Made by you.
(The Tarsier is actually tied for funniest with that monkey you made… the one with
dark fur everywhere except it’s pink inflamed rear. That is, tied for first except to boys
within the age range of 4-39. Then naked butt-monkey wins every time.)

55. You made funny people. Like my kids. They crack me up on a daily basis.

56. You are the source of all joy.

57. You have created breathtaking views, many of which I’m blessed to see in this county.

58. Pleasure was your idea. YOU created it. But may I not settle for pitiful pleasures that lead to emptiness.

59. You came that I may have abundant life – life to the full.

60. I have lost a great deal, but I know because of you, my loss is only temporary. I will get to see my girls again someday.

61. You are good. Always and only.

62. You don’t ask me to do anything you haven’t already done. Obey? Love? Live selflessly? Yep, you’re an expert at it. You lived it every second.

63. Chocolate and coffee. ‘Nuff said.

64. You know a woman’s heart. I love that when Mary found out she was going to have you – a miracle baby – she ran to her old cousin Elizabeth, who was also going to have a miracle baby. You knew she needed someone to share in her miracle. She would not feel alone. (And – maybe also somewhat conveniently – you kept Zachariah from speaking during this time. They could share without interruption. Like I said, you know a woman’s heart.)

65. You will never leave me nor forsake me. Ever. Not even for a second. Not even when I’m tired, grumpy, or really angry at you and throwing a massive tantrum. In my head, obviously. Because I’d never do such a childish thing out loud. Um…

66. Have I mentioned you’re funny? Not just because of the hilarious creatures you’ve created, but because you created man and woman. And then ask them to join together in holy matrimony. And it’s all very hysterical, when you really think about it. Because we couldn’t be more different.

67. Music. While the world does their best to corrupt it, you invented it. It’s powerful, moving, beautiful, and I love it. Especially when I get the privilege of using it to worship you.

68. You rejoice over me with singing. What??? YOU rejoice over ME with singing!!

69. When I am anxious, worn, weary, or riled up, you quiet me with your love.

70. You have promised me victory over sin. It does not have dominion over me. For I am under your grace, and I am a new creation.

71. You desire reconciliation and restored relationships. And you give us all the tools to do it. We are a stubborn, prideful people.

72. Your countless wonders, deeds, and miracles. They are not fairy tales.

73. You give strength to those whose hearts are fully committed to you.

74. Even though there are times I think I have a better way, your ways are always higher than mine. And your thoughts are higher than mine. Thank GOD.

75. You do not want me to live in fear. You take hold of my hand and say to me, “Do not fear; I will help you.”

76. You are a shield about me.

77. You only speak truth. You cannot lie. I can fully trust you.

78. Day AND night. You made them both. I love them both. Sometimes one more than the other. Like day, when the littlest people in the house fill the air with laughter and singing. And like night, when the littlest people in the house are finally quiet.

79. You are my refuge.

80. You have plans for me and my life. Plans to prosper me, not harm me. Plans to give me hope and a future.

81. I give you my requests/prayers/wishes. They are not all granted, for you are not a genie. Yet, you do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine. And your plans are always better than mine.

82. You do not change. Yet you change everything. (And it is always for good.)

83. When I abide in you, I can bear much fruit. You change me.

84. You are slow to anger but rich in love.

85. Others will fail me, break promises, hurt me, put themselves before me, make me feel unloved. But you never will. You cannot.

86. You made a day for rest. You knew we’d need it. It is my favorite day.

87. You want me to have fun. You do not want me to be bored or boring. You created fun, you gave me the desire for fun, and you are the source of joy.

88. I love your creations. The scenery, the animals, the plants, the people… Just not the bugs. I could do without the bugs.

89. You have defeated Satan. He is on a short leash, but he has not authority over me.

90. One day, you will permanently strip Satan of all power and throw him into the abyss. I long for this day. Until then, you have a greater purpose in mind, and you love all enough that you want no one to perish.

91. You do not become tired or weary.

92. You have made me your treasure. And you treat me as such.

93. You are everywhere at all times. Nothing is out of your reach or beyond your view.

94. You are holy. Perfect.

95. You are a father to the fatherless.

96. You have made yourself available to dwell in anyone who chooses to accept you.

97. While you were still God, you humbled yourself to become a man. You came to be an example for us, to point us to the father, and to save us. You have rescued me.

98. You look beyond the external and judge the heart.

99. You were God with skin, and you prayed to God the Father. You were the perfect example of what a prayer life should look like. You lived fully dependent on God the Father.

100. You loved me first and forever. Before I was born. When I was dead. When I denied you.
Now and forevermore.

times they are a changin – Part 2

1 year ago, I started this blog. I started it as a way to clear all the thoughts in my head. I started it as a means of documenting (and saving for our future) family memories written out in stories and pictures. I started it as a way to share the laughter of our home that is sometimes just so contagious it can’t help but be spread… and because it would really be a crime to keep it just to ourselves. I started it as a way of redemption. Turning our sorrows and hurt and anger and sin into God’s glory. And I started it as a way to heal my soul and to maybe – just maybe – help heal someone else’s in the process.

1 month ago, I wrote this post: times they are a changin – Part 1* about big changes for each member of the family (except me.) “Part 1” indicating – obviously – there would a Part 2 (my changes) to follow. Part 2 didn’t come. Not right away, at least.

*Quick update on Part 1: Jacob is fully potty trained. Done. With. Diapers. And still seriously cute. Annalise’s tooth fell out and the new one has started to scoot forward into place. (Phew.) She, too, is still seriously cute. Izzy’s tooth-and-other-parts-removal was a success, and she is now a much more tolerable mutt. Most of the time. And Matt’s business changes continue. Awesome new website. Check it out!… Later. First finish reading.

Sometimes, there are thoughts in my head that grow and fester and have to be written down before they disappear. Or so I can get some sleep. Other times, they need to stay. Marinate a while. To develop fully, or at least just develop more. The Part 2 post was one of the latter.

My thoughts about the heart changes I referenced in “Part 1” were reflections on New Year’s thoughts. You know the story: End of year comes. I avoid making resolutions that I know will last for maybe a week and promises to myself that I will break in as short of a time. So instead, I decide to spend time reflecting on the past year.

I don’t know about you, but the second I begin reflecting on the past year – or really, the past anything – I instantly focus on all the things I didn’t do. All the ways I wasn’t a good friend, wife, mother, daughter, sister, co-worker, teacher. All the opportunities I didn’t take, the weight I didn’t lose (or lost and gained) and all the times I didn’t measure up. And yes, I also think about the things I did do. I did lose my patience with the kids too many times. I did snap at them and my husband. I did waste time in countless ways. (Um, hello, Facebook.) I did run late. Nearly. every. day. I did fail in a million other ways.

So reflecting on the past year – or past anything – isn’t always such a great idea for me. I’d say it actually kind of sucks. It tends to put me in a funk. The longer the period of time I’m reflecting on (and beating myself up over), the greater and longer-lasting the funk. This particular funk lasted about 3 days. For 3 straight days, I felt sorry for myself. I felt useless. Forgettable. Insignificant. In some ways, helpless. And in every way, a failure. Anxious and fearful of more failures to come.

During this 3-day-pity-party I devoted all my time and energy into… doing puzzles. Matt thought I was just enjoying the end of my Christmas vacation by relaxing. In actuality, I was trying to turn my brain away from having to think about anything except I need a piece with horizontal white stripes that has 3 outies and one innie.*

*Side-note here: I’m a puzzle pro. Seriously. Two 500 piecers and one 1000 piecer complete in three days… Um, yeah, it was a serious funk. And while not much else got done around here, I’m pretty sure the kids were fed. And I showered almost all of those 3 days.

But then, at the end of my 3-days, I had a moment of clarity. A thought that was a break in the clouds: “As long as they remember seeing Jesus.”

In that one moment, the clouds lifted and the truths I know came flooding into my mind. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” No guilt for things done or not done. “I am significant, accepted, and secure in Christ.” No more pity-parties about being insignificant and forgettable. “I am God’s child, and I am complete in Christ.” No more feeling like a failure. In Him I am complete, and He loves me completely.

And then, the thought again. “As long as they remember seeing Jesus.” My job. This is my job. However successful the world sees me, whatever my accomplishments, what I do (or don’t do) matters little if while I’m doing it (or not doing it) I’m not reflecting HIM. How people remember ME is insignificant. How they remember HIM is of eternal significance. “As long as they remember seeing Jesus. I WANT MY LIFE TO COUNT.”

For the first time in years, I made a New-Year’s resolution. Let them see Jesus. The heart-changes were beginning, but the words to write not-yet formed.

The following Sunday, our pastor shared a message that was intended just for me. I’m certain of it…

Sermon title “A Cause Worth Living For.”

Sermon point number 1: The Gospel magnifies the heart of God. In my written notes, a quote from the sermon: “We have come to know the Heart of God. And we owe it to those who don’t yet know to tell them.” Again I think, let them see Jesus. How will they know of His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His unending love if they don’t see Jesus. Oh, if they only knew!

There were a couple other points, but my sermon notes page is mostly full of chicken-scratched-heart-changing-thoughts-turned-words-now-formed:

  • When I am anxious and fearful – even of my future failures – I rob God of the trust He is due.
  • LET THEM SEE JESUS. What does it matter about me? AS LONG AS THEY SEE JESUS. HIS GRACE.
  • I WANT MY LIFE TO COUNT.
  • The Holy Spirit wants to invade our lives my life with His power. JUST LET HIM.

And our church’s scripture memory verse for the month, handed out that day: But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ~ Acts 20:24 ESV

Point taken. Message received. My job: Let them see Jesus.

But who? Who is them? For the next few weeks, I made a mental list of all the major “thems” in that sentence. My kids. My husband. Serve them. Love them. Show them patience and grace. Be intentional with the kids – why we’re doing what we do. My students. I cannot speak of God’s love, but I can show them. Show them more love and grace than they’ve ever known. Neighbors. Co-workers. Friends. Grocery clerks. 

In my mind, I’ve screamed, “But it’s not enough. My students – I can’t tell them. My husband and kids – they already know. There are too many others. Too many that don’t know. I’m not doing enough.”

Yes, there are others. But for now, I am here. I am a mom of two littles. I am a teacher of 27 slightly biggers. I am a wife. I don’t have a whole lot of time to reach a whole lot more. This is where God has me right now.

My job: Let them see Jesus. My kids. My husband. My students. And any others I may be blessed to encounter. Show them Jesus.

This is where I settled my thoughts just 2 weeks ago.

And a few days later, a friend pointed out that my blog often brought a message of hope. YES! A means to reach more. I got excited, inspired! I post. People read. Lots more than I ever thought would. And even if my parents are half of the clicks on this blog, there are still many, many more than I imagined. I don’t even know some of you! Yet, you read. Maybe God has brought you here! Maybe here you will see a bit of the love and grace and mercy of an incredible God who loves YOU so much more than you could imagine!

My thoughts further settled here. Just a week and a half ago…

But then a few days later, something happened. Something happened that made me so fearful, I took it all down. I hid all the love and joy and stories of God’s grace, and I wept and locked all the doors and closed all the blinds and held my kids tight and shook-with-anger-but-mostly-with-fear. And I decided I would not post again. It was not worth it.

Sisters called and loved. Family came and prayed. Friends told me they understood, but they’d miss reading of the laughter and the joy, and of God’s love.

And while I still shook-with-anger-but-mostly-with-fear, something else happened. Two horrible somethings that left me trembling. Left me wanting to hide. Left me hating this world and many of the people in it.

And then today my husband, my husband who shook-with-fear-but-mostly-with-anger right beside me, reminded me that even those who caused me to fear need to see the love of God. Even they are God’s children. Yes, He loves even them. And our children, they are His children, too. And just as our dear family that came to pray reminded us, HE is also THEIR God.

And our God is sovereign.

More truths flooded my heart. Yes, flooded. I battle fear often. I’ve read these truths a time or two-hundred. They come to mind more quickly now: (see full list below, emphasis my own)

I have NOT been given a spirit of FEAR, but of power, and of love, and of a sound-mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

…I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me… ~ Psalm 23:4

The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1

Thoughts whirling in my head: Let them see Jesus. Do not be afraid.

And then my husband – who I’m fairly certain based on lots of circumstantial evidence cannot read the thoughts in my head – said to me, “You don’t know who might see Jesus when they read.”

times they are a changin’: Part 2…  I have a new job: Let them see Jesus.

And so, with still-very-shaky-legs I stand on the firm foundation of Christ and use this space, what He has provided me – at least for the moment – to magnify His heart. Some of you already know of His great love for you. Some of you don’t. Either way, I hope you keep reading.

And I pray you see Jesus.

*More Biblical truths about fear that I am clinging to:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? ~ Psalm 56:3-4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

No weapon formed against us will prosper, No evil formed against us shall stand. ~ Isaiah 54:17

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

And to two of you – you know who you are – I am doing what you said. I am bathing in Psalm 91. You are such a gift to us.

What’s that you say?

Several friends have said they’d like to be a fly on the wall in our house, just to see what goes on around here. It’s mostly mundane life, kids playing then fighting then playing again, mom and dad having conversations about our jobs or future or parenting or what’s for dinner, Annalise making up songs about Jesus or Jacob or Izzy or anything else she can think of, etc etc etc. Nothing too exciting. But since some of you asked, I thought I’d deliver just a sneak peek by way of things overheard this week…

Jacob: “Mommy! You HAVE to come SEE dis! It is SOOOOO CUTE! It is (insert high-pitched squeaky voice) da teeniest-tiniest littliest poopoo I ever saw! (insert normal voice) Oh mom, it’s SO cute you won’t believe it!”

Annalise (after bumping into me): “Mom? Can you touch Jesus? Because I thought I just did, but turns out it was just your bottom.”

Jacob: “MOMMY! You have GOT TO SEE DIS! It is da BIGGEST POOPOO EVER!” Seriously. This is all he talks about lately.

Annalise (after seeing naked brother bend over from behind): “MOMMY! OH NO! Jacob has a HUGE GROWTH on his bottom!”a

Jacob: “Mommy. Can you please leave the baf-room? I want some pwivacy.”

Annalise: “Mommy, can you please leave the bathroom? I want some privacy.”

(I only put those ones in there because of the irony. They don’t seem to know what privacy is when I’m in the bathroom.)

… And right now you’re wondering if any conversations go on around here that are not about “poopoo” or “bottoms” or other forms of bathroom-talk… Yes, I know. Some days I wonder that, too.

There are the random comments like these:

Annalise: “Mommy, the Weedas have 3 girls and 2 boys, but we just have 2 girls and 2 boys… (with excitement) What if YOU had another baby and it was a girl? Then we’d be just like the Weedas!… (with dread) What if you had another baby and it was a boy! Then we’d have three BOYS!… (with excitement again) What if you had another baby and it was a CHICKEN!”

Or the random happenings like these:

photo(37)Annalise stuck in a long narrow box. Because it’s fun. Until your brother starts to play with your toys and you can’t get out.

photo(36)He had the hiccups. ALL. DAY. I read somewhere that this was supposed to help. It didn’t. I pulled harder and held longer. Still didn’t.

And then there are the never-ending-actually-NOT-funny jokes:

Jacob to Leesie: “Sissy. I have a joke. Why wasn’t da clown hungwy?”

Leesie: “Because he ate his breakfast?”

Jacob: “No. Because he ate his lunch. I have another joke. Why wasn’t da clown hungwy?”

Leesie: “Because he ate his lunch?”

Jacob: “No. Because he was full. I have another joke. Why wasn’t the clown hungwy?”

Leesie: “Because he was full?”

Jacob: “No. Because he ate his bweakfast. I have another joke…”

And on and on and on and on…

And the constant “what ifs” from both kids:

Jacob: “Mommy, what if we took Izzy for a walk, and den it started to rain, and den we got all wet, and den da rain turned into juice and we got all wet wif juice, and den we came home all sticky and got da house all sticky wif juice too. What if, Mommy?”

Annalise: “Mommy, what if I growed taller than you, and then I growed taller than Daddy, and then I growed taller than the house, and then I growed taller than a tree, and then I growed all the way to the sky and I never stopped growing?”

Bathroom-talk, bad-jokes, what-ifs, and then this…

At the dinner table the other night, Annalise asked if brothers and sisters can get married. When we told her no, her reaction surprised us. She wasn’t happy, but wasn’t upset in the 5-year-old sense (no drama, tantrums, or mini-fit with crossed arms and a loud “HUMPH!”) No, her reaction was much more sincere. Much more mature. Her eyes filled with tears, her chin began to quiver, and she looked away, thinking about this news that was so obviously devastating to her. Her big, teary eyes looked back at me, and she swallowed hard then choked out in a whisper, “But Mommy. I just love my brother so much. I don’t want to marry anyone else!” I giggled, but my eyes filled with tears, too. How blessed we are that they are so close! And my heart hurt for hers, because the sadness she displayed was so deep. She just didn’t understand.

Then sweet Jacob. My sweet tender-hearted boy. Tilted his head and looked at his sister lovingly. And in his sweetest kindest voice, as if he were a wise grown-up giving a gentle explanation to a hurting young child, he said, “Oh Sissy. I love you, too. But I can not marry you, because I am going to play FOOTBALL!”

And there you have it, folks. The boy is not going to get married, because he is going to play football. No arguments from Mama. (Until I see him crashing out on the football field, of course.) And just a few weeks earlier, Annalise told her Daddy that she “would NEVER kiss a boy until she is married.” I’m pretty sure he got her signature on a legal document for that one.

I think I may have said it before, but can we please just freeze them? We are having too much fun. Bathroom-talk and all. And I’ll take all the what-ifs and lame jokes in the world if I can just keep getting the snuggles and hearing their perfect giggles that can’t help but bring a smile to your face. What joy fills my heart.

Alas, I know they will grow older. But we will enjoy the moments we have today, and we will be thankful for the blessings God has given us. And when they grow, we will love and enjoy the “older” versions of them. Thankful for these good and perfect gifts from the Father of Heavenly lights. And thankful that while they will change and grow, and while we continue to change, He does not change. And He has put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. ~ Psalm 4:7

The apple doesn’t fall far…

The Hubs won’t play games with me. He says I have too many rules. I say games come with rules. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know what to do. Duh. He says I make up too many of my own rules. I say… I say… I say whatever. He’s just a sore looser, I think.

Yesterday, Annalise and I set up an epic MLP playland. Don’t know what MLP is? Well, you were obviously not a child of the ’80’s.* Or at least not a female one. My Little Pony. I had a gazillion. And a stable with a bed for the ponies (as though they lay down in beds. Geesh.) And 2 baby cribs with mini ponies that had designs on their rears that matched their mommies’ rears. And lots of MLP clothes from the early 80’s (including one very hot pink workout headband… Rock On MLP!) And a giant pink castle with a pony’s throne and golden horseshoes. Not even kidding. Annalise inherited them all because apparently I’ve inherited my emotional attachment to things from my mother. She saved all my MLPs. And Cabbage Patch Dolls. And Strawberry Shortcake Dolls. And Little Golden Books. And I’m sure lots of other things I’ve yet to discover. Her garage is like a seriously organized treasure hunt. If you are my age and care to have a walk down memory lane via all the best toys from your childhood, come with me to visit her. I’m sure she’ll hook you up. Along with some seriously mean grub.** She feeds all people who walk into her home. Expected or unexpected.

*Does “a child of the 80’s” mean I was born in the 80’s? Or just that I was a child at some point during the ’80’s. Because if it mean’s I was born in the 80’s, then technically, I’m a child of the 70’s. But I won’t tell you which year. Except that it’s closer to the 80’s than the beginning of the 70’s.

**MOM! Just to be clear, “seriously mean grub” is a compliment. It means your food is delicious. NOT that your food is a bully. You probably knew that already, but just in case… I didn’t want to risk losing out on any of that deliciousness next time I’m down.

Anyway, while my girl and I were playing MLPs, I realized that we were actually NOT playing MLPs. We were setting up. We were organizing. We were planning. We were deciding what each little MLP accessory (i.e. goblets, awards, diaper, roller skates…) would be used for when we played and where it would go and who would hold it, and… Scratch that. WE were not deciding all these things. SHE was deciding all these things. I’d set up the castle. But in the wrong spot. It would get moved. I’d brush a pony’s mane. But with the wrong brush (there’s only 20 to choose from). I’d switch. And then again. I’d set up the horse jumps, but facing the wrong way. They’d get turned.

I finally asked if we could start playing. She said, “Not yet. We have to get it all set up first. Everything has to be in its spot. And then, when we play, we can’t (fill in the blank)... and we need to (fill in the blank)… and don’t forget (fill in the blank) …”

I suddenly found myself saying to her, “Annalise! You have so many rules! It’s not very fun to play with someone with so ma…” She looked at me, wondering if I’d finish my sentence. “Never mind. Your dad is in the next room.”

Have you ever had a moment where you realized that you are very much like your mother, and your daughter is very much like you and your mother? I did. Staring at those ponies my mom saved because she knew how much I loved them and might want to play with them with my own daughter one day. Then staring at my daughter, who is organizing the entire MLP collection – which takes up the entire living room – and making a “plan for playing” before actually playing. Yes, I am like my mother. And my daughter is like me. And I guess that is a good thing, because I love those two girls an awful lot. And if I turn out to be a bit like my mom, and if my daughter turns out to be a little bit like her, too, then I guess we’ve just made this world a little bit brighter. She is one amazing lady. LOVE YOU, MAMA!

P.S. Hubs just read this and wanted me to add that, and I quote, (ahem) “The reason I don’t play with you is because you have too many rules and are OCD… like when we were playing cars with Jacob and you had to re-line up the cars we’d lined up so they were with matching Cars. You ruined our fun.” I would like to add that if you are going to put all the Lightning McQueens together in order from smallest to largest, and you put the Fillmores together from smallest to largest, IT ONLY MAKES SENSE that you put the Maters and Finns and Hollys and other cars in order from smallest to largest. Otherwise they feel left out. And maybe also separation anxiety.

And yes, I’m probably slightly OCD. But I think I get that from my mom, too.

P.P.S. To all you faithful blog readers: WordPress tells me my blog has been going for almost a year. So I’m thinking it’s time for a blog makeover! I might change color (I’m thinking red and brown) and format a bit. Do you have any feedback? Is the font too small? Spacing weird? What do you think? Leave me a comment!