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We are a family of fifteen: eight already with Jesus and seven in desperate need of Him. This is the story God is writing in our lives. Proverbs 16:9

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Today, if I don't write, I may cry.

Last Monday, I decided to join a theater troupe focused solely on the horror genre.  It has always been a dream of mine.  I was so drawn to the story---  A housewife begins her quest to rid her children of alien invaders that crawl and creep in the night.  She spends her waking hours ridding the home of everything that might invite them in.  She toils in the recesses of every hidden place, making sure not a spot is left unattended should they be hiding in their pre-adult, microscopic form.  She researches their kind and learns their weaknesses.

In one scene, she goes to the local health food store determined to fight these things from all sides employing all avenues of substances with medicinal value.  One of the items on her list, she learns, is a controlled substance (thanks, Dr. Oz, for the recommendation).  Just the thought of her home being surrounded by ATF officers makes her chuckle.  She imagines herself shouting, "Come any closer and they will get you too!" as they approach and then retreat in fear.

Armed with papaya seeds, pumpkin seeds, honey, banana liquid, pineapple, pickles, and garlic, she fights them relentlessly.  I was a bit disappointed in her costuming.  It more resembles a HAZMAT suit, rather than the likes of Prada, Versace, or Ralph Lauren.  It is a species battle of epic proportions.

She plans and prays, attacks, and retreats.  It seems they might get the upper hand when...  (I still don't know the ending).

I sure wish I could say that it was all fiction... however, it is the absolute, parasite-crawling-world-we-live-in truth.  We have been battling pinworms.  I know what I am saying.  Parasites people.  G-r-o-s-s.

***leaving space for you to shudder***

And just so you know, you could have them too.  Comforting isn't it?

Did you know that these things are living in millions of Americans?  Most people are asymptomatic.  Children are the most likely to carry them in their intestines.  If your kiddos are waking at night and irritable, pinworms may be to blame.  I had always heard of these things and I clearly remember a time when I was sure Andrew had them.  He didn't.  Now that there are seven of us to make the odds of reinfection soar higher and higher, he does (along with almost everyone else).

Then on top of it all, all the boys have had strep throat and the girls, ear infections.

So pray for us.  And if you ever need support from someone who has been in the trenches with these things, I am your girl.

One day, the real-life creatures that stalk us will be defeated and it will all be like a bad dream.  ~ see Rev. 21

~My next post should have cute pictures, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Having a Bunch of Children Can Be Better Than a Security System

10.  A person screeching on the stair as his (or her) feet are impaled by Legos, Lincoln Logs, and matchbox cars is better than any buzzing alarm.

9.  The smell of poop deters anyone within 10 feet of our house.

8.  Everything we have that might have been valuable at one time is now covered in peanut butter, snot, or is irreparably broken.

7.  Most of the -at one time- valuables have now been displaced all over the house.  Once you think you have found something fantastic, it will probably turn out to be one of those tiny, clear Legos that double as "treasure".

6.  Most nights, someone is awake at all hours doing one of the following things:
     ~Trying to find the toy that just won't die (the basement?  the garage?  the bottom of the toy bin?  where is it!!!)
     ~Trying to get people back to sleep who have awakened and are in the process of handing the baton to the person on the next -keep the parents awake at all hours- shift.
     ~Dismantling every alarm clock that I didn't even know we owned but has magically made its way into the hands of a toddler who knows how to set it at something:something early A.M.  

5.  My older children have been practicing pseudo-taekwondo, sword-fighting, and wrestling since birth.  Their secret weapon is ~shhhhhhhhh~ stinky feet.

4.  I have six toddler feet and six toddler elbows and I know how to use them.

3.  If any of the cabinets or closets are opened, the contents may crush you.  Then there are the hidden, half-eaten sandwiches stashed away for a rainy day...

2.  There are (fake) enormous insects everywhere and they come alive in the dark.

1.  Even after you think you have located them all, there is still another child somewhere who will give you a run for your money.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tan-tu, Mama

When my babies are small, I start teaching baby signs to help them communicate before they can talk.  I don't teach them very many words... just mainly "more", "please", "thank you", and "sorry".  It wasn't too difficult to connect words with meanings during the boys infancy, especially when I was parenting one-on-one.  This time around, there has been less of that--- and by that, I mean the whole thing.  I did try and teach signs, but going from child to child to child in everything changes the landscape of parenting.  I have done more in a group and less individually just for the sake of expediting things before complete chaos ensues.

I did work on it some.  There are battles I pick and others I do not.  The baby signs (sometimes) battle hasn't always been on the top of the priority list.  I know, I know.  Maybe they will never be polite or ask for more juice.  I gave it an effort anyway.

I have had one child that has pretty much always refused to say, "thank you".  On a few occasions, I have forced it, taking her hands in mine, mimicking the motion.  However, clenched fists, immovable elbows, and scowl doesn't communicate gratitude no matter how precise the motion.

The other day, I fixed cups of juice and proceeded to hand them out to the thirsty people.  Then, a tiny voice cut through all the normal noise of mid-day activity.  The clouds parted, skies opened, and beams of light accompanied the sound of pianissimo, soprano ahhhhhhhs as I heard the words,

"Tan-tu, mama." i.e. "Thank you, mama."

It came directly from the usually-protesting little one, with eyes that lifted up to meet mine.  It broke through to the part of my heart reserved for precious, I-don't-ever-want-to-forget-this things.

It made me think---  I have forced thankfulness.  But have I really?  I have taught the words in sign or speech and the concept.  I can certainly call it out when I think I don't see it, and that seems pretty obvious.  Ok, sometimes really obvious.  Conversely, a response that I know I have not elicited is more pure and beautiful.  But how do I know what appears pleasant and compliant is true thanksgiving?  Is it expressed transference of a soul trajectory?  Or is it obedience?  I know it is what I have told them to say or even be, so in part, I have commanded it.  But is it truly a biblical kind of gratitude; one that would give thanks in all circumstances, juice or no juice?  As a mother of five, I can confidently say, I don't really know.  I know not one of my children has ever said, "Thanks Mom for correcting me," or "I really appreciate you doing what is best," when it feels painful to them.  They obviously like when I give them stuff.  So the answer is, definitely not always.  Maybe sometimes like this time.  How can I know?  Should I scrutinize what I don't know?  Should I discipline to correct what is only to be perceived in the heart?

I know if you are a mommy who has heard any sort of talk of parenting from a Christian worldview, you know what I am speaking about here.  And maybe like me, you feel exhausted and overwhelmed ---even by this conversation and the above line of questioning.  Or maybe you are a bit suspicious of trying to "train" the inner places that only God sees.

What I do know, if I am honest, is that I am not always thankful and not ever perfectly thankful.  I know it as quickly as words leave my mouth with a request of my children.  Almost immediately, my admonitions to them remind me of what I many times struggle to do.  I know because as the Bible reads me, the standard of living a life characterized by thankfulness is made clear and exposes my own heart.  Sometimes, I just forget, especially when God is so generously providing all my felt needs.  I remember days when the brokenness of this life is visceral and factually provable that gratitude isn't what I naturally feel.  And then, sometimes I do feel thankful.

So how thankful is thankful enough?  All of the scriptures present lives that have been changed by the good news of Jesus as characterized by gratitude among other things.  It pours out of God's chosen, holy, and beloved ones in song like in Psalm 100 and Colossians 3:16.  And don't I know the consequences of an unthankful heart.  Bitterness, envy, and complacency come to mind as well as impatience with everyone else and their seeming or real thankfulness (including my children's).  Then there is the gospel on the whole.  I cannot imagine a clear understanding of the redemption story in the work and person of Jesus without it.  Where does all that go when life is pressing in?  Do I put before me what I should be doing?  Well, maybe it is in what Jesus has done.

I think specifically of Jesus right before His death.  He served the bread and the cup of the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins with thanks (Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22) to His disciples with the full knowledge that the cup that would be served to Him by His Father would be one of wrath.  It would then be filled with His own blood.  He participated in something we see as symbolic.  For Him, the breaking and pouring was literal.  When I align this one display of Jesus perfect thankfulness as a precursor to what it would then mean for Him, it proves His fulfillment of this law.  Of course, there are more examples in His life and in His character, but this is the most compelling given the magnitude of the symbolism. He expresses gratitude for the meal that demonstrates His sacrifice for sinners such as me.   In the face of death for His friends, Jesus is thankful.

As I go back to my thoughts about my children, I want them to be thankful---and not just thankful, but thankful to God.  But that isn't up to me or something I can evoke.  There is no recipe for it, no system to guarantee it.  I can remind them of blessings in abundance.  I can ask them to say "thank you" to those who help them as an act of love.  I can teach them what God-honoring thankfulness looks like.  But that only emphasizes what we--- they and I ---fail to do.  We can talk together about how we aren't thankful. Then, I can tell them the story of Jesus and how He gave thanks in all circumstances and lived in perfect gratitude.

I can say lots of things.  I may or may not be clear enough to meet them where they are on a given day.  As I think of what I may say, I remember again what God has done.  When I am not thankful, Jesus also passed the cup of forgiveness to me.  And now, I am His.

Something else is more important than obedience or thankfulness.  They are mine.  They always will be my sons and daughters no matter their perceived? levels of thankfulness.  Their position overshadows their compliance.

There are days when "Tane-tu, Mama" warms my heart.  I thank God for it, give hugs, and a "You're welcome."  I am reminded again of the gift of my children and what they teach me about my Father and His love for me.  I pray I know more of His love so that I may accept them and give them what they need in love, even when soprano ahhs cease.  I desire to be delighted in them and not in what they do.  This is hard for me, y'all.  It is all too easy to freak out and overemphasize behavior that makes me feel more successful as a mother.  Sure, there are consequences when unthankfulness overflows into some action I can correct.  But I pray that grace is a better teacher where commands fall short.  True thankfulness is born of grace and of that, I am only a witness.  The Spirit is capable and the Shepherd gentle and kind to hold their tender hearts as He is surely holding mine.  We are all on this journey together learning more of God and His love for us.  Grace is seeking us, friends and as the scripture reminds us, fruits follow.

Counting blessings is a good thing.  Being thankful is what it right.  But the grandest blessing is acceptance even when I am not thankful, clench-fisted, and partially immovable.  Do you know this?  If you are in Christ, wavering thankfulness is covered?  That is something for which to be truly thankful.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014

Mother's Day is always a day that reminds me that I live a world that exists between the cross and the grave.  I simultaneously hold on to realities too wonderful and too painful.  The promise of the future supplies immense hope, even for today.  These faces sure make me smile.

I have been so blessed by my mom.  Being a mom is teaching me more about her love for me.  I, in later years, have been blessed by Micah's mother as well.  I am thankful for my grandmothers and great-grandmothers and miss the ones no longer here with me.  I am also thankful for my spiritual mothers and aunt-mothers.  

And I am thankful for those little ones that call me mom.  I am thankful for my eight children who are already with Jesus and will one day be a part of my introduction into eternity. I am thankful to the Giver of every good gift who accepts my thanksgiving in Jesus as perfect, even when I fail to be.  He is so good to me.  

Where ever you are today, in joy or in pain, may God be near to you.

And for those waiting with a desire to mother, I see you too.  But most importantly, so does He.