Author Archive

Thankful Thursday on Friday (2019.09.06)

September 6th, 2019

… thank you, Lord, that we have lots of dishes, which means I’m not scrambling when I go a whole day without washing them
… thank you, Lord, that my children laugh with one another (even when it sometimes seems all they do is poke at each other)
… thank you, Lord, for this necklace from my sister, this skirt from my aunt, and these socks from my Beloved, reminding me of the many people who care for me

… thank you, Lord, for processes that work. All the preschoolers in our church gather in my Sunday school classroom for 15 minutes of singing on Sunday mornings. It’s been utter chaos, with the youngest kids (just barely two) crying and classes getting mixed up and students from other classes inadvertently left in my room. And the disorder of the process has meant we haven’t always had time to get to the meat of our own Sunday school time – lessons and memory verses and small group time. We’ve been making incremental changes week by week (this is just week 4 of a new year of Sunday School) and this week I think we finally got it! Students got in and out with a minimum of crying and confusion, meaning everyone could focus on the important stuff – praising God together and learning from His word.
… thank you, Lord, for a friend who listens.
… thank you, Lord, for a 60% off coupon that saved me $30!
… thank you, Lord, for novels
… thank you, Lord, for how my husband regularly lays down his time and energy and pastimes to serve me
… thank you, Lord, that I realized I had a Christmas dress for Tirzah Mae for this year before I bought fabric for (or started making) a new one!
… thank you, Lord, for the many people who have blessed our family over the years with outgrown clothes. Despite sending complete wardrobes home with two different children over the course of the last year, Beth-Ellen and our Sweet Pea still have had plenty of clothes for this season (the size we sent home with Baby J) and the next season (the size we sent home with little C).

The rest of the week
… Thank you, Lord, for cheery sunflowers on either side of my front porch steps
… Thank you, Lord, for what must be the fourth or fifth flush of blooms on the rose bush my friend brought me in honor of our baby
… Thank you, Lord, for quick in and out appointments (less than a minute waiting from when we came in the door to when we exited!)
… Thank you, Lord, for a husband who regularly shares or bears my burdens, daily sacrificing for my good and that of our family
… Thank you, Lord, for Advent songs. I’ve been preparing an Advent playlist (I don’t want to rush into Christmas and December is not my best time for doing anything intentional like assembling a meaningful playlist, so I’m prepping in advance to avoid listening to the same old hackneyed Christmas stuff come December) and some of the Advent songs are exactly what I need in this, my season of mourning.

“Comfort, comfort ye my people
Speak ye peace, thus saith out God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness
Mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load
Speak to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover
And her warfare now is over.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher place plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble
As befits his holy reign
For the glory of the Lord now o’er earth is shed abroad;
And all flesh shall see the token,
That his word is never broken.”

Thankful Thursday (2019.08.29)

August 29th, 2019

It’s been a rough past several months. Between welcoming a new baby and miscarrying and several trips that kept my routines off kilter, I’ve slidden into a pretty severe depression (at least for summer time.)

After several weeks now of just-about-debilitating despair, I realized (by the grace of God) that what I need is to revive my old practice of remembering God’s grace and reciting His goodness.

And so, this week’s recitations, recorded daily, because I forget to build an altar of testimony if I don’t gather the stones while I’m traveling.

… thank you, Lord, that I did not have a headache today like I did over the weekend and into yesterday
… thank you, Lord, that the children and I got to all three grocery stores (two for pickup, one to go in) without any meltdowns
… thank you, Lord, that I remembered that the trash needed to go out and got it to the curb before the truck came (a delay that is a clear evidence of grace)
… thank you, Lord, that despite this deep well of depression, you have given me grace to consistently be in your word this summer
… thank you, Lord, that the children napped today
… thank you, Lord, for energy to make progress towards meals in the freezer

… thank you, Lord, for reassurance that the (rather big) change we made last week is producing fruit
… thank you, Lord, for clean kitchen counters
… thank you, Lord, for reminders to press through rather than giving in to paralysis
… thank you, Lord, for the ability to take pleasure in Christmas music (even if it’s the wrong season)
… thank you, Lord, for little steps in the right direction – one load of laundry out of seven folded and two bathrooms out of three swished and swiped
… thank you, Lord, that my sourdough starter isn’t dead (yet)

… thank you, Lord, that I was able to spend the evening browsing and buying good books (this go-round of our Friends of the Library’s semi-annual book sale netted me ~60 books for $10)
… thank you, Lord, for my husband starting the dishwasher last night. It was such a blessing to be able to empty clean dishes this morning instead of trying to scrape and wash day-old dishes.
… thank you, Lord, for an unexpected cancellation that means I don’t have to leave the house today
… thank you, Lord, for the wealth of information available on the internet and the fun that it sometimes is to lose myself exploring other nations’ holiday traditions

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.”

~Psalm 139:11-12 (ESV)

Thank you, Lord, that this darkness that seems to cover me is as light to you – and that, as I gaze upon your brightness, I too can see light.

“For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.”

~Psalm 36:9 (ESV)

According to Plan

July 9th, 2019

I would have been pleased if we’d gotten pregnant soon after we were married. I’ve wanted a big family for as long as I can remember and was already feeling the time ticking.

But we’d decided that we would use my salary to pay off both our student loans so I could stay home with the kids without that extra financial stressor. We had a plan and I would stick to it.

We got pregnant on the first try, just according to plan.

I would have been thrilled if we’d have gotten pregnant soon after Tirzah Mae arrived. I love how close (in age and in relationship) I am to my siblings. And if I was going to have a large family, well, my time was ticking.

But we’d decided that we wanted to increase the chances that we could have a vaginal birth after c-section, so we were going to try to time the next baby’s due date 18 months plus 2 months fom Tirzah Mae’s birthday – to make sure we got 18 months between deliveries even if the next baby came as early as she did. We had a plan and I would stick to it.

We got pregnant on the first try, just according to plan.

Ditto our post-Tirzah Mae planning only this time post-Louis. I wanted that VBA2C and I’d wait to get pregnant to help it happen. We had a plan and I would stick to it (well, we almost did.)

And then after Beth-Ellen was born and my recovery was rough and the prolapse was horrible and we started fostering. I decided that two years would be better this time. I needed to recover, needed to get the prolapse under control. I had a plan and I would stick to it.

Just as planned, we got pregnant with a due date just a week before Beth-Ellen’s had been, three weeks before Beth-Ellen’s second birthday.

And then we miscarried.

And we haven’t gotten pregnant again.

And my plan of a big family closely spaced feels like it’s becoming less and less probable as I move closer and closer to that terrible 35 and its “geriatric pregnancy” or “elderly multigravida”. That’s where I’m at now – any baby conceived after this would be due after my 35th birthday.

This isn’t my plan and I’m floundering.

It’s so hard. So, so hard.

I want to trust God. I know that he’s sovereign. I know that he’s faithful. He’s proven himself to be so over and over and over again.

But all I can think of is the plan, my plan – and each ticking day. Bleeding and ovulating and bleeding again. No baby. What is God’s plan in this all?

I may never know.

But, Lord, give me grace to stick to it.

It’s changed me – and I wouldn’t change a thing

June 11th, 2019

I once read an article about how the experience of infertility changes the experience of motherhood.

As a mother of two preemies, one “post-dates” baby, and three foster children (one at a time) – and as a woman who has now experienced miscarriage – I have to say that this too changes the experience of motherhood.

I thank God almost every day for each additional day each of my children got in the womb. For almost a month for Tirzah Mae after my blood pressure went high. For two additional weeks in the womb for Louis (compared to Tirzah Mae). For a staggering 8 additional weeks in the womb for Beth-Ellen (compared to Louis). I thank God for the things we could have experienced but didn’t in the NICU, for the things we could have experienced but didn’t regarding our children’s development.

And more and more, I thank God that I experienced two c-sections, that I have had rough pregnancies and rough postpartums, that I had children who didn’t sleep, that I have had to say goodbye to three children. Because each of those children have simultaneously been an evidence of grace (EOG) and an agent of sanctification (AOS).

I wouldn’t change a thing, even on the days when I’m singing my newest song:

(to the tune of “You are the Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder)

You are an agent of sanctification
God’s using you to make me holy
You are an agent of sanctification
God has put you in my life

And when I feel that I am. so. done.
I’m thanking God that he is no-o-o-ot

Preemies. Post-dates. C-sections. A vaginal delivery. Prolapse. Sleepless nights. Disrupted routines. Lots of young children. Saying goodbye when we’ve planned to say goodbye. Saying goodbye when we were hoping for a lifetime. None of these things are easy.

But easy isn’t how we learn to rely on God. Easy isn’t how we become like him.

Praise God that he hasn’t let me live the easy dream. He’s making me holy, teaching me to trust.

These things have absolutely changed my experience of motherhood. And though I’m crying even now thinking of the dreams we’ve lost, I’m crying too for the things we’ve gained. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Even when I am. so. done.

God is not.

You are my [fill-in-the-blank]

May 23rd, 2019

Once upon a time, I started singing “You are my sunshine” to my children while brushing their teeth.

Then someone pointed out the ridiculousness of telling each of my children that they were my “only” sunshine.

I started singing “My precious sunshine”.

But then someone else pointed out that they were not in fact sunshine.

I tried to explain how it was figurative language, but somehow all this child *cough*Tirzah Mae*cough* got was that I was singing falsehoods. She decided if I was going to sing falsehoods, I might as well sing falsehoods she liked. She requested that I sing that she was my baby.

You are my baby, my precious baby,
You make me happy when skies are gray
And when I think, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my Tirzah Mae away

Other times, she insists that she’s not a baby but a mama. So I sing:

You’re Moses’s mama, precious Moses’s mama,
You make me happy when skies are gray
And when I think, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take Moses’s mama away

Louis was eager to get in on the game – but unlike his sister, his selections are only consistent in their variedness.

So I might sing
“You are my dump-truck-carrying-a-large-load-of-dirt boy, my precious dump-truck-carrying-a-large-load-of-dirt boy…”

or maybe
“You are my green-tool-carrying, ant-killing boy, my precious green-tool-carrying, ant-killing boy…”

Frequently, his little hand pulls the toothbrush out of his mouth mid-brush to append an additional descriptor to his song.

“You are my dump-truck and orange water bottle boy who wears big boy underpants, my precious dump-truck-and-orange-water-bottle boy who wears big boy underpants…”

And so on and so forth.

Where are the pro-lifers now?

May 20th, 2019

Kansas’s foster care system has issues. Everyone agrees on that. Some think rapid staff turnover in agencies is the issue. Others think it’s a lack of foster homes. Some think it’s too much regulation. Others think it’s too little regulation. Some complain of a “cash for kids” incentive system that funnels kids into foster care even when there’s nothing serious going on at home. Others complain that the system leaves too many kids in bad homes.

Whatever the issue, foster care is in the news with relative frequency here – and since I’m interested in foster care, I have a bad habit of reading the Facebook comments on those news stories.

Mostly, the comments are filled with the theories I’ve listed above. DCF stinks. The contractors who do the day-to-day work stink. The agencies stink. The police stink. Foster parents stink. Families of origin stink. Everybody’s pointing fingers at everybody in the comment sections.

And then there’s always someone who asks: “Where are the pro-lifers now?”

Well, I can’t answer for all the prolifers, but I know where some of them are.

Quite a few of the prolifers I know are doing foster care. Others are adopting. Still others teach parenting classes for parents who didn’t plan to get pregnant and have no idea what to do next. Others fill “diaper pantries” for families in need. Some gather freezer meals for exhausted foster families or give them beds so they can care for more children.

Others work in the school system and quietly provide what is needed for the kids in their classes who don’t have adequate support at home. Some provide doula care for pregnant women (some of whom can pay and some who can not), helping families start off on the right foot with their newborns.

Many more pray fervently and give generously when they become aware of needs.

When it comes to foster care, what I haven’t seen many of the prolifers I know do is comment on news articles asking why someone else isn’t solving the problem. Instead, they’re quietly doing what they can to help make the lives of those around them better.

These prolifers inspire me.

They inspire me to leave the comment sections behind and do my little part in this big task of loving people.

Seasons of living and dying and living again

May 15th, 2019

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

My parents celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary today. Thirty-seven years of faithfulness to one another. Thirty-seven years of God’s faithfulness to them and to us.

We all mourn one year without my grandpa today. One year without being asked “What’s the best thing I ever did for you?” and one year without answering “You married Grandma!”

Tomorrow marks one month from when I started to miscarry. One month missing our baby. One month feeling a hole in our family where that baby had already been building his place. One month of explaining and re-explaining to my young son that no, mama doesn’t have a brother for him in her womb.

Our first peony

Today, my first ever peony bloomed.

Picture Book Reading Report (April 2019)

May 14th, 2019

Sometimes, you’ve just got to press publish on the post you’ve been building over the course of a month – even if you haven’t got time to edit it. So, please forgive any roughness – and enjoy this peek into our month of reading.

Asterisks represent books I recommend (3 stars or above).

Written by Dori Chaconas

  • Don’t Slam the Door, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
    Don’t slam the door, because if you do…it’ll wake the cat, who’ll set off a string of far-reaching implications. (Of course, someone slams the door!)
  • Mousie Love illustrated by Josee Masse
    A mouse falls desperately in love and keeps asking his love to marry him (only to interrupt her answer with something else he thinks he should do to be worthy of her. I thought this was terribly fun, but it was really over the kids’ heads.
  • *On a Wintry Morning illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson
    A sweet little daddy/child song that goes through a winter’s days activities. I sang the book to the tune of “Polly put the kettle on” and it worked quite nicely.
  • *Virginnie’s Hat illustrated by Holly Meade
    When Virginnie’s hat flies off into the swamp she just about encounters all sorts of scary animals. This is a fun look at perceived dangers versus real ones.

Written by Authors Last Name CHAL-CHAP

  • Mr. Frog Went A-Courting, written and illustrated by Gary Chalk
    Based on an old song (that I am unfamiliar with), the story of Mr. Frog is full of all the ridiculous twists and turns often found in folktales. Careful observation of the illustrations reveals a “hidden story”.
  • Pick a Pup, written by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Jed Henry
    How will Sam know which pup to pick? (Spoiler alert: Maybe it’s the pup who’ll pick him.)
  • Mario Chalmers’ ABCs of Basketball by Mario Chalmers and Almarie Chalmers, illustrated by Emmanuel Everett
    Part informational, part motivational – I just can’t get into the “believe in yourself and you can do anything” stuff (some kids, however hard they believe and even how hard they practice, will never play in the NBA.)
  • The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark, illustrated by Chuck Groenink
    This was the lyrics to a song, rather a fun one, but one whose tune I don’t know. I tried singing it unsuccessfully. Perhaps if I could have seen the endpapers and tried picking it out on the piano… (Or, you know, I could have looked on Spotify – why didn’t I think of that until after I was returning it?

  • This was the lyrics to a song, rather a fun one, but one whose tune I don’t know. I tried singing it unsuccessfully. Perhaps if I could have seen the endpapers and tried picking it out on the piano… (Or, you know, I could have looked on Spotify – why didn’t I think of that until after I was returning it?
  • Me Too, Grandma written and illustrated by Jane Chapman
    A “jealous of the new baby” book except that little owl is jealous of how her baby cousin is taking Grandma’s attention. Cute illustrations, not my favorite genre.

Written and illustrated by Jared Chapman

  • Pirate, Viking, And Scientist
    A scientist is friends with a pirate and a viking – but when both come to his birthday party he discovers they’re NOT friends with each other. Time to experiment to see if he can get them to be friends with each other. Not bad.
  • T.Rex Time Machine
  • Ugly juvenile illustrations. Hard to read out loud. Not a fan.

Written by Authors Last Name CHAR-CHE?

  • The Selfish Crocodile, written by Faustin Charles and illustrated by Michael Terry
    The crocodile is selfish until he finds himself in terrible pain and someone helps him. Then it’s all sunshine and roses. A little too convenient an ending, I thought.
  • *Alphaboat written and illustrated by Michael Chesworth
    A rather silly, but very fun romp off to C, packed full of word play using the names of the letters of the alphabet. A sample: “f we go here, what will v z? Atop this hill – a lonely tree where blue J’s flutter up to rest upon their X, safe in the nest.”

Written and illustrated by Remy Charlip

  • Fortunately
    Very strange things keep happening to Ned, but fortunately… something stranger happens to save him from whatever disaster seemed so certain. This sounds like the sort of story an imaginative three year old might tell (rambling plot, no sense whatsoever, random strangeness everywhere…) I can’t like it.
  • Little Old Big Beard and Big Young Little Beard
    The eponymous characters are cowboys and best friends and lovers of beans. But then they lose their cow. This is an almost plotless book.
  • *A Perfect Day
    A simple book about what a perfect day might be – spending time together.
  • *Sleepytime Rhyme
    A mama sings how she loves everything about her baby. The rhyme can be a bit awkward in places, but it’s nice overall.

Books out of order

  • *Maisy Learns to Swim by Lucy Cousins
  • Simple description of beginner swimming lessons (which don’t involve any actual swimming). These “Maisy First Experiences Books” are a very nice way to introduce kids to common childhood experiences that might seem a little scary if they don’t know what to expect.

Books about Construction

  • *Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney
    Does this sound familiar? Yes, yes. I’ve only read it to Louis fifteen thousand times by now. Although really, if you have to read a book fifteen thousand times, this is a good choice.
  • *Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    Of course we read this again (and again and again). And then I returned it (because I have SO many other books to read.)

My baby beat me to it

May 13th, 2019

I remember being 9, maybe 10 years old, reading how Jacob wrestled with God, how he saw the face of God and lived (Genesis 32:30). I remember reading of how Moses spoke with God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. I remember hearing the Aaronic blessing every week at the end of worship: “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” I remember getting to that part in the “Love Chapter” when Paul writes: “Now you see as in a mirror dimly, then you shall see face to face.” And I remember longing, longing for the face of God.

I remember swinging on the swings at the park while my mother and her fellow intercessors were interceding at the picnic tables a ways away. I remember pouring out my own soul in the unashamed earnestness of a rather emotional and completely socially-unaware preteen. “I want to see you, God! I want to see your face.”

My longing to see God’s face has only intensified as I’ve felt the weight of my sin, as I’ve felt how far I fall short of his image. Now, I read 1 John 3:2 and I long for the return of Christ, clinging to the promise that “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Oh, for that day. Oh, for the day when I can leave off this body of corruption and see the face of God. Oh for the day when I will be conformed into his image.

Friends, my baby beat me to it.

The kids and I had been planning to go on a homeschool field trip the week I miscarried. I had to email the organizer and let her know that we wouldn’t be coming. She, a woman I’d never met, responded with what has been to me one of the most precious thoughts as I process our miscarriage:

“I read a quote somewhere to the effect that when a baby dies in the womb, the first face he or she ever sees is the face of Jesus. That has always been such a special thought for me, and I hope it is comforting to you as well!”

Friends, my baby beat me to it.

As much as I long for my baby to still be in my womb, as much as I long to know him on this earth, how can I begrudge my baby the one thing I desire most in all the world?

My baby sees the face of God.

All I Want for Mother’s Day

May 9th, 2019

Mother’s Day approaches, which means everyone and their mother is opining about what you should give your mother.

I was scrolling past headlines when I saw “What your mother really wants for Mother’s Day” – and I suddenly knew exactly what I want.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”
~3 John 4 (ESV)

This is what I want, but it’s not something my husband can get for me. It’s not something my children can make happen on their own.

This requires an act of God.

So instead of writing an article for the nearest mom’s blog (or sending a link to one of those articles to my husband), I’ll be lifting up my request to God, as I do each day.

Lord, let my children – my Tirzah Mae and my Louis, my Beth-Ellen and my sweet P, our precious C and darling J – let them walk in the truth. Grant that their affections would be stirred toward you, that they would desire relationship with you. Grant that they would see the desperate wickedness of their hearts and their utter helplessness to change themselves. Grant that they might fall upon the mercy of Christ and walk in the way of the One who is Truth.

And if you want to give me a Mother’s Day gift, join me in praying for these six God has given me (for short or for long), that they would walk in the truth.

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