Monday, August 30, 2010

The Secret Grief

I’ve found myself being weepier than usual lately. I always cry at most anything anyway, but lately I seem more watery-eyed than usual. Having a raging sinus infection doesn’t help. It’s getting better now, though the antibiotic I’m on has me feeling off. Feels like morning sickness. It isn’t, but it feels like it. Maybe after 10 days of not having any appetite at all I’ll actually lose some weight finally?

Anyway, I finally realized that what’s going on in my subconscious is that it’s almost September. That’s where the weepiness is coming from, I think. My due date was September 21. I don’t dwell on it, but it’s there in the back of my mind nonetheless. I know from experience that subsequent Septembers probably won’t be so poignant, but here we are.

I find myself in a strange place regarding this last miscarriage. I can’t honestly say that today, right now, I truly wish I were still pregnant. And I feel kind of sad to say that. The move and the settling in have been much easier than they would have been had things gone as we’d maybe not planned but hoped after the surprise. But it is sad to think about the baby we almost got to welcome home in the next few weeks. It’s sad to think about the three other babies who we also never got to welcome home or even meet. It’s sweet to think that in Heaven there are four people who worship Jesus there who we’ll meet one day and recognize as the children we only got to hold in our hearts.

So, I can’t say I’m terribly sad. I’m really happy with where we are at the moment. God has been especially good and kind to my family. He has brought us to a church home where we already feel we are part of the family, where we are encouraged and drawn in to worship Him in a real way each week. I have sensed such growth just since we’ve been here, and this is a gift from God, I know.

But if I’m a little weepier than usual in the next few weeks, please understand. I’m okay. Really and truly okay. But there’s a part of my heart that will always be a place of secret grief that holds a place for four little ones who left us before we even got to know them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Some Things I've Thought About While on Facebook

I have found that the urge to share random thoughts throughout the day is quite addictive when you get involved with Facebook. I enjoy the interaction with friends there. However, I got to thinking that a lot of the thoughts that I randomly post as updates on my profile can tend to the negative. I don’t know why that is, but I got to thinking this week:

I started to complain about laundry, but I stopped when I realized how thankful I am to have a working electric washer and dryer, and how much easier laundry is now than in centuries past. Then I got to thinking how thankful for I am for the people who wear the clothes I was about to complain about washing. Then I realized how grateful I am that God's plan for us involves placing the solitary in families (Psalm 68:6) and for His good and perfect plan for me and my family (Romans 8:28-30). There are people in the world who do not have what I have, and it humbles me to think how much I take it for granted.

I started to complain about the extra pounds I’d like to shed, but I stopped when I thought about how many times I’d raised a fork to my mouth to ingest an unwise food choice just that day. And I thought about how often I neglect exercise and am lazy about healthy eating and choose to eat something I know is not good for me because I’d rather indulge my flesh in the moment than do what is right for the long term. (Galatians 5:22-25) Then I thought about how much food I waste, when so many people in the world do not have the plenty we have here. And it humbles me to think how much I take it for granted. May I not be so ungrateful.

I started to tell a story about one of my children, but I stopped when I realized that it might be funny to me but probably would embarrass him. Love would not be so arrogant and puffed up and rude as to share the failings of another for a laugh. (1 Corinthians 13) Then I started to think about how hurt I would be if he were to post something embarrassing about me when he is old enough for Facebook. (Matthew 7:12) And I started to think about how thankful I am to have children and to be their mom, and it humbles me to think how much I take it for granted.

I started to complain about feeling depressed, but I stopped when I looked around at all the many people and things for which I have to be thankful. And after reading the book we’re studying with our small group, I started thinking that it is arrogant to use depressed feelings as an excuse to sin and take my eyes off of Jesus. And I thought about how I forget the command to rejoice always. (Philippians 4:4-7) And I thought about God’s grace, shown to me, a sinner who is unworthy and undeserving of such mercy. I thought about Jesus who bore the penalty for the sin debt I owe and whose blood has cleansed me and reconciled me to God. When I cry, “Lord, have mercy!” I can rest in knowing that He has shown me such mercy in granting me the faith to trust in Him and hide my life in Christ, my Savior, Lord, High Priest and never-failing Advocate. (Bask in the riches and depths of the book of Hebrews!) And it humbles me to think how much I take it for granted.

I’m not promising I’ll consistently remember these thoughts when I go to type a status update in days to come. I may slip and write status updates that are more complaining than grateful. But I want to remember.

While reading Chapter 2 in the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan for our study this week, we discussed the fact that the point of our lives is to point to God. And we discussed how many people waste their lives. I do not want to do that.

I do not want to live selfishly. But I do. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief! Help me to realize it so deeply that You change me from within. Because it really does humble me to realize how often I forget how great You are, how often I take it all for granted and how often I find I am living selfishly rather than seeing everything as an opportunity to give You honor and glory.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Wake Up!

I read two articles today that, on the surface wouldn't seem to linked. However, I think they both bear a good look from those of us who hold to the truth and inerrancy of scripture and who are concerned for the generation that follows us.

First, there is this piece by Dr. Albert Mohler, discussing the disturbing trend among "evangelicals" to discount and attempt to discredit the inerrancy of the Bible. Read it. It used to be that a hallmark of the evangelical was the belief that God's word is true and inerrant. Pay attention, friends.

Then, there is this article that a friend on Facebook linked, which discusses the fact that we are losing the current generation of teenagers in droves because so many just do not see church and Christianity as relevant to their lives. This article, in particular, struck a nerve with me - I have a son who has just entered middle school and two more children who are following quickly behind him. The article makes some valid points, and, as my friend rightly pointed out, there are many factors leading to the exodus of our youth from church and from Christianity, but I think that the experts are missing a vital, vital, vital clue to the underlying problem. They are quick to blame 'unchurched parents', and I am sure that is huge, but that is not the biggest challenge, I believe.

I believe the biggest challenge, the biggest reason that our youth find what we offer them in our 'evangelical' churches to be largely irrelevant, goes directly to the battle Dr. Mohler is outlining in his article. I talked about the book Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer some time ago and you can see that here. That book was the result of a study commissioned by Answers in Genesis to try to get at why we seem to be losing the next generation. We all see the statistics and I don't think anyone argues that we seem to be losing them. The problem is trying to identify why. The book opened my eyes and was somewhat shocking in that what they found was that we aren't losing kids in high school or college as we thought, but we are losing them intellectually and spiritually much younger, though they may still be sitting in the pews, when they are not able to reconcile what they are hearing in the world and what they are taught at church. We err when we teach the Bible as unrelated 'stories' but are not diligent to teach the full counsel of the word, from early on. We err when we give the impression that you come to church to learn 'Bible stories' and you go to school to learn 'facts.' Even in churches that say we hold to the truth and inerrancy of scripture, where we give lip service to holding a high view of the Bible, somehow we seem to be dropping the ball in teaching it to the next generation, by and large.

The natural result of not holding that high view of scripture and teaching it well and as a whole is to eventually jettison its authority. And then you lose 'relevance.' I'm just not convinced that the problem is that youth today are bored with pizza parties and entertainment. I think it's deeper than that. I'm not saying don't offer pizza or that youth events can't be fun. I'm just saying that somehow we've got to do more and to show them that God's word is more than relevant - it is vital. Somehow we've got to reach them younger and somehow we've got to be able to articulate real, true, valid answers to the questions kids have. Sadly, by the time a lot of kids ever reach the youth group, their minds are already made up and they've already decided that the Bible is irrelevant. I don't think it's the youth group necessarily that's making them think that, I think some of them have already arrived at that conclusion before they ever get to that age. We can't tell them, "Just trust in Jesus," when they don't understand why they should. There is true truth. If we compromise on any part of it - and it really does go back to the beginning - then the foundation crumbles. We have to give them answers to evolution and science and all the other things that they are hearing in the world. And they need to be true answers, real answers. It involves knowing what we believe, and being able to give a defense of the faith. It involves being convinced that God's word is true and not compromising on this. This is one reason I am really thankful for the ministry of Answers in Genesis. They have helped me to really think out the faith and ground my suppositions on the truth of God's word and to do it thoughtfully and critically, not blindly. And it has helped me to know how to supply good, solid answers to the questions my children ask - sometimes even before they know to ask them.

My heart breaks for our generation and the generations coming behind us. My heart also breaks because I, personally, have been too self-centered and selfish and busy to get as involved in teaching as I should be. It's real easy for me to sit here at a blog and diagnose the problem, much, much harder to be part of the solution. I'm aware of that. I'm also aware that there are youth pastors and workers who struggle with and labor diligently with how to communicate the truth to kids who are so jaded and distracted by the time they ever get to the youth group doors that it's hard to win a hearing with the truth. May I wake up and first of all get on my knees and pray for wisdom, and may I get involved in the fight for the truth. I pray my children will see and know and embrace the Truth, and I pray that I will be more faithful to speak up and find where I need to be serving my Lord in proclaiming the Truth.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An Anchored Soul

I’m going through a slump, personally. I think I mentioned it earlier. I’m tired. Moving is hard. I tend to have this down time after a move. It just takes time. Sunday our pastor finished a five month series preaching through the book of Hebrews, and we were blessed to be able to learn from it during the last month. I studied Hebrews last Spring with our little group of women before we moved. Once again I was reminded that Jesus is better. He is the hope that anchors my soul. As I sat there Sunday morning at the end of the sermon, the pastor encouraged us to lash our lives to Jesus. I had this vivid mental picture of myself standing at the very edge of a deep pit, feeling hopeless until I remembered that it is not my balance and strength that keep me from falling over into the depression. It is His strength. His grace. His mercy. My life is hid in Christ, and He will complete the work He has begun in me. My life is lashed to Jesus, the anchor for my soul. I do not have to go into the pit. Though I feel tired, He is better. Life is good in His mercy.

Our church is beginning a study with the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. We will be meeting in small groups on Sunday nights to discuss and encourage each other to know God and to love Him more. It’s going to be challenging, I think. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably blog some about it in the weeks to come. Here’s something good from this week’s reading:

“But before we look at what is wrong and address it, we need to understand something. The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are that way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers.”

See, right doctrine should lead to right living. A right understanding of God is necessary, not so that I can win verbal contests, but so that I can love Him rightly.


Sometimes things I'm hashing out are better left in my journal. Sometimes I probably don't need to put them here in this space. That's where the previous post here probably fits. That's why it's gone back to my journal and left this space. Those thoughts need a little more hashing out, I think.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sharing Some Good Reading....

Blogging has brought me into contact with several other Christian women who I really wish I could live near because it really comes through in their writing that they are what I would definitely call kindred spirits. Lisa at Lisa Writes is one such blog friend. She has written two posts recently that I really hope you'll take the time to read if you do not already know Lisa.

First of all this one is full of a mother's heart for her children and the fleeting nature of time. It made me cry.

And this one about Beth Moore where she voices very well, much better than I could have, some of the concerns I've felt for a while now also and how Jesus is Better. Amen.

Go, read......

Totally Random Pictures

This not-so-little guy made itself at home in the eaves of our front porch. We've been admiring it from a distance, mind you. I'm a bit, okay more than a bit, spider phobic, but even I had to admit the creepy beauty of this one. My oldest son insists it's a banana spider. I thought he was talking about that deadly spider that hides in batches of bananas and I was sure it wasn't. After asking my Facebook friends for help and doing a little more research, I now know that there are two separate types of spider that have "banana spider" for one of many names. One is deadly poisonous, the other one which lives on my porch is not. Good to know. My oldest son is the same boy who swears every spider he sees is a black widow or a brown recluse, so you can see why I felt the need to research and not take his word for it. He is even more spider phobic than I am, so I try to keep my cool when he's around even if inside I am screaming like a frightened little girl. However, this one is LARGE. I think I shall call it....Shelob.

This is a little shopping center we drive by often. I laugh every time. For some reason my wacky sense of humor just finds it so funny to have a weight loss business wedged in between a pizza place and an ice cream parlor. You can go get your pizza at one corner, go to the other corner and have ice cream for dessert and then visit the people in the middle to talk about what you need to do to lose weight. Ha, ha!

My daughter's pink room. She requested purple and butterflies to complement her pink walls. I wasn't sure I liked it, but I'm coming around. She loves it of course.

The princess, her 'kids' and her dog. I laugh every time I look at this picture. Roscoe puts up with all Rachel's love.

Moving day. It was hot. Roscoe spent much of it on the back porch.

The reason he was so hot is that he really liked sunning himself in his sunny spot. You can sort of see that there was a shadier area, but he just likes sunny spots.

Sometime before furniture arrived. I just like this picture.

Unpacking downstairs in the basement family room. Doesn't he look thrilled? The downstairs still has work to be done, but we're almost there.

I'm really glad the boys had their DS games to play. It helped while away the days we had to sit in an empty house with no furniture, cable or internet. We would not make good Amish people....

I finally captured a picture of one of the humming birds that visits our feeder in the front yard. I love watching them, but they are hard to photograph. I haven't yet been about to get a picture of the beautiful yellow finches that have been visiting the feeder in the back yet. If I do, I'll be sure to share.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

First Day of School 2010 - Some of My "Mom Thoughts" on This Day

Isaiah 26:3

“You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.”

It feels funny to say this is my ‘favorite’ Bible verse, because how can I truly have a favorite when all Scripture is God-breathed and He has so graciously given us His very Word. But I will say this is one verse I find myself often pondering and rehearsing, especially when my thoughts are in turmoil or my heart is disquieted.

Today my boys went back to school. Seems like we had the shortest summer break ever. We do go back awfully early here, but I’m not really complaining because they get quite a few nice breaks throughout the year to offset the early August beginning. I also would be less than honest if I didn’t mention that part of me finds much peace in the return to a regular routine. I thrive on routine, and though they may not admit this to you, my children do as well. I also am not nearly disciplined enough in the summer to enforce much routine during those off days, so the return to school brings back a sense of order for us which is welcome once we settle back to it, though, again I'd be lying if I didn't tell you about the slight sinking feeling I felt as the school bus drove off with the boys and left the neighborhood and I felt it hard not to cry as I thought about how nervous they must be about going to a new school once again. Not to mention the fact that my oldest son started middle school today. Ack! That's a whole other blog post in and of itself, my friends. I also know that this afternoon they'll be just fine and telling me all the exciting things about today, but that first morning leaving on the bus is a little wrenching, for me. They seemed fine. It never gets any easier being mom, does it?

One thing that made this summer seem so very short was the fact that our family moved during the first week of July. I feel like we wasted away much of June just feeling like we were on hold, marking time until the big moving day arrived, especially once we had the little glitch in timing which I’ve blogged about earlier so I won’t bore you with that story again here. Most of July was spent trying to settle in and unpack, a task I am sad to say is still not completely finished. It doesn’t seem possible we’ve already been here for a month. Seems much shorter than that.

I’ve been thinking about moving and my children. I ache for them a little today, okay let’s be honest - I ache a lot. We are asking a lot of our kids with how often we’ve moved. Here we are plucking them up again and putting them into their third school in two years. That is a big thing we ask of them. The Army does a pretty good job of making the move as easy as possible, but, let’s face it, moving is HARD. I fear that as adults sometimes we are so caught up in our own stresses and anxieties and griefs as we struggle to keep it all together during and after the move that sometimes I wonder if we don’t fully acknowledge what our children are feeling and thinking and facing.

I also know that moving so often will give them a unique resilience and perspective I have had to learn as an adult. I lived in the same house from the time I was a year old until I went away to college, and my parents live in that same house still. My children do not have that. But I cannot tell you how proud of them I am as I watch them embrace the challenge of walking into a new school, moving to a new neighborhood and see it as an adventure and not a negative thing. They really amaze me with how well they handle it, because I look back at the me I was at that age and I just know how nervous and beside myself I would have been if I’d been asked to do what our boys are doing so well. Our God is a gracious God to enable these boys to do what they have to do.

When we moved to St. Louis, we knew it was temporary, and with my tendency to be a hermit, I was sorely tempted to keep up a wall and not build too many friendships because I knew it would hurt to leave so quickly. I have never been one to make friends easily, even with and maybe because of never having the challenge of moving every few years. I still struggle with that, and I have a hard time dropping the walls and really connecting with others. That’s one thing that made our pilgrimage in South Carolina so hard for me because I never really found that kindred spirit friendship I so often long for. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and he is my very best friend, but sometimes you just need the companionship of other women who love the Lord and with whom you can share that bond in a real way. Having a friend to grab a cup of coffee with and share the Word with in real, sisterly friendship is a rare treasure, I am finding. The church we grew to love in those 18 months made it impossible to erect those walls with any staying power, though, and I found healing from what I called my South Carolina wilderness as I connected and made good Christian friends, and I’m glad for that. I hope my children will keep fond memories of St. Louis in their hearts forever. And I pray we will find our place here in Kentucky, too.

So, as I sit here smelling the cookies that are baking in the oven in preparation for a first day back to school treat, I ponder the fears and hopes I have for my children. I know how inadequate I am in so many ways. I wish they had a better mother at times. But I also know that I serve a great Savior. And my sweet Lord chose me for these kids. He chose me to be their mom. And He will guard their hearts and lead Drew and me to train them up in the way they should go. How I pray that we will teach them well and teach them how to think biblically, in spite of all the other voices to which they are exposed. How I pray they will be drawn to the right kind of friends and that they will be more leaders than followers, that they will be willing to stand alone if to follow the crowd means to go against what they know is right. So I put my trust in Him, and He will keep me in perfect peace as I seek to love the ones He has entrusted to me. In spite of my failings, and they are so many, may He be glorified, may these children see Him and be drawn to Him by His grace.