No answers.

It’s a beautiful day in Charlotte, NC. I just got back from the grocery store. You would think this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but every normal thing takes more effort than usual. I begin to think that I wish we practiced the ancient Jewish ritual of covering ourselves in ashes and dust and wearing torn garments so that people would know we were in mourning. But Ron, who loads my groceries and helps me to the car, asks me how my Memorial Day was. He talks about the weather. The checkout lady wants to make small talk about my cleaning products. 

It’s not their issue—they have no idea I’m walking around with a shattered heart, confusing thoughts and an exhausted body. 

My mom’s decision to end her life is a sad one, a hurtful one, a confusing one. I have zero answers. The questions try to hijack my day. I remember something I read in Jen Pollock Michel’s latest book, Surprised by Paradox, “Sometimes there is no untangling the why.”

I had been on Jen’s book launch team. She asked us what section of her book we thought the most or least about (Incarnation, Grace, Kingdom or Lament). I answered honestly that I didn’t think about lament very much. And now that’s all I seem to be doing.

“Evening and morning and at noon I will complain and murmur and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me.” {Psalm 55:17-18}

This afternoon I read Psalm 131

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;

Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me.

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; 

Like a weaned child rests upon his mother, 

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.

And I found this framed photo of me resting contentedly on my Mama’s lap. 

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God’s personal love and tender care for me is evident. He has matured me over the years through His Word and by His presence, and I have more and more trust in His goodness and His sovereignty than ever before. I am like a weaned child–gaining strength and no longer in need of things that at one time were indispensable. I am choosing to rest on Him and in Him. I need Him; I don’t need answers.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand.”  {Psalm 31:14-15}

AND THE WORD CAME WITH POWER

And the Word Came With Power has been our family’s fondest read-aloud over our ten years of home schooling. We received the book authored by Joanne Shetler with one of our Sonlight Curriculum sets. We were on a camping trip as we were finishing up this book, and I can still remember like yesterday sitting around the campfire with Josh and Ruby and reading it outloud. The other two kiddos were a bit distracted with playing to tune in very well, but the three of us around the fire couldn’t stop reading. Well, technically, we couldn’t read for crying so we gave the book to Ruby to read the last few pages. 

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This book tells the story of Joanna Shetler’s time in the Philippines translating the Bible into the Balangao people’s heart language. She tells of the tremendous challenges and the overwhelming victories that God gave. She introduces you to people that you will never forget and will long to meet one day in heaven. You gain a respect and love for her and these people she served as you read each page. 

Imagine my surprise when Josh told me we were invited to an event at JAARS (“a multidisciplinary team of problem-solvers committed to the belief—and the vision—that people’s lives and communities are transformed as they experience God’s Word in their own language“) in Waxhaw, NC to hear Jo Shetler speak! I went and found my prized book and re-read parts of the story since it had been about 6 years since our campfire read aloud. We learned that Jo lives in Waxhaw and still works in strategic ways to help the Word of God get translated and the new believers to be discipled in God’s Word and ways. On top of getting to hear her speak, we were able to sit with her and eat with her beforehand! She was absolutely lovely. I hugged her and thanked her for writing her story down. And I told her my favorite parts of the book! 

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I also asked her if there was one thing she’d like to say to my kids—a word of advice or encouragement or challenge. She immediately said, “Soak your mind in God’s Word.” She went on to tell a story about how a convert from the Balangao people became a traveling preacher and worked really hard at spreading the Gospel and teaching the scripture. She said that his son had a terrible experience with a neighboring gang and ended up beaten up very badly. In their culture, the way to handle something like that was to retaliate with killing the person that did this to his son. The pastor was overwhelmed with the desire to kill and show his family that he cared about them and show the other people that this kind of behavior isn’t tolerated. Responding this way would bring respect to him. HOWEVER, he was more overwhelmed with God’s Word. Scripture flooded his mind about God’s ways and how vengeance is God’s—not man’s!  He ended up asking the gang and the leader of the gang’s father to meet him and his son at the police station. And for one hour he shared the love of God and forgiveness and how to live at peace with each other. They all ended up hugging! She said the policemen were dumbfounded as they looked on. And God was glorified. Hiding His Word in our hearts helps us not sin against God.

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Joanna started out her talk by saying that God has a plan for reaching the world and every person plays a critical role in the mission.

She said when she was a young girl of only 13 years of age, she felt a call to the mission field. She didn’t know how or when or where, but she began to pray, “Whoever they are and wherever they are at, get them ready to hear.” WOW.  That is powerful. And any of us can start praying that right now!

She also said very plainly, “It really does matter if you pray and it really does matter if you obey.” So simple. So true.

And at different poignant parts of her story, she would say this: “God will answer any prayer you pray that brings Him glory.”  After several stops in her story to say this, one time she added to it that, “oftentimes the road to God’s glory is a difficult one.”

I could have listened to her for hours. She was full of wisdom and graciousness and even some humor. She knew when she was younger that she wanted to live her life for something that would matter and last. What more impactful work is there than giving people God’s Word in their own language? I can’t think of one. 

Mother’s Day 2019

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I celebrated my 15th year holding the title of “Mama.” It’s such a special relationship—a mom and a child. There is such sanctification in motherhood. And accountability! They rarely miss a thing, yet they are always so quick to forgive and keep loving me.

I actually wrote each kid a note last night to give to them this morning. They are the ones who made me a mom, after all.

And each of them wrote me a sweet note. Well, mostly sweet. Ruby started with “There’s so much to thank you for, how could I fit it on a piece of paper?” She gives three reasons with explanations and included several ” I love you so much” sweetness. And ended with her signature and in parenthesis “who made you a mom.” She wants to get her full credit!

Molly wrote some sentences on an index card. Sentences like, “I get scared when you don’t sleep good” and “Thanks for homeschooling me so I can understand what all of these words mean.”  Crazy girl.

And Mack’s note started out with “Dear Mamacita, Happy Mom-er’s Day!” He is a funny kid, and I appreciate all the ways he makes me laugh.

I am now resting after our Take-Out Outback lunch after our awesome church service. And just extremely thankful for how much I am loved by Josh and our kids. Josh helped them pick out and purchase a couple of gifts that I love. And Ruby bought a sweet candle and a pretty coaster for my new office. She is so thoughtful! And I am so blessed and grateful for all that has come my way as a mom. The fun and not-so-fun, the easy and hard stuff, the highs and lows, the sweet times of bonding and the conflict to work through,  AND all the while God holds my hand as my perfect Heavenly Father, teaching me how to be a mom, how to love and keep on loving. How to serve and keep on serving. How to give and keep on giving. How to celebrate and keep on celebrating. How to comfort and keep on comforting. How to challenge and keep on challenging. And I pray that they will see me walking with the Lord through all of life, and that they will do the same for all of their life. He always knows best. And I am glad he saw it was best to give me Ruby, Molly and Mack.

Catching up

I have been posting from time to time on Instagram. The unfortunate thing about that is that I am not keeping up with the blog the way I want to. I post a picture there, but what is missing is the story or anecdote for the photo I post. So, I am going to jump in with some events as of late that might catch me up here on the blog. And my heart’s desire is to write here more. Because I always have words. Always.

Molly got to help lead worship a few weeks ago, and she got to sing a song she helped write. It was a great night!

 

Here is the video of the song:

 

Mack has been playing football lately. He doesn’t exactly love it this season, which has come as a surprise to me. But we are making him finish even if all he remembers is that we don’t quit what we start. Unless it’s that writing class we just quit a couple of weeks ago because I am flat out of steam for his last writing project deadlines. It’s May. I am barely making it in the area of home school. ESPECIALLY with a new school on the horizon. So, yeah, we don’t quit what we start except for when we do.

What he loves is talking and drawing and watching baseball. He’s shown some interest in playing baseball lately, so Josh has been teaching him a few things and doing some throwing and hitting with him. It’s fun to watch him learn new things! And Josh is a good one to learn from. He did walk out to bat to the song lyrics, “Here I am–Rock you like a hurricane!!!!!” during is University of Georgia days. No pressure, Mack.

Ruby has been going to workout with me three days a week, and she is doing so well at it! It isn’t her natural desire to workout, but she knows it is important, so she decided it would be a great PE class for her 9th grade year. She is learning a lot! I have little to no photos of her because she doesn’t allow me to take pictures much anymore. She is every bit of an almost 15 year old girl.

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I am currently listening to Beth Moore on a podcast about being a mom. Wow. It is so good. I want to be a happy mom who is pleasant to be around. I am reminded that it is only the Lord who can do that work and use me throughout the day to be a mom to these three very different kids. It is hard work, this mothering business. Hard, hard work.

I remember when Ruby was 4. Molly was 3 years old and Mack was about 18 months old. I was near crazy. I stood at the cabinets, my back to the children and just cried. There was no reason I could put my finger on, but I was not doing well, and I knew it.

I was tired. {Aren’t all mothers of little ones?} I did what I could to get sleep, which usually meant not waking up earlier than the kids because #1) I wanted to sleep and #2) If I put my feet on the floor, my kids knew it! and I wanted them to sleep as long as possible. But something clicked in my head and heart that morning that I stood there with my tears and with three babies waiting on breakfast. I decided I would try to get up every morning before the kids so I could read my Bible and get some substance for my weary soul. I tip toed down the stairs, careful not to step where I knew the creaks were hiding. I began drinking coffee at this time of my life. What a blessing coffee has been to me!

Now some mornings I would turn around after pouring my coffee and see Molly standing right behind me. I learned to just go with it and let her play quietly while I tried to read, but for the most part, I was able to have time alone with the Lord. It was such a sweet time.

I suppose some mornings I wasn’t as laid back as I just led on in the above paragraph because I just found this prayer written in my journal during this season over ten years ago:  “Quite honestly Lord, I am mad–I am trying to be alone with You after a headache ALL night, but Molly will not obey and give me my time alone. She is frustrating me–What am I doing wrong????”

But then there’s this one: “I know my life isn’t bearing much fruit these days. I do, however, see and feel a huge difference over the past 3 1/2 weeks as I have gotten up early to open Your Word and hear from You. Your Spirit has been more alive in me, I have made better choices by the Spirit’s guidance,Your Word that I have meditated on has been refreshing reminders and good for my thought life. I have enjoyed worship corporately more than ever, I have enjoyed Josh and the kids more also. Help me this day to remain in You. Tend Your garden with Your gracious hand and precious word. Apart from You, I can do nothing.”

And then scribbled over to the side as an addition, ” Thank you for sensitivity I have been given this week. Thank You for the tears.” 

There has been tears. Tears of joy. Tears of sadness. Tears of tiredness. Tears of frustration. Tears of love. I am thankful for all the parts of mothering because they have taught me so much about God. He is such a good Father. Perfect in all of His ways. I cannot imagine my life without His precious guiding and love and faithfulness and help and patience and life!!!! Yes, being a mother is hard work. There are varying seasons and none of them have been a walk in the park for me. I am a hard case. But this I know, God has taught me so much about Himself through mothering these three kids. My desperate need of Him being the foremost.

Good to keep in mind as we head towards Mother’s Day.