Tuesday, July 29, 2014

31 Years

I'm 31 today.
When I was young, I obsessed over my future.  I fantasized about a crystal ball that could show me glimpses of the life to come.  What would young Rachel have thought if she could have seen the life I now live?

Would I have laughed aloud at the rolls on baby Owen's arms...

...the courage Amelia musters at the playground...

... the amount of joy a milkshake brings to sweet Caroline?

Thank you God, for 31 years that led to this!

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Injustice of Grace

I've just had a deep, hard, soul-cleansing cry after reading about acquaintances of ours still dealing with grief over the death of their child. 

Meanwhile, my chubby three month old son nuzzles against me, nursing as I read.  He's falling asleep quickly, rubbing the tufted rolls of his wrists across heavy eyelids. I do not deserve this grace. 

Across the hall, Amelia cries out from a deep sleep. "Mommy!" We've had a tough time lately. Her emotions at 3 mimick what I didn't expect until 13. I've never felt so rejected. But now, she calls for me. Finds comfort in my lap. I lay her down, placing blankets under her chin and kisses across her cheeks.  And I don't deserve this grace. 

I think of friends still waiting in hard places. I don't even know what to say to them. I feel like I've abandoned them, the empty-handed, while I clutch greedily my children, my husband, my blessings.

I have so much more than I deserve. 

Thank you, God, for the strange, unexplainable graces You lavished on me, an ingrate. There is no justice to it at all. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weary Mama, Loved by God

I stay tired these days. Many of you are nodding your head smiling, because you know I've had a third child, and you know the sweet blessings of God sometimes feel awfully heavy when you forget Who's carrying them... Or, heck... Sometimes they exhaust us even when our eyes are firmly on God. Because yes, God is our rest, but on this earth we don't get to fully experience all His gifts like we will in Heaven. So yes, on earth I lust for 5 hours of consecutive sleep, but I'm actually much more desperate for the rest that comes from His promises. 

(Yet if you stick a Bible and a pillow in front of me these days, I'm ashamed to say I'll grab the pillow most often. Sigh.)

I'm rambling. 

Recently, I've been brainstorming ways to bring in some income while still staying with my precious children. And the one thing that irks me about it is that I feel CALLED to glorify God, especially through words and writing. I'm not saying "ministry writing" has to be where I make my money. I remember some apostles who were CALLED to the gospel but made and sold tents on the side. I need to figure out my tent making, and this blog isn't it. But in brainstorming income ideas, I keep thinking about my callings... And my desire to encourage you. 

So hi.
I'm tired too. Just like you. 
Although our struggles are different than mine. Maybe yours are emotional, relational, financial, spiritual... Usually it's a mix of a lot of these, isn't it?

You may not feel like you have much to offer right now. I certainly feel wrung out, limp, exhausted, and powerless. 

But that's not the truth of who we are. 

We have the power of the resurrected Christ in us. 

I had to remind myself of that tonight. And I really wanted to also remind you. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Baby Owen Coming Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, God willing, our son Owen will be born.

Our house is a flurry of cleaning and packing.  My stomach flips with pre-labor butterflies.  But my heart feels compelled to worship God quickly and simply here... to acknowledge the lavish and undeserved gifts he is giving us through this child.

Advent began today -- my favorite season of the year, when we remember that every ache and wait is ultimately a wait for God.  He is our hope, even more than the "stuff" we hope for.  Last year, Advent for me was a season of loss and mourning.  I'd known hard waits before, like the Christmas we cried, wishing we cross the globe to adopt Amelia sooner.  But last year, our wait wasn't a hopeful one, like the wait for a child to join the family.  Instead, it was a wait for my body to realize the pregnancy I carried was empty.  From November 28 through December 14 last year, the best I could hope for was for my miscarriage to complete.

Tonight, just like this night last year, I pray for my womb to be emptied soon... only it's a totally different prayer.  It is a prayer for my child to be born! I am flattened to the ground with gratitude.

I go into this labor knowing I don't deserve the goodness I'm receiving.  In the past twelve months, I've watched dear friends face infertility and miscarriage.  I've seen children wait for their parents to die -- and what kind of a wait is that?

Don't get me wrong -- every hardship in my life has been the blessing of God.  And I fully believe that my hurting friends are beloved in God's eyes -- that He is shaping them through trials because He adores them and plans far greater glories for them than ease.  I pray my life preach God's goodness even when -- especially when -- circumstances aren't good.

But tonight, on the eve of what I expect to be a beautiful, life-changing day, I have to praise God.

No matter what, He is good.  But tonight... tonight I can feel how unworthy I am of His lavish love.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best Bible Story Book for ages 2 to 102

Long ago, I made a list of books our family used for teaching preschoolers the Bible.

I've fallen in love again with The Big Picture Story Bible, and if you have children spanning various age groups, you may want to know why.

These days, we have a kindergartner and a three year old.

It makes it tricky to study Bible stories together.  The age gap matters.  And to be honest, I like a children's story book that feeds even my thirty year-old soul a bit.

We have many Bible storybooks we love.  But they're either too babyish for Caroline, or too advanced for Amelia.  We still love having them on hand for one-on-one reading, but lately, we've found the perfect solution for reading around our cereal bowls in the morning together.  It is age-appropriate for anyone, ages 2-102.  This book would even benefit teenagers.  (I've often considered bringing it as an aide in teaching youth Sunday school or small group, so teens can understand the basic themes of a Bible story before we study it from the Scripture itself.)

Reasons Why I Love The Big Picture Story Bible
  1. The book reminds children from story 1 (creation) to story 28 (Revelation) that every part of the Bible is really talking about Jesus.  (And I appreciate the reminder!)
  2. It's one of the few children's books that doesn't gloss over the dark sides of the Bible.  No, it doesn't highlight age-inappropriate things like incest, adultery, and everything else shocking in Scripture.  But it continually reveals that all people -- yes, with a special focus on God's people -- are rebellious, cruel, and miss the point.  There are several times in the book when God restores things to peace, and as I turn the page, my girls begin to moan, "Oh no! God's people are going to be mean again! They'll disobey! They'll forget!"  Amen.  Let's not be self-righteous Christians.  Let's always remember that WE forget God... that WE miss the point... that WE disobey.  And there is mercy and transformation in Jesus.
  3. There are some simple themes this storybook highlights from Genesis to Revelation:
    1. That God made a promise... which His people continually broke and rejected... and which He mercifully upheld for us anyway.
    2. God's Place - Began as Eden.  Became Canaan.  Symbolic of Heaven.
    3. God's Kingdom - Started in the Garden.  Became Israel.  But was leading up to a kingdom composed of His people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.
    4. God as King - He was King in the Garden.  People thought David was the "forever King." But really David was a foreshadowing of King Jesus.
    5. Believe God.  This book makes it clear that all sin stems from doubting God's goodness.
Just for fun, here are some clips from the book.
Get a copy for your family! 
I hope you love it like we do.

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