Monday, January 15, 2018

here we are

by Alanna

  We've lived in Minnesota for over 5 months now. And while I am tempted to call it this frigid state, I have to remind myself that winters here actually don't last forever. We had a beautiful few weeks in Colorado, living up the deep blue skies and drinking in the sunshine.  Spending time with my family that felt unrushed, unhurried, blessed.  It was the most relaxing couple weeks I have had since my first baby was born over 3 years ago.  I got to see some dear old friends who strengthened my heart.  Leaving Colorado (again) to drive home was very painful for me.  This cold city doesn't feel like home yet. It's unfamiliar, I don't belong.  I am learning people's names at church and helping in the nursery, but I feel far from having deep relationships with anyone. And my kids don't have any aunts, uncles, or cousins here.

  So I have had an ugly attitude.  Chosen to settle for darkness and cold in me.  Because honestly I don't want to be here.  I'd always dreamed my whole life of option A- living in Africa and doing mission work there.  If I can't have A I'll take B- living in Colorado where my family is and things feel more comfortable.  But C?  Living in this little house in this cold place with a growing number of kids and my mother-in-law?  For who knows how long?  I rebeled against this thought this past week.  And God, my patient Creator, lovingly gave me grace to see.  The importance of obedience.  Of submission to His plans.  Of "counting it all joy" wherever He has us.  A dear friend reminded me that if we are afraid of the future it is because we don't trust God's promises, or we ultimately want what we want more than what He wants.  I don't want that to be me.  I want to submit to my Savior.  He knows so much better than I do.  So I am praying for a constantly repentant heart, that rejoices, that chooses to love in the sphere He has put me.  That chooses to submit to His plans and rejoice in His love for me.  I don't ever want to fight against His plans.

  Amy Carmichael wrote these words about Psalm 4:7. They say what I would like to say, just much better.

"What David offered to his God was a heart that was utterly satisfied with His will.  There were no private reservations, no little whispered "if"- if only I can be where I want to be, and have what I want to have, then there will be gladness in my heart, O God; he did not say that- he did not even say, "By thy grace I am glad , I am as glad as I should be if I had those stores of corn and wine." He went further, he flew right out of all the restricting thoughts that might have caged his spirit, up and up into the free air of God , and he said, "Thou hast put a new kind of gladness in my heart.  It does not depend on what I have, it is more than that sort of gladness. It is a joy that is entirely independent of circumstances." 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Changing my prayers

By Mary

After Sofia was born, once we were back in our own house after the hurricane evacuation, I still felt a little overwhelmed. My parents had just left and I was missing them, missing also the help they'd been giving. I was trying to figure out how to make first grade happen for my oldest, when keeping the house clean and the kids alive seemed like a big enough job by itself. On top of that my one year-old was randomly waking up nightly after being a great sleeper for the longest time and I was already waking up with baby girl multiple times a night. It just felt like a lot.

But somewhere along the line I kinda stopped praying for more sleep, more help, less sibling drama.  Instead I began praying for more grace to pour out of me, more wisdom, more kindness, more joy. And I have to admit...when I'm praying this way, God never seems to say no.

New year, new baby, new zip code

By Mary

I guess I can't really say that the baby is new since she was born the beginning of September...but I'm not sure I even ever mentioned my fourth pregnancy, much less her birth or the daily ways she lights up our life. Sofia Nicole (wise, victorious) She's the sweetest thing. Part of me thinks the fourth kid just sort of has to be easy-going, but mostly I think God was just super kind and gracious and thoughtful and decided to cut me a little slack.

2018. Just crazy. I had to write the date for the first time the other day (signing in to urgent care unfortunately-shingles isn't the best thing to get when you're nursing a baby and you're everybody else's jungle gym) We had a whirlwind end to 2017, starting with Sofia's birth really. I checked out of the hospital the day after she was born and started helping my husband put up storm shutters over our windows for the hurricane coming our way. After that I tried to pack as best as possible for our newly grown family of six and evacuated to North Carolina where my husband had to work from the hotel for about a week, keeping accountability for everyone on Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. On day two I was about to lose my mind so thankfully my parents changed up the timeline of their visit just a tad and came to save the day by meeting us at the hotel for the first half of their two week visit.

Once things began to settle from that whole adventure and we started getting in the swing of life with a newborn, homeschooling and AWANA starting up again, we had some surprise orders come our way, to about as far away as we could get-Washington state. And it's really amazing, because in that one week between being told about the move being a possibility and when the movers were actually packing up our house, God really worked a lot of things out. A family from our church mentioned needing temporary housing for their family while their new house was being built. And their timeline for moving in allowed for the perfect amount of time for us to move out and get the house cleaned up before they moved in. So we have a house on the market right now, filled with a sweet family till the spring time.

Just the fact that the military actually assigned us a moving company in the short window of time we had before leaving South Carolina was an act of God. And somehow this was by far our best move, all things considered. After some time in Colorado that went much too fast (and missing out on seeing Alanna by less than a month 😭) we hit the road again. This time we brought my mom with us which was the best idea ever. Honestly her presence made the road-trip a hundred times better, smoothed and speeded the unpacking process, and made the whole last month of 2017 a thousand times sweeter. We're all so grateful.

So here we are, at the beginning of a brand new year. I'm not sure what to think of it yet, or what to expect from it. It hasn't been the easiest start in just this one short week we've had. But I know that God is with us and there's no reason to fear. And there's more than enough reason to hope.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

God with us

by Alanna

His name is Emmanuel. My third little boy. 


Being pregnant with him was hard for me, emotionally dark.
I wondered sometimes if God knew what He was doing.
Carrying a third baby before my 1st one's second birthday.
So many people don't agree with the "hands-off" approach to this family thing.
I struggled with trusting God with this one.


But then he came.

We named him Emmanuel.
I can't explain in words the joy this little boy is to me.
It is not just that he is one of the easiest babies I have ever cared for.
He is happy.


He brings light and laughter to our whole family.
He loves to play by himself.
Loves to be held and get attention.
Loves his brother and sister.
Loves to eat and sleep at night.
Love to get himself into positions he can't get out of.



He is such a gift to me.


And I am blown away by God's mercy.

Because I could have had a difficult baby as my third.
And I'm sure this one will bring his own challenges.
But for now, I am just rejoicing in God's goodness
in blessing us with this little baby.
His ways are so much better than ours.
His goodness so far beyond our comprehension.
He is always worthy of our trust.
And worthy of our praise.
So tonight I'm praising him for Emmanuel.
God is indeed with us. 


Friday, September 29, 2017

abundant bread

by Alanna

I feel that maybe I have written this post before, because I know it's not a new lesson that God is teaching me. But no matter. It will help remind me to put it down again. I was feeling a little desperate the other day and opened the Bible to just anywhere. Landed on John 6; a huge crowd of people is following Jesus around.  Hard for me to imagine that size crowd- 5,000 men.  Jesus asks Philip, "Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" Which I laugh at because Jesus already knows what He is going to do.  But Philip's answer sounds like mine so often. There isn't any way to get bread for all these people. Even a huge sum of money wouldn't suffice.  Basically, it's hopeless.  I feel like this sometimes in my house, even though I'm feeding only 4 other people. 

There's not enough of me.  This one needs a spanking but I think he also needs some concentrated mommy time.  Maybe a snuggle in the rocking chair with his favorite blanket.  That one needs me to listen to her long story about her teddy bear, and help her take care of him and four other toy animals in her pretend nursery.  They both need lunch because I suspect this is why they are getting cranky in general.  The husband could use lunch too, since he's been working 14 hour days lately and is probably tired.  The baby wants to nurse and needs me to also change his poop and clean the spit-up that he is rubbing around on the floor with his tummy as he crawls off to chew on something he probably shouldn't be.  I know my bathroom needs to be cleaned.  I wonder if there is iced tea in the fridge for my husband, and when I will find time to make some if not. And on and on it goes.

I always feel guilty for what I am not doing well.  Today I complained, and asked aloud why God gave me so many roles if I can't do them all well. Something has to give- the house, the cooking, shopping frugally, being a friend, loving my husband well, patience with my children, my own sanity.  But the truth is that there is always enough time in a day to do the things that God wants us to do.  There is always enough time.  Just not enough of me.

So I relate to this boy in the story.  The one who gives his five barley loaves and two fish.  A tiny ridiculous offering in the face of 5000 hungry men.  This is all he has.  And he gives it all.  But Jesus accepts it, and "when He had given thanks", He distributed it to all the people.  The truth is, I don't have to have enough.  Because Jesus is always enough.  How many times do I have to be reminded of this before I will understand?  All I have to do is hold out what I have to Him. All of it, in thanksgiving.  And trust that He will make it enough.  That it won't matter what doesn't get done around here.  God knows what these people in my life need.  My job is to speak thanksgiving, open my hands, and give my all.  God's job is to do the rest.

Then this evening I read the same story in one of the kids' bible storybooks.  And this version pointed out how even the little boy who had offered the loaves was satisfied.  In the end he also had more than enough.  I believe that this is true. That if we offer all we have in thanksgiving, to Jesus- and thus through Him to our kids, to our friends, to our husbands, to our families, to the world, that we will not be empty.  Jesus will take our tiny ridiculous portion, and with His incredible power He will fill not just those around us, but us too. And we too will be satisfied.            

Friday, August 18, 2017

minnesota-apolis

by Alanna

My daughter said this with excitement tonight. Minnesota-apolis. The place we now live. North Minnesota-apolis to be exact.  We've been splitting our days and nights pretty equally between our new house and a new friend's house.  We don't have any furniture out except beds and a table, and haven't unpacked more than a couple boxes yet. The rest sit in our garage, in various states of disarray from me rummaging through them to find things. One thing I rummage a lot for is warmer clothes! It's been raining nearly every day here, and I'm overjoyed when I see the sun.  My husband already put new floors in our main level (tore up carpet, sanded and refinished the hardwood) and this week he is painting.  So he's working long hours and me too but in a different way.

Our middle one is having a hard time these days, stretching my limits as a mama. Today was just a typical day, other than a prolonged headache that has stretched past 24 hours now.  My two year old came upstairs with her hand all poopy, saying "umm I think it's dirt....or maybe poop." Why did she stick her hand in her pants? She seemed as surprised as me- she didn't know there was poop in there! After baths for both the toddlers, my one year old walked through the hallway peeing on the floor and laughing. I will also have to find some clean towels in this house that isn't mine, because I've used them all up today cleaning milk and water spills from the floor.  I was impatient today. I see it so much in me lately, my self rearing its ugly head.  Lack of compassion and love for my kids.  Today I told God that I actually can't do this. I actually can't take care of 3 kids under 3 by myself. Let alone in a strange place far away from all we've known, with no sunshine.  But I remember and hold on to this that someone told me once- God is not surprised by my failures as a mother.  He gave these children to me, and He knew exactly the kind of mom I would be.  This is not to say that I don't want to grow. I want so much for Jesus to give me His heart for my children.  His love, His patience, His compassion.  I want to listen to them the way He listens to me.  To love them the way He does.  I am crying out desperately for this. 

Dinner dishes await me, and an application for medical insurance here.  Hoping to write again soon more about life in Minneapolis and the things that God is doing here.  I can become too focused sometime on my own struggles and forget the big picture of His glory. Because of Him we have much hope.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

When I grow weary

By Mary

Surprise, surprise, it's me writing for a change! Typically a long absence in writing for me means I just haven't found a way to manage my time to allow for things like blogging...it's often pretty low on the list of things I could do in the evenings after the kids' bedtime. Usually during the day some idea will float through my head, something I'd like to write about later, and I try to file it away in my memory and hope it doesn't get lost somewhere in the midst of mom brain. But these last months the inspiration just hasn't been there. Until one night last week during bedtime when I just felt worn out. And I tried to think of a way to describe it.

Overwhelmed didn't suit...I felt perfectly capable of doing the whole bedtime routine. There are quite a few teeth to brush in our house, several sets of pajamas to be put on, a couple of sensitive skins needing lotion, bedtime stories and snuggles waiting to be had. And none of its hard. There are just times when I'm so tired of doing it. Every day.

I have another confession too: sometimes I'm so tired of feeding people! And this is coming from someone who's husband deeply loves going out to eat, so it's not just meal preparation that gets to me.  I really probably have less right to complain than most. It's just these hungry little tummies that are always, well, hungry.

And that night last week is when the perfect word came to mind to describe my feeling in these moments. Weary. But immediately that word triggered another thought in my mind-

2nd Thessalonians 3:13 "But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good."

Usually I think of this verse when it comes to extra stuff. Service projects outside the home, for others. Helping at church. Not so much the daily necessities of life. But of course it holds just as true for the snotty noses and the afternoon snacks and the dishes and the baths and the laundry. Or for carving out time to read the bible or take a shower.

Lets not grow weary in doing good, daily, in every way, for Him, for us, for those around us.