Sunday, February 23, 2014

life abundant

By Mary

My baby boy was due this past Friday, but as it turns out by God's graciousness, I've been holding him in my arms for the past two and a half weeks. He's pure perfection.

I'm so humbled by how intimately and sweetly God has been involved in everything, orchestrating details so perfectly to allow my husband to be there for the birth and the entire first weekend and also for a surprise long weekend over Valentine's Day. There's been a million little blessings so undeserved and I'm just grateful to be living life with eyes open to it all. How much would I miss--have I missed so often in life--by keeping my eyes so fixed on me, rather than Him.

This past summer I laughed with my friend over the Taylor Swift song 22, and how breakfasts at midnight and making fun of exes contrasted with the 22nd years we were living out in our lives--where we talked about our husbands and homes, job, babies, my newly discovered pregnancy.

There seem to be a million lists out there in the world at large about things you should do and be and experience before 25 and all of it seems so selfish to me. It's about self-fulfillment and living up life and making the most of your dreams and tasting what life has to offer. Which all sounds nice...I get the traveling bug sometimes and wish I could be in another country again. And occasionally I think about if I should have done the college thing. Mostly I just remember how nice sleeping in used to be. But I'm so thankful I was taught that life isn't about me and that sacrifice isn't just a kill-joy for those who lack vision or strong will.

I'm so thankful to taste of the abundant life God gives in a heart given over to Him and His purposes, thankful for more than just shallow pleasures. And even when it doesn't feel as happy and rewarding as it does in my life right now, I'm thankful to be assured that His ways are truly best and His rewards are beyond compare.

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

i am the disaster

by Alanna

I teach 21 first graders (the last added as of yesterday), and all of them are unique in their own ways. Four of them I call my troublemakers, those whom I'm constantly reminding to pay attention, to stay seated, to keep silence when I'm talking, to do their work. One of those I've seen such immense progress in this year, and particularly today. It made my heart happy because today he TRIED (for I think the first time ever since school started), and received a grade in the 80s.  The class as a whole has progressed too. They know the procedures for lining up outside the door after recess, for working in their books, for singing songs and playing games.

Despite all this, I've been quite discouraged and overwhelmed by one of my students who has digressed considerably since Christmas. I call him my disaster. His favorite hobbies these days are spitting, on anything and everything, crawling around on the floor, and singing loud songs about his classmates while I'm trying to teach. My relationship with him has unfortunately also degenerated. Some mornings I try to give him positive reinforcement, but it only lasts as long as he displays any positive behavior. By the time we are to morning math class, my only communication with him is yelling or stern directions.The area surrounding his desk is reminiscent of the cloud surrounding Pig Pen in Charlie Brown.

I need supernatural wisdom, strength, grace, patience, and love for this one. So I cling to the Vine and ask Him to produce these things in me, because I am so lacking. And then I come to realize. I am the disaster. I am the one returning to the floor, after His hands have lovingly directed me back to my seat hundreds of times. I am the one losing my pencil 4 times in an afternoon, forgetting all He's shown me. I am the one impatient to speak, failing to be silent before Him, too eager to pour out my woes. And oh what love He has shown me. His patience and His grace toward me have no boundaries. My Father's heart harbors no frustration, because all His holy wrath was already poured out on His Son.  His love is strong enough to pick me back up again and remake me new. His love is strong enough to forgive me a thousand times, to grow me, to change me. I don't want to forget, that here in this disaster of a child, is the reflection of my own wayward heart. I want to be reminded of God's love for us, and I want Him to give me even just a tiny portion of that love for these entrusted to me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

by Alanna

dear little one,

I miss you today. Perhaps because these mornings I've been praying for you early, and then you stay in my mind. I pray for God to give you joy, to build up your little heart in peace and contentment. I ask for Him to draw you to Himself at a young age, to show you what a miracle you are, and the love He has for you. I ask Him to help you be obedient, submissive to your parents so that you can learn submission to Him. You are growing up, in a lovely family and blessed beyond measure. I don't wish you anywhere else than where God has you. So this feeling is harder to describe now. It's not grief or despair, and it's not purely longing. But it is an ache, a pull of my heart towards yours. I feel your country in my veins today, and this strange pull of my soul there. Here I am in Honduras, with my husband, the man who never got to meet you but who holds me these days when I cry for you. Your birth place is so far away, and the place where you live now even farther. I am where I am meant to be, and so are you my darling. But my heart is knit to you, and so I think of the way your tiny body felt nestled against mine. I remember the tears shed, the miracles wrought, the laughter shared. This love for you grows only stronger, over these years. So I pour out my mother love where it was meant to be poured out, at the feet of Jesus in supplication and thanksgiving for you. You are precious beyond compare my little one. Grow strong. Even though you do not see or feel my love, I pray that it flows from my heart to our Father, and back again to you in floods immeasurable. 
I love you with all my heart.