Monday, October 20, 2014

by Alanna

I woke up sad today. Tried to explain to my husband that expression- waking up on the wrong side of the bed. But it doesn't really make sense because if there's no good reason to be sad, then why am I?

I sat down this afternoon to make a calendar page for November, looking through photos from South Africa. They rose up in me like a flood- nostalgia, love, sorrow, memories, aching. What hit me hardest was the fear. I remember today, not just in my mind but at the core of my heart, what it feels like to be a mom present with your child. Joy like I'd never known before, laughter and love so beautiful it made me cry just to look at him sometimes. Love too big for my little heart to hold, and it burst open and flooded and I remember the joy and the pain. I remember love at first sight, wonder and awe at knowing this little person had been entrusted to you. I remember feeling unworthy, incapable, weak, but oh so thankful for such a gift.  This heart of mine remembers not just the good but the hard, the surrender and the separation and the mornings I woke up with tears still flowing.

So what do I fear? Maybe it's that things will be different. Will mother love come at first sight again? Will I be blessed twice with that much joy? With love that overflows? Do miracles happen twice over? Maybe I'm afraid that things will be the same, and maybe I don't have the courage to love that much again. To open my hands wide means receiving not just the gift of love and joy, but also the possibility of deep pain. I think motherhood must be the hardest and most beautiful risk we ever take. I want to love baby girl this way, full and empty. Surrendered and yet holding fiercely to joy and hope. I want to love with all of me, but tonight I'm just so small and afraid. Thanking my God that His love is courageous and knows no bounds. Might He bless me at the birth of baby girl with just an ounce of His courage.

Wait for the Lord,
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

these dying trees

by Alanna

Since 2009, I've missed three autumns in this country. Two I spent in South Africa, and the last in Honduras. There wasn't much of a season change there- not these brilliant colors and falling leaves. In Honduras the daylight hours don't even shift much. Only lots of rain for a time and then not much at all. Things died in both Johannesburg and Catacamas, but they weren't trees and grass. Hard things I had to lay down. Love, desires, attachments, heartache.

Here in our house, things are changing like the seasons. Our marriage duo we are losing in a way, as we welcome new little life any day now. She will make us forever three. Something will be lost and something so beautiful gained. The trees in our front yard are the only red ones in the whole neighborhood. The rest are still green with a few yellow. But ours are brilliant. First yellow, then red, and today a burnt orange. Leaves litter our yard but the view out our window is still full of color.

A dear friend said it in prayer meeting, that the trees make dying look glorious.

I read a blog passed along, about how motherhood is dying to yourself. My friend on the phone reminds me that marriage is too.We get so caught up in what we want, what we need, our own petty desires. Autumn reminds me that life is about dying. It is not easy, and sometimes I'm so reluctant to lay things down. But it is glorious. Not just the beauty of resurrection, not just the flowers of spring, not just the answers I wanted. This dying to yourself is in itself, in a way, glorious. We follow in the footsteps of our Savior, and we are crucified so that He might live in us. We bury our hopes and dreams and sometimes our whole heart at the feet of our King, thankful that He is not just mighty but good. He makes dying worth it. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Southern Living

By Mary

After what seems like the longest summer ever (partially, perhaps, because fall is so slow in coming this far down south, and bares little relation to my favorite kind of Colorado fall), we're finally, officially"settled". I unpacked the very last box of knickknacks while my parents visited just over a week ago, and even organized my closet a few days back. Now if the true definition of being moved in is having all your pictures on the wall, it's probably going to still be a while. But meantime we're slowly learning the ropes around here and finding our favorite places to frequent, beginning to get used to this southern living thing.

Of course life doesn't ever really go according to plan so our most frequented spot of all is in Savannah, Georgia, a little over an hour away. My hubby started having back pain just before we moved in and it got progressively worse to the point where he was walking with a cane and then really unable to walk or move at all and using a wheelchair for doctor appointments. Long story short, we're now driving an hour three times weekly and paying out of pocket to see a chiropractor to see if we can avoid back surgery. Praise God he's really doing so much better and I'm hopeful it continues. Every time I see him holding Dominick up and getting him to laugh or taking a minute to chase Gianna around the house or when he gets into the driver's side of the car, I realize how many of God's daily gifts I constantly take for granted.

This has been a hard move in so many ways and even now that its all calming down and everyone is adjusting pretty well and this beautiful house we've been blessed with is feeling like home, some days I feel so depressed. Mostly, I'm just lonely. Sometimes I'd just love someone else to talk with me, face to face, other than my almost three year old (though she does have a great vocabulary and imagination)

But I'm trying to stop...just stop wishing for what I don't have and make the most of what I do and realize how rich I am despite what I may think I lack or what I pray to be different.

I look at the other houses being built around us in our neighborhood. The process for some seems so long, while others spring up seemingly overnight and others come to some sort of standstill while they wait on something, something I can't see and can only guess at. And it reminds me that there are times and seasons for everything. God is at work, with the master plan He alone knows to make everything beautiful in it's own time. What I have is enough--and it's not finished. He's molding, building, shaping, inside my heart and the lives around me. And slowly I learn, over and over again, to enjoy Him and what He gives. Day by day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

lest I forget

by Alanna

In my house I recently discovered a small zip lock bag full of sticky notes. They are from my days as a single woman, when I owned my own car and drove people around in it often. They are God-given gifts, written down and captured. Given thanks for then, and now again years later as I look and remember. Estes Park with a small date in the corner. Indoor plumbing. Sindi. An ever-redeeming Savior. Martin and his family.

I also found pictures and stories and notes. Those eight precious ones I loved in Haiti 6 years ago, the "Lions" and their hand prints in red paint, scribbled pictures from my little one, a small heart necklace from a girl named Danya I met in Juarez 9 years ago, a circle necklace from that heart-broken and precious boy from South Africa. I found stories I had written my first year in college, about battles I tried to fight with God and the doubts I had. Losing Berlancia, crying tears over the head of D'jemy as he vomited all over me, uncertainty over the future of my youngest sister. I remember feeling lost, and always questioning in these situations. Was God trustworthy? Could I leave this in His hands? My sister, my future, this child so close to death, another one taken to heaven, those children I loved far across the ocean, my son. I read these stories and I remembered, and it took my breath away.

He has always been trustworthy.    

All my stories didn't turn out the way I wanted them to. Heartache was real and hard. Not all separations ended in reunions. Not all losses were turned to gain. But redemption happened. So many fatherless children are orphans no more. My youngest sister lives with us still. Some things I thought I had lost were things I wasn't mean to have, and my story is more beautiful now because of losing them. Some things I lost were like seeds that had to die to bear fruit. So I proclaim without a doubt in my mind that

He has always known best.   

I don't want to forget. This small box of memories, I don't want to lose it. God has given me countless gifts, redeemed countless broken situations that I had given up for lost. He has done more than I ever imagined back then, in all those nights when I cried out to Him. I wondered at times if He was listening. I am sure now that He always was. His ways are not ours, but oh they are beautiful and good and He is wise and strong and loving.

I, I sit in silence here
I'm filled with wonder once again
I'm overwhelmed by Your beautiful love
Now I, I'm falling to my knees, so grateful for the grace You give
The love I need I've found in you

Lest I forget
All of Your goodness
The blood You have shed
The cross I now remember
Lest I forget