Saturday, July 29, 2017

I Have This Hope...

Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind,Therefore I have hope.
The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:19-23

Evangeline's 15 month well check was yesterday. It's kind of neat that it fell on that particular day because it is the day, exactly two years ago, that I got the shock of my life in finding out I was expecting her.  My husband and our, then, pastor had just resigned from our church two days prior because of some really ugly things happening within the leadership of the church, and he had just come home from packing up his office when I shared the news with him. I'll never forget the look on his face. Having struggled so much to expand our family for so many years, we found ourselves in awe of this miracle, and yet completely overwhelmed at the timing of it all. And that is how our sweet Evangeline came to first be known to us as "Baby H," because we knew that God was reminding us of the hope that we have in Him, no matter what the circumstances surrounding us may be.

Yesterday at her appointment, Evangeline ran straight to the doctor when she entered the room and hugged her leg and wanted her to pick her up, and waved and said "bye bye" and blew kisses when she left. After her appointment, she was running up to random people in the waiting room with her arms stretched up, motioning for them to pick her up, and striking up sweet little "conversations" with them. She's definitely a people person, athough every few moments she would run back up to me, as if to check in and make sure everything was okay;-)

She remains our tiniest of T's, weighing only 21.7 pounds (50th percentile) and measuring 29 and 3/4 inches tall (13th percentile.) Don't be fooled by her tiny appearance though, because she's got big plans every day, and I pray she will discover the amazing plan her Heavenly Daddy has for her. She brought hope into our lives during a very dark time, and I pray she continues to eagerly reach her arms out to others to give them the hope I pray she finds in Jesus Christ!

As I was writing this blog post out, I kept finding myself humming "I Have This Hope" by Tenth Avenue North. 
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go

What a blessing it is to be Evangeline's mommy! I cannot imagine our lives without this ray of sunshine who daily reflects her name by being a reminder to me of the Good News we can find in Jesus Christ, no matter what the circumstances are surrounding us.

Friday, July 21, 2017


We are currently in the throws, a third time, with what I have found to be the most challenging part of parenting small children: potty training.  You would think that the "third time would be the charm," but at this point, I'm pretty much just waving my white flag (or maybe a roll of Charmin?!) and realizing that it's probably not my kids: it's me.  I am REALLY really bad at potty training! So far, I have yet to have a child potty trained before they reached their 4th birthday. Part of this I attribute to the fact that I've been blessed to have my babies home with me, so we haven't had to be structured with it all like you would in a school setting. But mostly, I just think I'm really bad at teaching my kids how to use the potty! There is no prize, no chart, no incentive, no song, no special character underwear, no timer, no nifty potty chair or seat, no 3 day program--NOTHING that will win against the determined spirit that overflows from my kiddos. I really see how this strong-willed nature can be a great asset to them, but it's all a matter of directing it, and right now, we are TOTALLY missing the mark (pun intended!!) ;-) With Lucy, it was a matter of everyone else her age being potty trained, so I felt like I was failing her as a mom somehow. With Gabriel, it was a bit of the same. But now that I'm in my third round of it with Annie Beth, I'm not so much trying to keep up with everyone else--I just would really like for her to be able to go to preschool twice a week so she can have fun while I'm trying to do school with her big brother and sister! 

***I should note that I'm really thankful we have Norwex this go around with potty training, because the accidents are no longer as big of a deal to clean up, and they aren't as surprising...although the "artwork" on the bathroom walls certainly was a first (and a SECOND) for me to experience this past week...***

 My sweet little sass-a-pants of a 3 year old certainly has a wonderful mind of her own. I love that she is a determined child with an insistent spirit and strong sense of what she wants and does not want. I love that these qualities are all things that the Lord can and will use for His glory. And while her stubborn attitude can be a challenge, it also fills our days with much humor as we listen to our talkative toddler spout out her plans for the day, which usually do not include using the potty. For example, on a daily basis, my little girl who can't yet pronounce her "r's" will have the following conversation with me:

(Mommy) "Are we going to keep our panties clean and dry today, Annie Beth?"

(Annie) "I'll go poo poo on the potty...tomorrow!"

I can't help but laugh at her phrasing, seeing as how her name instantly brings to mind the beloved musical of another curly-headed little girl, "Annie," who is best known for belting out "Tomorrow" at the top of her amazing set of pipes.  But this newfound phrase of my Annie's also stirs up some other emotions within because of it's timeliness.

My last blogpost was written a few weeks ago, as I reflected on the tenth anniversary of my daddy's passing, and today would have been his 68th birthday. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my daddy and miss him. But if you've known me for very many of these past ten years of my life, you've probably heard me say that, more than missing my daddy, I miss knowing all that he missed out on. 

If you were to have visited my daddy at his office, you would have found his walls adorned with clocks of all types and sizes. He enjoyed a nice wrist watch, too, and had quite the collection. He would commonly make the remark, followed by his classic chuckle, that he collected them so that he would never run out of time. He worked so very hard to provide for our family, but in his doing so, the one thing we missed out on the most with him was time with him. I think he always thought that there would be a tomorrow, so he wanted to make the most out of his "today" to try to make everyone's "tomorrows" better. 

But we aren't promised tomorrow.

Joshua 24:15 reads:
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
We live in a world that is constantly wanting to tell us how to better ourselves, but God doesn't want the "new and improved" version of us, because there is nothing we could ever do that would cause Him to love us or want us more. He gave His Son for us, because He loves us! We have to be willing to stop and lay down our own hopes and dreams, though, so that we will be able to take hold of HIS great plans for us.

It is so easy to become distracted in this world. We have technology constantly at our fingertips, we have jobs and families and friends that depend on us and pull at us, and we have goals and desires for what we want in our lives. Whether we admit it or not, we prioritize everything in our lives every single day. Am I spending my few moments of free time on facebook, or am I choosing to spend it in HIS book? It becomes far too easy to put things off for tomorrow when we become immersed in all that the world says it has for us today. That's why God calls us to fix our eyes firmly on Him...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2a)

Oh how I wish that my Daddy were alive to see these 4 amazing miracles that the Lord has entrusted to me on this earth! I know that Lucy would tug at his heart strings, Gabriel would be his little buddy, Evangeline would bring a soft side out of him, and Annie would be constantly causing him to deliver his signature chuckle. He missed out on experiencing the life God has blessed our family with in these children, and a life sold out abundantly to Jesus. So, my greatest desire for those of you reading this is for you to look to Jesus and give Him every part of your life--not tomorrow, because tomorrow isn't promised, but today...

Saturday, July 8, 2017

10 years...

It was ten years ago this morning when my mother was frantically trying to get in touch with me. I was in worship team rehearsal and had turned my phone off though. (This is why you will probably never find me without my phone to this day.) She was able to get a hold of the church's number, and someone came and pulled my husband out of rehearsal. After being gone for several minutes, I felt like something must be wrong, so I went to check on him. I'm not really sure how he was able to tell me those horrible words, but I'm so thankful for the caring, loving man that he is, always looking out for me and loving me so well.

 If you've ever lost someone, you know that the grief of their passing can hit like waves in the oceans or thunderstorms in the summer. Sometimes we see the storm coming and suit up in our raincoat and galoshes, and sometimes we are caught off guard and struggle to feel God's grace in the midst of the turbulent winds. 

Yesterday, we were caught off guard by the physical storms that rolled in and interrupted our swimming time. My kids were disappointed, but coming home, eating popsicles, and watching Moana for the hundredth time seemed to do the trick;-) All the while, in the back of my mind, a mental storm was brewing within me, looming over my head like a dark cloud.

July 8 is a day I often approach feeling like Eyeore. And for anyone who experiences the waves of grief, you probably understand how it feel like a rain cloud is hovering over you, following you wherever you
go. But don't forget that there is always a calm after the storm, and with a storm comes refreshment to the earth, despite the destruction it may cause. And the cloud itself, though it can produce a storm, can also provide protection. 

I dread the inevitable resurrection of memories from ten years ago when I learned that my daddy had passed away. I can't see past the clouds at what God did in His infinite wisdom, but I can choose to let Him cover me with His comfort and the knowledge that He is good.

I'm thankful that my Heavenly Daddy doesn't chastise me for struggling over my earthly daddy's sudden death. Instead, He wraps His arms around me and catches each tear that falls from my face and reminds me that He is a good, good Father. 

I imagine today will come with its share of tears, but right now, what the Lord is speaking to my heart is that He is still good, and He is ever near to the broken-hearted. Without pain, we would not experience comfort. And just like I long for my babies to crawl up in my lap and let me hold them close, my Heavenly Daddy wants to do the same for me. 

No matter the circumstance in your life, God is able to bring good from them. It may be that your Daddy-God reveals the bigger picture to you, or you may just experience the blessing of His comfort in the midst of the storm. Some days I still feel like I'm sorting through the damage of that great storm in my life ten years ago, but at the same time, I choose to rest in the total assurance that my God is good, faithful, just, and He cares deeply for me.