The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

IMG_1225The wind is wild today, as I sit out on the warm deck and watch the Littles pile leaves high on the trampoline.  It’s been another long day, after a string of long days over the last few weeks, and everyone’s a little nutty.

They are screaming the kind of delighted, over-the-top whoops that could indicate a group melt-down at any moment, but until then, it’s just wild fun.

Even after a couple of weeks of crazy, I’m more convinced than ever that there’s bliss on this motherhood path; all the little things matter.  Clipping toe nails, hunting down socks, cleaning up yogurt spills, rotating the endless assault of laundry, kissing the hurts, navigating arguments, and planning meals over and over again all end up being the tracks that lay down my life for something so much more significant than my own little self.  It is part of the honoring of what is to come; a hope in the future, a joy in the journey, a vision for life generations beyond me.  This is the dirt where eternities are birthed!

As the fall shadows stretch across the leaf-littered grass, silently wooing winter, I sense time creeping too.  Like buds maturing on the trees, the children are growing and changing and becoming something more than I ever imagined.

As I watch the older ones branch out into their passions, see their free hearts explore an amazing world, eager to fill it with all their hope and offerings, I wonder how the work of motherhood became so disregarded?

This, here, under our feet, is where love is sown, that will one day reap a harvest in the world.

This is no small thing.

Popcorn

“So, uh, Babe,” he begins as he calls me on the phone, ”I bid on that popcorn maker, and I, uh, got it.  And it’s, uh, a little bit broken.”

Me: “Well, didn’t you read the description before bidding online?”

Ben: “Well, there wasn’t a description.  How could I know it came with no door?  But, hey, at least it’s a decent size.  I only realized afterwards that we didn’t even know what size it was!”

We’ve been talking/joking about getting a big popcorn machine for a while.  We eat a lot of popcorn around here, and, as with most things, are finding it easier to “go big” at this stage in our family life.

We only recently discovered local online auctions.  A very cool thing, I think, if you know how to do it.  {I guess we’ll get to that later.}

So, introducing our semi-door-less popcorn maker!

IMG_1265Making an afternoon snack has become a family event!

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Who needs a t.v.?  Watch the popcorn machine instead!

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Oh yeah, a little butter and a little Herbamare salt and wowzers!

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And then, the little sneak…  I suppose it’s only right that popcorn is Poppy’s favorite snack!

Tucker, Behind the Lens

Tucker (6) discovered the camera yesterday.  Since then, he has hardly taken it off of his neck.  He has likely itemized most of the stuff in our house through his prolific 24-hour photography stint.

Tucker was born an artist.  Color, design, shape, contour, and texture all play a regular part in his daily thoughts and pursuits.  For him, life is art.

So, now a few pieces from the first camera session:

a3First, I sent him outside, because it was so dark inside.  We have this crazy birdhouse that sits on top of a very high pole.  It’s the only birdhouse that reliably holds baby birds year after year; it could have something to do with being way out of reach of the cats.

a4Tucker’s favorite stuffed animal friend, posing with shovel in hand.

a1This one is totally blurry, but it’s hilarious.  Snowy is grooming her ‘horse’.  She has been riding this horse for days.  She has been inspired by our neighbors miniature horse.  I never imagined I’d have a “horse girl” – we’ll see how long it lasts ;)

a2Daddy’s home for a while, for baby’s arrival and subsequent family holiday/adjustment time.  This reality shot is a reminder that we haven’t slowed down for months.  We’re counting on some good family couch time over the next few weeks: stories, snuggles, and naps for everyone!

a5And, the belly… sharing the couch with Mom on the other side of the room.  We’re getting along just fine, the belly and I, but I am looking forward to holding a little cutie sometime soon!  I’ll keep you posted!

Do Not Fear What They Fear

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The Lord spoke to Isaiah and said:

“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread…  But let [God] be your fear… and he will become a sanctuary…” (8:12-13)

The daily news is full of spin, hype, propaganda and lies.  There is an agenda of fear that is being woven by the media that aims to shred even the most heroic heart.

But, I am not to fear what [the world] fears.  

As I keep my eyes on God, He will become a sanctuary to me.

Isaiah 7:9 also reminds me that:

“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”

Faith is not just a little get-into-Heaven-free ticket.  Faith is not a religious ritual or a nice idea, it is an all out turning from this world and its lies and flinging our every thought and hope towards God.  It is an expectation that every word He has spoken will be made so, it is seeing what does not yet exist, knowing that we will see it in time to come according to His promises.  Faith is wild and stupid-looking to the world, it is a leap of obedience, and a calm sanctuary in the whirlwind of noise.

…Sometimes, it’s good to be reminded to just turn off the radio for a while and remember what is ultimate, what is truly true, and camp there for a good, long time.

A Late Breakfast

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The Littles wandered outside early today, the long-absent fall sun finally making an appearance and wooing them on.

The golden world invited them to make a pile of leaves.

And so, they worked for an hour, even missing breakfast, because I couldn’t bear to interrupt their eager efforts, which was fine enough, as the big kids and I processed some current news events, and big ideas that would be a little too intense for them anyway.

Oh the glorious outdoors…  I’m intent on soaking up as much of that liquid Vitamin D as possible before the flurries fly!

Vision

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My vision has been small, too limited.

Somehow over the years, I’ve gotten overly side-tracked on many good things like healthy living, educational strategies, community-building goals, hobby farm projects and so on, all the while missing a greater, more comprehensive understanding that God has a bigger plan for our family, for every family, that is greater than just mastering a few areas of interest.

God wants our families to reflect His glory on the earth. 

He desires to use us as stewards to heal the land, to restore a culture of life, to release beauty, and restore healing and joy, to initiate celebration and service as habits of life, and to love deeply like a million stars pulsing light faithfully day and night.  He’s got a place for each of our families in this cosmic masterpiece.

He has bigger dreams for my family than just turning out some nice Christiany kids, if only I were up for co-operating.  The confounding part is that He doesn’t seem to need my strategies, just my co-operation.

So often, I’ve longed to be used by God, but I think I have generally been unusable, as I’ve allowed my own strategies, priorities and preferences (and comfort, ugh) to block the way.  So, how do I cooperate with God?  These talks gave me some clues.  Start in Romans 12:1-2 and that’s all there is to it:

Step one: “…present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…”

Step two: “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

So basically, all I need to do is die to myself, and die to this world.

And be transformed, utterly and unalterably changed.

Sounds… impossible.  Good thing I have a God who deals with the impossible every day, even impossible-me.

What People Think

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“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

Those words jumped out at me from an article I was reading last night and sort of cut into me; how guilty I am of wanting people to think well of me. 

But as our life gets more uncommon, I recognize how easily our choices can disturb and irritate people.  And, it’s hard on me.  Though, I’m getting to the place where it would be more difficult to live falsely, to ignore God’s call on our life, I do fall into this thinking from time to time.

“Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22)

All people are precious to the Lord, but I am not to seek their affirmation.  I am only to set my eyes on the One who made me and every day calls me deeper into intimacy with him through surrender and obedience.

He calls us each on a narrow path, and it’s silliness to sort of glance yonder at the wide road and wonder if those guys still think I’m cool as I’m slashing brush out of my way and stumbling over stones and slipping in the mud.

I look like a fool, and who can I really expect to encourage that, besides the One who intended that the foolish things of His Kingdom would confound the ways and wisdom of this world?

When God Writes Your Life

retreat

Back in the spring I had heard about a Christian women’s retreat that I really wanted to go to, but I knew the three hours was too far to travel with baby’s imminent arrival.  Then, a month ago, I discovered this same retreat had moved to my area instead!  I could go! 

Then, the organizer mentioned that the venue they were working with had pulled out at the last minute and they were seeking other options.

Immediately a surge went through me: we should host this.  I was pretty sure it was God’s Spirit prompting me to do this, but the practical side of me was like, “No way!  That would be so much work, and besides, you might go into labor – how… awkward!”  However, I timidly proposed the concept to Ben and his immediate response was, “Let’s do it!”

And so we opened our doors.  The women organizing did an amazing job at looking after all the details, with only a zany couple of weeks to work with.  The way the entire thing worked out was simply a series of miracles, each step a new indication of God’s good pleasure in bringing us together.

About sixty women and daughters (and so many sweet nursing babies!) packed into our place for three days of pure worship and fellowship (they slept at home and out-of-towners billeted).  Nancy Campbell, whose ministry is called Above Rubies, flew in from Tennessee to dig into God’s Word and wrestle out challenging, convicting and powerful stuff that was both refreshing, uncommon, and so very needed in times like ours.

The ladies who attended (mostly strangers to me) came from nearby and far away (some as far as North Bay!).  It honored me deeply to have these women-on-a-mission in our home; it was like hosting sixty queens for a weekend – a wee bit awesome!

It was a powerful time of heart-connect as we spent time worshiping, praying for each other, sharing our motherhood-struggles, listening to Spirit-filled teaching and, of course, eating together.

What a thing it is to come as strangers, and leave as sisters.

Nancy, herself, personifies the Fruit of the Spirit.  Her gentle nature and deep convictions are refreshing and motivating, as were her many practical ideas for developing our roles as mothers.

The whole whirlwind time pushed me to consider, what if I let God write my life all the time?  What if I was just ready to jump in whenever He asked me to do a new thing?  Because, really, it seemed, down to the last detail, that He had orchestrated this *magical* time in a way I could not have imagined.  It left me blessed beyond what I can adequately describe.

God is ready to do crazy, big, radical things in our lives, but how often do I shrug off His plan for my own easier way, my own preferences, simply indulging my own weak desires or fears?  I just don’t want to mess with that kind of life anymore.

I want Him to write my story all the time, and that means letting go and letting Him work out the details; that’s faith, perhaps the hardest thing on earth.

Pause

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I watched her from the house, as she sauntered around the property taking photos; pictures of dead leaves, grasshoppers, the barn, the logs stacked beside the garage, her own reflection in the van window, a chicken, a row of fence.

I observed her focus, her pure attentiveness to the task at hand.  No one told her what to do.  She took her time with the camera and experimented with angles and perspectives, trying again if the first shot wasn’t quite right.

It takes time to develop art, to grow perspective.

It takes freedom from noise, from distraction, from go-go-go to flourish and find one’s voice.

What a delight it was to watch one of my little ones finding her voice in the quiet cool space of a breezy fall afternoon, away from the pressure of others, or the clock, or a pitiless schedule.

So much abundance is found in the pauses between the noise, this is where the life grows, and somehow, I think children know this best.

You Are Loved

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I find all sorts of random photos on my camera these days, as lately the kids have been taking most of the pictures.  There are a lot of hilarious shots, but this one struck me as particularly cute.

Poppy hates those cats, yet somehow she’s brave enough to go close when there’s a window between them.  God knew this about Poppy way before the world began.  It prompted me to consider how He knows each one of us so intimately, so passionately, so without strings attached…

Today, dear friend, in this moment, there is a Super-Power God who loves you, who decided way back when that you were necessary and important to His ultimate purposes.  He took great care to design you and knit deep inside of the safety of your mother’s womb, because he wanted to make you just right.

You had to be made in secret, because you were just such a good surprise for the world!

And not only did He knit you, He knit together a hope and a purpose and an expected end for your days, all of it just so, for your ultimate good and His ultimate glory.

He knew an enemy would come, though, and attempt to weigh down your shoulders with guilt, with fear, with burdens so heavy you feel you might die.  He knew that the enemy would try to steal you, kill you and destroy you every single day, especially as you try to tread the sacred ground of motherhood.

But, God promised that:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd:

He gathers the lambs in his arms

and carries them close to his heart;

he gently leads those that have young.” (Is. 40:11)

He is not holding your sin or your failures against you.  Nothing you do is too scary for Him, too disappointing, or too bad for Him.

When He sees you all He sees is love.

So, today, know that in the middle of your relationship struggles, your bombed-out house, your crying kids, and the private burdens carried deep inside your own heart: you are safe, you are not alone, you are loved.