Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Breathing the breath

At our contemporary worship on Sunday morning, I was caught off guard by a song during the offertory.  It is a beloved one in our house, by Matt Redman.  If you've never heard it, I encourage you to look it up on youtube and listen.  Matt Redman is one of our favorite Christian artists, and if you don't know of him already, get thee to itunes and check him out.  You can thank me later.  Here are the lyrics:

We have nothing to give
That didn't first come from Your hands
We have nothing to offer You
Which You did not provide
Every good, perfect gift comes from
Your kind and gracious heart
And all we do is give back to You
What always has been Yours
Lord, we're breathing the breath
That You gave us to breathe
To worship You, to worship You
And we're singing these songs
With the very same breath
To worship You, to worship You
Who has given to You
That it should be paid back to him?
Who has given to You
As if You needed anything?
From You, and to You, and through You
Come all things, O Lord
And all we do is give back to You
What always has been Yours
We are breathing the breath
That You gave us to breathe

This song was our breath 9 years ago.  When our third son was born, not breathing and later rushed to the children's hospital three hours away, breath and the gift of it had never been more  significant to us.  As we watched his little chest respond to the machine breathing for him, we prayed this song.  In the car on the way to the hospital, we played it.  God, thank you - for this child and for everything we have and are - all are simply gifts from you.  We have nothing that didn't first come from you!

And oh how it comforted!  This precious baby was a gift from God; ours for awhile, His for eternity.  Every breath we take is a gift from Him.

So back to the present . . . we haven't sung this song in worship in many years and I was somewhat surprised by my reaction to it.  I had my arm around my boy (who loves to hug and lean in during worship anyway), my eyes closed, and my heart and voice praying these words.  Tears were on my cheeks as I recalled those days, and another day a few months later.  We reaffirmed our little baby's baptism (my husband had already baptized him the day he was born) in that very place and we had sung this very song.  I recall so vividly exactly where we sat for that service, and I also remember clearly holding my little baby, hooked up still to tubes and monitors tucked into the stroller.  I swayed him, as I always do with my babies, as I sang this same song, thanking God for the breath and life He had given this child in my arms.  Just as I did this past Sunday - held my arm around this boy who is almost as tall as I am, leaning in and loving me.  All those breaths we have taken since he was born. . .each a beautiful gift from our Maker.

Every good, perfect gift comes from Your kind and gracious heart, and all we do is give back to you what always has been Yours. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy birthday, son!

12 years ago today, at 11:23 a.m., our second child was born.  Just 18 months after our first, his arrival made our lives busier, without a doubt, but so joyful at the same time.  He was such a good baby, happy most of the time, and learned the go-with-the-flow lifestyle that was helpful at the time and indispensable in our house now.  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming and we are so enjoying watching his personality mature and deepen as he gets older.

12 years ago yesterday I was admitted into the hospital to be induced.  It was a tiring business, his delivery.  I celebrated yesterday by doing some tiring activities in commemoration:

I subbed in 4th grade at our Lutheran grade school.  I have never subbed, and haven't taught in 15 years.  But the kids were great and I enjoyed it a lot!  So many memories of my own teaching days came back to me, though things have changed quite a bit!  The poor children had to do things the "old-fashioned" way, because I couldn't run the smart board that they are accustomed to.  And by old-fashioned, I mean the white board (which in fact, I never had when I taught - we only had chalkboards!).

The fact that it went well, however, does not erase that fact that it was exhausting.  Afterward, I felt like I did my first day of teaching, way back in 1995 - tired.  Except in 1995 I had no children or husband and was able to go back to my little apartment in St Louis and crash on my hand-me-down couch.  This time, I had a meeting after school with one of my children's teachers, then headed to a cross country meet to watch my almost-twelve year old run a 2K.

After the meet, we headed home, regrouped for a few minutes, then welcomed 7 sixth grade boys into our home.  To spend the night (I know, I know!).  We had pizza and a light saber cake, with a side helping of serious volume.    These boys are CRAZY loud, and I'm no newbie to loud!  They played Beyblades and Pokemon and Capture the Flag (sorry, neighbors!) and Rock Band and Wii.  But really, I can't complain - they all had good manners and played well together.  What did we expect with eight 12 year olds in our (mostly hardwood-floor) house?  Peace and quiet while they played Checkers and discussed their favorite classic novel while listening to Mozart?  Not gonna happen.

So today I am washing bed linens and picking up random electronic chargers and Beyblades and listening to happy boys sing and play "Final Countdown".  It's not quiet, but it's good.  And a certain resident 12 year old boy is having a very happy birthday.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I was washing the dishes last night from dinner (you know, the many that don't fit in the dishwasher each day - sometimes I wish we had an industrial-sized monster from a school cafeteria kitchen) and got to my stainless steel pan.

Let me take a moment to digress about stainless steel cookware.  I know they are best and won't leech harmful chemicals into our food like that naughty Teflon is reported to do (I admit I have never really researched this matter), but by golly, Teflon washes like a dream, and stainless steel like a certified nightmare.  And the worst offender to clean off is eggs.  Which is what I was cleaning off last night.  With as much elbow grease as my puny little arms could provide.

So - back to the point of this post, if you can call it that.  I was scrubbing my little heart out when I looked into the hollow handle of the pan.  And I saw something inside.  Upon further inspection, and verification from nearby family members, I determined it was a rock.  Inside the handle of my skillet.  After some poking and pushing, my husband managed to dislodge it into the soapy water.

How, I ask you, did a rock get into my skillet handle?  The answer is that I have no idea, although I have a few good guesses as to who might have been involved.  But seriously!  A rock in the handle of a pan?  When was there opportunity?  What was the motivation?  How long has it been in there?

Many questions.  Few answers.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Precious Moments

Feel drawn to savor moments today:

An unexpected quiet conversation with my husband this afternoon in the school parking lot.  Nothing earth shattering discussed, but was not expecting to see him and was pleasantly surprised to catch a moment to ourselves to talk about our day together.

Playing with my youngest daughter this morning.  Tossing her around on the bed, tickling her tummy and giving her kisses.  Saying more than once today, "I love you, sweet girl!"

Having a rare moment of quiet and introspection with my eldest son on the way home from his soccer game (at which he scored the only goal!).  Hearing his take on "war games" and bad language - love his black and white approach to what is right and pure.  Praying it stays with him as the years make it more challenging.

Laughing hysterically with my eldest daughter as she procrastinated bedtime for the 603rd night in a row.  Loving our relationship as she ages and it deepens.

Being hugged by my 9 year old son just before bedtime and hearing him tell me how much me loves me, and I him.

And coming to the soccer game late and scanning the playground for my youngest son.  He saw me and came flying over, a white-haired, gap-toothed dynamo, arms wild, and crashed into my belly in a huge hug.  

Precious moments, indeed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Things a five year old would say (seven year old version)

About a year ago,  I blogged about one of my favorite childhood game shows (and there were many!), $25,000 Pyramid!  Do you remember it?  It was fab - Dick Clark led celebrities paired up with "normal" people to the winner's circle, where they could go for the Big Money.  It was game show heaven to a certain redheaded 11 year old.  As I blogged last time, there was a category called "Things a __________ Would Say".  Below, my take on the category, with many thanks to my seven year old for his creativity.

"This might come out of my butt you know!  Eventually it will." (said with a shrug)

"It's spicy. . . (mouth full). . .and delicious!"

Waitress:  "You have some blond hair!"  Seven year old: "It's like the whitest in the world I think!"

"If poop never comes out, will you die?"

"Sugar Rush is offensive to Jesus!"  Why?  "Because there was no candy in Jesus' time!"

Don't change that channel!  Give him another year and I bet we'll be back in the winner's circle!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Family Devotions.  Each night after dinner.  All seven of us.  The Bible, the piano, a hymn and two readings.  Prayers together.

Sounds peaceful and pious and devout, yes?

Well. . .not exactly, and not all the time.  Wonderful?  Yes.  Important?  Yes.  Blessed?  Yes.

But peaceful?  Not so much.

One night recently, we settled into the living room to have our devotions as a family, and the kids missed the "settle in" part.  People were having trouble winding down, we had a child with balloons in hand, kids wiggling in laps of others, a child with a pen being used as a weapon, giggling fits from others...you get the idea.  General chaos with little attention to worship.  We redirected, disciplined, encouraged, and persevered.

And then we all stood and headed around the piano.  And this, dear reader, is where family devotions get me every time.  Because no matter how bumpy or beautiful the prior ten minutes were, something happens around that piano each night that makes my heart sing along with my voice.  I sit and play, with my husband and children surrounding me.  I hear my husband's booming voice in my ear, and my older three children's voices sweetly singing with all they have in stereo around me.  And my younger two, bouncing a bit around the group, singing the parts they have learned.  My older daughter often patiently shows my seven-year-old early reader how to follow along, and all these parts add up to beautiful.  I imagine heaven - full of singing and praise and worship and parts coming together, exalting our God.

Our devotions aren't perfect.  Far, far from it.  They're full of crazy and naughty and wiggles.  But they're also full of praise and grace and most of all, Christ.