Friday, April 16, 2021

How Are We Not Those People?

 I was walking by our Alexa tonight and saw a picture of my husband holding up one of our babies, fresh from a bath, grins all around. 

And I stopped and touched the screen and said, "How are we not those people anymore?"

How are we not the people who have sweet smelling, towel-wrapped babies?

Who have late night feedings and baby snuggles?

Who have first steps, first words and first days of school?

Who have tiny socks and onesies in the dyer?

How are we not the people who struggle through church, grasping at any snippet of worship we can hear?

Who have playdates and playground afternoons and first sleepovers?

Who have ultrasounds and maternity clothes and pregnancy tests (so. many. tests!)

Who have babysitters and diapers and baby food?

How are we not the people who have long, long, long days?


Instead, we seem to be the people who have tweens, teenagers and young adults.

We are the people who are challenged mentally and spiritually by our children.

Who have drivers and college students and kids who are employed.

Who decide on a whim to go out to dinner just the two of us, and go.  Without advance planning.

We are the people who listen to tales of heartbreak, joyful news and everything in between.

Who laugh and laugh and laugh when we're all together.

Who answer to bruh.

Who now have to use google to help with homework.

Who lose sleep waiting for teenagers to arrive home by curfew.

We are the people whose days were so long, but are being shown that the years are so short.


And you know what?  While it's hard to believe we're no longer those people, the people we are now have a pretty great life too.



Saturday, March 20, 2021

If These Walls Could Speak

I've been pondering home a lot lately.  How people live -- how they spend their time when in their most comfortable spaces.  As I drove by houses, I often wonder about the families inside, just going about the day to day, from mundane to thrilling, sorrowful to joyful.  So much of our lives are spent in our homes - hopefully our houses cradle us -- they give us refuge from the world, become our safe space to land.

A couple of years ago, I blogged about our dining room (you can read that here) and all the memories ensconced inside that one little room.  I also blogged about our recliner and all the memories I have in that very chair.  Since I am prone to nostalgia (surprise, surprise!), it made me think about all the memories our whole house holds - some I remember, many I don't (sniff, sniff), PLUS all the events that took place in our house before we moved in!  If these walls could speak, indeed!

So as I'm beginning to embark on exploring the stories our house holds, a few come to mind immediately:

  • the early morning sound of padded feet, tucked into footie jammies, looking for mommy
  • a bumped head while playing a crazy game with brothers
  • cries of elation over good news - a desired part in a play, a good report card, college acceptances, news of vacation plans
  • cries of sadness - mourning our miscarriages, the passing of loved ones, broken hearts, disappointments
  • newborn baby cries - five times as each of our little ones were welcomed home into this house
  • mamma tears as the children begin to fly from the nest
  • a casual "I love you mommy" or "you're the best daddy ever!" from a tiny, precious voice
  • hugs, kisses, cuddles, wrestling matches, tickle attacks
  • toddler baths, full of splashes and shrieks of joy
  • teenager feet pounding up and down the stairs
  • love -- lots and lots of love
If these walls could speak, oh how I would listen.  I would soak it all up - the good and bad.  These walls have been our safe place; our sacred space for 23 years.  So much of our history I have forgotten, no matter how idealistic I was - "I'll never forget this!" and how carelessly I took for granted what I would now see as precious.  

Maybe they can speak, a little bit anyway.  They speak through our family photos, our journals, our shared remembrances.  It's not everything, but it's a lot.  And I'm awfully grateful for these walls.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Cheers to 21 Years!

21 years ago tonight, I was holding my newborn, our sweet firstborn daughter.  I was smitten with her and couldn't believe God had entrusted her to us.  She was precious and adorable and tiny and perfect.

And I didn't know what in the heck I was doing.

I remember thinking - they're going to let us take her home?  Do they realize we are not qualified in any way to care for her? 

But we somehow learned what we could and winged the rest, and today she's 21.  And by the grace of God, even amidst our inadequacies,  she has turned into a beautiful, strong and capable young woman.

Here are the top 21 reasons I love this girl in no particular order:

  • her peace-loving heart
  • laughing and laughing and laughing with her
  • her intelligence - she never ceases to amaze me!
  • we can share shoes and clothes (though she is prone to "borrowing". . .forever!)
  • she loves Chick Fil A and asks for it whenever possible
  • her strong faith, which shapes everything she does
  • her flexibility and ability to go with the flow
  • she's a great sibling to her brothers and sister - to hear her tell it, she raised them herself!
  • she is often told she is my twin and she doesn't seem to mind!
  • she loves kids and will be an amazing teacher
  • she tolerates me and humors me when I talk about things she has no interest in (unlike her bros)
  • she's dramatic!
  • her confidence - I am always impressed with what she's capable of doing
  • she watches all my old favorite movies with me
  • we take lots of walks and talk together
  • she's selfless
  • she's very tolerant of all the crazy in our house
  • she's responsible and trustworthy and has been since she was little
  • her ability to navigate difficult situations with poise
  • her love of Shadow puppy
  • she never fails to wow me in everything she does
I'm so thankful God gifted us with this amazing girl!  I can't wait to see what God has in store for her future!


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Here Am I

I recently had the privilege of speaking with several young women who were on the cusp of their husbands' ordinations into the pastoral ministry.  These women were on the cusp of a new endeavor too -- that of being a pastor's wife.  More than one of the gals asked me what it's like to be a pastor's wife, and if I had an advice to share with them.  Though I have been a PW (as we have been dubbed) for 22 plus years, I didn't really feel like I had much wisdom to impart.  But after I thought about it for a bit, the following hymn came to mind:

Hark the voice of Jesus calling, "Who will go and work today?
Fields are white and harvest waiting -- who will bear the sheaves away?"
Loud and long the Master calls you, rich reward He offers free.
Who will answer, gladly saying, "Here am I, send me, send me"?

If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus, you can say he died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked, with the judgment's dread alarms,
You can lead the little children to the Savior's waiting arms.

If you cannot be a watchman, standing high on Zion's wall,
Pointing out the path to heaven, offering life and peace to all,
With your prayers and with your bounties you can do what God commands;
You can be like faithful Aaron, holding up the prophet's hands.

Let none hear you idly saying, "There is nothing I can do,"
While the multitudes are dying and the Master calls for you.
Take the task He gives you gladly, let His work your pleasure be;
Answer quickly when He calls you, Here am I, send me, send me!"

I've always loved this hymn and found it so comforting.  I will never speak like an angel or preach like Paul.  I will never be a watchman and point out the path to heaven, nor will I ever rouse the wicked.  The list often seems long of what I cannot do/be/embody.  I often lament that I am not ________ or _______ and that if only I were better at such and such, what a better witness I could be to others.  

But this hymn.  This hymn (and other songs and passages like it) remind me that I am not called to all those things I sometimes wish for.  No -- I am called to this life, this vocation, this place, and God has given me exactly what I need to serve Him here.

So no -- I cannot preach like Paul or speak like angels, but I can lead the little children (my own and my students) to the Savior's waiting arms.  I can tell the love of Jesus to those I encounter each day.  And I can live a life a prayer.

So coming back to where I started -- being a pastor's wife.  Some places might expect the pastor's wife to be an extension of her husband -- great at public speaking, able to run all the church programming, have an amazing ability to recall faces and details, be an organist/pianist/singer, and be gifted in leading Bible studies.  

All these things expected in addition to knowing that a pastor's wife will be called upon to find that balance between home and church life, juggling lots of moving pieces while her husband works often long, and always strange hours?  No wonder the idea of being a pastor's wife can seem daunting!

But this hymn again.  This hymn calls not just the pastor's wife, but all of us, back to who Jesus has called us to be.  "Take the task He gives you gladly, let His work your pleasure be" -- So the question is: what is the task He is giving me?  What is the task He is giving you?

For me, as a pastor's wife, the line "You can be like faithful Aaron, holding up the prophet's hands" has always struck me.  (To be sure, even though I think my husband is pretty amazing, I'm not comparing him to Moses here. :)  But this is where I have settled in in my role as a PW -- holding up my husband's hands, like Aaron did when Moses' arms grew tired of holding up the staff as God had instructed him do. Though I fail often (sometimes fantastically!), this is where I strive to be:  in a role of support to my husband.  To make our home a soft place for him to land.  To listen when he is able to talk.  To give him space and simply be with him when he cannot talk.  To give him grace when he needs it. To not make constant demands on his time and his heart.  To hold up his hands when he is tired.

And as I said, I fail all the livelong day.  But I come back each time, praying to serve where God has placed me.  As a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a mother and a wife.  

No, I cannot do anything that seems very spectacular, and maybe you feel that you can't either.  But you can answer when He calls you, "Here am I, send me, send me."


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Love Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry



Such is the quote from the 1970s movie Love Story.  I vividly remember my mom mentioning it at some point in my childhood and calling it ridiculous.  As a child I didn't really understand what it meant, but the exchange with my mom stuck and every time I hear the phrase now I remember discussing it with her.  

And now here I am, considerably older than she was when she scoffed at the phrase.  And, as you probably also know from your experience, my mom was right.  

I live in a house with seven people, one dog and one hedgehog.  And I love all those people fiercely (I also love the dog, and I am fond of the hedgehog), and I can firmly attest to this:  just because I love them doesn't mean I should never apologize.  In fact, because I love them, they deserve my heartfelt apologies when my actions warrant it. 

I'll be the first to admit that saying "I'm sorry", especially to the ones I love isn't always the easiest.  Admitting I'm wrong - who wants to do that??   In fact, my husband is far better than I am at apologizing when he makes mistakes, which is a gift to me and our children.  But apologizing to others stirs up a vulnerability that opens doors and strengthens relationships.  I admit I'm wrong, and I love you and trust you enough to forgive me my offense.  And in so doing, the offended party is given a beautiful opportunity to forgive, just as Jesus does for us and calls us to do for one another. 

I've watched it happen in my relationships with my family and friends, and I've watched it happen between my children.  When we say we're sorry, love is actually deepened and strengthened!  Hearts are opened and forgiveness is entrusted to the other person.  

No, love doesn't mean never having to say you're sorry.  Love means trusting another person so much that you simply must ask their forgiveness.  True love means saying you're sorry.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Fiat

Maybe you've heard of the trend of choosing a word at the beginning of each new year.  The word is to be one's focus for the year; a way to home in on one specific attribute and have it be a constant reminder of where you want to grow.  

I am in a Facebook group of moms and the question was raised:  "What is your word for 2021?".  While I've flirted with the idea of choosing a word for the year, I've never really done it.  But after the question was posed, I spent some time pondering what I might like to choose for this year, and I've decided to try to fully embrace a word this year.  

After only a few moments of thinking about it, the word came to me: Fiat.  While I've understood the meaning of the word fiat for many years, the actual word fiat is relatively new to me.  When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and announced to her that she had found favor with God and she would conceive and bear God's son, Jesus, Mary was confused.  But after a brief exchange with the the angel, Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be unto me according to your word." (Luke 1:38).  

And in those short moments, Mary's entire plan for her life shifted.  Whatever plans she might have had for her life were no longer a reality.  This is Mary's fiat.  Fiat is taken from the Latin, meaning "let it be done".  Without long deliberation or any apparent fear or trepidation, Mary surrenders her will and ideas for her future and boldly steps into a great unknown, but she steps with quiet confidence that the future is not unknown to God.

What a beautiful example and inspiration to us!  How often I cling to my idea for my future, the future of my children, my husband, our family. . .the list goes on and on!  My heart tightly grasps my will and I am often hard pressed to let God show me HIS will - His good and gracious will.  In my broken humanity, I am barely able to see what is just around me -- and I can't imagine anything else than my short-sighted dreams and hopes for my future, especially if it is scary, sad or challenging.  But God's will is always perfect, and is always much better than whatever my feeble mind could ever imagine.  

Several months ago, I said goodbye to a dear friend who was moving several hours away.  I thought long and hard about a gift to give her, to let her know how much she meant to me. I found a necklace for her that I felt summed up how she looked at life: it is a tiny circle with one word imprinted on it:  fiat.  My friend's future was taking a shift and not going in the direction she had thought it would, but she said to God, "Let it be unto me, according to your word".  I loved the necklace so much I bought one for myself as well, and I often hold the tiny disc and pray the words to myself as a reminder.  Let it be unto me, Lord.  Your will for my life is perfect and beautiful.

Fiat. 


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Best 20 of 2020

 2020 has been quite a year, no need to point that out to anyone.  It has been full of loss, sadness, heartache, and disappointment.  We've had to lean on God's promises -- that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that He is always ahead of us, lighting our way.  

So as this year closes out and we embark on 2021, I want to focus on the positives that came out of this year.  In no particular order, our Best 20 from 2020.


20.  Walks.  And walks and walks and walks.  Daily walks together -- bundled up at first, then late evening summer strolls and then bundled up again.  So many strolls and power walks with my family = lots of time to talk and laugh.

19. Puzzles and games! We pulled out so many of both and enjoyed the slower pace last spring and in the summer.

18.  Online shopping!  I already did a fair amount before 2020, but I gotta say, I really upped my game when I could no longer shop in person.

17.  A glass of wine while making dinner during the height of the quarantine months.

16. Seven plates for dinner.  For weeks and weeks and weeks.  We had more meals together as a family, day in and day out, than ever in the history of our marriage.

15. Doing dishes together for over two months while we had no dishwasher. The kids may not agree this falls in the "best" category, but I loved the opportunities it created.

14. Doing laundry only two days a week as in days of yore when I stayed home full time.

13. Unforeseen wisdom in an accidental toilet paper stock up in late February.  While everyone else was panicking, we were flush with TP.

12. Leggings and T shirts for months on end.

11. Our preferred method of vacationing (camping!) turned out to be the best way to vacation in 2020, especially in the UP of Michigan!  They were socially distancing before it was cool!

10. Worshiping at home.  While it isn't the preferred method at all, there were many moments of joy and beauty as the kids and I sat in our "regular" seats in the family room and faced our home altar beneath the TV.  Singing together (so loudly we couldn't hear the singers on the screen), kneeling and praying together. . .worshiping at home had its own kind of beauty for a time.

9. Videos and zooms with my students.  It was so great to see their little faces on my screen, and also to chat with their families.  I got over my angst at seeing and hearing myself on countless videos and was able to be in the moment with my little ones.

8. Listening to my boys and husband play game after game of basketball on the driveway.

7. Shadow basked in the joy of having everyone home day after day.  Or maybe he hated it and wished he could just be left alone and sleep on my bed already.

6. Hearing my children's teachers and classmates on zoom and google meet. Getting a glimpse of their classroom environments was fun.

5. Good health.  We are so grateful to have all remained healthy this year.

4. My freshman son was able to attend his first semester of college in person.

3. Saved a lot of money on gas.  Spent a lot more on groceries.  Saved a lot by not eating out.

2. Participated in numerous drive by parades and birthday parties.  Also enjoyed socially distanced extended family time outside. 

1.  Family time, family time, family time.  This is the best aspect of 2020 for me.  Like we never have before and like we never will again, our seven people were together.  And it was an unbelievable gift.