Wednesday, March 04, 2015

He's Waiting

I remember shortly after I had Eli, I had put him in the swing for a nap and ran to take a quick shower.  I got out to find the front door wide open.  My heart sank.  There was Eli asleep in the swing but Anna was gone.  At that point I didn't know if she had gone out on her own or if someone had taken her.  I was desperate.  I ran into my bedroom, threw on some clothes (completely skipping putting on undergarments) and yelled to Mark who was asleep from working night shift "Anna's missing!!!".  He bolted out of bed, threw pants on and we ran outside searching for her.  We were desperate. I didn't care that my hair was wet, that I didn't have a bra on, that I was in pajamas, no makeup, yelling "Anna!  Anna!  ANNA!"  I did not care one bit.

I just wanted my daughter back.

Every worst case scenario ran through my mind and just as we were getting to the point of knocking on doors and calling the police, I saw her little head bobbing inside the van.  She had let herself out, gotten in the van, shut the door, and was sitting there putting on my lip gloss.  She was so proud of herself.

I cried.

I hugged her.  I held on to her.

Relief flooded me as I finally had her back in my arms.

And then we bought a chain for the door.

That last little line is funny.  The rest.... well, it still makes my heart sink remembering that day.

I don't know why this came to mind a few days ago, but it did.  And as I sat there thinking about all those emotions we felt, the Holy Spirit whispered "That's how He feels about you."

I wonder if from the moment He weaves us together in our mother's womb (Ps. 139:13), if He begins longing for our return.  If He feels that deep ache of being separated from His children.

I imagine that my love for my children pales in comparison to His love for us.  And that's hard for me, because I love my children more than life itself.

Yet He whispers "So do I.  I have the scars to prove it."

I wonder if He aches, wanting us back in His arms.  If that's why He says it's a precious thing when one of His saints is called home (Ps. 116:15).

We're left with the loss and heartache when we lose someone, yet I imagine Him waiting, longing for our return.  For the day those who've trusted in Him will be reunited.  When we'll fall face down in adoration and worship, and when He'll embrace us, take us in His arms, and say "Well done".

What an incredible thought this has been for me.

I don't know where you are right now.  If you're missing a loved one who has already gone on to glory.  If you're in agony, awaiting someone you love to make that journey home.  Or if you just need to hear this simple message:

He's waiting.

Arms open wide.  Waiting for your return.  Like we long for our children, He longs for us.

And that my friends, is a message that never gets old.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Valentine's Letter

To Mark - my one and only,

There's a lot of talk about this 50 Shades of Gray stuff.  I want you to know that I have no interest in reading it, much less seeing it.  I want you to know that you were enough 14 years ago on our wedding night and you're still enough today, five kids and a lot of years later.

You're enough because you're all I've ever known and all I ever want to know.

Enough because you see me - the me behind the extra weight, fluctuating weight, losing weight, gaining weight, blue eyes, pregnant, not pregnant, insecure, temperamental me.  You see past those things into who I am and who I want to be.

Enough because we've fought the long and hard battles and came out on the other side stronger.

Enough because you remember the babies we lost.  Enough because even though I didn't acknowledge it, I heard you say the other night that when Anna asked you why you love me one of your answers was "Because she gave me my 5 kids."  You remember them and although my voice always fails me, I notice and I love you just a little more.

Enough because I see you tickling Emi and chasing her through the house.

Enough because I notice that the load of clothes in the washer isn't the load I had put in and that you've been helping me stay caught up.

Enough because you send Anna back in after the camera so you can document Daddy-daughter date night.

Enough because when I roll over early in the morning, your side of the bed is cold because you faithfully get up to provide for our family.

Enough because I believe it when the Bible says to look on another man lustfully would be adultery.

Enough because whenever we're watching a movie that has a questionable scene, you fast-forward through it, protecting both of our eyes.

Enough because it's your dedication.  It's your commitment.  It's your smile.  It's the way you grab me and turn me around in the kitchen to steal a kiss.  It's your commitment to Christ and honoring Him in our marriage.

Enough because it's ME you want - and not someone else.

Enough because I'M enough for you.

Enough because you don't need to watch these types of things for their to be intimacy between us and I so very much love you for walking with integrity.

You always have been and always will be enough.

Thank you for the way you love me.  Thank you that you take our vows seriously.  Thank you for your protection.  Thank you that your eyes don't wander.

You are enough - and no 50 Shades of Anything can ever compare to the real deal.


Yours and only yours,
~Phoebe

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

There Once Was A Day

There once was a day I attempted to implement change.  It did not go so well.

Long Story Short and my Bible in hand, I gathered everyone in the living room.  We were going to meet each night and do a devotional together.

Eyes were rolled.  Voices raised.  Emi flailed about like a limp noodle, screaming and wiggling to get down, only to cry to get back up.  Eli left the room to go play then complained when asked to return.

It seemed pointless.

I trudged through.

It said to ask them "Who taught you to disobey?".

Simple enough question I thought.

But then something shocked me.  They both pointed at me.

I was confused but their follow up remarks were not.

"You get mad and raise your voice, so then I do it."

"You say bad words so then I want to."

You know, bad words like "Well poo" and "Crap" and "Stupid".

But alas, apparently they feel I am to blame for their sin nature.

I redirected them by asking them to name some ways they sin.

"By lying."

"Did I teach you to do that?"

"Umm, well no."

What are some other ways you sin?

"By being mean to my sister."

"Did I teach you to do that?"

"No."

Hmm, okay.  Anything else?

"When I have a bad attitude because I don't want to do what you asked me to do."

"Did I teach you that?"

"No."

Then who taught you how to sin?

"No one."

It's always easier to blame someone else, isn't it?  Isn't that exactly what Adam and Eve did after the first sin?  "Well, Eve made me do it."  "Well, the snake tricked me."

It'd be easy for me to blame someone for them following in my steps - but the reality is that that little nugget falls right in my lap.  It appeared that nightly devotions wasn't the only change needing to be implemented...

Following this, I attempted to start part 2 of the change - reading each night together as a family.  I had a Magic Tree House book in hand, ready to lead us on an adventure.

Complaining ensued.  "I hate Magic Tree House books."  "Why do we have to read?"  Can't I just have some me time?"  "This is so dumb."

I wish I could say I was still optimistic.  I wasn't.

We were 2 pages in and I gave up.

There once was a day I tried to implement change.

It did not go so well.

Feeling defeated, I began to see this for what it really was.

Granted - It seemed like another thing I had failed at as a parent.  It seemed like it was pointless to even try.

But then, I heard it.  It was loud and clear.

Keep Trying.  Nothing good comes without opposition.

Opposition.  Yes.  That's exactly what that was.  Why would Satan want us to do nightly devotions as a family?  Or spend time together, gathered around, listening and going on adventures together?  He wouldn't.  And so I would have to fight harder.

Later that evening, we gathered back in the living room, Anna crawled up in my lap, Eli snuggled up on the loveseat and we began reading.  They were quiet.  And as I closed the book they said "Read another one."

There once was a day I tried to implement change.

It did not go so well, but we tried anyway and it was great.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pictures from Heaven

I remember it well although it's been over a year ago.  Eli had recently been diagnosed with Asperger's, ADHD, and a Sensory Processing Disorder.  The medication he's on requires blood work to keep check on his liver.  His initial test came back elevated.  And so, we were on our way to LeBonheur's in Memphis for further tests.

We were driving.  I was in my own world, as it was our sweet #4's due date.  Eli kept going on and on about this and that, of which I truthfully (and regretfully) didn't care one iota.  Ever just want to sit and ride in peace?  I was there that day.


My husband nudged me and told me to look back at Eli.  He was randomly blinking extremely hard, squinting those beautiful hazel eyes of his. We continued watching.  He continued blinking.


I guess the confused looks on our faces prompted him to explain himself. "I'm taking pictures with my brain and sending them to Heaven."


Oh.


Now he had me intrigued.


He continued doing this for several more minutes which led me to converse with him about Jesus getting his 'pictures' and how cool it might be if once we get in Heaven, if Jesus might have them and say "Remember when you were 6 and on your way to Memphis and you sent all these to Me?"


Anna decided to join in.  They continued doing this for a good portion of the trip, even taking "video" to send to Him. Eli thought it might be great if Jesus showed his pictures to #3 and #4.


And there I was.  Convicted.


Convicted that he sees picture worthy things all around him and I sat in my seat, being a grump, sullen from what never was while he's taking pictures with his brain for his sweet brothers/sisters to see in Heaven.


They got to see pictures of an army truck.  A tractor.  A semi truck.  Road signs.  Part of an airplane as it flew past.  A video of fields of crops and scenery.


Now, do I know if Jesus "received" his pictures and showed them to our babies?  No.  But with every fiber of my being, I believe He did.  The God of the universe Who holds our every tear was watching that day and I can't help but believe that He scooped up our babies, held them in His lap, and said, "Hey, take a look at these pictures from your brother."


What I do know is that I was changed that day.  I'm reminded this November amidst the air of Thanksgiving around us, that we have so much for which to be thankful.  I think we forget because we're so busy looking for the big and grand that we miss the obvious.  We miss that Army trucks and tractors are cool.  We miss that those in the military are heroes and revered by our children.  We forget that the fields and fields of crops are what feed and cloth us.  We forget how fun it was to watch crop dusters fly all around when we were kids.  We forget the magic of going to new places and funny shaped trees and being knocked down and kissed by a slobbery dog.


We forget.


And in our forgetfulness, we oftentimes lose the wonder of it all.


I'm finding more and more that joy is a thousand small things, not a few big ones.  We've taken our kids to Disney World, to San Diego, to Dallas, to Branson, to St. Louis... to a bunch of different places.  They mention those places occasionally.  But do you know one of the most consistent things Anna says to me is?  "Hey mom, remember when you used to play tickle monster with us outside in the fort?"


Tickle monster.


It's truly that simple, friends.


We consume ourselves with our losses.  We bury ourselves in grief and oftentimes, self pity.  I know that's often been the case for me.  We have misguided ambitions and goals, striving for more money and bigger houses and designer clothing when all that really matters is what's right in front of us.


Being a tickle monster.


I hope when I get to Heaven that God has a picture of one of those moments in my room waiting for me.  Because, the reality is that He gives us "pictures" each and every day.


Whether it's getting a giggle out of Emi's crazy bed head hair, or cheering on Anna in volleyball, a magnificent sunset, or a nail-biter soccer game with Eli as goalie, or sweet conversations over dinner.  Be it sitting hand in hand, watching a movie together or standing side by side cooking.  They're everywhere.


Because they're all just really pictures from Heaven, splashed out before us to see and recognize as gifts from Him.

The Father has bestowed gift upon gift to us, while we oftentimes miss or ignore them.


May we stop missing pictures from Heaven.


May we see the glory in the ordinary and obvious.


And maybe, just maybe, one day when we get to Heaven, He'll have pictures waiting for us.


I'm desperately hoping to see our sweet #3 and #4, walk into their Heavenly rooms, and see all the pictures from their brother.


Until then, I'm choosing to see the pictures all around me.


May you see them too.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Anchor Holds

I sat in class, listening.  A question was posed.

"What characteristics suggest God is "with" someone?"

Answers were given.  People being blessed financially.  A constant peace through circumstances that should dictate otherwise.  A time of respite from the trials of life.

Someone pondered "Why does it seem like some people never have any problems while others are overwhelmed with life?".

There are those blessed with resources, those barely managing to make it week to week, yet God's hand can be seen in all circumstances.  Those who are facing difficulties and those who are enjoying a good season, yet His hand is still upon both.

I know this to be true.  I remember sitting in my best friend's living room talking about how great life was and how so many people were facing trials yet I wasn't.  It was shortly after that that we lost #3.  It tore me apart in ways I can't even fully describe.  There's something unexplainable about knowing something is wrong yet waiting and waiting for it to be confirmed, all the while praying and petitioning God on behalf of your baby, hoping and asking for a miracle that you know only He can provide.

Yet the Anchor still holds.

I was still in the middle of the storm, but He was still the Anchor holding and securing me, reassuring me that His "no" didn't mean He loved me any less.

The Anchor held.

A year later, I stood holding a pregnancy test, excited that we had another chance.  And a few days later we starred at a blank ultrasound screen.  My heart sank.  I couldn't even look at Mark because I knew I would lose it.  And all I could see was a tiny little dot in my right tube.  Our baby.  My baby.  We waited for more tests, another ultrasound, more calls.  Our baby was already gone.  And what I said I couldn't endure again... well, now I was enduring again.

But the Anchor still held.

I may have rocked and tossed about in the storm, but the Anchor held firm.  He never sways, dear friends.  Never.  Not even a little bit.

During that time, I lost my grandpa.  Mark's grandma fell and broke her hip.  Mark had surgery on his hand.  My appendix ruptured and I had emergency surgery.  And #3's due date was upon me.

But the Anchor held.

We've since had our sweet Emilee.  That pregnancy was such a struggle for me, desperately trying to do everything right for fear of losing her too.  And just 2 weeks after having her, Mark had an emergency appendectomy too.

The Anchor held.  He was never, not for a moment, caught off guard.

Now here we are waiting for a call to hear they have a son for us.  We wait expectantly, with great hope.  And for me, at times, with great fear.

But He knows.  The Anchor knows I'm scared and He loves me all the same.  He reassures me that what He has called me to do, He will equip me to carry out.  And so, with great anticipation, I wait for the call each and every day.

He has and does and will hold steady.

When your family is in turmoil... the Anchor holds.

When lies abound and hurt equally matched... the Anchor holds.

When anxiety threatens to consume you.... the Anchor holds.

When there's plenty... the Anchor holds.

When there's not enough .... the Anchor holds.

When there are arguments and division ... the Anchor holds.

When there's death and caskets and funerals .... the Anchor holds.

When there are tests and surgeries and procedures .... the Anchor holds.

Because the Anchor never moves.  It's planted.  It remains.  It steadies.  It holds in place.  It secures and protects.

Because the Anchor anchors.  He is incapable of doing anything else.

I don't know what you may be facing tonight, friends.  But know this, whatever it is, the Anchor holds.

When all you have is God, He is more than enough.

Hold firmly to that, because the Anchor is firmly holding on to you.

Rest well, dear friends.