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Category Archives: Life in Limits

Deep Breaths

No offense to whoever came up with the term “Home Manager,” but I’ve never really cared for it. Maybe it’s because I never wanted to go into management as a nurse? Maybe it’s because I prefer to be a follower, not a leader (Should I be ashamed to actually admit that? Oh well. It’s true!). But more than that, I think I dislike it because aren’t we *more* than merely managers of our homes? We chauffeur and plan schooling careers and weed through extra-curricular activities, we work, we clean, we cook. But we also care for more than just the outside activities coming *onto* our families. We notice when one of our children is quieter than normal, or their little eyes get that tired-kind-of-glazed look in their eyes. We take note when our husbands need a little encouragement, or maybe his favorite snack waiting for him after a long day at work. Our eyes roam like hawks when our kids are on the playground and we help them navigate the crazy kids and the tall, looming, “oh, it’s FUN!” slide.

 

We are LIFE facilitators.

 

And sometimes, facilitating life means giving yourself grace. If your husband’s working late for two weeks? You are going to need grace, my friend (I’m there!). Give yourself a break. Maybe your kids would like a break from the meat and potato dinners and simply love a little mac n’ cheese. Take the time to soak in the tub and read your favorite book for a few nights. Because YOU, my dear, are going to need extra energy to keep yourself in a good mood. TRUST me. 🙂 Let the laundry get backed up. Go outside and play with the kids. Will the house get on your nerves? You bet it will. But I’ll bet you a million bucks that you’ll stay more sane by getting through the “this-is-a-bit-stressful” times of life by taking some really deep, tangible breaths of refreshment than by running yourself ragged, trying to keep up with your normal appearances.

 

Because you, you wonderful mama friends, YOU are the fragrance of the home. When you gasped for breath and sweat beaded your brow and that little bundle let out its first cry? That was only the beginning. You continue to be the giver of life in your home as your family grows.

 

And aren’t we glad that we have an even Greater Giver of Life? To help. To guide. The Grace-Giver.

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Why I Thought I’d Failed the Counting

If you’re a regular around here, you know that my Multitude Mondays have been a little . . . ummm . . . lacking. I haven’t even been able to put my finger on why, but I just. couldn’t. do. it. I couldn’t formally count. I’ve found little things to be oh, so thankful for over this course of thanking-silence, but I just couldn’t come to this space and actually number them one by one. I thought I had failed the counting.

 

Looking back over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that it wasn’t that I’d failed. But it WAS that I was being ungrateful. While there have been AMAZING blessings in our lives over the last few months (and I’ve been extremely thankful for those), I was silently resentful toward God because of my perception that He’s been holding out on me. You see there’s something I’ve wanted for a long, long time.

 

Our own home. You’ve heard me speak of it before.  This quest to stop renting, to buy our own house, one where we could settle and make our own home . . . life . . . became my greatest want. I lived and breathed it.

 

I could think of hardly anything else. And although, yes, I can’t deny it, I’ve grown weary of our, ahem, vintage bathrooms and linoleum parquet, it hasn’t been so much the house that I’ve been so desperate for. It was the feeling of certainty. The assurance that we were free to plant good, solid, long-reaching family roots. Yes, for me, but even more so for our daughters.

 

And while I knew in my head that a house could never provide true security or certainty, inside my heart was pinned to the floor with the suffocating, relentless, false weight that we had to have this house to make us a truly rooted family.

 

We’ve been working toward it. We’ve looked at enough houses that I feel pretty bad for our realtor. 🙂 I have every zip code in the area memorized. If you showed me a picture of a house anywhere in our hometown (in our price range), I could probably quote you the listing price (Isn’t that pathetic?! I’m thinking maybe I should become a realtor?). But we just weren’t finding the one.

 

Then, Jonathan and I jointly decided to make a large family purchase and much of our savings needed to be put toward it. We decided this together. I watched him write the check.

 

But, I grieved. Because I knew, this was putting our home on hold. Just on hold, mind you. I guess a friend was right in dubbing it the “death of a vision” because for a few days, I was in tears. I had a hard time functioning.

 

But I am so thankful. That God wrestled me to the ground and one by one, released my fingers’ death grip on my self-made idol. He pulled my hip and rescued me from my false footing…. And in pleading with him to “bless me” with what I thought I wanted or needed to provide our security, He blessed me with something else . . .

 

Release from a misplaced passion.

 

A freeing demolition of my self-elevated idol.

 

Because it was an idol. When He didn’t seem to be giving me what I wanted, or thought we needed, I doubted His goodness. Even more than doubting His goodness, I doubted His good work in me. I wondered if I was doing something wrong, or if He wasn’t pleased with me or if I didn’t deserve a home.

 

Writing this even now feels so silly. So American. So often, I’ve reminisced over shacks I’ve touched in Peru. Dirt floors. Children drinking water in which I could see things floating. Women begging on street corners, holding borrowed babies, hoping to make a dollar or two. And here I’ve been in a nice home, in truly the best neighborhood I could ever imagine, and in a beautiful community — all gifts the Lord has freely given me — and I’ve wanted to throw it all away.

 

For something I could call mine.

 

Do I still want that house? You bet. But in the meantime, He’s teaching me to trust Him. To be content, right where He has me. To be used. Right. where. He. has. me. And He gently opens my eyes to the truth that I can’t be truly thankful for the “smaller” gifts He gives . . . the birds chirping in the trees, little pitter-pats down our long hallway, mocha frappuccinnos . . . if I’m also resentful that He hasn’t given me something greater. And neither can I be truly thankful for the greater gifts, if I’m flippant in my gratefulness for the smaller. He says to give thanks in everything. Yes, and now I know why. Because there is no distinction in what He’s given or what He’s not given. He gives good gifts. And what He withholds is also His goodness.

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8

I have tasted Him. In this refuge.

 

Again . . . taking up the count . . .

#614 His withholdings.

#615 Because He is a good Father and knows how to give good gifts to His children.

#616 What He gives is good.

#617 What He doesn’t give is good.

#618 That He rescues me from myself.

#619 That He loves, even me.

 

Giving thanks in all

Never Extinguished

Has something in your life been in the grave so long that the stench has become your normal surroundings?

 

The stench is so part of your life that you think there’s no changing it?

 

The stench is so rampant that it hadn’t even occurred to you that it could ever be eradicated?

 

What’s dead is dead and apathy has chained you strong and you lay dying among the stench?

 

An addiction? A disorder? Fear? Anxiety? The pain of relationships severed?

 

Let me tell you something.

 

Jesus is all about what’s dead coming alive.

 

The ugly-normal transforming into the extraordinary-beautiful.

 

Pleasing aromas.

 

Those He called “asleep” gasping for breath and wakening to a ravenous hunger.

 

He only need speak the word, and the odorous darkness is pierced by even one light aflame, wax gracefully dripping.

The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it. 

(John 1:5)

Did you catch that? The darkness can never extinguish it.

So, even though there are some things in our lives where hope has scattered to the darkest, furthest corners  . . . where we’re sure that things will always be the way they’ll be, or that someone we love will never change, or that we are who we just are,

There is One who is not content with lackluster life. 

There is One who does not conform to mere mediocre.

There is One who always overcomes the seeming finality.


He has lit my fire.

Things I’ve Learned in the Last Few Weeks (*in no particular order of time or importance)

Owning a mini-van can make you feel like more of a mom than being pregnant or toting two kids on your hip.

Feeling like a mom is good for me.

And my children.

Putting on a few pounds is not the end of the world.

And I might even want to keep them.

An evening walk does WONDERS.

Using a paper filter in a coffee percolator makes the best morning coffee ever.

Black widows are scary and should not be found anywhere near your kids’ sandbox.

Although terrified of spiders, I will easily become a Mother Bear if I find one anywhere near my children.

God is gracious in leading in simple things like cleaning out sandboxes, when I almost put it off another day.

Routine is good.

For ALL of us.

I really like working with children, my own and others’.

Regular at-home date nights can be almost as good as a “real” date.

Sometimes better.

I am human.

I construct my own idols.

He helps me tear them down.

But He graciously and knowingly allows me to use my own hands.

I am actually *excited* about homeschooling, rather than the always-before terror I felt before.

My children have to sometimes “warm up” to fun.

And that’s okay.

A perfectly-to-your-taste, decorated house, one where you make monthly payments to a bank

is not the only place you can make a home.

That sometimes, the loved ones you want so desperately to care for, already *feel* cared for.

That He is faithful.

And I can mimic His faithfulness in my mere dailiness.

Laundry.

Dinner-making.

Brushing their teeth.

That when He humbles us,

He brings us closer to Him.

And when we are empty,

He willingly, and eagerly fills us up.

To be emptied again.

Morning Lifeline

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If you give, you will receive.

Your gift will return to you in full measure,

pressed down,

shaken together

to make room for more,

and running over.

Whatever measure you use in giving

— large or small —

it will be used to measure what is given back to you.

~Jesus

Luke 6:38

Looking to Morning

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I am not what I should be.

I have not been what I want to be.

I murmur and complain.

I tear down and I berate.

I try to muster up energy.

Try to get through the day.

Just try to make it ’til bedtime.

But this is not how I’ve been called to live.

This is not how I give life.

I plead with Him.

For Him to speak love through my lips.

Lift UP in my correction.

Bring sweetness in our togetherness.

Bring joy in our daily living of life.

For me to capture all the moments I feel slipping.

Slipping through these hands . . . these memories.

The little one singing “Jesus Loves Me” and

“The Rain in Spain.”

My firstborn, so excited about her approaching birthday that she skips through the produce aisle, much to my frustration.

The sand in the bottom of the tub and all over the kitchen floor.

All the pink and the love of cold bedsheets and stuffed animals.

The way they want to show me EVERYTHING.

What a gift that they would run to show me?

And how often I don’t even look, but still murmur,

“Mmhmm . . . that’s great.”

Sometimes, the hardest, most tiring of days, are the days I just wish I could go and live all over.

Because it’s usually on those days

that I’ve missed it.

Focused on what doesn’t matter,

or what interests

ME,

or simply just focused on

all

that constantly

needs

done.

And I just wish I could press “rewind.”

This day.

And yes, my muscles are sore.

But I wish I’d pushed a few more swings.

And yes, my brain is tired,

but I wish I’d read more than one book.

And yes, the room is clean,

 but I soiled her sweet heart in between all my griping and hurrying.

Renew my heart.

Pour the oil of gladness in this ungrateful mama’s heart.

That I may fill up the hearts of these little ones.

Firefly turns four this weekend.

I’m not ready for this.

I want to live this day over.

His mercies are new every morning.

The Seeing Grace

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Is it really Monday again? The weekend was heavenly. The busyness, and the unexpected quiet of my husband’s presence beside me. Not just him, physically by my side . . . but mentally. Emotionally. Busyness and soul-quietness, all at once.

But the afterglow of the weekend fades and Monday morning startlingly jars us into gritty family life. The little one shuts a door, not knowing that her big sister has her hand in between the door and the door frame. And the pressure on Firefly’s fingers blows her top and she screams and wails and I run to the door to move the little one’s body away from the door in order to release Firefly’s fingers from between the hinge. I cringe. I thought I’d heard a crack. Her knuckles are indented and already swollen.

We go ahead and try to ice it. She screams louder. She’s never liked ice. She never seems to realize that we’re trying to help her when the ice pack makes its appearance. Its presence always seems to add insult to injury and her cries make our ears ring and our patience wears thin as she fights and screams against us.

None of us handle it well. We all sit on the couch, Firefly on my lap, squirming and combative, and the fault lines in each one of us quake and flinch and there’s no taking it back. Family fault lines tremble in the stressful moments and make themselves more than evident.

She moves her fingers. The swelling goes down and she begins her lighted smiles again.

Jonathan leaves for work through the back door. I don’t say goodbye. I make the fault lines deeper.

But He comes in those moments. I begin to believe that when the family ruts arise to the surface, that their very existence made evident is simply pure grace. Sometimes a smaller, stressful moment shines light on deeper rifts . . . deeper things that need addressed. And He comes in the Monday morning earthquakes, shifting familial, underlying tectonic-like plates, and healing is brought to the light of everyday life. This is when we have a choice.

When plates are shifted, we can try to smooth over the cracks and fissures with resentment and bitterness . . . a sort of stagnant form of “moving on” with life . . . or we can leave the cracks and fissures exposed, a hands-held-open sort of giving up, and ask Him to bring His healing.

Jonathan calls a bit later to check on her. We talk. We apologize. And we realize that we have some work to do and some prayers to pray. And there is grace in the seeing. In the not being blind to our faults. By His grace, the deeper ruts will heal and a Monday morning quake will bring a life’s worth of healing.

He is good.

#562 that it was just the door frame’s crack I heard

#563 grace in the seeing, a humbling in the knowing

#564 quick apologies

#565 that when we ask for wisdom, He will give it (James 1:5)

#566 that parenting keeps us on our toes . . . and our knees

#567 unexpected unity

#568 answers to a prayer I’m not even sure I prayed

#569 our small group’s wonderful potlucks

#570 a fun stretching

#571 painting with a friend

#572 swinging from a tall tree and long, pink ropes

#573 three nights in a row, eating with friends!

#574 sand in the sandbox

#575 sweeping the back porch

#576 weeding the flowerbed

#577 that there is delight in our work

#578 baby smiles

#579 married love

#580 warm summer sun

#581 her dancing on stage for first time

#582 sweet, pink flowers in a vase

#583 sore shins from a long, mountainous walk 🙂

#584 Cherry-Limeades

#585 His undeserved Presence

Joining the gift-thankers