Farm life includes lots of creepy crawlies, and this time of year the most popular creepy crawly around our neck of the woods is the wood tick. Free ranging chickens help control them in the yard, but continuous body checks are still required. When our kiddos were little we stumbled across how to identify if the crawling buggers were male or female, which made the scream fests over picking them off a little easier to manage. Now, instead of freaking out at the sight of eight brown legs, everybody gathers around to look for suspenders or aprons before escorting the pests to their doom of the swirling toilet.
After pondering the deep truths of Scripture, watching an encouraging message via the worldwide web from titans of the Christian faith, talking to Alexis about my amazement over the intricacies of God's working through His sovereignty while mixing calf bottles and drinking one cup too much of coffee, I finally walked out the back door to start chores, only to discover the dry lot gate standing wide open.
With. not. one. young. bovine. in. sight.
The sinking feeling of despair was bolstered by my wise cracking teenage daughter who was quick to repeat her mother's wisdom, "Well, God's sovereign, right?"
Two months and too many bottle feedings flashed through my brain in an instant. I considered my options: crawl back into bed and wait for Rob to come home and deal with it, or humble myself before the neighbors who have already had to witness our horses in their yard this Spring and the whole herd of goats in the middle of the road last week. I chose the latter. Back up to the house to put on some mascara and some mud boots, then we grabbed the keys and hopped in the truck.
Being too early to eat crow pie we just made a quick jaunt down to the South neighbor, perusing the East neighbors field along the way, before we decided to turn around and check out the high grass beyond our own soybean field. The little buggers were found in the cool shade of the tree line, leaving their little cleft toed imprints in the soft dirt as a clear trail to follow.
Yep, God's sovereign alright. But sometimes I wonder what the benefit is of a forty year old farmwife running through the soybean field chasing after five black and white steers.
A good friend of mine has been working hard the past few weeks to organize a free showing of the movie October Baby at our local movie theater. Her desire is to reach many young women with a pro-life option, and most importantly, to share the gospel with them. Would you please join me in praying tonight asking God to move in a big way to glorify His name and to reach the lives of many in our little community?
Two local moms have set out to reach local youth with a message of LIFE, offering a free showing of the movie “October Baby” FREE to all students at Timbers Theater on Friday, June 14th at 7pm.
The goal is to reach as many kids as possible, who have more than likely not given much thought to their own position on abortion, before they’re faced with making that choice for themselves.In our country, nearly 1 in 4 pregnancies end in abortion.More often than not, those involved believe the lies that they are told about babies in the womb being merely “tissue”, and have learned that the value of the life of a child is secondary to that of the mother.This movie does a fantastic job of putting these assertions into perspective.
Best of all, the Gospel is presented in the film!Pray that hearts and minds will be changed and God will be glorified.
We are asking for believers to support the event with prayer and to help spread the word to the youth.We ask that you urge the teens in your lives to come and bring friends they know would benefit from seeing the film.
For a Focus on the Family Plugged In review of the movie, click here.
Since we have loved our homemade goat's milk soap laundry detergent so much, I decided to try some homemade dishwasher detergent. I scoured the web for recipes, and settled on trying this easy, common one:
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Citric Acid
1/2 Cup Canning Salt
Mix all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. Add 1 Tablespoon per load.
I had most of the ingredients already since we keep them on hand for making laundry detergent. There was even a canister of the Citric Acid in the cupboard left over from cheese making last summer (Citric Acid can be found in the canning section of most stores), so the only thing I had to buy was the canning salt.
Various sites suggested adding three drops of liquid dish soap on the door prior to starting the load, as well as some vinegar to the rinse cycle. The dishwasher is running as I type with the first trial run - can't wait to see the results!
Day number one: Cole came home complaining of a girlfriend. I asked if he informed the twelve year old young lady that he does not have a job, own a car or a home and therefor is not eligible for marriage yet.
Day number two: Micah got in trouble for a brawl on the bus. I was not as amused to hear this tidbit of tattling as I was to hear about him being the instigator of the food fight yesterday. Innocent looking little bugger. Cinnamon rolls may have to be added to the list for the bus driver and the neighbor.
Day number three, I slept in and let Rob get them on the big yellow school bus, anxiously anticipating what the report will be today.
Summer school, with all of its excitement, has given me ample time to host the nieces and nephews and take an abundance of Fair pictures though.
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace
given me through the working of His power.
Ephesians 3: 7
Years ago I had started memorizing the whole book of Ephesians. Somewhere in the events of the past couple of years the majority of the words have escaped from the recesses of my memory, along with most other minor and major details of life. Often a night still finds me crawling out of a panic attack reciting the first few verses, though. I don't get much past the grace, peace and praise before the words have started their calming effect and I am able to breathe again. Breathe, just breathe.
Delving back into the book during my Bible reading schedule has been interesting. Somewhere I recall these passages floating around in the neurons of my brain, but again, at the same time, they are fresh and new. The theology baffles me- predestined, chosen, God's purpose and will, the times reaching their fulfillment, glory, seated on a throne with Christ- but the Holy Spirit allows some light to shine through once in a while.
Ephesians 3:7 stopped me today. Paul calls himself a servant of the gospel, right after referring to himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus. Images immediately spring to mind with serving being so common in our home. Serving ten children tacos, then doing it again with round two of seconds for some hard working kiddos. Chasing goats out of the flower garden, road and chicken coop numerous times in one afternoon. Waking early to nurture young students, preparing bodies and souls for the day ahead. Loving a husband, talking to friends on the phone, encouraging sisters, delving deep with daughters, praying for opportunities with strangers. Somehow sprinkling the gospel in every action and striving to point everything to Christ - forgiveness of sins to the glory of God through Jesus' death.
Paul talks about his position with pride. Not a sinful "make it about me" pride, but a pride because God chose him to be a broken vessel whom He would pour out His glory and power. God has been splitting that hair in my life lately, the "who is it about" hair. I can mouth that it is all about Him, but brokenness is when truth comes out. The battle starts when our flesh is crushed, trying to determine where it hurts the most and what the crying is about, revealing what we so easily cover up.
God makes it all about Him in a believers life. Above everything else that He does to sanctify us, He makes sure that His glory reigns above all. He quiets us in the midst of the storm, not always taking it away, but granting us one more opportunity to see His power, confess our trust in Him, let go and let God lead. Another opportunity to quit fighting Him, quit fighting where our position is, quit forcing it to be about us.
A servant of the gospel. To be granted the privilege of sharing Christ. Not in our own power, but all by the grace of God, to the glory of God's eternal purpose.
That word again: eternity. It's on my lips when I wake up and when I go to bed. Eternity. My brain can barely grasp its meaning. But I know its reality. To deny it would be to deny my very own son. So I beg constantly to be used in such a privileged way as Paul was, to become a servant, even a prisoner. To ask that the God of the universe, this eternal God, would choose to grant such a high honor to display His glory through this broken vessel of clay.
"As testing comes on God's people He is removing the love of other things because you realize that is not the most important thing." Tom Kelby Revelation 6 "It doesn't mean that you won't have days when you'll say, 'I don't like this. I would give anything to be out of this.' A good God who loves you will keep you through it and prove your faith."
The ache doesn't end. It hit like a two-by-four to the backside as I stood by the kitchen sink yesterday. Wham. Instant gut wrenching, tears refusing to pour out, dry sobs instead. Then in the bathroom, once the door was shut, on my knees, the same heaving heartache longing for a release. Too scared to allow myself to feel it completely, too scared even to pour it out before God, too scared to be drawn nearer. I am so tired of crying. Tired of grieving. Tired of missing my son.
Three o'clock in the morning seems to be the time my mind runs away with its real fears. I finally realized what the panic attack was about this morning at five forty-five when Grace crawled into my bed already showered and dressed for the first day of summer school. Perhaps that has been why the last few days have been so full of anxiety. More pictures without Trent, more experiences without a firstborn son, more grief. The guilt constantly swirling around with it, ever near, telling me that I am a horrible mother to the ones left here. So I paste on the smile, grab the camera, and try to start the day without a cup of coffee. I see them excited for the new adventure, so glad that they have joy, jealous of the innocence.
Cole's words still haunt my memory from last night, my desire for him to talk about his brother's death being immediately followed up with a desire that he wouldn't have. "I was sitting on Lexi's bed this afternoon and when I looked down my hands were so pale, as pale as Trent's were when he died. Why do you think?"
I think I don't want to think about Trent's pale hands, Trent's pale body, a dead son's body lying on an emergency room gurney over two years ago. I try to answer with some know-it-all home school mother explanation, how the hands are so far away from the heart and take longer to pump the blood to them, therefor maybe he was letting them dangle and cut off the circulation.
"Then why were Trent's hands so pale?"
Well, you see, when our bodies die the heart quits beating, causing the blood to quit circulating, which causes your skin to look pale. Standing in front of the mirror together, giving him a quick hair buzz, a closeness both physical and emotional that has been scarce since the teen years started and it's not so cool to show love for your mom anymore. Longing to run, run somewhere where son's aren't dead anymore, where spiritual explanations are accepted easier than cold answers, where there is no balance to giving God the glory when everything is about your rival brother, where things don't hurt this bad in a mother's soul, somewhere safe that emotions can be exposed, heaved up rather than pushed down, down, down.
The word was used twice, less than ten verses apart in the book of Ephesians (1:18-19 and 2:7). The second time made me stop and reread the passages. I've been trying to compare this grief to something that is incomparable. The pain that I so often feel that should be impossible for any mortal woman to carry is met by a God with incomparable great power to sustain me; a never ending well to drink my fill from. The glory to be revealed and the riches of His grace to be poured out will come from the hand of an incomparable Savior.
Somehow this battle has shifted into being a battle of worth. The subtlety of Satan, and being careful to not give credit where credit is not due, the subtlety of my own deceiving flesh has shifted the gears again and has put God on trial. Being careful, of course, to frame it appropriately so as to still sound Christian, but to actually insinuate that He is a liar. How twisted our thinking becomes in pain. How consumed we get, how far we run, what lies we tell ourselves and convince ourselves to believe. Ephesians woke me out of my stupor for a moment, if even for one tiny glimpse, one more miniscule longing for God and eternity in this blinding time.
God's power is incomparable to sustain me. He promised that the riches of His grace to be revealed will be incomparable as well. As the apostle Peter says, these trials, which last only a little while, are achieving the end result, the salvation of my soul (1 Peter 1:3-9).
And then, for the umpteenth time, my brain asks where it is, where glory is revealed, where our eyes can take it in? For the handful of seconds that I can actually allow myself to try to comprehend Heaven, I realize that Trent is there, before this incomparable God, this God that I am always trying to compare. The gut curling tears come just as hard as the painful ones during these moments. How, where, and why can't I be there? The longing never ends to be in God's presence, consuming me as much as the longing for my son.
There are times when God orders our circumstances in such a way that from a human standpoint his promises are impossible to fulfill. And if at that point we find these promises almost unbelievable, as did Abraham (Genesis 17:17–18) and Sarah (Genesis 18:11–14), what God has exposed are the boundaries of our faith — boundaries he means to expand.
Resting in the promises of God is learned in the crucible of wrestling with unbelief — seasons, sometimes long seasons, when everything hangs on believing that God “gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17) and there is no safety net.
If you’re in such a season, as difficult as it feels, God is being incredibly kind to you. Because such seasons are when we really learn that nothing is too hard for the Lᴏʀᴅ (Genesis 18:14). And the joy in God that results makes any agony endured not even worth comparing.
Abraham and Sarah “grew strong in [their] faith” (Romans 4:20) because God pushed them to believe more than they thought was possible. For the sake of our joy he does the same for you and me.
"So suck it up buttercup," I repeat to myself. Resist the devil and he must flee, the victory has been won, and it is an incomparable victory. Take heart, stop the runaway emotions and feel the tremble of the earth awaiting its approaching King, groaning in its longing for a Savior that is coming soon. God is reigning from His throne, He is on the move, the battle has already been won. His glory is going to be worth it all, His grace beyond my feeble imagination, the joy unending. This same God that Trent stands before now is the same God who will carry me until that day.
The words woke me up. After twenty-one years of marriage, on the way to a romantic anniversary date when the conversation shouldn't have been so deep, the short phrase was an eye-opening proclamation from a man who has known me more than half of my life. I hadn't realized it in those terms. Hadn't understood the depth, or that the evidence was so apparent. Hadn't realized how severely a lengthy period of time involved in an unhealthy church situation can destroy a person. I don't remember any other conversations from the night, just those few short words about my spiritual state. Words which played round and round in my mind into the wee hours of the night, refusing to allow me any sleep until they were dealt with: starving.
Rather than continuing to shove several years' worth of excuses and pain deep, deep, deeper they were allowed to be called by their proper name. Given a label, a title that was fitting and acceptable. Allowing them to surface, listing them out, seeing the faces, feeling the hurts. Starved by those who were responsible to have fed me; those who were given the responsibility to feed me. Staying at a place of worship for the sake of submission, the sake of my family, the sake of control, the sake of fear.
I hadn't even noticed my anemic position until it was pointed out as such. Starved by pastors who are starved by bitterness. Starved by their own fears. Starved by their need to control. Starved by a proclaiming body of Christ with their own agenda.
What a stark contrast to sit this morning in a new congregation. To find a body that does love God, loves His glory, longs for Him to reign both now in their sinful state but more-so in a physical realm. To feel it, to realize it does exist in a way that I had almost quit hoping it could. To let the proof be before my eyes, to see it, feel it, quietly allowing my soul to whisper, "I knew it was so." The lies left behind with the years - years of pain, years of domination, years that were somehow ordained for this moment.
Freedom to feel. Freedom to let the tears fall. Freedom for my soul to cry out, "Victory!" Hands raised, daring to hope, daring to drink it all in. Words of truth, hymns of worship, a people in love with Jesus.
The immediate result? A happy family. A deeper connection. Unity. No wedges, no division, no tears. Anticipating Sundays again. But the best part: Peace. An overwhelming peace descending on our still-hurting hearts. A reminder of peace for the future, and beyond, for an eternity. A new resolve to fight the good fight, instead of fighting with each other.