An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Temporary Insanity

The pendulum seems to swing full force in my life. Either I am huddled up in the fetal position under the covers, or the throttle is set at full bore and we all go along for the ride. I prefer full bore. I prefer having too many things to do for the Kingdom with a chaos of people surrounding me while doing it.

Lately that hasn't been the case. It's been quiet. And lonely. Grief seems to have a power of its own to close you in to a painful shell of yourself. After a while you get exhausted by trying to figure out what to do with the outside world of well meaning people who don't know what to do with you, either. There are the handful of brave ones who don't skirt the subject of your dead son, but most are skittish.

It's a strange place, wondering if you should venture in to deeper waters or stay on the shallows talking about the weather. Mostly it's the weather. Which brings the barrage of "why don't they say anything, why don't I say anything, fine I'll hole myself up in my house and never come out again."

Whoosh goes the pendulum.

Holed up in my house on purpose is where I've found myself lately. And that's okay. The kids are getting cabin fever already in October, but I've cocooned myself into a little quilting world and would be happy to not emerge until the snow melts next Spring. Lucky for them Aunt Traci came and whisked them away to the outside world for a day of swimming earlier in the week. I stayed home. And told myself I wouldn't cry. But it didn't work very well. If I could just let it all come out maybe I'd get on with life. But I'm so tired of crying and I can't seem to conjure up much joy lately.

"Sometimes it's just hard," were Traci's wise words. "There doesn't have to be an excuse. It's just hard." And lately it's just been hard.

Hard to go to friend's houses where other Aunts mistakenly use Trent's name. I don't mind. I mind the tiptoeing around us more. But then it's hard when somebody does talk about Trent. Hard to fathom that kind of love. Hard to believe that's what it is supposed to really be like; that other people carry this burden with me and all these whispers of the enemy aren't true. Hard to hear that people don't know how to help their children grieve. And even wonder at the concept that they should. Hard to hear that a young man was bawling into his pillow the night his friend died and that his dad sat on the couch next to him and watched a movie. Hard to hear someone be amazed at how strong you were only to know how truly weak you are.

Our weakness portrays our dependency for God. I keep trying to remind myself of that. Keep trying to force what is reality to overrule what I only thought was reality. It's been a losing game lately. Until God answered my never ending prayer to remind me again of the reality of eternity. Remind me to stay awake. Remind me that this is not a game we're all playing.

That reminder was through another child's death. Through another way that God used Trent's story for His glory. Another battle fought through folded hands and tears poured out over a girl and her family that we never knew. Prayers of a husband so tender that I am both convicted and ashamed at my own brutal heart. Tears wept because their day probably started out naively just like our day had over two years ago, and now they are in the midst of preparing for a funeral. Tears because we know what that feels like and know what is ahead of them. Know the ache that never leaves even when it feels like everyone else has.

Tears because we long for them to not walk the walk alone but to fight, brawl, battle and conquer over all to know the goodness of God in every detail of the rest of their lives until they, too, meet God face to face. Tears because these precious ones have gone before us and know what we only long to know. Tears because we know these are the easy days for them. Tears because we are so humbled by God saving our son by His Son and allowing us to share in their sorrow even if they never know it. God knows it. God hears. God cares.

So I dig deeper into the material cupboard. I look for more to do. I busy my restless hands as I wait for eternity to begin. Because it's either that or crawl back under the covers.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Over Heated Goat's Milk Soap

So... I thought I knew how to make goat's milk soap. After many years of experience, teaching numerous classes and successfully creating umpteen hundred beautiful slices of bubbly luxuriance (with our very own goat milk which happened to be milked by my very own hands, I might add) I was really beginning to pat myself on the back and thought I had become Mrs. Soapmaker.  A good humbling, although painful, was obviously in order. Fifty-six ruined bars in one night has pretty much deflated that over zealous ego of mine.

Yes, fifty-six ruined bars.
In. One. Single. Night.
That must beat a record at least.

My long standing recipe has failed me and I'm left with not much more than an oily mess to clean up. I am going with the Google guess and blaming it on overheating since the scary teeth resemble all the other pictures that popped up from the many other frustrated soapers across the globe.

The funny thing is that three batches using the same exact recipe, even the one with a new scent and another with a usually fussy scent, made on the same day turned out beautiful. Tomorrow I'm dropping my temps and trying it again.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

God's Word Today

"I will settle them in their homes,"
declares the Lord.
Hosea 11:11
And after reading that direct message this morning via a powerful God way, I hereby repent of my doubting and officially commit to quit whining and worrying about this house situation. I get the message, God. You've got this all figured out. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

To Let Go

Unless the Lord builds the house, 
the builders labor in vain.
Psalm 127:1

God is sovereign. It is clear all over Scripture that He has everything under control. What's supposed to happen when it is supposed to happen will happen. He hasn't asked me for any advice yet on running His universe, and I don't suspect that He will be any time soon. So, armed with that knowledge, our family has chosen to take our hands off the big house move that we hoped would have happened by now. No more messages, no more interrogating phone calls asking the same questions over and over again, no more tracking this guy down and that guy down, no more anxiety of next week, next week. Just hands off and let God do it if He's going to. I think the Bible calls it faith.

Due to electric companies taking weeks to hash out a route to move the house through the back roads of Wisconsin, then coming back (not once, but twice) with an exorbitant price, then because of their delay losing the basement contractor which has all but given the well guy spasms over his anxiety of drilling after the ground freezes and didn't-we-know-winter-was-coming (?!), and then the new bid of five digits with too many zeroes for tree removal, and then the bank's flub of forgetting to answer the appraiser's questions so she could finish the appraisal . . . somewhere along the line started to get the hint that maybe this isn't supposed to happen just yet.

We've held out for a miracle, but with snow already on the ground we're praying now instead for trust. Our little lake view acreage with its anticipation of rest, and our dream farmhouse, are in God's hands. It's so strange to be doing nothing but waiting on God. The calling to let go of the farm remains clear as we wait for God's leading of where He is taking us, yet I still find myself clinging to my wishes as I mouth His sovereignty and complete ability to move mountains if He wants them moved. I have discovered a whole nother level of my own demanding heart. I really do just want what I want, when I want it, but at the same time I try to stamp God's name on it and say that it was all His doing. Yeesh! I have so far to go.

What an interesting place to be: to just let God lead, to let God be the builder instead of me, to have a front row seat to watch Him work.

Monday, October 21, 2013


... As it is, you do not belong to the world,
but I have chosen you out of the world...
from John 15:19
The last of the horses have gone on to their temporary home to await the big move to their permanent home. Of all the animals, these two were the hardest to let go. Lightning has been a part of my life for over eighteen years, and really, going all the way back to my childhood when we owned her mother. For all her orneriness and issues I loved her and enjoyed many, many pleasurable hours on her back. Sassy was with us for over ten years, teaching numerous children how to ride, being used in fun shows and even a home-made movie, patiently plodding along with whoever was on her back. Many giggles and tears were experienced from atop her red 12-hand gait.
I haven't categorized the emotion yet of not having them here. My brain is still trying to figure it out. Really, it's been heading this direction for a couple of years, so overall peace dominates the sadness. It's as if even a lifelong love of horses was taken when Trent left us. What we loved then is so hard to love now. The old desires bring too much pain with them, and our eyes have been refocused heavenward. These earthly treasures and delights don't demand our attention like they used to, our satisfaction and joy is sought elsewhere. We walk along now, after having tasted of glory and eternities nearness, refusing to be comforted by anything short of God Himself. It's a strange place to be, to live in this world as if we don't belong here, strangers and aliens waiting to go home.
The freedom of no chores is so strange, too. For my whole life I have been surrounded by critters that demanded attention. Now we're down to the last of the barn cats and the dog, and I normally don't even feed them as it is one of the kids' chore. Pretty soon somebody is going to notice that I have worked myself out of a job and I'll be put back on the dish-dawg schedule again.
I am feeling the need to fill the gap, seeking something to consume the empty time and desire that the animals brought. Waiting {im}patiently for God to reveal what He is up to, longing to be faithful as we go through this "quiet" time of transition. Hoping and praying that He will choose to use our lives in a glorious way to advance His kingdom.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Making the Connection

There is something powerful about sharing God's word. Think I'm kidding? Go share the gospel. Hold out that glorious promise of Jesus to forgive sinners, offer hope to the hopeless, hand out Scriptural truth like it was candy at a Fourth of July parade. See what happens when you live like heaven is a reality and this life really is a mist. I guarantee you two things: God will uphold you as He refines you through His designated fire and Satan will use every wily trick to defeat you. The enemy knows our weaknesses better than we do. He'll attempt to fool us with the same schemes over and over again. And we'll fall for it nearly every time.

I should see the connection already, but things come slower these days. I have begun to realize that my impatient ways are not God's ways and I try to wait for His timing and leading to act. I'm not sure how to justify that I know when it is His timing, but it all works out to happen exactly when He wants for so many unknown reasons that we may never know.

And then, when the time comes to reach out with the truth, so do the attacks. The defeat. The mornings of crying over socks and preferring bauling in bed rather than rejoicing for a son in heaven. Just as I get to the verge of considering minutely that God could have done things differently (dare I whisper better?) the Holy Spirit reigns my thoughts back to the words of Scripture. Somehow I force my feet to the floor lest I wallow all day in my pity party. I cry before I get to the door. Cry as I walk past the boy's bedroom. Cry as I start the coffee pot, all the while sinking deeper into despair with every step. Such a low that hasn't been felt for quite a while. It slams me: hurt, hurt, hurt. I turn in to it rather than clinging to the words of truth. I start to believe it rather than believing the promises of a Sovereign God.

I read about Richard Baxter (author of The Saint's Everlasting Rest) the other day that he believed like a Calvinist but lived like an Armenian. Meaning, he lived believing that God was sovereign and all powerful, but lived like his salvation (and the salvation of those around him) depended solely on his efforts. One of my weak spots is doubt. What if God isn't real? What if Heaven isn't real? What if eternity isn't real?

But, as I consider my son and the truths of the Bible, I turn it around and ask: What if it is? What if God is sovereign but somehow my salvation and the salvation of those He brings into my life does depend on my efforts? What if that accounting of my life really happens? What if the ones who have been given more (more truth, more access to Scripture, more opening of the eyes, more awakening of the soul, more passion, more knowledge) will be held to a higher standard? What if my ignoring and my apathy really have serious consequences in somebody else's eternity?

What if...

So I bolster through the morning. I finally quit my griping. I finally bend my knees and my heart in prayer, focus my eyes on God's word, and commit my life for the thousandth time to His ways and His plans. Then I dig out a card and ask for words to write to a mother whose twelve year old son died in an accident one short month ago. I try not to let my own tears fall on the page as I force myself to realize why I have this ministry in the first place. Why I am privileged to know what she is going through. Why my heart breaks so deeply for a woman I've never met. Why it matters so much if she starts out the hard process of grieving her son with praising her Savior. I package up two books along with prayers and search for an address, reading the details of her son's death again through my internet search. How morbid it feels to look up children's obituaries and hunt down their living parent's addresses.

Then I click on my emails and find that somebody in Indonesia is requesting a book. Indonesia. I dig into the box for another and tell Trent, "We're going to Indonesia. God's taking you to Indonesia." My prayers for my son's life to be used in a mighty way are going to Indonesia. Alexis gets worried over her mother talking to her dead brother, she may be the one who finally ends up committing me to that insane asylum. It's okay, Lex, I know he can't answer me.

But ... Indonesia.

Can you fathom the ways of God? Would you have ever thought we could bring the gospel to Indonesia? So I tuck in an extra couple of copies. As the dust of the rejoicing over God's work starts to settle another request for books pops up from a sweet Grandmother who wonders about printing her own story. The humbling begins and I catch a glimpse of eternity when the glory to come is going to be incomparable to these temporary trials. I begin to realize that God does know what He's doing and His plans are more glorious than I could ever imagine and that I really don't want to face Him knowing that I fussed about every little thing that He did.

And then the light bulb goes off: this always happens when God uses the story of Trent's life for his glory. Defeat, whining, doubt then a tiny revealing of His work to encourage me of little faith. So I wrap up the books, say another prayer, and vow to myself that I'll see it coming a bit quicker next time rather than going through the same pathetic motions of fussing and doubting God's good plans.

Just Write

It feels like there is a large wad of immovable Play-Doh in my head. I'm sure that one line alone will provide some unending ammunition for certain grown men in my life. Maybe it's an aneurism. Maybe I'll be seeing Glory before I know it. Probably it's just my bodies protection against going totally insane through the hard process of grief. Nothing more glamorous than the Alzheimer's symptoms that I've read about that happen after a traumatic accident. Either way, its there. Interrupting any inspiration, forcing my brain to trek around it to simply finish a complete thought, making me forget words and rendering myself an incompetent fool most times when I open my mouth. Words keep chasing each other around, but the connection gets lost. And then the tears start. Either because of the lost words or simply because the realities of them are too powerful to try to comprehend.

Writing is easier.

That handy little gadget on my Libre Office program even makes helpful word suggestions once in a while when my brain gets stuck. Staring at a blinking curser allows more time to put thoughts together than standing before a live human body who is waiting for you to speak. But I even quit writing a while ago. That mother guilt kicked in and I thought I would do everybody more justice to not sit at the computer and write so much, so I stopped. And instead, just sat and stared at the computer for several months. Very therapeutic. I figured I was being a better mother to not be so selfish. But, after forty years, it finally dawned on me that I am a writer. I write. It's what I do. My father was a talker. My mother is a talker. My sister is a talker. I write. I always have. Duh. So I've made a commitment to myself to write. Ignore the laundry, wake up early or stay up late, whatever it takes. Make another pot of coffee and write.

I have two books in the works. One a fun book for the family about our time here on the farm and the other a first hand experience devotional that goes deeper into the theology of God and suffering than I should be qualified to write, but is instead a truth that I am learning the hard way. They accuse me, too, those two half done books. Defeat rules some days telling me to find something better to do. Writing is wasting time. Sitting in a chair is wasting time. Other days the writing just plain scares me. Both for the typos involved and the truth that comes through. I wonder sometimes what it is that I am really scared of. Being known? Being real? Or having to be known and having to be real.

Writing takes me to real.

When I write that blob in my head smooths out and I can make sense of thoughts. I can see the end. I can remember eternity and the God who holds it in His hands. Even this moment. Even the tears. Even a son who is no longer here. The insane is not so insane through written words. So I will attempt to write everyday: a grocery list, a Menards list, a blog post, a note to my children, a love letter to my husband, a love letter to my God. Then I'll throw in a load of laundry. The minor stuff can wait.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No News is Maybe Good News

No news is maybe good news when it comes to the umpteenth round of waiting for electric companies to come up with a bid to get the house moved. We're on week three of hoping that Friday will actually be the day that we know our fate of whether or not we can move the new/old farmhouse to the lake view property. All our hopes and dreams are hinging on a couple of men deciding how to forge a trail through the back roads of Wisconsin to avoid phase three lines. Well, those two men and God. I'm counting on God more than them, but the rollercoaster is getting tiring and I'm ready for somebody to stop the ride. So, maybe Friday. Maybe today. Maybe next Spring. Or maybe I'll be doomed to that Craigslist trailer house or we'll decide to move to Timbuktu instead. Either way, by this time next year we'll all know.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Richard Baxter

It's weird having your picture taken. It's weird to look at pictures of yourself. It's weird to post pictures of yourself on your own blog. As a camera fanatic, I am much more comfortable with the gadget in my hands rather than pointed at my face. But, like I keep telling the children, you'll need some photos for my funeral one day. I'm doing my best to ensure that there are shots without the double chin or sagging arms. Use this one, kiddos. Somebody blow it up and put it right on top of my casket. Let it be what you remember of me. May it be what I strive to live like before you, rather than the sulky mother that I've been.

Don't think I'm going suicidal, I'm not. I've just been reading a book by a man who has been in heaven for over three hundred years. (Three hundred years. Just let that concept sink in for three seconds.) He shares about his longing for that eternal rest, his desire to know God perfectly, spirit to spirit. He thought he was going to die so figured he should start thinking about such things. Turns out he didn't pass as quickly as he figured and ended up writing more than just his own funeral sermon but a four volume essay on heaven and the saints' desire to be there. Every turn of the page brings tears. Then conviction. Then that deep sighing that has been present for so long. That unsatisfied longing for God.

He writes:

"Can any soul that hath made God his portion, and chosen him for his only happiness and rest, find rest in so vast a distance from him?"

The universal longing of a Christian's soul to be in God's presence struck me last night at the supper table. Poor Rob, he gets all of my out-of-the-blue, unsorted, confusing blurps, "God revealed the same thing to Richard Baxter as He has been revealing to us: the longing for God's presence when He will dwell with His people." A foreign concept to the world, one only fools would believe in and bank on. If that's the case, then call me the biggest fool of all because I'm waiting for the good stuff, folks. I'm setting my sights on Heaven. I'm waiting impatiently for it and this book isn't helping.

Richard Baxter, The Saints' Everlasting Rest. It's good stuff.