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, December 31, 2014

Some Days





Some days

I just stop.

And allow myself to realize the fact that my son

Trent

stands before the Lord Almighty.

How does a mother comprehend that?

Glory

Holy

Perfection

Heaven

And then it's suggested for the umpteenth time by some naive helpful friend or foe 
that I should probably get over the fanciful notion of longing to be in God's presence myself and start looking for something here to fulfill my desires.

I'm not sure which is more baffling.

Either that I would believe them

or

that my son is really there.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

 
  And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
 
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to
Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:8-20

The hush of this snowy morning is welcomed as I contemplate the festivities to come in the next few days: a home that will be filled with love, food, presents and an overflow of special guests. Not guests so much as extensions of our family, those special souls that we claim as our own, pray for as our own. I look forward to the couch becoming a week-long bed, lazy days with nothing more pressing than loving each other, the living room ringing with laughter, and the kitchen bursting with goodies.

There were no pageants or plays this year, no big get-togethers. Such an odd holiday that has broken so many decade long traditions. Even the tree has new ornaments. A fake tree, much to the resistance of certain family members, rather than the Charlie Brown variety from the back forty. The presents, the few that there are in lieu of giving more than getting, have actually been wrapped for over a week rather than the normal rush of tape and tags on Christmas Eve. 

I can't say that I miss the hoopla. I am instead savoring the quiet. The peace, I'm still waiting for it. The pain, always there. Especially now as the world insists that this is the happiest time of the year. We are listening to our bodies and telling ourselves that hibernation is okay. The Spring will come again, and we best be rested and ready for the work God has for us in it.

I hope you find some quiet, too, this busy season. Sit a bit longer with your coffee. Go ahead and eat that extra piece of cake. Hug your loved one like there's no tomorrow. Close your eyes and get lost in their embrace. Leave the expectations at the door. Savor the Savior. Jesus is the reason for the season, after all. Take some time to find the baby who came to us in a manger, humble and meek, the one who is coming soon in all His glory.

Have a  Merry Christmas, Friends!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Just Come Back, Jesus

My friend became a widow today. A matter of weeks ago, a different friend lost a child. I sit here numb, cried out, spiritually seeking a solid place to dig my feet into truth and hope and reality. Reality is eternity. Eternity is a long, long time. God said that He knows the plans He has for us. Good plans, even for widows and mothers whose children die. I'll wrap my arms around another grieving woman. I'll whisper more empowering words of truth. I'll add another name to my prayer list. I'll pray harder for Jesus to come back. Just come back, Jesus. No more tears, no more death, no more pain. And He will. He promised. Soon.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Missional




I've been listening to Francis Chan again - an addicting habit when I need some lively conviction. He was talking about living missional. Spell check is screaming at me that missional isn't a word (there it goes again) but there is no other word that I know of to describe the act of living with every fiber of your soul being in the continuous state of knowing and telling the good news of Jesus.

To live missionally together would mean to continuously spur each other on to keep the end goal in mind, specifically that Jesus is coming soon. To find a few other nut-cases who have been as radically transformed by the Holy Spirit as you have can be difficult, but when you find them, you keep them close. There are a couple of ladies in my life, some who read this blog, who help keep me on track through prayer, through challenging of the Word, through accountability. But sadly, missional lives are rare. Our days, in and of themselves, are not being lived out as if we are anticipating the return of Jesus any time soon. They are not typically about how to glorify His name through loving others and dying to self. I also stand guilty as charged.

After Trent's accident there was no one exempt from our sharing. How many hundreds of people heard the gospel in those first few weeks would be impossible to count. As the message appears to be dulled in so many of those hundreds, as the evidence of their lives continuing to go on, day by day, seemingly unchanged by the words of life, God alone knows which of those seeds of truth planted will one day sprout. But He promised that His word would not go out and return void (Isaiah 55:11). Glimpses of the harvest through one planted seed have encouraged us to get out of bed for these many days since.

Mornings often find me on my face bawling. The uttering of my desire to just be with God overwhelms me. Believer, do the mornings not find you in the same state? Does the thought of the satisfaction of seeing God not obsess you? Is the reality of eternity not constantly on your mind? Does it not consume you to think of every soul you meet, to wonder about their state of salvation?

Richard Baxter put it much more eloquently than I could ever dare to dream to portray the matter. Please do read the whole passage (click for the link) from one of my favorite books, The Saint's Everlasting Rest. Let it burn in your mind and cause a greater longing for this God of Holiness to use your life in ways that will be glorified throughout eternity. It's going to be a long time, this eternity. Live today how you want to live then: being satisfied in Jesus.

      "Why do I so easily forget my resting place? O my soul, does the dullness of your desire after rest not accuse you of most detestable ingratitude and foolishness? Must your Lord purchase you a rest at so costly a price, and you not value it more? Must He go before to prepare so glorious a mansion for such a wretch, and are you reluctant to go and possess it? Shall the Lord of glory desire your company, and you do not desire His? Must earth become a very hell to you before you are willing to be with God? If your successful efforts and godly friends seem better to you than a life with God, it is time for God to take them from you...

      I am willing to stay here on earth while You will use me. Give me the work which You have for my hands. But when it is done, take me at my best. I don't want to be so impatient as to ask You to cut off my time and take me home before I am prepared, for I know my eternal reward depends so much on the use I make of this life. But neither would I stay here when my work is done. While I must be absent from You, let my soul as sincerely groan as my body does when it is sick."


Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Because of the Guy at McDonalds

I consider that our present sufferings 
are not worth comparing 
with the glory that will be revealed in us. 
Romans 8:18

It's because of the guy at McDonalds that I can keep my sanity... Let me back up. It's because of the guy at McDonalds that hugged me when I shared a book with him that I can keep my sanity... Let me back up even further, a long way back.

Three and a half years ago my son died. Three and a half years ago I realized that this life is short and there is nothing more important than where you are with Jesus Christ, and if you know where you are, then there is nothing more important than what you are doing with that knowledge. Three years ago I wrote a book. There was no choice. The words came out as God led and I could only try to keep up fast enough to get them typed. Then I handed it over, typos and all, to what the Holy Spirit would choose to do with it.

And He's done a lot.

A lot that I don't know about, and honestly, have asked to not know about lest I would boast, but rather try to content myself to wait for eternity to see the quantity and depth of the transformed lives that will come about because of our required brokenness. We have sold quite a few books, pouring the money back into the ministry fund which has been then used to buy more copies until we have been able to give away hundreds of gospel saturated material including various books. There are times that I go weeks without being to look at the book, knowing what story it tells. Times where the thought of it brings panic attacks and stuttering words, a total incapability to put my hand into my purse and pull out a copy. In those times God has always raised up another servant to share them.

But then there are days like today. Days when an impulse as innocent as impromptu hunger pains and an overwhelming desire for a medium fry turns into {Lord Willing} a changed eternity. The circumstances were crazy. The timing perfect. A week ago a worker fainted during the lunch rush hour at the busy burger joint. This afternoon, the very moment the same man who was standing in the same place and watched the fall only days ago, stood ordering another fish burger then proceeded to wait beside me as I was waiting for a correction on my order. We talked of death right next to the Happy Meal toys. Discussed meeting God face to face: him his mother, me my son. I handed him a book, then to my surprise, he wrapped his scruffy arms around me.

"You've blessed me," he said, this desolate stranger at McDonalds.

Rarely do I even go inside to order at McDonalds. Hardly ever does the cashier not make a mistake, but today I praised God for the missed chicken burger. Every so often the circumstances line up perfectly when a brief opening of the Heavenly realm, where the Spirit speaks clearly and the power is overwhelming, demands that there is no choice but to pull out a book.

How I praised God today because of that guy at McDonalds. Praised Him for giving a glimpse of that which I said I didn't want to be satisfied in: trading satisfaction in God's work for satisfaction in God Himself. But sometimes He gives both, doesn't He? Us, with our impatience, lack of discernment, and total ignorance of the good plans He has for our lives, who think that God isn't doing anything. How easily we get discouraged over the way God is working things out for His glory. I am convinced that if we saw one glimpse of eternity it would be enough to cause us to trust Him for the rest of our lives, no matter what the details.

That guy at McDonalds was a glimmer of a glimpse.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Tomatoes



Tomatoes. It was the first time in nearly a decade that they haven't come from my own garden - planted, weeded, picked and hauled in by the basketful - which only made them a greater blessing to receive. Our summer was not marked by the soil this past season, not by the last frost, ripe radishes, bean or pickle harvests, or the excess of sweet corn and spaghetti squash to share. Instead, I only had to put my coffee cup down and open the door to a friend who was more than glad to rid himself of his overabundance. An afternoon washing, peeling and canning was spent beside a rather grumpy teenage girl (No names need be mentioned since this is a public blog and all. Protect the ornery people, right?) who obviously does not see the benefits of homemaking in her future.

Sigh.

I'm tired.

My third teenager in a row, with one more to go, Lord willing, and the gament of creative discipline is running thin. Hand cuffs were the next threat. This girl who, as of only a couple days ago, wanted nothing else but to crawl into my bed and stay close teeters the very next minute to puberty hormones and all that entails. The knees of my heart will soon be wore out with all the prayers that have been going Heavenward.

Sigh.

I'm tired.

Tomatoes. Sustenance for our bodies to be enjoyed in the upcoming cold winter months. Pure torture, if used in the right context, for training up the next generation.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time to be Back


I've been away from this little spot in cyberspace for quite some time now. The consuming addiction of blogland and all that goes along with it has been one of the primary reasons- if you are a blogger you know what I'm talking about: the rat race of keeping up and wondering how much is too much, not too much, write for yourself, write for an audience, topics, fancy pictures, waiting for comments, keeping up with the Joneses, etc., etc. 

Our world's craze of everybody knowing everything may come back to bite us all, and personally, as my sister has said before, when people know the color of the kitchen towel hanging from your stove, it might be time to tone things down a bit. But then there is the other crazy hope that not all the words are futile. Hope that God is in some of them, and that they would be words and posts saturated with life changing messages.

A quiet time of processing my own thoughts in my head has been interesting. Not necessarily good, but interesting. Living without blogging, after doing it for so many years, has been strange. I process by writing. My head is spinning from its own thoughts and nowhere to put them down and sort them out. The Alzheimer's side effect of grief tends to make conversations difficult. Words on a computer screen make sense.

Living has been another reason to be silent. Walking with my children. Fishing at the nearby lake. Movies and giggles and fights. Home school and books in bed at night. Baking dessert, then eating the leftovers together for breakfast. Dates and dreams and life changing decisions. Grieving. Always grieving. Laughter among the hidden tears.

But it's time to be back. Time to share what God is doing. As it says up above there in the header,

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.

So here goes the attempting again.


Friday, August 15, 2014

To Love the World






Over the last thirty days life has changed drastically. The ties to the farm are lessening with a six month rent to own contract having been signed, and we now wake up every morning to a lake view rather than to the cry of demanding critters. Sigh. It's good. Guiltily, pleasurably, insanely indulgently good, almost on the brink of boredom sometimes, but good. Farming was good, too, for the numerous years that we enjoyed it. But when you stop enjoying something, it's time to move on. The Lord called, and here we are, waiting for further instructions.

Perhaps I will chronicle our beginning struggles and triumphs to settle this little .7 acre haven another day, but this morning this verse stopped me in my tracks.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. 
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 
For everything in the world-
the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-
comes not from the Father but from the world. 
The world and its desires pass away, 
but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 
1 John 2:15-17

The love of the world. What a powerful force. It creeps its way into our hearts and soon overtakes. It oftentimes becomes our reality, until reality reveals itself for what it really is. Our made up worlds with their made up prizes consume us, and we realize sometimes too late that we were our own creators of them rather than seeking The Creator. I don't want to realize too late that I invested into the wrong kingdom. Our families desire as we set out over a year ago to leave it all behind was to intentionally push forth the Kingdom of Jesus. Now we ponder how.

If my strength comes from being united with Christ, then I must start there. But my mind is in a jumble. Demands of the necessity of living have temporarily overtaken my energy for seeking that source. A sewer, some water and electricity, and finally as of this week, the joys of Wi-Fi. Then I am somehow shocked, in the midst of it, to realize for the billionth time that my son is in Heaven. The familiar panic attacks hit with a vengeance. Reality again rears its head above the pseudo peace that envelops this new life of ease. This world and its desires are passing away. I don't have to look very far for the truth of that Scripture. All worldly cravings, all the hungers to boast and long for and desire temporary delights do not come from the Father. The crevice in my brain that holds that truth appears again, I can feel the power of it in my soul. This world is not my home. I remind myself that I am a sojourner, only traveling through. Being bogged down with more stuff should not be my desire.

Then what is?

I don't know. Answering that question has consumed me. I don't know what it is to truly live for Christ, live for eternity, live to make a difference, live to not waste my life on the day that I stand before the God of the universe. The overwhelming knowledge of an Abba Father God is very prominent in my knowing of who He is, but so is the Master of the Talents who really will call for an account. My fear is myself. Scared to give it all, share it all, lest it be trampled here. But I forget in that line of thought that even if God's work is trampled here by man, there is a heavenly host watching where that trampling has glory. It is worth it to give all, love all, and forsake the world.

God has allowed rest. He seems to be calling, encouraging, offering, insisting rest. But I don't know how to rest in Him. It seems to be more work to rest in Him than to make my own way. Even if I am incapable, He has continued to pour out blessings. This God who provides is a profound revelation. It's not something that I quite know how to sort out. My emotions feel flat lined even as I long to feel the power of the goodness of God, but at the same time I am too scared to. Imagine the power of that depth of love. Not for my sake, not for my self righteousness, but because it cost the blood of His Son to love me so deeply. And after that crushing of His beloved, because of it, God loves me. Letting that sink in must require rest.

A lighthouse was the other word that God applied to this move. As we inch our way into this settled community of lake dwellers, I have prayed to be a lighthouse of the gospel. As our house sits a bit on a hill, I can envision the light of Christ shining out. At least I hope it will be shining out. I want immediate, but I forget that God works on a different time table. Usually years, rather than moments. But the moments add up to years, and there have already been so many powerful moments to add to the equation. Our home, half done as it is, has had an open door to visitors nearly everyday since we've been here. Not minding that there is no front deck, and even enduring the outhouse, lack of electricity and meals cooked on a propane cylinder, God has brought so many souls to pour into. How I love this aspect of our new location.

A good reminder, this swift kick of sound theology this morning, as I sit enjoying the view this side of Heaven. This lake is passing away, this house is passing away, along with everything inside of it, even this body is passing away. But the one who does the will of God lives forever. I hope Jesus comes soon. I hope I am found being faithful when He does.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Profit



What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, 
yet forfeit their soul? 
Mark 8:36

Jesus taught that to follow him is to die. Before we can live for Christ we must die to self. Really die. Die to this world. Die to its drawings and desires. Die to the temporal to live for the eternal. This won't be accomplished by ourselves. It won't be pain free. It will include suffering. Without it, I don't think a person can truly know their Savior this side of Heaven.

How I pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He wakes you up; that the Spirit would open your eyes to leave this world behind as you walk your short days in it and learn to suffer with Him who suffered. That you would know your Creator as your Comforter and that the result would be that He is your greatest treasure to be sought.

I've been doing a lot of dieing lately. 

It frees the soul as much as it tortures the heart. 

The reward: a glorious eternity.

I'm waiting.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Mother's Greatest Calling


Children are the greatest mission field a woman can have.

Dear mothers, let us not neglect one of the sweetest gifts that God has granted us: our children. In this hurry-up world, we need go no further than our own homes to find God's calling for our lives. These precious little people have been given to us for such a short time. Childhood is fleeting. Before you know it, they are out of our hands.

Speaking as a veteran mother who thought she would never survive three children under the age of four, and then gladly went on to add two more kiddos to the chaos, I can honestly tell you that they do grow up too fast. In hindsight, the diapers were easy. The tween years, then the teen years, challenge the foundation that was poured out while life sped by. But rock by rock, hopefully with solid Christ rocks, you are making a difference in the long run, even when you can't see past the temper tantrums and the rolling eyes of a twelve year old who thinks she is beyond you. In the end, there is much joy to welcome the beautiful result of a Christ honoring young adult.

Hold firm. 

Love your children beyond measure. 

Love Christ and His word more. 

Be the example.

Eternity is at stake. 

You are not their Savior, but you represent their Savior. You, Christian momma, have been given the task of raising up warriors and maidens for a godly Kingdom. Get on your knees, stay on your knees, and bring them up valiantly. Aim to be found worthy of the treasures you were entrusted with on the day that you meet Jesus face to face.

This life is short. 

Stay eternally focused. 

For you and them.

Stay home. Love your children. Feed and water them. Nourish their souls with the Word of God.


And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Masterpiece


For we are God's MASTERPIECE
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, 
so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. 
Ephesians 2:10 NLT

A farm sale that seems to never be happening, a son in heaven, two mortgages for too many months, a head cold that has lingered along with frazzled nerves that could easily teeter towards bed ridden depression- it doesn't look like a masterpiece to me.

But that's what Scripture calls it. 

A masterpiece.

A masterpiece in the hands of a Designer who knows every hair on my head, every tear that has ever dripped down my cheek, every desire of my heart. A masterpiece to reveal Himself as the strong one, Himself as the carrier, Himself as the leader worth following.

For those who are called, for those who are God's, our brief lives are a masterpiece to bring glory to the Creator. Things may appear to be in the messy stage right now, but never doubt, the pieces fit exactly where they belong. The tears and trials are the blueprints required to reveal the end result: the forming of a new creation founded "in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." All to reveal His glory. All, somehow, to result in our joy as we seek only Him.

Hold on to the promises, weary soul, and wait for the Master to be revealed.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Chicken Coop Dilemma



I am sentimental. I admit it. I may just be one of the most sentimental female souls living in this old farmhouse. As we continue to work on packing, some parts of giving up the myriad of material possessions that we own have been easy, others, not so much so. I keep trying to weigh everything from an eternal scale perspective; "keep trying," those are the key words.

Letting go of the critters last summer was challenging, especially at first with a few of the favorites, but surprisingly, their absence in our lives is just alright. Sorting closets and junk drawers has been liberating, thoughts of divulging in a plate smashing party have been discussed and then quickly passed by, and the check from the recycling center has been a bonus to this whole moving thing.

But the chicken coop has become a dilemma.

From its history of being built out of the old log barn left overs, to the memories of hammering away with the kids to finish the construction of it, to the necessity of needing it for the dozen chickens who will be moving with us, the batten board artifact is something that I can't fathom leaving behind. Talk about souvenirs: it's a little larger than the trunks full of childhood memories and the totes full of home school projects.

At this moment there are many farmers, who, by their blood relation feel indebted to assist in the moving of the structure, are scratching their heads about how to lift and haul the beast. I am just hoping and praying that my craftsmanship isn't left splattered on some back road between here and the lake view property.

Oh, life just keeps getting more and more interestinger.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Moving News


After waiting for house selling news for several months, now, in a matter of single digit days we might be signing our life away. With waning hope that there would even be an actual closing date after the recent lender changes which have made it increasingly difficult for any normal, hard working person to actually obtain a mortgage, the bank forgot to inform either us, the seller, not to mention the buyer, that we might be meeting on Friday to finalize the deal - which leaves me only two more days to pack up over half a decade of junque and get my brain ready to transition to a new life. The buyers have been very gracious and are allowing us an extra week, or longer if needed, to pack up, but unfortunatelty the sewer guy can't do anything about speeding up the permit process to install our septic system at the lake view place. Life may get interesting.

It is strange to think of leaving this sandy parcel of land that we have known so long as OurCrazyFarm. Along with the children who have enjoyed their childhood days here, this old farmstead has seen the arrival of a son from half way around the world, and has also watched us grieve a firstborn son. We have poured our heart, soul, sweat and finances into building up some kind of beauty amongst the ashes of the once-pitiful sheds, structures and major amenities, only to feel beaten back at every attempt by the never ending list of needs. Nonetheless, memories have been created on this forty acres that will be etched into our very DNA and have become treasures to be enjoyed for the rest of our days this side of Heaven.

In the rush of the latest news I am trying to process the reality of not waking up to overflowing pastures and growing fields; no more walks to the cabin site, no springs of calves and goat kids, the projects will change and the long gone horse rides will now only be enjoyed through the photo books. What scares me is not so much the fear of what lies ahead, but the realization that I would easily take it all back to continue building my Kingdom rather than being brave enough to follow God's leading into the adventure that He has planned for us which will only be revealed as we take this next step of our new beginning. As the "crazy people" remarks are only increasing, we turn our eyes to the future, especially the eternal future.

While I'm sitting here writing and drinking coffee, I ponder the irony of why I am panicking rather than packing. But my brain needs to be settled first, then the hands can do double time. Jesus said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) Here we go, ready or not; either way, we're gonna follow where He leads.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I Don't Pretend That My Children Are Saved


A friend was curious, quite some time ago, about my interesting view of the state of my children's salvation. Because, you see, I don't profess that many of them are saved. The query has floated around my ever pondering train of thoughts for months until I attempted to put together a response on why I don't pretend that my children are saved.

First of all, it doesn't glorify God to fake our standing with Him. God doesn't mince words, and He's not kidding. This is His kingdom, and He'll run it any way He wants. He says He's jealous, holy, all powerful, wiser than any wisdom we can fathom, and more glorious than we can imagine.

The deeds of mankind, at our very sin-saturated cores, on the other hand, are likened to a woman's menstrual rag. We are called blasphemers, haters of God, wicked and only capable of more wickedness. A somber understanding of ourselves is necessary to realize that a Savior is needed. What transpired in the Fall, and the continuous suffering that resulted because of it, cannot be underestimated. We are sinners. You and I, our sweet dumpling little children as well if they came of our wombs. The church has sanitized our position to the point that we forget who we are.

Until you look down the barrel of your own wickedness, you can not appreciate a Savior who would stretch out His arms and bleed for you, even while you were the enemy, the one wielding the whip and spitting in His face. As sin was put upon the perfect Lamb of Jesus, Holiness turned away so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be welcomed into an eternal Kingdom. Looking at Scripture, acknowledgement of sin is a precursor to salvation. If an understanding of our position with God is not understood, repentance will never be needed.

God takes great delight in how and when He works salvation in His children. It is done on His time table, in His way. The robbing of that privilege is not our place, while at the same time Scripture tells us to seek the Lord and He will be found. God says that it is His glory to conceal a matter and the honor of kings to search them out (Proverbs 25:2). To point out truth to children is to point out their sin, alongside a glorious God who promises salvation, but not on our terms. It is His gift to grant.

Secondly, it doesn't benefit them. Salvation, at its core, from our mortal standpoint, is a very selfish thing. Who do you know that wants all glory to go to God, in all circumstances, even in choosing His elect, even if that glory is most clearly revealed through the unimaginably horrendous truth of the doctrine of Hell? One day every one of us is going to stand before this just God all on our own to give account. Even if the Bible underestimates its inferences to an eternal punishment, none of us wants to get close to the flaming fires that are described. We're all for sliding in to the pearly gates at the end of a self satisfying, lengthy existence here as long as there is an eternity of self satisfaction to look forward to.

But a life that is not clearly being transformed to treasuring Christ does not equal salvation, no matter how many times said person has signed a paper or raised their hands at the Bible camp campfires. Salvation does not depend on mans decision, but on God's. For my children to pretend to themselves that God has saved them, or worse yet, for me to pretend for them, does them no good now or, especially, eternally.

Lastly, pretending that they are saved when there is no evidence, has no benefit to others. If, as a Christian, I attempt to raise my children according to what Scripture says, and if I allow anything else but the Bible's description of salvation to be portrayed while I am toting the good life, and if I neglect to confront them on their own state of salvation, I have not only damned them but anyone else that they have one iota of a godly influence on in their young lives.

Take Trent's life for instance. People assumed that because he was young he went to Heaven. That isn't what Scripture says. Try as I might, I can find no verses that say all twelve year old boys go to Heaven. I do find verses that say that salvation is only offered through the atoning blood of Christ, it is granted by God, by His grace, and the result is a professing of our mouths and lives that reveal the work God has done. That work was revealed in my son's life through his confession of his sinful state and the realization that he wasn't right with God. The confession of that sin, and his desire for a Savior, was the work of the Holy Spirit so that this young boy could boast in nothing but the grace of God.

It's pretty simple: No transformation, no salvation. Our carefully scripted prayers have nothing to do with providing salvation other than to point to the grace of God. They are not the means, but the result, of God's preordained work. That is why it is so glorious, because it's all about God, not us.

Am I my children's judge? By no means. Am I their mother, who has been given the task of pointing these young people to their only hope for salvation as Scripture lays out? Absolutely. Do I strive as in labor pains for the transforming work of the Spirit in their lives, being brought to my knees in tears begging that God would grant them hearts for Him as their ultimate delight? Every day. Why? Because there is no greater joy that I long for them to have than to know their Holy Creator.



Saturday, May 17, 2014

Denying the Power


Some things have been mulling around my thoughts the last few days. In the midst of living in the limbo of soon giving up our worldly kingdom for the sake of advancing God's kingdom, the female gender of the emotions of my mind -up, down; stay, move; erratic fear versus trusting God or keep comfy in my pajamas and drink coffee all day- is whirling as only a woman's can. Add to all this my long standing mantra of frustration over watching pitiful walks of proclaimed Christianity through self promoting, false doctrine blaring propaganda via the numerous offers of free site hosting on the world wide web...

But, I digress.....

What I meant to say, was that without the gospel, we have no business toting our Christian ideologies. Without the basis of a knowledge of the depth of our own sin, the blood of Jesus spilled as the atonement, or the claims of the sovereign God behind the whole plan, there is no power. There may be a lot of flash, some tears, and, in our day and age, a hundred and fifty-two thousand tweets, reposts and Facebook likes; but without the true gospel being proclaimed, there is no power for salvation, repentance, or glorification of a holy God. He works through His word, through suffering, through the good news being proclaimed in its entirety.

It is my opinion, and maybe yours, too, that professing believers today have swallowed, hook, line and sinker, nearly every sparkling facet of Christianity that is toted in our world of technology. Don't like the message being proclaimed? A click away will bring you to one that you do like and want to accept. We have become exactly what Paul predicted in 2 Timothy 3:5, we are a people who have "a form of godliness, but deny its power."

Get in your Bibles, people of God, and marinate yourself in the words that give life, not the time-wasting sites that dull your soul and lead you astray from the source of the power. When I open the Word I tremble. Often times, the tears can't be held back. My longing for this God of holiness is so intense, and the power revealed in the time spent with Him is so great, that I wonder, like the author Richard Baxter (The Saint's Everlasting Rest) did,

"...if a man did but once hear of such unspeakable glory to be obtained,
and believed what he heard to be true,
he should be transported with the vehemency of his desire after it,
and should almost forget to eat and drink, and should care for nothing else,
and speak of and inquire after nothing else, but how to get this treasure."

Does your life revolve around the gospel? Is the gospel the answer to all of your problems? God seemed to think that the gospel was answer enough, and I often wonder if His people shouldn't think the same way.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Propagating Grapes and Plums


Jesus said, 
"I am the vine, you are the branches. 
If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; 
apart from me you can do nothing." 
John 15:5

Because I still have hopes that the potential farm buyer's financing will eventually go through, I am trying to proceed living within that reality. One part of that reality is that there are no grape vines or plum trees at the new property- a problem that should be easily solved, and even satisfies my deep nostalgic side, by propagation. Propagation, in its simplest terms, just means to take what you have and multiply it. We have an abundance of grape vines and plum trees on the farm, besides an abundance of perfectly composted black dirt, so I took a chance on the World Wide Web being accurate and set off to clip some branches to try the experiment.

So far, so good.

A couple of weeks ago I cut some healthy, still dormant vines/branches (research says to cut them at an angle for best results) about 9-15 inches long that included several buds each, then put them in a vase to soak one end in water to get them started well. Some of the grape vines have already started budding, but I understand that some may take up to two months to show growth. Yesterday I dug out some planters from the garage and filled them with black gold from the compost pile, then gently pushed the cut end of the branches into the dirt. I covered each pot with a plastic bag and set them in a south facing window to indulge in all the sunshine they want. Hopefully, after a few weeks of watering and care, there will be an abundance of beautiful new roots and healthy, young plants to transfer to their new, permanent homes.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Survivor


Sometimes, life has a way of zooming on by without bothering to ask if we can keep up or even looking back to see if we're buckled in for the ride. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of exhausting, amazing, satisfying, God filled, as well as plenty of mundane, activities. One of the highlights of those frenzied activities was running the 5k race.

I survived. I did not come in first. I did not come in last. I did take a wrong turn and instead of running 3.1 miles, I ran more than 3.1, but whose counting?

On so many levels, the activity of running grows and stretches a person. It was growth far beyond the new muscles and the shin splints that kept this middle aged woman putting one step in front of the other. Some stubborn determination to finish what I said I'd do was definitely a part of it, with perhaps some pride mingled in to show the kiddos that I could actually make it. But the best benefit was the spiritual aspect.

Out there on that course it is only your sheer determination that gets you to that finish line. Only the hope of actually seeing those flags flying, possibly around the next bend, keeps you from laying down in the ditch and instead forces you to keep going. Half way through the race I was overwhelmed with why I was out there. The race was in honor of keeping the legacy alive of another little boy who left his momma's arms sooner than she expected. It was a race to honor our children who are not with us.

I was a mother running in honor of my son.

My arms raised as my soul felt again the impact of that reality. That finish line became synonymous with the ultimate finish line of Heaven and the sting of that strained muscle in my thigh became the ache of grief; the ache that hasn't dissipated even after three years and I assume will probably never totally dull. But as it has been a joy to look back upon the accomplishment of crossing that finish line, so will it be a joy to cross over the finish line of eternity when God calls. To look back, to see the ache as a vague memory that was nothing compared to the victory, to look ahead to glory.

So I'll keep running, both physically and spiritually as God leads, because eventually, possibly around the next bend, I'll see those flags flying.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5Ks and Such


It's interesting how the patterns of our lives change. A couple of years ago I would have never considered training for a 5K, figuring that there was no need for extra running given all the exercise I got from chasing my herd of goats around the farm. Now, with no critters to speak of, other than the dozen chickens who don't need much chasing, the thought of running is nearly a daily occurrence and I can now manage a three mile walk/pathetic jog. Funny thing is, the more I run the less tired I am. Going to bed later, and getting up and actually out of bed before 6:00 a.m., has felt good. My muscles ache and the relentless pain in my thigh screams that there must be an easier hobby, but I know in the end I will be better for this one.

Cole tells me that I need to learn how to breathe; gasping isn't acceptable. He told me to come up with a simple chant, so I've started bringing Scripture with on our treks. My latest verse has been Ephesians 1:11.

In Him we were also chosen {gasp}
having been predestined {gasp}
according to the plan of Him{gasp} 
who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will {big gasp}.

Our first scheduled running event is less than a week away where we plan to run in the River's Run and Ride Rally. Not by any means to win, but to be out there supporting other families who have been called to walk the hard walk of grief. We'll be sharing our books, so, if you're a prayer, please pray for God's glorious gospel message to reach many. If you're local, come and join us to walk in honor of Trent (there is a 1 mile option available to non racers). If you come looking for me, I'll be the one sprawled on the gravel in the middle of the race path repeating my verse.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To All the Mommas

"For I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the Lord, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you a hope and a future." 
Jeremiah 29:11


To all the Mommas who had to endure an empty Easter basket this year:

I hope you remembered how much God loves you.

I hope you were able to smile through the tears.

I hope you could feel the embrace of God as He leads you down this path to know Him better.

I hope His grace enveloped you as you waited yet another day to see how God's glorious plan to prosper you will ultimately display His glory.

I hope you cried the tears, and filled the basket any way, and ate an extra chocolate Easter bunny like I did.

I hope you know that you are not alone in this battle of belief.

I hope you know that God is worthy of any sacrifice He calls His children to.

I hope you still have hope.

Monday, April 14, 2014

God's Not Dead

(Image via the World Wide Web)
There aren't many movies that our family indulges in. Our home selection includes a limited amount of DVDs and even VHS tapes that are nearly memorized line for line due to the lack of digitally mastered entertainment available in our living room. To spend the small fortune that it costs to enjoy a night in theater seats with buckets of buttered popcorn requires a show of high standing, and this is one of them.

God's Not Dead

If you haven't heard of it, google it. If you haven't seen it and you are remotely interested in furthering the Kingdom of God, go support it. If your dull soul needs a wake up call, definitely head out to the matinee- today. Take any teenage kid you know with you so that you have somebody to laugh with, cry with, dance with and share their treats. Just go see it. You will not leave unchanged.

Pure Joy

Photo by Grace


Pure joy. Those two words are pounding through my head this morning as I fight to keep eternity in perspective. God tells his children to consider trials pure joy because they test our faith, and in the end, the man who perseveres under trial will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him (James 1:3 &12).

I remind myself that this agonizing pain of missing a son is pure joy. It is a constant battle between flesh and soul. One, I believe, that is a gift to fight. One that most days I would trade in a heart beat just to have one more hug, one more sunrise with a teenage boy walking down the stairs saying “Good morning, Mom,” one more night of sharing my cheese puffs. But Scripture calls it pure joy in its perfect, conforming, eternal benefiting form of chiseling my hands off of the temporary, shallow way of living that I used to indulge in.

"Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn't want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn't seem to be any reason to leave. The door's wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it's too late." (Quote from the movie God's Not Dead. Haven't seen it? Go see it!)

I realized, again, that doctrine is not a substitute for God. I've concluded, after days if not weeks of unintentionally replacing my Savior with other comforts as innocent as my own beliefs, that God wants us to be satisfied with Him. Not who we think He is, or who our pet doctrines make Him out to be, but to find our complete satisfaction in who He really is. To behold Him in His glory as we stand in awe of Him; simply Him. Stripped of our preconceived ideas and merely loving our Creator. Melting in His holy presence and crawling into His lap to be held as a child, knowing that He has this all under control. 

Sometimes I wonder how something so majestic can be so easy.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I am Forty One


Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 
Hebrews 12:1

I am forty one. Too old to decide that running my first 5k might be a good idea. But also young enough to think that running my first 5k might be a good idea. I casually mentioned it to the kids, and the next thing I knew, I was out on the road, pounding pavement. As they whizzed by me, waving from the far off distance to their mother who was lagging behind, I wondered if maybe we shouldn't have just stuck to another Bible study or started a book club.

Half way through the mile introduction of walk/run, I was tempted to lay down and give up. As we passed the driveway for the first time around, I begged to turn in. Wallowing in the ditch would have been okay, too. But I kept going. One foot in front of the other.

And it hurt. And today it hurts worse, and I still have a mile jog to look forward to. Cole, my newly donned personal trainer, tells me that he'll adjust the schedule on week three if I still can't keep up. Groan. A long winter of sitting in my comfy computer chair has caught up with me.

Perseverance is not my strong suit. I want the instant glory. I want the tone abs and thighs without the pain. I want the medal of the race without the training. I realized that I don't particularly like even being in the race. The sidelines are fine. But nobody asked me if I wanted to be in the race of grief. I likened every step on that training course to grief. I started out strong. It felt good to stretch muscles that I knew were there. Until the stop sign kept getting further and further away no matter how many steps I seemed to take. The small victories - a telephone pole, a line in the road, a mailbox- spurred me on.

On my knees before God this morning, I felt like I did out there on that road yesterday. Like just laying down to have myself a pity party. I'm tired of this. I'm worn out. My heart feels ready to burst. But just one more step. One more step. One more step towards victory. I realized that the strength to continue doesn't depend on me on this faith walk. It's God who's waiting for me to wear myself out in my own strength, so that I finally depend on His. I never said that I wasn't slow.

I guess sometimes it's just a long way home.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't You Know Me?

"Don't you know me ... even after I have been among you such a long time?"

Jesus asked the age-old question of Philip in the book of the Apostle John (John 14:9), but the way the query of truth resonated in its quest of probing my soul, it was as if the Savior had asked the heart searching interrogation directly to me this morning. The words popped off the page and stabbed the place in my heart that needed convicting. The particular passage was a re-read on my journey through the New Testament; familiar words that speak volumes, taking on a voice of their own with each new round. This habit of daily spending time in the Word and prayer, nearly twenty years now of  a quiet corner with a cup of coffee and a worn version of Scripture, comes down to this question: Don't I know Jesus? Even after all this time?

Philip had asked for a clearer revelation. One clearer than physically walking, talking, living and doing life with the flesh and blood Jesus. As I read the account, I wondered if he had witnessed the Pharisees asking this same question, or heard Jesus' response to them. I wondered at Jesus' presumably shaking head, the hurt, the deep pain of doubt as, again, one of His own stood before him wondering if He was telling the truth.

I saw myself.

I saw my doubt.

I saw my petty requests for a clearer revelation, maybe the skies parting and a glimpse of Heaven, then I could live the rest of my life believing beyond a doubt and would get off my keester and commit my whole being, laziness and all, to being poured out as a fragrant offering to whatever the Lord asked of me. Then I wouldn't grumble or complain about the paths my Maker had wisely designed for my existence. I would happily suffer whatever was necessary for the sake of the gospel to resound loudly through my life, for the sake of the glory of God, for the anticipation of seeing His face on That Day, on hearing the longed for words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Yes, I had profoundly decided, a glimpse of the eternity where my son now resides would settle it all for me.

But then came the words... "Don't you know Me?"

Conviction.

Shame.

Repentance.

Yes, I know you, Lord. You are the One who allowed me to see my son's body lying on that emergency room gurney and to praise you for it. The One who carried me through those anguishing first days of grief with an enormous outpouring of grace, a grace so thickly poured out that it could be felt, a grace that cushioned and comforted and baffled. The One who has shown me where I am with you. The One who is proving my hearts true desire. I know You.

You said that you wouldn't leave me. You said that you would send a Comforter. You said that your Word was you; that your Word was enough to sustain us to know you until we see you face to face. You said that my sorrow now would turn to rejoicing. You said that it is an honor to suffer alongside of you. You said that you are coming soon. You said that these trials are less than nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed. You said that I can trust you. You said to ask for anything in your name, and You would do it.

I ask, Lord, that Your will would be done. That Your name would be high and lifted up. That I would become less as You become more. I pray that You would be glorified and that the personal cost to my temporary life would be my least concern. I pray that You would continue to give me the eyes to see the worth of dieing to self in order to live for You, the heart to trust, and the ability to go forth proclaiming the good news so that the captives might be set free. I pray that You would get all the glory in it.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spearmint Eucalyptus Goat's Milk Soap




This may be my new, all time, forever favorite scent: Spearmint Eucalyptus Goat's Milk Soap. A luxurious bar is sitting in the little blue soap dish holder next to the kitchen sink tempting me to wash my hands with it every time I get close enough for a whiff. Mmm~mmmm. With a bit of crushed chamomile flowers for added beauty and a tiny bit of scrubbing power, it's good stuff.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Three Winners!


Grace drew three names for the Casting Crown CD's...

Drum Roll, please...

And the winners are:



Peggy Lineberry

If you'd please leave me a comment (will not be posted) with your mailing addresses Brenda and Peggy (I know where you are, Sherry) I'll get them shipped out right away.

Thanks for playing along!
PS~ If you don't have this CD~ get it now:) It'll bless your socks off!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Come to the Well Giveaway


Three Days. 
Three Free CD's. 
Just leave a comment on this post
(with an email address if you don't have a blog for notification if you win). 
Three lucky winner's names will be drawn on Friday afternoon.
Tell all your friends!


Songs on this track:
Courageous
City on a Hill
Jesus, Friend of Sinners
Already There
The Well
Spirit Wind
Just Another Birthday
Wedding Day
Angel
My Own Worst Enemy
Face Down
So Far to Find You


The giveaways are being hosted by More Glory Ministries
Winners will be drawn on Friday afternoon, March 21, 2014.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Was a Goat Farmer



But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me,
"Go, prophesy to my people Israel."
Amos 7:15


I was a goat farmer when God called me. My days enjoyably consisted of tending my flock of critters and children, gardens and home, while I pursued what I thought was a deep walk with Christ: reading my Bible, attending church and prayer services, doing my duty in the nursery. Then God showed up with reality. Eternity appeared before us with a dose of acknowledgement that couldn't be ignored. The truths that God had been laying as a foundation in my life were now called upon to be lived out. He shook my world and called me to greater desires.

When the grace of God is poured out on a person there is no going back, only going deeper and closer to that Light. The world around you dulls in the presence of Jesus and the previously glittering distractions are no longer a lure. You have no choice but to want more. Not more of the world, but more of the moments when it is all about God's glory.

I don't know how to adequately describe the transformation. I don't know how to tell you what it feels like to be so close to Holiness where you are allowed to sense the very near presence of your Maker and still breathe. The day of Trent's death was a day of repentance. "I believe you now, God, help me overcome my unbelief." I thought I was living for Christ before that day. Now I only long to live for Him. To live with nothing here that I won't want to leave on the day that He calls me.

To live desperately needing God for everything is addictive and satisfying. But I don't have a need for God now in the same way that I did three years ago. I want to live where I need Him. I want my life to be poured out to walk like Jesus walked. I am excited to see how God plans to fulfill that longing in the days that I have left to live for Him alone.


"These are the words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Wake up!
Strengthen what remains and is about to die,
for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard;
obey it, and repent.
But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief,
and you will not know at what time I will come to you."
Revelation 3:1-3





Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rule #1: Don't Tell the Mother of the Dead Son That She is Too Deep



It has happened before and it's happened again. And I'm sure, if I wait long enough, the words will be repeated yet a few more times. But when they come from church leadership, they send me into a tailspin of wondering how we can all be reading the same book and serving the same King.


"You're too deep. You're just zealous because your son died. Basically, shallow is okay. No point in fussing over this God stuff so much. So what if the message isn't particularly Jesus glorifying or gospel pounding, let alone if eternity is laid out clearly? The preferred hum of the lullaby is what people want, so quit rocking our sinking boat."


I wonder at these ubber-kind professing Christian folk. If the tables were changed, and if it was them rather than me waking up everyday to a child who has already faced God and eternity, if the tune would change. I wonder if they would be standing at their pulpits preaching repentance, how short life really is, how God isn't kidding. I wonder if they would preach a God glorifying gospel. I wonder if the souls in the pews would matter more.


Look at your child. Do you ever wonder about their eternity? What if it comes today? Does it break your heart or give you peace that you are fully confident of their relationship with God? Why, then, are you not on your knees right now begging for their salvation? Do the new toys or the sports events or the programs or the upcoming summer vacation plans matter more than the state of their soul?


How about your own soul? Where are you with God? Where is God with you?


Frances Chan preached a sermon some time ago titled "Lukewarm and Loving it" based on Revelation 3:15 (YouTube Link Here). "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth." We are a lukewarm nation. We are a lukewarm people. We are a lukewarm church. And we are loving it.


I came home and cried after the conversation. Not as much for my own sake, but moreso for Gods. How does a holy God feel about His children being lukewarm? How does He feel about those same children encouraging others to be lukewarm? How does He feel when it is His Son and His glory that is really being trampled on in the midst of our Sunday morning games? I can't even imagine.





Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Building Castles



Do not work for food that spoils, 
but for food that endures to eternal life, 
which the Son of Man will give you. 
John 6:27a

Doing crazy things like selling the farm and most of your worldly possessions in response to what you acknowledge as the calling of God opens your life up for speculation. Especially when that calling includes a double wide trailer house, the stigma of how weird you really must be can't be faked on the kind people's faces who can barely help but offering their opinion. The past few days have included more human contact than I have had most of this long, cold winter thanks to tax appointments and social obligations. Honestly, the weather was a good excuse to hide from the world and just bunker down with very few other opinions than God's.

What a strange awakening to come out of my little cocoon and get a taste of the outside world. I assumed, because of how we live, that every professing believer was actually a believer. Since my days are consumed with thoughts of God and eternity, I figured that every other disciples thoughts were, too. I spend my days thinking about how to please the Lord, what my first glimpse of eternity will be, wondering what Jesus really looks like, anticipating the full redemption of my sinful nature and the body it is trapped in, wrestling with Scripture, and longing desperately for the satisfaction of being in the presence of my Savior.

So what a shock to not find that, especially in church going folk who gather regularly on Sunday mornings. It baffles me. Makes me shake my head and wonder if I am too radical. Maybe too gung-ho about all this Jesus and salvation stuff. Maybe I am the one who has made too much emphasis on the fact that eternity is going to be such a long time. Maybe I should tone it down and just live for now, building my castles here rather than seeking to build them in Heaven. Maybe Jesus was too intent on His Father's kingdom. Somehow, I don't think so.

There is a recently signed contract to sell the farm sitting on my cluttered computer desk. Whew. Holding our breaths, realizing all the crazy emotions combined in one that this is really happening, we now wait for the end of the month when there will {Lord willing} be no more farm mortgage payments. At the same time, being cautiously excited for what the future holds and praying that it will make us available and willing for whatever God asks next, all the while believing that having less of this world will give us a greater longing for eternity.

My ever wise daughter, Alexis, calmed my frazzled response to the varied opinions on our move when she wondered out loud if others were scared that God might call them to what He has called us to, therefor it is easier to call us crazy than to wonder if God really meant that we should live wholly for Him and not invest the majority of our time, money, emotions, talents, etc., etc., in this world. After all, the rich man preferred his riches over having Jesus, she reminded me.

It makes me stop and ponder every object that I think I can't part with as we pack up this junque. "Will this go with me to eternity?" I continually ask myself as I am sorting through our possessions. Nope. None of it. Like the good folks in Hebrews who gladly gave up their belongings because they knew there were better and lasting ones awaiting them (Hebrews 10:34), I try to remember what all this stuff really is.

I remind myself to be patient as I resist the urge to build my castle here, and instead longingly look forward to a lasting castle. I don't think Jesus was kidding. He is coming soon. He does expect His children to be looking and waiting for Him. He will separate the sheep and the goats. Eternity will be a long, long time.




Monday, March 10, 2014

Sixteen Years Ago


But I am the Lord your God...
I cared for you in the desert,
in the land of burning heat.
Hosea 13:4a

Sixteen years ago a son was brought forth from my womb. This morning I am again recalling that day. I remember the pain and the contractions on top of contractions caused by the induction medicine that was administered because he was thought to be several days overdue. I remember the doctor who insisted that I would labor eight hours longer than I did. I remember my mother's hands braiding my hair in an attempt to soothe the pain that was so necessary.


I remember the nurses taking him from my breast shortly after he was born to administer oxygen, a foreshadowing of his life perhaps. I remember my husband stealing him back, refusing to be separated from his firstborn son.


I remember the struggle to feed him from my body over the next several months, and to draw near to him for fear of my intense love that seemed like too much. I remember the battles over his little soul in the years to come. I remember the day of his salvation, the acknowledgement of a Savior's grace, the hope of eternity in the presence of a holy God.


I remember counting his toes again on that hospital bed in the emergency room the day he died, just like the day he was born: one, two, three, all the way to ten. I remember God's grace when He gave and when He took away. This same God, who cared for the Israelites in the desert, who cared that a twelve year old boy needed a Savior, who knows the sound of a mother's falling tears.


I find this pain to be a driving force that pushes me closer to Him, not away, lest I be satisfied here in the temporary, becoming proud and comfortable and ultimately forgetting my God. This beckoning found through suffering, the hurt that penetrates so deep, is an offer to draw near to the Almighty.


The calming words of Scripture from the Sovereign One who intends to carry me all the way until I see His face has assured me that His plans are perfect. I can't see the full eternal worth of this suffering right now, but the God who called me to this trial continues to prove over and over again that He is faithful. He cares for me in the desert. In Him will I be satisfied.