New Mercy Moments: Darkness Into Light

A friend and I walked through the woods on a crisp September day.  In the midst of deep conversation about painful childhood wounds, we came upon this spider’s web, shimmering in the sunlight.                                                                                                                                                           I snapped a photo and we walked on.

Job 12-22

I have thought a lot about that walk and that conversation and the

pain that can be forgiven and healed but not forgotten.  

Deep places in the past that were dark and scary and poison to the very soul.  I have talked to many women who have found themselves entangled in the same gnarly web of shame.

Oh, but when we allow the light to shine and God’s love to heal, when we choose forgiveness and grace…. There is a beauty that is revealed and the light dances and shines and makes lovely that which was unloveable.  I am so thankful, today, that God redeems the darkness and from it creates a story that brings light to others.

Job 12:22 He reveals mysteries from the darkness And brings the deep darkness into light.

New Mercy Moments: Prayers For A New School Year

Sitting under the tree in the front yard, watching the light dance between the thinning leaves.  I know that soon they will turn and fall, with all the beauty and grace that Autumn brings.

2 Timothy 1-7

I am thinking about school and sending my kiddos off to the big building filled with concrete and Kids, hallways and hormones… It is still an odd place to find my heart.  We homeschooled until high school and then felt God calling us to send them to public school… Believe me, I questioned a lot.  Maybe we didn’t hear right.  Could this really be what God wants for my kids?  But now we are embarking on year 2 and seeing His Grace in it all.

But I am praying.  

Today I find myself praying about friends… asking God to bring divine appointments for new relationship.  Ones that will shape my kids for the better.  Friends that will feel safe…. Comfortable.  These are good prayers…Right?

Sure… But God nudges my heart… Don’t stop there

I still struggle with so much fear.

What if the friends He brings them are a little rough around the edges?… or what if their edges are broken?  What if these friends have no edges?  No Boundaries?  What then?

Day by day I am learning to trust Him with those who I hold the closest to my heart and day by day He has never failed us.  So I will pray that my kids are sent out to be light in the darkness, joy in the midst of sorrow, truth surrounded by lies.  That they will love the broken as well as the whole.  That they will not walk in fear but in POWER and LOVE and a SOUND MIND.  Will you join me in this prayer for all our kids?  And will you trust, with me, in the One who has called them by name and even now holds them in his strong hands?

Next week, I will pack lunches, write Notes, watch for busses and pray as if their lives depend on it!  And I will choose not to fear!

 

 

Lunch Box Notes

DSC_0654Early every morning, with breakfast in their tummies and lunches packed, I send my 3 babies off to school.  Yes, I know they are nearly all teenagers and taller than their mama but still my babies.

School is a relatively new thing for us.  After over a decade of homeschooling, this is the first year that they are all attending school full time. It was a decision made with lots and lots of prayer and tears and discussion but we are finding God’s grace in it and so many valuable life lessons for all of us.

My sweet Girl is in 9th grade this year and it was her first time ever heading off to school, so on day one, I included an encouraging note in her lunch box so she would know I loved her and was praying for her.  Upon arriving home she thanked me for the note and said it made her day.  So started the tradition.

But you can only say, “I love you”, “have a great day” and “I am praying for you” so many times before they are just words on the napkin.  So I began to look for inspiring quotes and encouraging scripture to include in my daily doses of written love.

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Enter Pinterest!

I am not much of a Pinterest Pinner but I found that it was useful for collecting all these witty little pearls of wisdom I wanted to share.  I bought some index cards and every morning with my daily cup of coffee, I write a note.  Sometimes they are a fun quote from a beloved movie or book character, sometimes words from a song.  Often times it is wisdom from God’s word.  Paupers and Presidents alike have had profound words throughout the centuries that bear repeating.

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Sitting around the lunch table at our big public school she excitedly pulls out the note to see what it says today.  She smiles and friends ask what she is reading.  These words are now being read aloud daily or passed around quietly like a secret fortune cookie.  I pray for these kids, Many of whom don’t have Bible verses or words of wisdom spoken to them at home.  But because these notes include words from Taylor Swift and Bilbo Baggins as well as God, the Creator of the Universe, they pause for a moment to see what the Lunch Box Note says today.  It is my hope that these words will somehow may a difference in their day… even their Life!

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My daughter would often comment on her Lunch Box Note at the end of the day and Big Brother started to catch on to the fact that he wasn’t getting any such notes in his lunch.  The simple reason was that he leaves later, is a picky eater so he makes his own lunch and I wasn’t as involved in that process.  This semester his schedule changed so that he is leaving early and asked if I would start making his lunch.  “Of course,” I said.  Come to find out that the real reason was just that he wanted Lunch Box Notes too.

We will have 4 more years of High School and I hope to continue the tradition for as many years, though I am afraid I will run out of new things to write.  I suppose lots of words need to be heard many times in order to sink in so maybe I will start a note recycle program.  It is easy to find the old notes.  I find them pinned up all over my daughter’s room or stuck on the mirror in the bathroom.  When I started out with this idea, I never imagined that it would mean that much to them.  There have been a few days where I forgot or didn’t have time and I couldn’t believe the disappointment I heard at the end of the day. It means that much to them.

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So, I encourage you to start your own collection of words for your children.  Your’s may look very different than mine which you can find here on my Pinterest page)  but that is what will make it fun and unique to your little place in the world…  But someday, when they are old and grown with their own kids, there will be that conversation… you know the one.

“Hey, remember when mom used to put all those great notes in my lunch box?”

“Yeah, those were great…  I still have some of them”!

“I do them for my kids now too and they love it as much as I did”.

Do you have a quote you would like to share?  Maybe something said by your Great Grandmother or your 3rd grade teacher.  I would love for you to leave them in the comments so that I can add them to the inspiring words that shape my children’s lives.

You can also find me on Facebook and Pinterest.

New Mercy Moments: Overflowing

The day starts early.  The sun has not even hinted to it’s arising when the alarm sounds in the darkness.  I head straight for the kitchen to plug in the coffee pot.  This amazing man who has joined his life to mine, he always has the Peculator filled and ready.  His day starts hours before mine but at the moment I plug in the machine and hear it start to breath and bubble, I thank God for my sweet husband and how he speaks my love language… Coffee!

In the cold, dark kitchen, I fill my cup and sip in the quietness before the rest of the house has powered up.  Mornings are a new thing for me.  For many years I was a die-hard homeschool mom whose day started at a much more leisurely pace.  Coffee time could last until well into the day and getting dressed was optional.  Things are different now.  Life is busier and quieter all at the same time.  A new season… a path we have not walked before.DSC_0006-002

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trusting Him, So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

This week, as the car broke down, the water quit running and the hours rush on with never enough of them in the day, I ask myself….. “Am I overflowing with Hope”?  Many are concerned about events in the world and what our lives will look like in the future.  Sometimes I can’t get beyond my own small life and the trials that sometimes seem larger than my strength.

And yet… there is a quiet hope.  Maybe not the overflowing kind that I seek, but still….

You see, I am so filled with love from my Savior.  Every day, he shows me in new ways how great is His love for me.  It is a steady knowing in the midst of the unknown.  He is a God who’s very nature is Hope and as I trust in Him I am truly filled with Joy and Peace… the kind that surpasses all understanding.

As I sit outside surrounded by the changing colors of Autumn,  I watch my sweet boy who is pulling the leaves off the trees just because he loves to watch them fall.  His life is full of uncertainty and trials and yet such a simple joy that if fills me with wonder as I watch him play.  His happy giggle rings in the crisp fall air and it warms my heart.  It also reminds me to cast my cares on the one who cares for me.  Then I find my own hope and joy rising to a point where is just might overflow.

DSC_0037Friends, if you find yourself in changing times that weigh heavy on your fragile heart, Trust in Him who is the God of Hope.  Cast your cares to the wind and watch them blow away with the turning leaves.  Sometimes it really has to be a choice.  Sometimes we must choose the peace that He offers.  Practice with me the art of letting go.  Choose peace and joy today when fear comes knocking.  Together we might find that place of overflowing hope that the world so desperately needs.  And we may find that those New Mercies are always right there for the taking.

 

Finding Rest When You Can’t Sleep

Now that I am actually getting some, I have some new perspectives on Sleep.

First, let me tell you that I have been an un-apologetic co-sleeper for most of my children’s young lives.  My husband and I both loved having all 3 of our kids tucked in and around our bed each night.  This is not the life for everyone and not what this story is about but is part of our story and I have wonderful memories of those days…But there comes a time in every child’s life when it is time to move on to their own little space in the world of sleep.   

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For my first 2 children, this transition was gentle and mostly peaceful.

 But Autism is a different story and a great night’s sleep in not always a part of it.

For the past 15 years, there have been hundreds of times that my husband has recited this bible verse over us as we prayed for our family at bedtime.

… For the Lord gives sleep to those he loves… (Psalm 127:2)

… And if I am honest, I resented that statement for years.

“Don’t you love me, Lord”?

Through the watches of the long, dark nights, I would often ask this.  Of course, as a good Bible-Girl I already knew the truth.  OF COURSE HE LOVES ME!  Then why will you not grant us a peaceful night’s rest?  I would hold my chattering, shaking, and restless, agitated boy and plead with God for rest.  Some nights were better than others, but I did not sleep thought the night for 15 years.

DSC_0084-001We tried every natural remedy known to man.  Melatonin, herbs, oils, sound machines, weighted blankets, occupational therapy, massage and lots of prayer.   I need to tell you that I am someone who functions very well on very little sleep.  At least there was that, I reasoned.

But as I look at the verse from Psalm 127 again, I see something different. When I read it in it’s entirety, it looks a little different to me.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.  It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-5

This verse is reminding me that every attempt I make to save myself is in vain.  But rest comes as I find my portion in God and his great love for me.  I am also realizing that God has, indeed given me both sleep and rest.  In all my nights of murmuring before God, I was forgetting that I did sleep… sometimes only minutes at a time, sometimes hours, but it was enough.  Enough that I never actually suffered some of the terrible side effects of sleep deprivation.  Instead of being resentful for what I don’t have, I am so thankful for what I have been blessed with.

I have been blessed with strength and joy, even after those hard nights.  I get new mercies every morning and can choose to walk in them no matter how long the weeping of night endures.  Joy does come and I am thankful for it.christmas eve 003-001

Six months ago, we did finally decide to seek professional help.  It was a hard decision to make for this all-natural, daughter-of-a-hippy gal.  Our son has been on sleep medication since then, and while it was not a magic pill, it did help all the other things we were trying seem to be more effective.  I am happy to tell you that he is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed from 9:30 pm to 6:00 am for most nights.  After 15 years, I have had to work on sleep training myself but I am getting longer and longer stretches of sleep every night.  We occasionally have hard nights still but we have a lot of appreciation for the good ones.

If sleepless nights are part of your story, I want you to know that you are not alone.  Not because there are lots of us mamas in the same boat, but because your Creator, who holds your every moment in his hands, promised that he would walk with you through the long, dark nights and offer you peace and rest, even when sleep is hard to find.DSC_0476-001

Counting My Blessings

Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.  Psalm 127:3

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When I was a little girl, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you this. “ I just want to be a good wife and have lots of kids.”

So after practicing on everyone elses children  for nearly 20 years, I married in November of my 27th year and was thrilled to be pregnant by Christmas!  

 

Our son was born 6 and a half months later. After a traumatic birth and 32 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, bringing him home was

like a lifelong  dream come true.

Eighteen months later, our daughter was born and Twenty-four months after that we were blessed with another son.  We were on a roll and having a blast!

scan0020Just before turning two, our youngest was diagnosed with Autism.

 My perfect world crumbled and we leaned into Jesus in a whole new way.  In light of what was going on, we prayed about taking a break from having kids but felt like God was calling us to trust him in every area of our lives.  We had not used birth control up to that point.

On a warm June evening, my husband and I prayed together, affirming our trust in God in the area of our family.  We committed to letting Him control the size of our family and believed that we could rejoice in what he gave.  

This journey has been very different from the one I thought I was embarking on.

The next month, I thought for sure I would be pregnant… I wasn’t.

“Next month it will happen”, I told myself….  It didn’t.

Nor the month after that….

Next month turned into next year… and then the year after that.

The cycle of tears and pain through those years is something that I hid from most.  

I rejoiced with dear friends through pregnancies with babies number 4, 5 & 6.

I got lots of advice…

“Take these supplements.”

“Try this position.”

“It will happen when you stop trying.”

“God must know that you already have your hands full.”

We did not feel that going to doctors for fertility treatments was how God was calling us to trust him…. so we waited and prayed.

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My youngest son will be twelve soon and

I have never gotten pregnant again.

I will be 44 next month.

I have come to a place of peace and acceptance that I am not likely to have more children.

But I sometimes wish I could drown out that last little spark of hope that glows every month.  It has been 124  months of hope and disappointment and I am weary of the roller coaster ride.

But I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of what I have learned.

1. I am so thankful for the children I have.  I am truly rich beyond measure, especially when I consider the thousands of women who have never been able to bear children of their own.  I know now how little control I really have in this area and I feel so blessed to have been entrusted with my little troop.

2.  I can be over-the-moon happy for someone announcing their pregnancy and feel devastated for myself all at the same time.  I have learned that they are not competing emotions. Wanting to be blessed with what others have does not mean I cannot be happy that they are blessed.  I don’t have to resent that you have 10 children even though I could only have three.

3.  God is good and his love endures to all generations!  While I may not understand his plan and may sometimes like to share with him how I would handle this if I were God, my heart always comes back to knowing that His plans for me are good and there is no better place to put my hope and trust.  His grace is enough for even the most painful seasons of disappointment and I am thankful for that.
I am learning to find my contentment and peace in this journey.  Sometimes it gets easy, other times if feels heart crushing.  But it’s ok.

 When I am broken is when my Creator holds me the tightest.

 When I let go of all hope is when I find true hope in Him.

 He holds my world in his hands and I will trust in his Goodness.

If this journey is one that you are sharing, I want to remind you that you are not alone and that His Grace really is sufficient for us.

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Finding Hope When Autism Hurts

scan0006I have always been an optimist. A “glass half full, look on the bright side, nothing bad is going to happen”, kind of person.  So when our son was diagnosed with Autism at his second birthday, it was good friends and the hope for better days that got me through it.  You see, I was certain that God would heal him.  In fact, I told myself that Jonah would be healed by his third birthday.

We have had quite a few birthdays since then.

We have also had a lot of therapies, supplements, diets, exercises and conferences. All that promised to make a difference in his diagnoses.   None of those things are bad, but we had to quit chasing a cure.

Still, I hoped.  I heard that things could get easier as he got older.  I held on to this hope.  But “Hope differed makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12) and my heart is aching.

We have had some hard days of late.  As Jonah gets older we are seeing some unsettling behaviors increasing.  He is also getting bigger…. and stronger!  I recently got my first “Autism Bruise”.  Not the figurative kind.  The real life, black and blue, hurts like the dickens kind.  During an overreaction to being scratched by the kitty, Jonah flailed and screamed until I got kicked in the leg trying to comfort him.

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I can no longer put my hope in brighter days ahead.  In fact, it is a painful reality that things may get worse before they get better.

And then, the Great Comforter comes softly and whispers to my soul,

“I am your only HOPE”.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5

You see, there never was any real hope outside of Him.   And my hope in Him is not for what he can do for me, though I believe very much in His power to heal.  My hope is that through Him, I can find strength for today.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you Psalm 33:22

It is His steadfast love that I need to walk in.

With that, what else could my soul need?

I know that there will still be days that my heart aches with the overwhelming task in front of me. I need to continually re-center my hope solely in Christ alone and the work he finished for me. I will need to ask for his grace as I fail to keep my eyes on the prize of His Glory alone.

But in this moment, I find my Hope is renewed and I have the strength for one more day.  That is all we are promised…. And that promise is enough for my aching heart.HopeClick on photo for purchasing options.

The Path

The Path

“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”
Isaiah 78:17

If, Like me, you find yourself on an unfamiliar path… Trust in Him who promises to teach and direct us in every moment that we are willing to listen and learn.

I Shall Not Be In Want

117 Every evening we have a little ritual called

“Family Time”

We all snuggle up in Jonah’s bedroom and tuck him into bed. He then declares “time to say your prayers”. He prays the same prayer every night. It is one that he learned from a 321 Penguins video.
Among other things, he thanks God for the “really cool spaceship in the attic”. We don’t actually have a spaceship in the attic but it’s ok. I don’t think his Heavenly Father minds and neither do we.

Then, all together, we recite Psalm 23
The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want….
We continue on though the whole chapter but today my heart stopped on that first verse.

Other versions say it this way.
I have all that I need. I lack nothing.
It is because the Lord is my shepherd that my heart can find contentment in any circumstance.

We live in a world that constantly tells us to want more. More money, nicer clothes, better car….
But what about good things like a better marriage, another child or healing from Autism?

I am not saying that we should never want anything.  But my heart is learning that to be in a constant state of wanting is exhausting.
To rest in the strong arms of a Good Shepherd who knows all my needs and desires is all my soul really craves. To find contentment in any circumstance because He is with me and his presence is enough.
Enough to fill the empty spaces that the wanting leaves behind.
You find me grateful this evening for a Savior who holds my heart and allows every desire to be filled in Him.

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Fear Not

Fear you not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

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What are you afraid of today? What would it take for you to step out of that Fear and into a place of Peace and Faith? Walk with me into the light of hope for our future with the knowledge that the hand of our creator holds us tight!