From the Mouths of Babes…all their mouths

Oldest Mouth-

Danny took Daniel Josiah camping a few weeks ago and the boys were to return Saturday afternoon some time.  I was busily making a late lunch, (which, at that time, I was actually hungry for), when I heard the door swing open. “Hey Guys!!” I sang out.  But the minute I turned around a huge skull was being clamped up and down in my face.

“Look, Mom!!  I found a dinosaur skull!!!”

my reply, “Thats fantastic, honey!….but get that thing out of my house!” I no longer wanted lunch.

Daniel Josiah, sporting his prize

(*note* I WAS a little more encouraging concerning the skull once it was safely OUTdoors and the thought of eating was no longer on the horizon.  AND, under very careful investigation, we discovered that it was not actually a dinosaur skull, but rather a deer skull, which was slightly less exciting but still very fun nonetheless)

Also , in homeschool we had been studying World War II and had just finished a book about the atomic bomb. The other night Danny was explaining during family devotions that Adam who sinned in the garden(thus ruining mankind) was the first Adam and Jesus was the second Adam who came to redeem mankind.   Daniel Josiah said, “Then Jesus was the second “Atom” bomb who blew up Satan”.  Yeah, son, something like that.  (This was vast improvement on a comment he had made a week prior about a suggested use of the atomic bomb to defend all the persecuted Christians we’ve been reading about.  THAT comment resulted in a long and serious talk about the severity of the atomic bomb)

Second oldest mouth-

For Lent, the kids and I are doing “Forty Days of Praise” in which, at every meal we write down little gifts that the Lord has given us throughout the day (we narrowed it down to gifts during THAT day because I got tired of writing

and rewriting every member of the family down for each child at each meal).

We then put them in our “praise bucket”. Our oatmeal containers, cough, I mean, praise buckets

Upon Trinity’s turn, she takes a deep breath and says “I’m thank-you for ……” and always has a long list of things she is “thank-you” for.  And despite the fact that I’ve tried to explain the difference between being “thankFUL” for something and saying “thank-you”, she not only persists in beginning every praise report with “I’m thank-you for…” but all of her siblings now do the same thing.  Sigh.

On second thought, in a way, they are more correct than this English-major-wants-her-kids-to-speak-correctly Mom, because, where being “thankful” can be a broad, vague concept, saying actual “thank you” is always directed at a Person.  And thats the point of this practice anyways.

Trinity busily working on decorations for her "praise bucket"

Katy-Grace and her JiJi AND Grandpa

Mouth with a huge head of curls atop-

Grandpa (the kids call him Ji Ji, which is the Japanese nickname for “grandpa”) came to visit, all the way from Japan!! Well, he actually came to speak at a bunch of different mission conferences, which were conveniently located in Florida, and therefore we got to see him. Regardless…

Katy-Grace was eagerly anticipating his arrival, and which we had been talking about (and explaining that Ji Ji was their grandpa on Daddy’s side), so when he got to our house, she RUNS out the door and runs into his arms and says, “Grandpa! My Ji Ji is coming today!”  (Evidently we were still a little confused on the grandpa/Ji Ji lesson…but you’ve gotta cut her some slack, she hadn’t seen him since last year…these things get confusing to a 3 year old’s brain.)

The mouth not quite making words:

Benjamin, after he fled the scene of shooting me at the kitchen sink. He even got the holster creatively attached to himself!?

Benjamin’s not a big talker yet but he’s sure good at making car and gun noises.  He likes to come up behind me while I’m doing dishes and “pshhh! psshhh!” me with DJ’s plastic pistol.  It makes for an entertaining show. He’s a born warrior (with some encouragement from his brother’s arsenal of play weapons)

He also loves the “Happy Birthday” song and sings his own version while presenting to an imaginary crowd whatever he has recently made into a cake (shoes, cell phones, girl’s kitchen items, etc.)

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Exchanging My Agenda, for His….

I should have known this would happen.

Every time I have my life strategically planned out, the Lord changes things drastically (always for the better, I might add)

It happened when I was suppose to go to East Asia to labor for Him, and He rerouted us to Kazakstan.

And as a result Nina is now my sister in Christ, dear friend, and fellow laborer for the Kingdom.

It happened when I was planning on being a single missionary my whole life.

Then I met Danny, my life’s greatest love and partnership in the Lord.

It happened when I swore I’d never live in the suburbs again, but God brought us to Orlando.

And we are learning here and being prepared in incredible ways for the future work God has for us.

And now, it is happening with the education of our children.

I’ve wanted to homeschool since before Daniel Josiah was even conceived.  I fell in love with the idea of it in college.  I’ve read many a books, blogs, and articles about it. I’ve drilled other homeschooling moms with questions. I’ve planned and strategized and scheduled and mapped out educational philosophies. I’ve set my heart upon this path and this has always been “the plan”.

And maybe thats one of the reasons it needs to be relinquished for a season.

We will be putting Daniel Josiah in the public school across from our house soon, a decision that has been a wrestling ground as my agenda comes to a screeching halt.

After seeing his wife being taxed to the utmost caring for the constant needs of small children, educating the oldest, keeping up with meals and housework, AND growing a child within her, Danny has felt strongly that we should put Daniel Josiah in school. We have a precious, almost-3- year- old who screams for attention in many ways, a one and a half year old who’s about to be blindsided by a replacement “baby”, and a newborn about to enter the world who will need feeding, attention and care at (literally) all hours of the day (and night).

I have fought this decision…I’ve asked for “more time” to see if things don’t get better/easier, if I can’t figure out strategies to balance all the needs of this little “flock” I’ve  been entrusted.  And, then, I’ve sought the Lord, and I’ve asked Him, that if this really be His will, that my heart would be in alignment and that things would maybe get so hard that I have no other option.

Third trimester fatigue has set in full force.

I’ve come face to face with the reality of the physical needs of this season verses my physical limitations. And I don’t really like it.

“But what about all those moms with 10 children that homeschool them all?  Why can’t I do that, too?? What’s wrong with me? THEY figured out a way to balance it all.”

But my wise husband, and wise counselors, and THE wise Counselor  have brought up some issues.

Am I willing to relinquish control enough to trust God FULLY with my baby-boy-turned-young-lad?

Am I willing to allow God to write a DIFFERENT story for our family…different than what I had planned on for all these years? different than those phenomenal blogging moms-of-ten out there?

Am I willing to bank all my hope on God’s covenantal promises to care for His children’s children…EVEN in the public school system?

Am I truly willing to let the Lord of Host be my son’s Educator? Using various means for differing seasons?

Can the God who navigated Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel through the Babylonian educational system without them denying His Lordship, do the same for my Daniel? for this season?

And finally, and most importantly, is the Holy Spirit working through the man God has placed as leader of our home and family to make a “big picture” decision that takes in to consideration the MANY members of our growing family?

And am I willing to trust and submit to him?

So here, my dreams, my plans, my agenda come to a place of death. But I know, from past experience, that when the seed of my plans and agenda fall to the ground and die, a much more beautiful growth begins to take root.

So, as we move forward with this decision, I will wait in expectation. Expectation for the things the Lord will do as we take this step of obedience. As we trust Him more fully with our kids.  As we trust not in a “formula” (aka homeschooling) to produce children with hearts tender towards our Savior and His Lordship, but trust in the Savior Himself to do that work.

His agenda has always been far bigger and more magnificent than the ones I dream up,

so here

I exchange my agenda, for His.

God Hears, God speaks

God’s been hearing the cries for help from a desperately exhausted 8-month-pregnant mamma of four little ones.  Last week, too tired to move by the time dinner hour came along, my family’s nutritional intake was painfully lacking.

Dinner Menu:

Monday:free kids meals from Chic-fil-a (boy, did they lose money on THAT family night)

Tuesday: bowls of cereal all around

Wednesday: mooched off leftovers from my sister-in-law

Thurs: leftover pizza from the past Saturday’s too-tired-to-cook meal

Lord, you’ve led us to have all these children, and I desperately need the strength to keep caring for them!

God hears, and God speaks.

And instead of filling me with Samson-strength, God did some talking to His hands and feet this past weekend.  He wanted me to stay weak, so He could show Himself strong.

The Miracle Menu:

Monday: Daddy didn’t have to work (Yay!), so he took the kids to another free-kids-meal family night at Chic-fil-a, while I lay comatose on the couch.

Tuesday: One set of hands and feet made us not one, but TWO meals (a working mother of 3 kids, mind-you!)

Wednesday:  Another set of hands had texted me just minutes after finishing the previous night’s miracle meal and said she wanted to bring dinner to us this night. Huge portions were delivered, enough for another meal.

Thursday: my friend from college had several frozen meals from Schwann’s delivered to our doorstep (ordered all the way from Virginia).

Ok, did my sister-in-law put them up to this??? Is someone circulating some email or something?

Nope.

Each one of them “just felt led” to send us meals.

God hears, and God speaks.

And I’m so thankful that He has hands and feet here on earth that respond to His voice and send acts of compassion our way, when we are most needy.

So that I can know so very clearly that

God hears, and God speaks.

It makes me want to listen more,

so that I can be part of the next miracle

of showing someone else that

God hears, and God speaks.

From the mouths of babes…momentous day

Today was a momentous day.

Daniel Josiah read all of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham by himself. (Granted, it took nearly 45 minutes between frequent breaks, back scratches to keep him going, some reminding of phonics rules by his mother, and some frustration towards Trinity who would mindlessly blurt out the next word because she’d memorized it, all while he was tediously sounding it out)

I know, I know, you’re kid probably started reading Dr. Seuss when they were four, but for my boy and me, it was a momentous day.  And it wasn’t just momentous because Daniel Josiah read a “real” book by himself, it was the door that was cracked open in his mind as to what a world reading can hold.

He paused about 15 pages in (there’s 62 total, he would have you know) and gazed off into the distance…

“Now that I can read REAL books, I can read Katy-Grace and Trinity their books to them.  I can read Hansel and Gretel and Hedgie’s Surprise (their current favorites) to them, and you can take a nap.  And then during quiet time, I can read all of the books on the girl’s bookshelf. And then I can read all of the books on my bookshelf. And then I can read all of the World War II books (what we are currently studying in homeschool)  all by myself.”

THIS is the reason I’ve spent countless hours reading to them for…

so he could realize the vast world of history, imagination, exploration, humor, and adventure that the world of books hold.

and so he could realize the spiritual world that THE Book holds. So that he could read THE  Book that has all those things, but for the purpose of knowing a world that will not end. a world that is no longer tainted by sin. a world in which the Creator gets the honor He is due because He loved sacrificially. THE Book that tells the story of THE Word  sent into our brokenness that we might read the most magnificent love-story-adventure-defeat-turned-to-triumph-story which all the books in the world can only dimly mirror. He’s on the road to reading, real reading, and the Holy Spirit will help him along the way.

Today was a momentous day.

Fourteen years ago, today…

Fourteen years ago, today, when I was struggling to figure out who on earth I was, I lost from earth the woman who was helping make me who I am.

And since I’m so busy raising (and growing within me) her grandchildren, I haven’t had time to really write anything to or about her, so I’m reverting back to a letter I wrote her last year on this day.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

I Corinthians 15:55-56

Mamma, the sweetness of the impression you left upon me is a constant inspiration in this challenging role as mother and discipler of little ones. Your God has been faithful to your prayers, as I am witnessing and trusting Him to be faithful to mine as well.  Thank you for standing firm, and always giving yourself fully to the work of the Lord.  Your labor has not been in vain.

To My Mama…

Learning to Praise Again

I learned it while watching my mother’s personality, mental stability, and  physical body be eaten by cancer.

I learned it in the grief and disappointment of my prayers for her healing not having been answered.

I learned it while struggling with an eating disorder, with no sign of “recovery”.

I learned it in Newark while homeless people bombarded our home, we were continually robbed, and the vast needs outweighed the resources we had to give.

I learned it when we lost a child before we got to meet him or her.

I’ve learned this lesson already, haven’t I? …This lesson of praising the Lord in all things…to give thanks in all circumstances…to be content with what I have (Ps.113:1, I Thess.5:18, Heb.13:5)

Here I was, with a wonderful, loving husband, four beautiful, healthy children, a nice home in a safe neighborhood, a smooth pregnancy, but yet sinking into an utterly miserable outlook on my daily life.

As I look back, I see how little thoughts, little lies started to creep in and take root, thus puncturing holes in my once-joyful heart in the Lord.

The hole of comparison…it will drain any contentment to the last drop.

The hole of wanting the product (of perfect, smart, self-sufficient children) without the process (of pouring into their lives and being patient with their growth rate)…it will drain the joy of the moments.

The hole of setting my sights on the to-do list rather than the Doer, thus making the mountains seem far larger than the Mountain-mover…it will drain any trust and rest in my God.

The hole of self-sufficiency and “its all up to me” mentality to get anything done around here…it will drain any dependence upon the Spirit to be at work.

And holes create a vicious cycle…the Lord keeps pouring blessing after blessing into my days, which end up running out the bottom, tainted and unreceived due to discontentment, a complaining spirit, and a begrudging heart. Not to mention angry outburst from Mommy.

My cup does not runneth over, but runneth OUT.

But just as the paralyzed man had to be lowered before Jesus by his friends, I had sweet friend and family, lower this paralyzed-by-a-depressed-spirit-pregnant-mama-of-four  before a gracious Savior.  And He has started his healing work over me. Even though my own sin got me there in the first place. Even though I’d been through this “learning to praise” school on several occasions. already.

The healing work has come through spiritual means… the feeling that this (probably demonic) fog had cleared from my head.

physical means… a five day visit from a faithful friend who washed dishes, read to kids, and babysat so mamma could get out of the house (or take a nap) a few times BY HERSELF, thus restoring some needed physical and emotional vigor.

and mentality means…the reading of the book A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, which challenged me to start keeping a list of gifts the Lord gives me each day. So now, instead of getting caught in the landslide of chaos which periodically (or every half hour) erupts in our home, I’m clinging to the gifts God gives in the midst of it all, which ultimately leads to clinging to the Hand that gives the gifts.

So here I am, in the school of praise again, not through the life-shattering of Mamma dying when I’m 15, or the seemingly endless abyss of an eating disorder, or in my wedding rings getting stolen, my husband missing bullets in Newark, or unborn babies dying, but I’m here, in the midst of the mundane, those jobs and that work that seems so quickly to be undone, unnoticed, and unappreciated. I’m learning to praise again.  Because His gifts are constant.  He’s the Giver of all gifts good. (James 1:17) And if anything was “broke” in this paralyzed person, it was my eyesight, to SEE His Light all around me.

Some recent gifts:

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