Three months and no words? Where have the Iversons been all summer?

 

Where have the Iversons been all summer?!?©KathrynMcCraryPhotographyAtlantaPhotographer-150

Three full months, and no words?

No blog posts?

No adventures to recount?

No thoughts or impressions from the Lord?

No musings from the Living Word of God?

Oh, they have been there.

They have been mulled over while scrubbing pots and pans.

They have been formulated while setting up chairs for the large number of houseguests coming over for dinner.

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extra bodies and mouths start to gather for dinner

They have been pieced together in nights spent rocking sleepless babes.

The kid that smiles big during the day, but sleeps little during the night

The kid that smiles big during the day, but sleeps little during the night

They have been composed while sitting in traffic, driving home from multiple doctor appointments for an eight year old’s broken arm.

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wounded, but cheerful little broken-armed girl

They have been half typed, at wee hours in the morning, but always interrupted by a coughing child, or a bad dream or a wet bed.

They have been there…but so have the setbacks…broken arms, bashed mouths with teethe getting knocked out.  A baby’s bad fall. Bloody battles (literally and spiritually)

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This is the “rated G” picture…be glad his lips are covering what the inside of his mouth looks like. Two teeth completely gone, and another just dangling

The adventures have been had, the sightings of God’s mighty work has been seen, abundant answers to prayers for ministry partners have been witnessed, but Oh, for the time to be able to sit and record them…to have the time to do as Isaiah 63:7 states

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

 

I know the Lord wants us to recount these deeds He has done. The homeless family that is learning how to be a family again, without the throws of dysfunctional relationships and drug addiction.  The little baby born to homeless parents who should have died at delivery two weeks ago but is now ventilator free and ready to come home from the hospital, despite her blindness and multiple health issues. The way the single mom was thrilled at the Bible study we held in the home, declaring “I’ve never heard the Bible taught like this. This is exactly what I have been needing.”  The way that the young man who was about to convert to a very deceptive religion, ran up to Danny the other night and said, “I don’t want to be a part of that other stuff! I want to be baptized.”  The way the doors of this Shalom home have opened to four different homeless people who needed to be a part of a family’s rhythms, as rocky as they might be,  so they could learn what being  covenant family is all about.  The way that the boy, all rough and tough and angry, melted in tears last week at church with us.  The way that God has answered my prayer that He raise up an older black lady to be my prayer partner…and He brought her into my life in the most creative of ways. The way teachers from our kids public charter school want to come over for dinner to learn more about what this church plant is all about. The way we have been praying that God would take all these buildings that have been abandoned by business owners and put new businesses in them…and God sent a Christian Korean couple to start one .3 miles from our house, with them declaring, “We kept trying to avoid the call, but the Spirit of God kept telling us to open this Wings and Philly place right here…and we couldn’t figure out why.”

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Kids time, during house church

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Bible study and prayer! We are all soaking it up.

There are so so many other stories….stories of God answering specific prayers laid out MONTHS ago before the Throne of the One who reigns on High and is more passionate about this church plant than we are.  And OH, for the time to recount them.

Would you join me in prayer that this would come about?  That God grant the windows of time to work on the new blog, and the new ministry website which recently got hacked, crashed, and now has to be rebuilt before we have a new place to declare the faithful deeds of the God we serve?

Would you pray for a mother, busy with the life of running a household of eight+ all the people staying with us, to be granted the windows of time needed to type, and pray, and record, and write these posts and finish that book that was started two years ago now?

The enemy of our souls, wants the stories silenced. But I believe our God wants His glorious goodness to be put on display.

His Church is being built.  His Kingdom is advancing. His saints are praying and seeing miraculous answers.

And these stories will not be silenced.

 

**stay tuned for information about JourneytoShalom;the journey towards wholistic peace and flourishing in an under privileged community of the inner city: launching soon, Lord-willing**

 

 

 

 

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The Move, the Emotions, and the Empathy

I had dragged little people down there at 8pm, with sleeping bags, a paintbrush, and a large cup of coffee in hand.

We made makeshift beds for them on the carpet padding, and then got to work.

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Our kids “corner” for sleeping or watching movings….nail free, and fairly clean.

 

Always fighting back panic with song.

But the panic gained ground.

and gave way to panicked pleading.

Please, God, please. Work a miracle in this place and please, please, please let it be ready for us to move in  in two weeks!

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Little ones in a work zone is….stressful. to say the least.

 

I swept up a pile of sheetrock and spackle dust. Sending the dust swirling into the air…

and onto anything nearby.

Sweeping up sheetrock dust, the Lord met me.

Sweeping up sheetrock dust, the Lord met me.

Visions of me endlessly wiping the dusty stuff off our furniture that would have to be moved in to a work zone because our lease had run out, flashed through my mind.

A phone call from our dear ministry partner, Chuck, who lives a few blocks away, led to the discussion of the fact that we had no kitchen counters and no kitchen sink.

“That’s OK” I said, only half believing it, “people all over the world function without kitchen sinks.”

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BEAUTIFUL cabinets redone by my artist friend….but with no kitchen sink or countertops on them.

 

As we hung up the phone, it hit me.

Every emotion I was walking through, with thoughts of moving my kids into an unsafe environment, into a living condition hazardous to human flourishing, and all the tension that comes along with it…

…the inner turmoil that come with instability, without a place to call home and settle down in…

….every extra strain because of financial constrictions that hinder you from being able to just do what you need to do to take care of your family….

….functioning without hot water, electricity, and yes, even kitchen sinks…

is experienced every day

in this neighborhood.

Most women do it without a spouse, and with just as many children as I have, and without a support system praying for them and helping them.

The feelings of being stuck and trapped in circumstances are exactly where God wanted me.

It was an introduction into the neighborhood.

into their emotional world.

And realizing that, helped lift the panic, and submit to the plan, God’s plan, knowing it was all part of His training and preparation for me to be able to love my new neighbors from a place of mutual understanding.

So when, 36 hours before we were had to have every item that 8 people own out of our rental house, right as I finished taping up the last “kitchen” box with everything needed to feed those 8 people, I got a phone call telling me we had failed our electrical inspection and Georgia Power had immediately cut the line to our home, I fully walked in those emotions…

instead of fighting them.

I found myself in more of a place of receiving rather that restricting.

Receiving the education, and the experience the Lord was giving me,

rather that trying to control, constrict and throw a conniption over my frustration.

And from the very beginning of our move, we were forced into a place of receiving…for we had to call on neighbors to run massive extension chords to help light lamps to finish the painting, and the installation of the kitchen sink, and then run a space heater to keep an Iverson crew warm until the power got turned back on Tuesday morning.

We saw God do miracles with changing the hearts of those working on the electrical situation.  We saw His provision through our Muslim neighbor who ran the extension chord.  We saw His care threw our black neighbor who helped with painting and has become a friend and declared “this is crazy…I’ve never been friends with a white man before”. And we see His faithful steady care as little by little appliances have been provided, work has been done, friends have shown up help with little projects, so that we could start unpacking boxes….and this home, it is becoming a haven.

A haven, not just for us, but for those who for their whole lives,  have been walking through the tension and stress that I endured for just a few weeks.

Watch the slideshow to see some of the transformations:

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I witnessed a miracle….

I trucked my little ones down there, armed with snacks, action figures, and a laptop to play movies on…

…Desperately trying to make progress on a project that seems impossible.

I walk into a house that is suppose to be “home” to a family of eight in just three short weeks, and it looks like this:

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As I entered the mess and chaos, and with it, the enormous to-do list, I started…

singing.

Something welled up inside me to declare,

I don’t care what kind state this place is in, it is going to be a place where Jesus Christ is worshipped. 

Don’t get me wrong, this house renovation has been a vacillating faith walk for me these past several months.  I have laid this house before King Jesus more times than I can count, praying boldly that it would be like the Tabernacle of the Old Testament, in which God already had all the details and measurements in mind for it. He anointed men to work on it and build it and He even lined up all the materials for it. And then it became a place of reverent worship unto Him. (mmm…that sounds vaguely familiar to the book that is in the process of being written) And I pray diligently and I believe faithfully, and then…

every time I would show up to the work site, all my faith would quickly run down the drain…a drain that looks like the paint-covered, spackle-crusted one that is suppose to give my babies baths in three weeks.

But today, today I would choose to sing, and declare the praises of my Lord in a place and situation that seems too impossible for human hands to fix. 

I check my phone to see what the weather is suppose to be like on Saturday, a day scheduled for volunteers to come and help with fixing up the place.

One of the coldest weekends of the winter predicted… too cold to paint, too cold to work outside in our demolition-site-appearance of a yard.

I lay that before King Jesus too, for He is Lord of weather and warmth.

Saturday morning, after a 4:00 am rising, we re-enter a house that still looks like it did earlier in the week.

And this time, a new battle cry, or maybe heart submission stirs.

Lord, I know I made that inner vow months ago, “There is NO way I’m moving my family into an unfinished house.” But, Lord, if you have given us the faith to move into this neighborhood, you can give me the faith to move into a house that isn’t completely finished. Faith from YOU can enable me to do and endure anything. I surrender it all to your will. 

And then I started singing again.

For when your own efforts can do little to change circumstances, your heart efforts in sacrificial praise and thanksgiving can.

9 a.m people start rolling in…people I have never met before. People who just got wind that a family needed help with their house renovations. Master organizers started cleaning and sorting the tools and supplies strewn all over the place. Skilled workers who actually knew how to fix porches and put trim up and spackle sheetrock rolled in. Skilled painters came in who painted cabinets and walls and closets. And skilled chefs brought food to nourish working individuals.

 

Danny sharing the vision for our move to Grove Park

Danny sharing the vision for our move to Grove Park

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God miraculously brought hands and feet to help us get this job done

 

And the sun came out. And the temperature rose. And in 55 degree weather people joyfully filled an entire dumpster with all the scrap materials that cluttered the yard, and in bright sunshine men fixed rotting wood on the porch, and in a warm breeze we later gathered to eat lunch and talk about how God is stirring…doing something mighty in this place.

reconstructing a porch that had been eaten by termites

reconstructing a porch that had been eaten by termites

It used to look like this

It used to look like this

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Later in the day we gathered in the driveway to eat and fellowship in the warm sun

 

And as I bustle about getting supplies for different projects and giving direction to different “crews” I keep saying.

This is a miracle.

THIS is a miracle.

This is a miracle!

Hope bloomed bold in my heart. Maybe, just maybe, we will move into a (mostly) finished house. And if we don’t, my heart is in a place to receive that, too, with thanksgiving. And thanks to the wonderful people who showed up, I now know how to cut, install, and spackle sheetrock. Which makes all of the other jobs around the house more “learnable”. (I mean, who says, a mom of six can’t finish sheet rocking the basement, or  learn how to place tile in a bathroom, or lay a backsplash in the kitchen?!?)

By the end of the day, FORTY individuals had come through that house. Some worked for two hours, some for 8. Some were 7 years old and some were 65. Some were skilled carpenters and some were kids who just picked up trash or sanded re-usable trim.

There is still MUCH to be done, but this mamma has witnessed a miracle. And what I see happening in a physical building, I am praying for in the human hearts of my new neighbors, in myself, as we build, not only a house for my kids to dwell in, but a community of Jesus followers for my Savior to dwell in.

After all, I have witnessed a miracle.

God is building us a tabernacle, so that we can be His hands and feet to build His Tabernacle.

A Tabernacle of people who are His, who believe their God and witness His miracles.

To watch a short video of Danny sharing the vision before the work day two weeks ago, click HERE. 

 

 

 

 

Little Glimmers of God’s Work

A little girl in our home lost her first tooth this past week…

….and a mother caught a glimpse of God’s work.

 

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That five year old was thrilled to show all of her friends, including her “best” friend, our neighbor, who spends the afternoons and most evenings with us while she waits for her dad to get back from work. The two girls worked together during “homework time” to craft Katy-Grace’s first tooth fairy letter.**

This best friend (who is a single child) has become part of our family…and she has experienced the good, bad and ugly of our family.  She experienced our intentionality in building relationships when we first moved into our home. She experienced the massive dinners and the joyful whirlwind of children in and out of the house. Then she experienced my pregnancy days when I was so tired and overwhelmed that all I did was scream at my children. She has experienced bickering and complaining and the loudness and craziness of our home. She has experienced times when I intentionally discipled hearts through the “so-and-so isn’t including me!”, but she has also been there when I called from behind locked bedroom door “Just work it out!!”

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She might be five years older than Katy-Grace, but they are still the best of friends

 

She has experienced the rhythms of this family life…that homework has to be completed before playtime. That evening chores have to happen before dinner. That laundry still has to be put away even if they are in the middle of deep imaginative play. That vegetables are eaten at dinner whether they like it or not. She has sat with us through family devotions many a night, even when she would have rather gone home or continued to play. (the policy in our house is: if we feed you your physical food, then you stay to get spiritual food as well)

She has experienced us living life…a life that comes with “victories” in being a good mom and caretaker of our home and the people within it, but also a life with a whole lot of defeats in being kind, patient or caring. But somehow even in all the messiness and sin, seeds of the Gospel, of “God with us”,  have been planted. And in a season of navigating through the roller coaster of postpartum emotions and a sinking thought-life, God in his mercy let me see glimmers of hope that He is working in , and in spite of the messiness.

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That early morning rising, I pulled the letter out from under the pillow in order to replace it with “tooth fairy money”.

Little did I know, that note would glimmer.

Glimmer with a “God is at work!” sighting.

A flash of light, encouragement…

that He is on a mission to win people’s hearts to Himself, and He can even use a family like ours, messy as it is.

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“God loves you”

Since when did kids care about telling the tooth fairy that God loved them?

Since they started seeing that God loves a home full of fun and bickering…. and joy and hardship…. and impatience and delights in the moments….and intentional rhythms and its-all-unravelling-just-go-play free-for-all’s.

When they start going to church with you, and then recruit their mom (who lives on the other side of town) to take them each Sunday.

When they experience a “family”, whether its perfect or not.

When they get back from school and come to a “home” , even one that is messy and unorganized and may or may not have snacks available based on when mom actually dragged six kids to the grocery store.

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Then God confirmed it again, a few days later, that He is working despite the messy offerings, when this neighbor-turned-family member’s mom stopped by, and behind tears and a thick Ethiopian accent tells me of a school writing project in which her daughter described each member of our family and what they all play and do together and how they are like the brothers and sisters she never had. And that thick Ethiopian accent confessed how hard it is for her daughter to be passed back and forth between divorced parents with no siblings to come along, but that God provided a family for her to be part of through ours.

And then somehow all those tough pregnancies were worth it.  And all the mundane laborings to run the household seem worth it. And those early morning risings after long nights with sick or needy children, were worth it. Even when the thoughts that accompanied them sometimes sounded more like a temper tantrum than a joyful offering to the Lord.

“What where we THINKING?!?! Having SIX children?! I’m not gonna survive this!! I can’t face another day of needs and spills and mouths to feed….(Its always a bad sign when you’re counting down to bedtime starting at 6 a.m.).

But still, God, in his enduring love and faithfulness, let me see that those prayers prayed, even prayed inconsistently, that God would use our children from young ages to bring Him glory and draw others to Him, they are answered….

…in a note to the tooth fairy.

New Beginnings

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In the beginning….

I read it again, just as I did at this time last year. Beginning a new Bible reading plan, in hopes that THIS year there won’t be quite so many gaps in my completion of it.

Last year I had begun the year with high hopes and simple and tangible goals. A week later I had found out I was pregnant…which rendered me almost useless as an emerging being sucked every ounce of strength, energy and sanity out of me. There went the new years resolutions….again.

But I’m thankful that those words still stand there. 2014 was a whirlwind, at times feeling like a tidal wave the at I could hardly get my breath from, but still those words stand. Even when I have doubted, and sunk, and emerged again.  There is still a new beginning.

” In the beginning, GOD. “

My new beginnings start with HIM.

“In the beginning, God CREATED.”

And in my new beginnings, I believe that HE will CREATE.

And in this home that is so chaotic, and messy, and full and loud….the one that sounds much like the formless and void and dark earth that God transformed into the highly intricate and orderly universe,

I ask Him to hover.

Just as it says he did in the beginning, the Spirit hovering over the waters. And as I invite Him to hover, I ask Him to move in and begin creating order…giving each thing a place, a boundary, and each activity a season, and would He cause life to flourish within those boundaries-just as He caused living creature to flourish in the expanse of air, and land animals to roam?

I  beg Him for new beginnings.  Bring order to this chaos! Bring loving spirits instead of bickering! Remind my kids to clean up after themselves! Give me a workable system! Proper boundaries and places for things, just as you did over the formless void!

But maybe…just maybe, the boundaries and seasons and order I crave in my physical house, are reflections of a craving for order in my heart. For inside this chaotic heart I have forsaken rhythms, and seasons and order. Instead, I have sought to play the creator….without the Creator.

And nothing is left but disorder.

And without the hiding away IN HIM, who begins, and hovers, and speaks and creates, I have no capabilities to do so.

I will only create to the degree that I allow the Creator to take up residency here in the home of my heart one.nanosecond.at.a.time.

And I believe, and have confidence that His Creativity, His order, His seasons, and rhythms, and His boundaries will flow through me to help create the same in my home, and in my children, and in my relationship with my husband.

In this new beginning, 2015, may God create the order I crave…found only in letting the Creator have full access to this life, this family, this home.

After all, He is the one who takes the formless and void and brings order out of it.

Genesis 1:1-24

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formlessand empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry groundappear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered watershe called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 

 

I had the kids write out "themes" that the would like to see lived out in their lives for 2015

I had the kids write out “themes” that the would like to see lived out in their lives for 2015

Posted by the breakfast table, so we can remember to pray them into our lives each morning.

Posted by the breakfast table, so we can remember to pray them into our lives each morning.

 

 

No other explanation

It’s all his fault.

He made me do it.

Just if he hadn’t written that little book. Just if it hadn’t hit such a chord in my soul. Just if I hadn’t begun to pray that prayer based on what he had written.

“I cannot-and only God can….It means bowing to the fact that you cannot and only God can.  It means acting on the assumption that this is true, and exposing ever situation to Him moment by moment, for HIM to accomplish what you cannot, while you tell Him ‘Thank you!’…Then you will be begin to live miraculously. A life that can only be explained by the fact that there is a Resurrected Christ and He lives in his people.”

Major W. Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ

So, I foolishly started praying that God would work in such a way in my life, that “there would be no explanation except that there is a Resurrected Christ and He lives in His people. “

I had envisioned constant energy. Unending peace. Supernatural optimism.  The God-given ability to keep up with everything, and manage 8 people’s different schedules, and have joy in my children while doing so.

But, instead, I end up with an incredibly debilitating pregnancy.

And a sick boy.

And a husband having major reconstructive surgery. **

And then postpartum depression to top it off.

Not exactly what I was expecting.

But in all my weakness, and inability, the body of Christ rallied. People made us meals. Friends volunteered to watch children.  Teachers took kids on extended playdates. Administrators at school showed grace when things weren’t done or turned in on time. A neighbor volunteers to read to little ones, so I can help big ones with homework. Other friends gave rides, fed little people snacks, welcomed my kids into their homes and loved them like their own.

It was just embarrassing, how needy I was.

But then, God gently reminded me of the prayer I had been praying ever since Ian Thomas’ message broke into my life….

“…there would be no explanation except that there is a Resurrected Christ and He lives in HIS PEOPLE.”

Not just Kimberly, as one person.

Oh no, that would give her far to great an opportunity for pride.

No, He was answering that prayer.

For He was surely putting HIMSELF on display not through simply one person, but a BODY of PEOPLE all moving as the Spirit led them. All offering themselves, their time, their resources, to help another member of the Body…

me.

And Danny

And this rather large brood of energetic, ready-for-LIFE little children.

and the church planting mission He has placed us on.

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so, when people stop and gawk at the entourage of Iversons, and say, “I don’t know how you do it!”

I tell them,

“I don’t.”

“You want to know my secret?”

“Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again from death. He is alive NOW. and He lives in His people.”

Our family can offer no other explanation.

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**THANK YOU-to all who prayed for Danny’s surgery.  The doctor told me beforehand, “I’m actually really excited about working on his shoulder. Its not your standard repair, so its an exciting challenge for me.”  Welp. I’m glad Danny could add some excitement to his day. But seriously, the doctor was AMAZING and is one of the best shoulder arthroscopic surgeons in the country.  We are beyond blessed to have been able to use him.  The surgery went well, the doctor is optimistic, Danny is very groggy, and is now embarking on a 6-10 month journey to full recovery, through an enormous amount of prayer and physical therapy. Let us know any prayer requests you have, because he’s gonna have ALOT of mindless exercises to do that can be filled with times of prayer and intercession!

Forgotten and Forsaken, or Favored and Protected

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Scripture prayers for Judah’s life.

There was a lot of weeping that week.  It had been the longest 9 months of my life. The exhaustion had completely overtaken me, and yet the new school schedules and homework and meals and children’s needs drove me on.

Labor seemed like a relief. A hospital stay, a chance to sit still ….finally. We had endured so much as a family to grow this little one in my belly, and I was desperately crying out for the fruition of our hard labors.

There was the false alarm two weeks before due date that sent me in to panic mode to set up an action plan should I go into labor before out of town family came to help. (that action plan was part of God’s plan, for it was to be implemented in an unexpected way).

And there were many more false alarms (NOT broadcasted over Facebook) that each got my hopes up that the end was in sight. My little brood of prayer warriors at home consistently begged the Lord to send me into labor. (DJ: Please Lord, Please let Mommy go into labor so we can meet Judah. Please help her have contractions today. Please help her to go into labor so she can be done being pregnant and not feel so bad.) And day, after long day, there was….nothing.

And my heart began to grow angry and bitter. Reflections on just how difficult the past nine months had been weighed my heart down. Yes, we had “made it” to the end, but it seemed like a cruel joke from God that the end was being dragged out so long, that He was not answering my prayers, and that I was too miserable to even function.

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A brief quiet moment, four days before Judah’s arrival. My sweet friend wanted to capture this pregnancy for me in photo, when all I wanted to do was be done with it.

That night when those fake contractions started up again, I tossed and turned in bed until I finally rose to catch up on my Bible Reading Plan.

And there, I found someone who had the boldness to declare the very feelings of my own heart…the ones I felt too ashamed of to express.

“Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint

and speak out in the bitterness of my soul…”  

Job 7:11, 10:1

And I found freedom to present my feelings of being forsaken by the Lord…on all those long evenings when I desperately cried out for strength and energy and perspective and joy in the midst of the struggle….and it seemed like I was just left to blindly stumble on in the darkness and silence. And I laid out my feelings of being forgotten, as I begged for labor to begin, for release of my body from the strain of growing this child and it seemed as if it would never come.

And this God we serve, He is a good Father. And He endures our temper tantrums because He knows what is best, and He holds out to give it, despite our rantings and ravings.

And since those teasing contractions continued,  I ended up writing out a prayer in my journal in those wee hours of the morning:

Aug. 26, 2014  1:37 am

Dear Lord,

If you see fit to allow me to go into labor tonight and bring Judah into the world, I ask that with his entrance, all the nurses and doctors would experience Your Shekinah glory in the process. May Your angels stand guard in that delivery room and may they fight in the spiritual realm for me and for him. I ask that every nurse, attendant and hospital worker that we come in contact with would meet YOU in the process.  May Judah, even from birth, have your word like a fire in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9) and may we, as his parents, share the fiery presence of Your Holy Spirit with everyone we encounter. May 2 Corinthians 2:14 be true of our labor, delivery, and hospital experience: “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of HIM everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Little did I know that this was the Spirit helping me in my weakness, my little faith, and He himself was interceding for us, for Judah, in ways I was yet to discover.

Little did I know that we, indeed, would need angels in the spiritual realm fighting for Judah’s very life.

Little did I know that we would, indeed, be lead into triumphal procession, as Judah’s life would be protected, and his mamma’s rock bottom faith would be restored to overwhelming gratitude and trust.

~~~~~~~~~

After my measly 3 1/2 hours of sleep, I awoke at 5:30 to face another morning after a false alarm night. I awoke to another day of running around in complete exhaustion. I awoke despairing.

“Danny, this is just a cruel joke from God!”

My amazing friend from Florida who was staying with us for a few days agreed to watch these guys, while I took the rest to school (at least I didn’t have to get EVERYONE dressed and ready and buckled into their car seats  by 7:30)

Upon my return I took a quick nap (thank you, Amy!) and awoke just in time to make it to my doctor’s appointment.

At the office I discovered that I had lost three pounds in one week. My uterus was measuring that it hadn’t grown at all. The ultrasound showed a great decrease in amniotic fluid. And it showed that the chord was around the baby’s neck. The neck of a baby who wasn’t moving very much.

“The baby is no longer safe in your womb.  You need to go home drink a bunch of water and eat something and lie down and count the kicks. You need to call me within an hour and tell me how many you had and then you need to head straight to the hospital. We’re going to induce you today. ”

Worry did set in. But overwhelming faith flooded in as well. All of a sudden I understood why I hadn’t gone into labor, despite the many false alarms. God was holding Judah in my womb until the doctor could see what was going on. He had been the One holding him in safety until the right time.

If I had gone into labor naturally, I would have waited until the last minute to get to the hospital. I would have held out so that we were just rolling in when it was time to push. Which would have put Judah in grave danger. Because I just might not have made it in time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Danny was phoned.  He left his meeting with his coworkers praying for the delivery. Food was eaten. Kicks were felt.  Relief was had. Arrangements for kids were made.  Last minute instructions for homework were given. The next day’s ballet uniforms were stuffed in book bags. Frozen meal for dinner was pulled out to be thawed.

We checked in to the hospital, eight million questions were asked and papers were signed.

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 Pitocin was hooked up and the process began. Since it took a while for the contractions to really get strong, we got work done.

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My incredible doctor, who is also a Christian, came and broke my water.

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I then went from 2 cm to 10 cm in less than an hour. If I had gone into labor naturally, with labor moving that fast, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the hospital in time. I never would have known that with each contraction Judah’s little heartbeat was getting slower and slower. My trusted doctor wouldn’t have been ready and prepared to skillfully preserve Judah’s life.

But since the heartbeat was monitored, nurses and doctors were ready at post to do whatever it took to intervene in Judah’s life. They were good at not acting alarmed when I, who was focused on pushing, didn’t notice how drastically the heartbeat slowed.

But then I could hear it in her voice. There was an urgency in it, she called for help and asked for the vacuum. Then I realized it. The steady “thump, thump, thump” of the monitor slowed…to nothing.

I’ve never felt more powerless in all my life.

I couldn’t push him out fast enough, and I couldn’t keep his heart beating.

I started calling on Jesus out loud.

“Jesus, preserve Judah! Help him, Lord, help him!”

Danny, AND our doctor joined in the chorus of interceding.

“Yes, Jesus!”

“Bring him to us safely, Lord!”

Between the vacuum and mother’s frantic pushing knowing that her baby’s life depended on it, we were able to get him to the point where the doctor could get the chord out from around his blue head.

But then on the next push, again, his heart slowed to nearly nothing.

“He’s stuck…I think its around his arm…..oh, no, its his neck, the chord his around his neck again.”

The doctor was talking out loud to the nurses, but she worked quickly to unravel him.

Then his blue body emerged. 10:12 pm.

That little blue head started crying his lungs out.

And Mommy started crying too….tears of relief and thankfulness.

They worked on him a while, and then finally handed me a pale white little bundle…but a breathing, heart-beating white little bundle (he was still regaining circulation).

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And we sat and relished the “triumphal procession”.

This little bundle represented nine months of physical, emotional and spiritual sacrifice. He represented God bringing life out of all my deaths. He represented triumph despite the struggle, dark nights, and wrestling with sin.

With that little bundle I held triumph. A faith boosted. I held a tangible representation of the Father’s favor. A visible reminder of the Father’s protection. He represented to me God’s perfect sovereignty in all things…especially in the things I don’t understand.

~~~~~~~~~

Five hours later, after I had just dozed off after finally being moved to our recovery room, we received a phone call from my brother and sister watching our kids at home.

“I’m so sorry to call you guys, but the first floor is flooding and we can’t make the water stop flowing into the living room.”

And in my dazed state, instead of asking “why?” I told the Lord,

“I trust you. even in this.”

And that child-distribution action plan written up two weeks prior, was put into action as our home became unlivable until repair men and emergency water damage company came in to fix things. So, once again, God showed me his perfect sovereignty in all things….in a false alarm labor, in writing an email to friends to set up places for all of the kids to go, in these friends being ready to take on extra children at whim.

May this faltering faith be steadied by these “Ebenezers”…Markers of God’s perfect plan. His plan for His children. Children who are not forgotten and forsaken, but who are favored and protected.

~~~~~~~~

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!               1 John 3:1

~~~~~~~

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

 Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:1

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One Thing to Cling to When Things are Tough

Where’s this blogging girl gone?
Well, after a week spell of intense editing and rereading into the late nights, sickness has slammed the family. And slammed the door on the writing momentum.

And when your husband, and your kids, and your pregnant self are all horribly sick, violently coughing through night after sleepless night, aching and feverishly enduring day after long day,and it hurts to breath,and you can’t talk (trying clapping to the kids to communicate to them each day) and you can’t quite keep up with all this (and who needs what, when):

The many attempts at fighting this misery-inducing beast off.

The many attempts at fighting this misery-inducing beast off.

and you start fantasizing about how you might manage to get yourself hospitalized so you can at least get breathing treatments, strong pain meds and SLEEP,

you can start to lose your bearings.

You can forget whose you are, and how He works in His children’s lives.

You forget that,

Desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction.

But rather, it is in the heat and pressure, and tension and struggle of those desperate situations that somehow God is working and moving and refining and sharpening a mother who on more than one occasion through this past two weeks of weakness has found herself saying,
“I’m in way over my head. I will never have my life together. Look at this messy house. Look at these snotty, sick kids. Look at your impatient sick self trying to yell at them through a fiery throat and intense coughing spells. Who am I KIDDING trying to bring another child into the world, much less adopt another one into our family?”

But,

Desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction.

A.B Simpson writes:

“The other day, my friend and I were passing by the power plant that produces electricity for the streetcars. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels of the turbines, and I asked my friend, “How is the power produced?” He replied, “It simply is generated by the turning of those wheels and the friction they create. The rubbing producers the electric current.

In a similar way, when God desires to create more power in your life, He creates more friction. He uses this pressure to generate spiritual power. Some people cannot handle it, and run from the pressure instead of receiving the power and using it to rise above the painful experiences that produced it.

Opposition is essential to maintaining true balance between forces. It is the centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in opposition to each other that keep our planet in the proper orbit. The propelling action coupled with the repelling counteraction keeps the earth in orbit around the sun instead of flinging it into space and a path of certain destruction.

God guides our lives in the same way. It is not enough to have only a propelling force. We need an equal repelling force, so that He holds us back through the testing ordeals of life. The pressures of temptations and trials and all the things that seem to be against us further our progress and strengthen our foundation.

Let us thank Him for both the weights and the wings He produces. And realizing we are divinely propelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling. ” (Taken from Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman

So, those desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction…

They might actually mean His favor.

Fear…the death grip and how to wring free from it.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart….and  your paths will be straight”  

Proverbs 3:5-6

There’s nothing that makes my paths more crooked than pregnancy, and the hormones, fatigue and sickness it brings.

I plan a course of action, a schedule and an agenda…..and then I don’t have the energy to carry it out.

I want to love my children well…..but patience levels plummet to nil and I find myself bursting out in anger and frustration.

I want to stay fit and trim…..and my body balloons out as it prepares for a growing child. (WHY does this virtual vegetarian crave hamburgers and french fries for a baby that is only two inches long right now?!?)

I want to cling to the Lord and trust on His promises.…but hormones do crazy things to my mind and I can’t find my bearing in the waves of vacillating emotion.

I have a book to finish writing, ONE thing in my life that seems like an attainable goal (when everything else I do is so easily undone )….. and the fatigue and exhaustion dwindles discipline and drive and motivation.

I have a mind brimming with ideas for blog posts, people I want to write letters to, individuals I want to reach out to……and all those ideas are just trapped-trapped in a mind that doesn’t have the time or an able body in which to find fruition.

And we are called to trust the Lord with all our hearts in each of those circumstances.

And I wonder why it is so hard, why I can’t seem to muster up the trust, for on many a day I am crying out to the Lord and He feels far off (you mean, Lord, you’re not just going to send a nanny to my doorstep when I”m struggling through the dinner hour?).  But the only way for trust to take root, is to find what is standing in its way.

And I find that the Giant called Fear takes up residency in a place I long for trust to grow.

Fear?

No, it couldn’t be that. Most of us wouldn’t openly declare, “Hi, I’m ______, and I am filled with fear”

But when levels and layers are uncovered, we find that at the root of our desire and desperate attempts to be in control, fear is the demon driver behind it all. 

We want to be in control, and get things done, and have a schedule. Fear of losing control and God not handling it all, drives the desperate grasping after the schedule. I’m afraid God is not able to take care of this.

We want to love our children well. Isn’t that the key to them growing to walk with Jesus and become responsible adults. Isn’t that the caliber by which we judge our devotion to God? Fear, that I might ruin my kids, disappoint God, and be exposed as the selfish, sinful person I am is what unsettles ones’ spirit over personal failures. And I’m afraid God is not able to take care of this.

We want to have a certain image, fit into our culture’s declaration of what beauty is. We want to feel in control of our bodies. It is fear of disapproval, of being looked down upon and judged, fear of spinning out of control of our little kingdom of self found in body building and toning. And I’m afraid God is not able to take care of even this.

We want to be “strong in our faith” and stand on promises of God’s word, but fear of not being strong enough to weather the storms of suffering, propels us into guilt and condemnation for not having more faith. And I’m afraid God is not able to take care of this.

We want to accomplish our goals and finish what we start, and fear of never finishing, fear of God never bringing to fruition this faith walk He has led us upon, causes panic, “This will never get done!” (which leads to frustration at little people whose diapers and snotty noses and never-ending appetites are the “VERY” reason why it will never get done).  And I’m afraid God is not able to take care of this.

We want to be used to bless people, to help people, and we can’t do that if we don’t follow through with the promptings to reach out, can we? It is fear that God is not big enough for that person thought of, that they need ME to be the one to reach out to them and serve them, that leads to a disappointment with self  over not following through. And I’m afraid God is not able to take care of this.

But I am not the only one who struggles with fear.

A million people who had just seen the mighty hand of God  deliver them from slavery, from Egypt along with all the wealth of Egypt, were overcome by fear, despite God’s recent acts of faithfulness and powerful displays of deliverance. Little did they know that the very thing that terrified them (Pharoh’s army pursuing them right up to the Red Sea (Exodus 14:5-9), was the thing God was moving into place to display his glory all the more.

The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen. Exodus 14:18 

God was sending the unsurmountable Egyptian army to pursue his people (after they had just been released from their slavery), not to defeat their hope, their spirits, but to build their hope and the faith in His Might and His Love .

And the promise, the hope, the great fear combatant that God declares through Moses to those fearful people watching the Egyptian army pursue them, is one that rings through the centuries, right into this fearful mother pursued by an army of emotional, spiritual, physical and mental oppressors.

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14

And since I think in lists, formulas and simplified terms, scribbled in my journal are the bullet points:

1. FEAR NOT.

2. Stand firm

3. See the salvation of the Lord

4. He will work for you

5. The Lord will fight for you

6. You have only to be silent.

If God is in charge. I need not fear. If I let him be in charge, my only need is to stand firm. If I believe He’s always moving even when this tired mother can’t, I can simply watch.  Watch him work for me. Watch Him fight for me.

I need only be silent and still.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.

Isaiah 30:15

(I am slightly addicted to this song right now….my heart’s faith-cry through the trials)