Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 10 (or 12 or 16) Posts and Pictures of 2012

I have been just absolutely itching to do one of these posts, but unfortunately things around here havent slowed down since Christmas like I hoped they might. I'm *hoping* (again with the hoping) that's mostly a result of the neighborhood kiddos adopting our home while they are out of school. Although the basketball team(s) we are coaching start up next week so that wont help in the busy areas . . . Oh sigh.

Anyways, here's a list of some of my favorite posts and pictures from the past year. To keep things a little simpler, I'm only choosing 10 (ok fine 16) pictures from my 366 project, because otherwise it might literally take me a month to write this post, and I'm hoping to get it done while it is still 2012. No promises though.

Also, these are some of my favorite posts based on my own criteria, which remains largely undefined and mostly just consist of me liking the way it sounds, or being excited about the subject matter, or being moved by what God was teaching me in and through the writing of the post. No hard and fast rules here people, as per usual.
1. Fighting for Them
As I settle back onto the couch in the quiet and safety of our beautiful home, I feed Caden his bottle and whisper prayers for the kiddos. I wonder who will fight FOR them as fighting breaks out all around them. Who will rescue them from cycles, from habits they can't help but pick up, from using their fists (or baseball bats) to solve problems. And I am reminded of Exodus 14:14. Reminded of the days when Caden lay in the hospital, and I was helpless to rescue him.
And as surely as the Lord was fighting for Caden, I know He is also fighting for our kiddos. Through my tears, I hear Him whisper that He has sent US to fight for them. That we will show them grace. We will forgive them again and again and again until they start to wonder why we aren't picking up baseball bats, but offering hugs instead.

2. Sleep Deprivation and Grace
So for all those moms who are struggling to find their way, who are certain that everyone else has it together and has everything figured out. Let me assure you: we don't. Even right this minute, I can barely keep my eyes open wide enough to remind Jayci not to jump off the couch and to ask her to take the marker away that Caden has somehow got his hands on. I am praying for all of you today (and for myself) that we will get some sleep. And that even if we don't, we will find REST and refreshment in the arms of a loving Father who extends grace in my shortcomings, and reminds me that it is those very shortcomings that will point my children to Him.

3. Made to Fly
A few minutes ago, a little girl from next door came frantically banging on our door. Tears ran down dirt-stained cheeks and she clutched a bundle tightly to her chest. I made a mistake she sobbed. I stroked her hair and tried to decipher what she was so upset about. She finally opened her hands to reveal a dead bird. After trying not to panic unnecessarily (have I mentioned I hate birds? Dead or alive, they freak me out), I asked her what happened. Between hiccuping tears she said she was trying to catch it, and accidentally crushed it. And isn't that exactly what happens to us? We try to hold things so tightly, try to encircle the winged hope in our arms. But it is in the grasping and smothering that we crush and kill. We try to control our future, to hold onto status and looks, to be popular and well-liked, to lose the last few pounds and cover up all the imperfections. And somehow in controlling we end up with death. Because life necessitates surrender. Gently holding things with open hands. Offering our future, our lives, our children, our identities to the One who carries them anyways. The one who knows us intimately, who created us with wings, fully intending for us to fly.



4. Hand-in-Hand
I recognize that transience is a part of this type of ministry (we've been doing it long enough to know that), but that doesn't make it easier for me. It doesn't stop me from letting my heart get attached to kids who I might never see again. And sometimes, I think it would be easier if I wouldn't. If I'd just put up walls to protect myself. Not care so much, just meet their physical needs, give them breakfast and help with their homework, sending them on their way with a snack or two in their pockets. And that would be good, right? That would be loving the poor too, wouldn't it?

But even as I ask the questions, I know the answer. We're not really doing the work of Jesus until we offer our own hands to get dirty, our own heart to be broken. Saying YES to loving the poor, the fatherless, and the widow means standing beside them and allowing their fingers to entwine with mine, no matter how messy my own hands get in the process. Because there's something inside of me that changes in the process. When my hands are clasped together with those who are uniquely loved by a Savior that cares intimately about the poor, I am closer to Jesus than ever before. I know Him more fully by staring into their eyes and CARING about them, by grasping the elusive truth that WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. And in the giving, in the offering of my hand to those who need love, companionship, food, a listening ear, or a big fat hug, it is in the offering that I am transformed and rescued from myself.


5. How to Instill Confidence in Our Daughters
So I will keep seeing beauty even in that which is broken. In the swaggering teenager who barely lets hope flicker in his eyes. In the ever-growing cloud of kiddos who surround us each morning as we walk to school. In the abandoned homes and forgotten children, in the loud kids and the quiet ones alike. Won’t my LIFE always speak louder than my words to Jayci? Wont I be telling her, by example, that we are all worth it? Or rather, than none of us deserve this dazzling grace but that God bestows it freely and calls us worthy anyways?
6. The Long Way Home
And the world, even those of us who say we love Jesus, who declare that we will always love our neighbor as ourselves, seek justice for the orphans, pursue good for the fatherless? We see him standing on the street corner with jeans sagging nearly as low as his heart. We watch him narrow his eyes defiantly, yell to girls as they get off the school bus. And we avoid his gaze, trying to lock our doors inconspicuously, muttering about policing harder and cleaning up the streets.


And again he hears it: you aren’t worth it. You will never be enough. They are better off without you.

But I hear that familiar whisper in my ear, Jesus reminding me: he is worth it. He is enough. And you need to tell him.

I’ve already tried to tell him, I remind my omniscient Father. I’ve already spoke truth softly to him, and harshly, and loudly, and every other way that I can think of.

Tell him again. And again. And again. Until he hears you.

7. How to Measure Success as a Mother.
I’m not saying it doesn’t matter where our children end up, of course I’m not. But I AM saying that I want to be a voice of one who believes that God’s measure of a mother is different. Not based on outcomes, on who produces more pinterest-worthy-crafts, or who raises better-behaved children. But on abundance. On enough. Because in a rat-race motherhood where we breathe a sigh of relief that at least it’s not my kid when see the broken lingering on street corners, or throwing tantrums in the Target dollar spot. That kind of motherhood is based on an economy of scarcity. Where her success as a mom equals my failure.

8. Confession
I'm certain that in the morning I will wake up and things will feel brighter. Everything always feels better in the morning, before the kids have done anything to try my patience (besides waking up too early) and when the sun streams gently through the blinds, leaving lines and shadows dappling our faces as we snuggle for a few more too-short minutes under the covers before emerging to face another day.

But here's the thing: I'm choosing today to believe in something that I've said all along. To believe in community, in y'all, in beauty, in Truth, and in trust. To believe in a God who remains on the throne despite hard days and longer nights. To believe that I'm not alone (please, please say that's true) - that there ARE other moms who struggle. Other wives who just aren't sure their husbands hear them. Church-goers who cant seem to find their niche. Friends and neighbors who smile and nod and long for someone to really know them.


9. Election Day from a Canadian in the City
Today, let's choose to stand laid bare, piles of brilliant leaves around our feet. Sacrificing and letting go and voting, and living in faith that God will sow new seeds. That the outcome of the election isn't nearly as important as the choices we make every minute of every day. That the way we live our lives as believers in the Kingdom of God will have much more far-reaching impact on policy and abortion rates and healthcare costs and foreign policy than any leader ever will.

10. For Caden, on the occasion of your first birthday
And my prayer for you is that you really will keep defying all the odds. Not just that you will defy the odds physically (because trust me, my sweet boy, I pray for that every day), but that you will defy every odd the world throws your way. That in an increasingly "de-churched" world, you will learn to BE the church. That when divorce rates top 60%, you will always remember the value of keeping covenants. That when peer pressure moves in, you will stand strong and hold fast to what you believe in. That you will descend the ladder to be nearer to the Savior, even when those around you are clamoring to the top. That in a world obsessed with more and bigger and filling ourselves up, you will always pour yourselves out. That when your friends take things for granted, you will be thankful. That as more surgeries come your way, you will abide in peace and trust. That you will be the one who goes back with thankfulness to those who help you along the way. That you will never lose sight of how "fearfully and wonderfully made" you are, even when you're in middle school and kids are less-than-kind. That you will choose beautiful over easy, and right over convenient. That you will wake each morning and turn your face and heart towards a loving Father, content to follow Him wherever He leads, because He has been and will always be Faithful and Just and Good.

11. Dear Me (a letter to my 16 year old self)
Besides, if I’m completely honest, I don’t really want to spare you the pain of being rejected and hurt. Which sounds harsh, particularly to your fragile self-esteem, trust me – I know. But in the darkest moments, those times when you feel alone and afraid and things are just flat-hard. It is that very darkness that draws you into the light. This new Jesus you’ve just met? He’s pretty awesome, true, but you’re looking for Him in all the wrong places. Yes, He is light. But you should stop looking for Him at church and in quiet times and checklists and community service. He’s much easier to see in the dark places. Unexpected places. Like small stable mangers, and sitting around campfires with kiddos who have hard questions and harder stories. Or in tiny rooms with teenage moms. Or sitting beside your son’s hospital bed.

12. House Tour - Master Bedroom
So I redid my bedroom. The plan was to do it during the series, as part of the series; however, I just finished it this morning so we didn't quite make that deadline. However, I DID do all of this in less than a month, and I spent less than $250. Also, please note that, as per usual, I use the term "I" to loosely refer to Adam doing most of the actual work.

13. For Sabo on Christmas Eve
Shards that pierce my heart tonight, until it contracts afresh with the knowledge that Christ has come. Hope thrills. And relief floods me, but it is relief fraught with the knowledge that even a baby-Savior-King is not the end of the story. He is coming back to wipe every tear, to mend the broken shards into something whole and complete. And until then, we wait with the same expectant breath that the whole world breathed over 2000 years ago. Our King has come, and He is coming again.
 

2 comments:

  1. How to instill confidence in our daughters was one of my favorite posts too! Might have just re-read it...thank you!:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the pictures. I didn't re read the posts since I have read them as you have written them!

    ReplyDelete

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