Spent all day writing and nothing to show for it

124. God’s Love

125. Kenny

126. Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot

127. A new dress from Ann Taylor Loft that cost $30

128.  He turns down the radio to hear what I have to say

129. David’s fearless preaching of the gospel and singing even to those who can’t hear him at the nursing home

130.  Oppurtunities to be missionaries as a family

131. Riding on the back of Kenny’s motorcycle

132. Elliana cooking

133.” Fwirrles” (squirrels)

134. “Foon” (spoons)

135. My Onesimus

136. My Tabitha passing out stickers   (the joy she gets from giving)

137.  Silky hair days

138. Tuned in parenting

139. Forgiveness

140. Order and organization

141.  A clean car

142. A clean kitchen

143. Friends

144. Ana’s little legs running

145. Ana’s faces

146. Church family

147. “Fwee” (three)

148. Kenny’s dedication to reading the Bible

149. Elliana gathering “red delicous berries for Nowom.”

150. Dad’s intervention

151. Finding that calendar for mom

152. Blue sky, white clouds, a breeze

153. A shoulder to fall asleep on

154. Kylie

155. John visiting for spring break

156. Cody

157. Kenny and my kids

158. A schedule

159.  energy

160. Climbing into bed at the end of a busy day

161. Finding my memory verses

162. When the classroom is under control

163. Girl time with Elliana

164. Fifth graders singing “Lollypop, lollypop” at the assisted living home

165. Sundays

166.  Devotions in the evening

167. Days at home

168. Elliana’s ruffled apron

169. Elliana volunteering to carry in the groceries

170.  The smell freshly washed sheets

171. An oven

172. Happy Elliana

173. David’s song “I like jelly, I like butter.  I went through the butter stage.  I went through the jelly stage but now I like them both at once!”

174.  Biscuits with homemade strawberry jelly for breakfast

175. toothpaste maracas

176.  Siblings encouraging David

So much Thanksgiving

69. The corn on the cob place cards the kids worked together to make for Thanksgiving

70.  Kids wrote great journal entries today

71.  Kids know their shapes

72.  Ice water

73.  Seeing Abby when I get my coffee on Wednesday and Thursday

74.  Dallas writing

75.  That I get to homeschool

76.  That when I look in the mirror I see my mom’s hair, my dad’s lips, and the same eyes as my precious brother and sister

77.  Quiet afternoons

78. Bike riding

79. Kelly Earley

80. All the people who encourage me about writing

81.  My Bible that I got for Christmas in middle school and keep together with packing tape

82.  Mollassus cookies

83.  Cold camping

84.  Kenny reminding me of all the songs that meant so much when we used to sing them in youth group

85.  I don’t have to work as well as go to school

86. That  Kaitlyn and I can talk

87.  I can read

88.  The kid’s camel backs

89. Elliana giving Princess Presto a bath at night

90.  Campfire smell

91.  The prophet Isaiah

92.  Naps

93.Fog

94. Making breakfast while the kids sleep

95.  When my kids have good table manners

96. The Hunger Games and all books that end the way I want them to

97.  My Kindle

98. All

99.  Bryan’s sunday school lesson about taming the tonge

100.

Dear God,

What you did tonight was awesome.  I was in the hall outside the kid’s room ensuring that Elliana went back to bed after using the potty, or sorting the laundry, or something, when suddenly Dallas shot up in his bed.  The light from the hall just reached him in his top bunk.  Thank God that I didn’t yell at him to lay back down.  “I just can’t keep this secret any longer!”  He cried with obvious distress.  He held out the sleeping bag Grammy Kelly made for his stuffed lobster lovey.  The opening was bunched in his hand like a sack.  “I was planning on eating this candy in the middle of the night.”  He went explaining how he had hidden his treats brought home that evening from a birthday party and was planning on a secret feast.  He looked like he might cry with the weight of the guilt.  I took the candy from his hand, and then wrapped him in my arms- overwhelmed at the responsibility of response.  I didn’t want to just blurt out the standard “I’m so proud of you for telling the truth,” because the truth is times have been hard for our family of late, and moments like these, of sudden success, have been very, very few.  So I just hugged him and then suddenly You gave me the words to speak out of the overflow of Your heart instead of mine.  “Dallas, do you know what this means?”  “What?”  He can hear the excitement in my voice and has no idea what is coming next.  “The Holy Spirit just spoke to you!  God who created everything just did something for you- just you- that he didn’t do for anyone else in the whole world!  He told you it was wrong to hide that candy and caused you to tell the truth!  That’s awesome!  That’s incredible!”  All Dallas; guilt melted away to joy.  He glowed with it.  “And He made my head feel all ouchy from the candy under my pillow!”  “That’s right,” I replied, by now with tears in my eyes because I so needed this proof/reassurance that You will work in Dallas’ heart.  Is it a reward for the changes I have made recently?  I don’t know what I said next.  I know I thanked You, God, and the tears in my eyes fell out onto Dallas’ pillow.   I told him “congratulations,” and said goodnight again.  I know the words I spoke came from You, God, because they had the perfect effect on Dallas.  He glowed, shined with the joy of it.   Only Your words can water the heart like rain on the ground and produce crops, a harvest, fruit.  The amazing thing is that You used this whole thing not just for Dallas but to bring to life what you are teaching me. My first thought leaving the kids’ room was “I actually did something right for once,” but as I thought through the experience I realized that those words were from You, and I remembered the sermon I had just listened to about David.  I creid out like David hen he finished preparing for Solomon to build the temple.  “You’ve done this awesome thing through me!  Thank you!”  It even gives me a chance to practice what I have been learning about prayer- retelling for You what You have done for me. What You did tonight, God, it was awesome.

101 A new mission in prayer

102 Telling God what He has done for me

103.  The attitude of David: You did this awesome thing for me

104.  God giving me something specific to be thankful for on thanksgiving

105.  Delicious food

106. Friends who text me out of bed on a Saturday just to hang out

107.  Humble people, who have no reason to be

108.  Awesome stuff God does

109. Geese honkingn

110.  Rose blooming on Thanksgiving Day

111. Pretty tables

112. Clean rooms

113. The big red chair that makes my back stop hurting

114. Gas in the car

115. Easy to plan outfits

116. Blue homemade sweater

117.  Elliana holding the ends of the ribbon as I braid it into her hair.  Our fingers working together.

118.  Social events where kids play happily and no one gets in trouble

119.  Nights when Elliana doesn’t have a temper tantrum at bedtime

120.  Kids helping me clean the sunroom

121. Five days living with my kids

122. People who have accepted me

123.  While I have been writing this week my three kids decided they wanted to make gingerbread houses and they didn’t want to wait till I was done.  Since my laptop is in the kitchen I printed off a recipe for frosting and told them to go for it and what do you think happened? Are visions of powerdered sugar blizzards and sticky mouths screaming at eachother dancing through your head like they did through mine?  There are candy wrappers on the floor, and David is feeding Elliana peanut M&Ms “like she’s a baby,” but there is something else too, hiding behind all the candy and sugar.  Sweetness.  My little guys just worked together, with only minimal help to locate three milk cartons and settle a debate over who got the last gobstopper.  They actually made frosting, and then used it to cover their milk cartons with graham crackers, and right now David is making a Gingerbread Puppy Dog, complete with tail, Dallas is building chocolate shutters, and Elliana is going back and forth between brothers singing “open your mouth and shut your eyes and you will get a big suprise,” then popping M&M’s into their mouths.   What could be more sweet than this?  I hope you have as much to be thankful for this week!

Baptism

67.  Baptism-

I hate being single.  I hope it isn’t too obvious.  I try to not wear my desperate loneliness on my sleeve, but there are times when I just feel like screaming “somebody love me!”  Sitting in church is often the worst spot, as anyone who is single will probably agree.  It isn’t just about wanting to feel loved, but about getting to have two perspectives on Christ, to know more of Him because you see Him through two sets of eyes, about unavoidable accountability, about serving God with two sets of gifts and having someone to tell when God teaches you something amazing.  I know all my married friends reading this will roll their eyes and say I am being idealistic, and I am, but to have just a crumb of that unity in Christ- that is an enviable thing.  I consol myself by reminding
myself that my very singleness is evidence of the work God has done in my life.  That a girl with my history could spend four
years faithfully married and then another four without so much as a flirtation, it’s my reminder that God is sanctifying me even when Satan wants to tell me otherwise.  But I don’t just want to endure singleness- that seems so wasteful, pathetic, and feeling unloved feels just like another one of Satan’s lies.  So instead, this is what I will remember:

I was baptized on Easter Sunday 2010.  It was my 24th birthday.  I wore a green dress and gold sandals.  I was so nervous I don’t remember anything up until the minute I reached the front of the church.  My children were with me, Elliana was one year old, and she wore a dress with lots of crinoline and polka dots.  The boys were three and five years old in their matching teal polo shirts and sandals.  I don’t remember the words Pastor Doug spoke; only that he was smiling and I couldn’t stop smiling either. Grace and posse were impossible, I was just so happy.  I didn’t look around, but I knew the people around me felt it too.  I knew my dad was probably crying, and among the many in those pews that had loved and prayed for me for years, there were probably more wet eyes.  I bowed my head when Pastor Doug lifted a handful of water, and fat drops sparkled as they escaped his fingers and sang as they splashed back into the basin.  I wore a tiara of pearly drops as he laid his hand on my head and prayed.  I still couldn’t stop smiling.  When he walked me down the aisle my three kids, who had been baptized too, skipped ahead down the aisle and out the
double doors.  The entire church was lit by the faces around me- I have never seen a church so full of joy.  My wedding ring is made of water, water that sparkled like diamonds as it fell from my hair.  And the amazing thing is that this heavenly bride-hood doesn’t just set me apart, it ties me into so many loves that I should blush to ever think of myself as “single” or alone, because everyone who wears the same wedding ring belongs to me just I belong to them.  The bravery of the woman who takes this vow and wears the ring although it is also a noose for her, that courage belongs to me, the passion of a man who sings his worship for all to hear, that belongs to me too, the age old wisdom, and newly born fervor, these are mine.  The shame of the fallen and the anger of those hurt, these are mine too, and all I am is theirs.  I am anything but single, far from unloved.  I am baptized.

Dalal or Broken Bell Jars

56. My kids knowhow to chew food and feed themselves.  I know this seems silly, but there are thousands of children whose disabilities make these tasks impossible.

57.  Homemade jelly that actually sets

58.  Elliana’s “Watchadoin?” and the way the kids come together over their love of Phineus and Ferb

59.  Dalal- or broken bell jars:

The people were freezing.  They had abandoned their homes in the valley.  Villages were left like ghost towns when the people
fled up the craggy mountains.  There they crawled in between the rocks, wedging their lives into caves and crevices.  They bed their children down on cold stone floors and cooked over smoky fires on rocky ledges.  They were like wild wolves, or bears, but
with less to protect them.  So they stayed as close as they could to the mouths of their caves, wearing the mountain like a turtle wears its shell, and their children grew up in darkness.  The people were hungry, too.  Every day the men went out, chilled
without by the mountain air, but more so by the fear within, down into the valley.  They crept like thieves among the green fields and well worn paths where their children’s bare feet used to run.  They worked in the fields without talking, the work moving slowly as half the force stood futile guard.  It was not that the fields would not produce.  In truth, every day the wheat and barley seemed to have grown higher.  Their green stalks waved in a teasing dance when a mountain breeze dipped through the
valley, and they soon turned golden, and ripened before the farmer’s eyes, but the very fullness of the kernel, the golden glow of the field, creased agony around the eyes of the farmers, and bent their mouths with pain.  Any day the harvest would be ready to eat… any day…

After Joshua stepped down as leader of God’s people they dispersed to their own cities and fled farther and farther from God until God turned them over into the hands of an oppressor.  An enemy came driving them out of their homes and into caves for shelter; their oppressors gave them just enough breathing room so that they could work and prepare the harvest, then they would sweep in
and carry off what the Hebrews had grown leaving them hungry, scared, and broken in their caves.  Dalal is the word the Bible uses- it means broken, hung low, impoverished, languishing, depressed.  I have been dalal- not just in the past but right now- this very week.  Over the past two years I have wandered farther and farther from the faith that carried me through my own conquest of Jordan when Torey left- and led me into the victory that granted a safe home for my children.  I have wandered off and sought after what seemed right in own my own eyes- what I wanted, but God is faithful, and He doesn’t leave us without correction- so I fell into the hands of the Oppressor.  Now I am not saying that God handed me over to Satan like he did Job, but the choices I made left my mind open to the invasion of lies.  Lies aimed at hurting me, preventing me from loving and discipling my kids, and at destroying the family I had dedicated to God.  I believed the lives.  I enslaved myself to them.  I know this is strange to think
about- but although it sounds ridiculous I bet you’ve done it too.  Have you ever told yourself how stupid you are to have done a certain thing?  Or how hideous?  How unlovable?  How unworthy? Have you ever truly believed that you are anything less than an awesome parent invested by God with a job He perfectly made you for and delights to see you do?  Have you ever thought you were a failure?  At anything?  Or everything? How about at life?  Have you ever laid in bed and cried before your eyes were even open because you just knew you were going to get it all wrong again?  Maybe not, I realize I am more crazy than most- but have you ever believed that others were better than you?  I bet we all have and that’s the lie Satan got me to believe.  I believed it until I was dalal- broken, languishing, depressed.  Only it wasn’t depression, it was oppression, because more than just being the result of a chemical imbalance or life circumstances it was Satan’s attempt to destroy my family- to rob me of my harvest and joyful laboring.
When Gideon was alone at the lowest point, trying to sneak and thresh at least some of the harvest before it was snatched from him God spoke to him and gave him the victory.  It took faith, and Gideon was unsure and kept asking God for signs, but in the end, the light broke out above the valley and the enemy destroyed itself.  Isaiah 9:2 says “The people who walk in darkness will see  a great light.  On those living in a land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” And Isaiah 54:17 says “No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from me, declares the Lord.”  God’s people have been oppressed since time began, sometimes because of their own sin, and sometimes because that was how God could show them Himself.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles with depression- but I’ve just realized for myself that for a Christian that bell jar isn’t just depression it is oppression aimed at stealing our harvest,and just like Gideon- victory comes with the light- the light of truth, the light of God’s word.  I finally heard from God on the threshing floor- although for me it was sprawled across my mom’s bed, and His voice sounded an awful lot like hers.  That encounter has brought me back into the light- not without oppression, but now, not without a torch.  I now know I can do nothing without Christ and I am holding on tight to my torch- the light of Truth- trusting God to defeat the Oppressor.

60. church

61.  worship

62. nursery workers

63. teachers

64. That God speaks to us

65. Talking with someone who has needed Christ as much as I have

66. The gifts of being in God’s family: hand me down clothes, accountability, encouragement, God’s words to me

Birthday Gifts

54.  David is 5

One of the most amazing things to watch this past year is how God has grown my second son’s spiritual gift of mercy.  From the time David was a very small baby I noticed that he had an ability to produce joy where and when it was needed most.  I know every baby makes the elderly smile, but it seemed as if his chubby legs toddled toward the lonely and left a trail of joy.  From toddlerhood I have called him my Barnabus, my encourager.  Those who meet him now often don’t see this side of his personality through the karate-kicking warrior persona which earned him his name.  It is true that David’s hugs usually leave the recipient on their backs and he rarely plays a game that doesn’t involve some form of battle, but between the typical boy ferocity, this year has been marked with some of the sweetest memories of my son growing in mercy.  He has developed a love for babies, which necessitates multiple trips to the one year old nursery each Sunday.  He even used the last of his birthday money to buy a new toy for that nursery, which he enthusiastically presented to them this morning.  He sat on the floor amidst blinking, bobbling babies and demonstrated the various noises produced by the phone’s buttons.  This year he also developed a love for one baby in particular and makes him movies in which David retells Bible stories is his own unique way.  The most precious memory of this year, though, occurred in our neighborhood nursing home.  Like any child, David would never choose to postpone a Sunday afternoon trip to the park in order to visit some place that, admittedly, smells bad.  Once we are inside, however, David forgets about the rest of our family.  He skips ahead greeting every wheelchair in his path.  He isn’t afraid to hold hands, talk, or ask questions.  On a recent trip we were talking to disoriented resident who responded to my “How are you today” with a list of complaints.  “I’m sick!  Nobody cares… they left here… no body loves me.”  David’s eyes grew big and his pounced on the old woman’s hand.  “I love you!  And Jesus loves you!”  and then, quite without prelude he tilted his head back and began to sing.  “Jesus loves you, this I know….”  Soon his siblings joined in and the resident sat there, holding his hand and bobbing her head to
their singing.  I am ashamed to admit that my first reaction was embarrassment.  I glanced around to see if any nurses were watching and wondering who the crazy kids were with, but then, I realized- this is a gift.  This thing that David does- the way he feels around babies and lonely old ladies, this is an actual, spiritual gift.  God is so generous that He has given my son,
who can’t even read yet, a spiritual gift that he can use to serve God in his own unique way!  How awesome is that?  And so, as David starts on another year, inaugurated with a Ben Ten Omnitrex alien toy, and an alien themed dinner with his two best friends, I look forward to the smiles God is going to paint through David in this coming year.

56.  Jujitsu

Dallas earned his first stripe after several months in the sport.  More importantly, though, he has come so far in controlling his emotions, thanks to the man-to-man conversations and encouragement from his coaches.

And since Oompa is one of the instructors, Elliana gets tojoin the for the last 15 minutes of class.

57.  Dallas is 7

lego heroica in the morning. half day of school. lego lunch with friends. lego cupcakes. lego cake.  a bonfire. oh.. and he had to fight everyon in his jujitsu class because it was his birthday.  Quite a day.

Catching up

41. The Bible

42. When the kids stay in bed untill 7:30

43. Mom’s quilts

44.The weird way I can sleep with my phone in my hand so I can keep track of the time

45. The ballerina’s welcome home hugs

46. Fall

47.  Drawing

48.  The Warrior’s Drawing abilities

49.  The ballerina bringing me the newspaper each morning that we play school bus before school

50.  Slimy tennis balls and hand-me-down softball bats and an eager batter in the quiet stillness tha is twilight.  A safe time.

51.  Hard eucharisteo , like forgiveness.

The kids are skateboarding in their room- using trays.

31. Friends

32. Elliana’s Braids

33. Organization

34. Quiet nights, early to bed

35. Memories of camp

36. Textbooks that arrive quickly

37.  Checks in the mail

38.  Nights when I get to read whatever I want

39. The new ways kids pronounce words

40.  Singing on Sundays, even when kids think they need to add electric air guitar solos- at least no one can hear I’m off key over that

30. Forgiveness

Something bad happened to me when Iwas fourteen.  At first I didn’t tell anyone because I was confused, embarrassed and scared.  Later, when Christ became my Beloved I told very few people because I felt they excused the atrocity of my teen years on the basis of my trauma.  Anyway, I thought I had forgiven because I didn’t feel any anger about it anymore.  Yet, whenever I happened to spy the night sky framed above me in the branches of pine trees, I would remember and think how sad that such a thing had happened.  There were other things, too, that I had thought were forgiven, biggest, of all, thehus band who made me an ex-wife.  I
thought they were forgiven because when I encountered the shard of a memory somewhere along my day I would pull it out and simply think, “how sad.”  No bitterness, no anger.  I thought I had forgiven because I knew if those people some day said “I’m sorry,” I would say “I forgive you,” and it wouldn’t hurt.  But I was wrong.  I’ve been dealing with pain this week, small pain not without fault, but pain among friends. As I tried to forgive, coaching myself to let it go, I was drawn again and again into prayer and communion the depth of which only pain can produce.  As I worried about resolution and the future my faith stopped slouching and stood taller than it has in months.  And in the very injury itself, when the flesh was cut deep, I could clearly see tumors that have been slowing and damaging my spirit with silent increase.  In short, in the pain I was revived, renewed, until I no longer cared that my friend know they had hurt me, nor that they acknowledge their error.  Rather, I continually rejoiced to be, once again, in the arms of my precious Savior.  Then my eyes were opened and I understood forgiveness.  Forgiveness is when I stop thinking that someone owes me an apology because what they did has been completely forgotten in the light of what God has taught me through it.  If such a small injury as a misunderstanding between friends brought me joy, how much more joy is there when I begin to treasure the depth of love I have felt, and faith that has been bestowed upon me due to the bigger injuries- like Torey leaving.  This joy is waiting for me in every sad thing that has ever happened, and in all that will happen in the future, it’s the joy of forgiveness, and it is, quite literally, divine.  And as I think on this, I suddenly realize that
this how God forgives me.  He no longer waits for an apology, nor thinks how sad are the things I have done.  He has forgotten it all in the light how His glory shines, not in the things I have done in righteousness, but in the things He has done for me.  I can’t hardly bear the joy of such forgiveness!  All is gone!  Really gone!  Forgiveness has brought its joy into my life, and so tonight, I am going to lay out under the pine trees and look up into the sky- and see only the glory of God.