Friday, February 17, 2012


I opened my eyes this morning and remembered--the anniversary of my mom's death.  As I went through my Bible study, I remembered.  Helping my ten-year-old work a long division problem--I remembered--and it brought tears afresh.  My daughter hugging me as she remembered this day without needing to be told, tears again.  A text from a friend, an email, a facebook message brought still more remembrance and more tears.  Remembering is difficult and hard and yet at the same time so very necessary.

This morning, having difficulty concentrating on reading, I decided to watch a video from my Bible study that I had missed from an earlier week.  Ironic, but of no surprise to God, the premise of this video hinged on James 1:2:  

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.

Pure joy during trials...what???  That sounds like an oxymoron.

But it's anything but.

You see, that word, joy had a whole lot to do with getting me through the death of my mom.  It welled up deep inside of me from a supernatural source and kept me going during those fresh, raw days. It came from the Lord and it was my strength.  It was not of me.  I alone couldn't have produced that kind of emotion that was full of  peace and hope.  And lest you get the wrong picture, it wasn't a rosy 'all is well', yippee kind of joy.  No, it was this ever present, strong cord in the back ground of my being, giving me the ability to keep on, keeping on.  And it had the strange ability to co-exist with the anguish of loss.  The 1828 Webster's Dictionary defines anguish as:
Extreme pain, either of body or mind.  As bodily pain, it may differ from agony, which is such distress of the whole body as to cause contortion, whereas anguish may be a local pain as of an ulcer, or gout.  But anguish and agony are nearly synonymous.  As pain of the mind, it signifies any keen distress from sorrow, remorse, despair and kindred passions.
Amazing how you can be experiencing a terrible tragedy, yet in the midst of it God can shower you with His joy. It's contradiction with a capital C. And it's definitely not natural--no, it's supernatural...and nothing short of a miracle.

Remembering today...the memories--some hard, some sweet, some full of regret, some not--and I am thankful.  Thankful for the gift of remembering.  Thankful for the gift of a God that cares enough to carry me through life's heartaches...a God that is so personal and loving that He will show up in a Bible study video with just the right message at just the right time.  Lovingly reminding my easily-drifting mind that He too, remembers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Covers a Multitude of Sins

As we navigate through these parenting years, I am often burdened/overwhelmed/grieved by the sin I see well up in our children, especially our older ones.  Such feelings inevitably then lead to grievance regarding similar sins I find  in myself and Eric, as the apple doesn't fall far from the cart.

One morning last week as I was running, I was particularly burdened for my children in regards to less than desirable actions and attitudes I had been seeing.  I was also feeling a bit panicked about the teenage years that loomed in front of us and the difficulty of navigating through all the issues that come with our culture these days.  I felt tired, overtaken and weak--exactly the way a fish must feel swimming upstream.  I spent most of the run asking for forgiveness for falling short in so many areas, asking for grace to cover our weaknesses, asking for wisdom to be Godly parents, and asking for divine intervention in the lives of our children.

That day I felt pretty desperate.  Do you ever feel that way, so zeroed in on the yuck that you are seeing that you are having a hard time seeing any good?  Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed at a situation and so at a loss of words, that my prayers tend to be a few phrases repeated over and over.  On this day I just kept repeating:

'Lord, we need you, please help...Your grace is sufficient for our weakness, please be strong where we are weak...Love covers a multitude of sins...please let your love flow in and cover the multitude of sins you see in us and our children.'

As I finished that run and those prayers, the Lord did not provide immediate answers, or some big revelation, but He did impress one thing upon me:

Keep praying, keep praying, keep praying...the most you can do for your children during these years is intercede for them.

I have yet to witness a time that the Lord doesn't show up after a desperate prayer.  Now, He may not answer the prayer in a way that  we see fit, but He always shows up.  Always.

This time was no exception.  As I went through the rest of my day and the rest of my week, I felt His presence.  I felt His grace, covering me and helping me in my weaknesses.  And I saw Him move and answer the prayers of a desperate mother in small, tangible ways.

For one, I saw my daughter, who struggles with doing her schoolwork thoroughly and completely, win a small victory in this area.  As I saw her achieve and overcome, I saw God sanctifying.  I was reminded that sanctification comes little step by little step, and my job when I see such victories is to applaud and encourage.

The sweetest gift of all, though, was how the Lord chose to show up among my youngest and oldest.  You see, these two mix like oil and water.  My oldest, Joshua, a natural born leader who thrives in a well-ordered world has little patience for our last born who is the king of chaos.  His impatience and irritability with our four year old, Owen, was one of those areas I had been desperately praying over.

...Yet God moves and melts hard places in the most creative, unexpected ways...

Owen spent one afternoon last week making valentines with his grandmother.  When we went to pick him up, he proudly sauntered out with his masterpieces.  He walked about our van handing out his labor of loves and each of us exclaimed how wonderful it was.  All, that is, but my oldest.  My heart sank as he tucked his in his book and I wondered frustratingly, 'Why aren't you opening yours?'

But God had a different plan with different timing.

It was a significant moment that needed a more intimate environment than that of riding in a van down the road.  It was a significant moment that needed to include our entire family.

Thus, as we conjugated before dinner, Joshua pulled out his valentine from Owen:

Owen and Josh  
Two names listed together in the innocent writing of a four year old.  

Good Brother.  
Nothing else written and nothing else needed. 
Written in a grace-filled, forgiving squibble.

But the image on the back was the clincher:

The heart of a four-year-old finding and cutting out someone working out because he knows his big brother lives for work-outs.
The Supernatural working out the kinks in a relationship with something super-hilarious.

Using the irresistible, unconditional work of a four-year-old, innocently loving someone who didn't deserve it...

melting the hard in the most creative of ways

Walls came down, laughter replaced bitterness and love covered a multitude of sins.

A mother's prayers answered...

                            ...a step forward...

And the Father whispered:

  Keep praying, keep praying, keep praying... 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Birthday to our Oldest!

So, we recently learned of a really fun tradition that a family we know does on each of their children's birthdays.  They make up a birthday limerick about that child and put it on their answering machine.  We wanted to adopt this tradition, but we don't have a home phone nor an answering machine.  But we do have this blog!

So, Joshua--this one's for you!  We love you so very much!
Josh Grogan, blonde-headed and tan,
He's always been focused and planned,
With well-balanced meals,
And repeat running drills,
We thank God for this gifted young man!

My due date was February 12.  And of course, Joshua was punctual, born right on time on February 12, 1998, at 8:56 in the morning.  Today, punctuality is still important to him.  He plans out his day to the nth degree and has a specific time for everything he does.  It is all thought out and well-planned, down to the very last detail.  

As a new-born, he got ruffled easily if his schedule and environment weren't just so-so.  He is still characterized by such today.  He likes things a certain way and can be a bit inflexible at times :) .

He lined up his animals and cars as a toddler, spending hours on the set up.  Today, he no longer lines up things, but oh, does he plan everything out to the very last detail.  Schedule-oriented, driven and focused--I love all these things that make him who he is.

He loves cross country and track--it is his passion.  I will be sharing a story about him and his running that happened this past fall--one of my very favorites...I'll write it when I can find a minute (which happens to not be now!) :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My long-haired babe is Ten!

Our middle-born son is named Wes,
When asked to do chores he says, 'Yes',
Baseball is his game,
Yet running's his fame,
Mama WON'T cut his hair, I confess!

My Top Ten on the Tenth:
  1. The hair--what can I say?  I'm your mama and I have my priorities!
  2. Your big smile and the way it takes over your face
  3. Watching you run is one of my favorite things
  4. Watching you on the baseball field is one of my other favorite things
  5. Your quiet presence--it always has a way of making a 'presence', even though you aren't trying to
  6. That you can bust a move--again it's unexpected, which makes it all the more funny
  7. Your diligence and hardwork ethic you've inherited from your daddy and big bro'
  8. Can I just say shirtless and compression shorts?  The slimness makes me smile every time...oh, what I would give for one-tenth of that!
  9. Really proud of how hard you are working in school this year, especially how you have stuck it out in Math when it's been hard and how now you're starting to see the this about you!
  10. Your new found interest in the Racers and the fact that all you want for your birthday is MSU gear sure does make these alum-parents happy!
I could go on...the fact that you've conquered the Bop-it and made it to the 'master' level, your loyalty to your friends, your obedience factor...of course if I name these things, too, then I would be naming the 'Top 13' and this momma would be having a tougher time than she already is! ( and let's not go borrowing trouble....)

So instead, I will just relish today, this day when you are '10', remembering that special day ten years ago when your daddy had to be summoned by loud speaker in the hospital cafeteria because you decided to be born while he was in the middle of grabbing some lunch.

And it's been one sweet interruption after another ever since.

Ironically, ten years ago we had JUST moved here and JUST settled into on your tenth, your double-digit milestone, we are preparing to move to a new town...ten more years, Lord willing, of new memories and new adventures...