Christmas Grace

Anna Noelle.  Her name means “God’s grace at Christmas.”  And that is what she is.  All grace.  All undeserved.

We had all but closed the book, then she came.  On a day filled with cold December rain, she filled the room with her infant cry.  God’s grace at Christmas.

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Each child is a miracle.  Each one formed in the secret places.  Each one brought by the will of the Father.  But the unexpected ones–they remind us of the gift.

I remember holding her tiny frame in the wee hours by the Christmas tree.  This beautiful child.  She slept and I held her in my gaze, willing my weary, postpartum eyes to stay open, longing to hold that moment forever.

I knew it was my last time.  And I fell in love all over again.

Now she is all words and friends and cartwheels.  She has laughter in her eyes and joy in her heart.  We can’t imagine life without her in it.

She is a reminder that when God gives a gift, He wraps it up in a child.  And the greatest gift–it was wrapped up in a Child too.  A perfect, sinless Baby.  God’s grace at Christmas, meeting my deepest need.

Posted in Daughters, Mothering | 3 Comments

Thankful . . .

Here we are in November, rounding the turn toward a stark and leafless season.  Yet, in the middle of it, we take a deep breath.  We linger long and we softly speak “selah,” returning praise and thanks to the Giver of all good gifts.

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Posted in Grace Gifts, Seasons | 6 Comments

Mother-Daughter

We are five cords,

tied–

woven tight.

Life knit deep, in feminine form.

Hands gathered now,

bone and marrow,

joint and heart.

All these daughters filling up the empty spaces.

{linking up again today with Amanda’s prompt at Habit of Being}

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I Dared . . .

I haven’t dared much in my life.  In fact, I’m pretty conventional.  I’m not an adrenalin junkie.  I don’t have an incurable sense of wanderlust (though I’d to travel to Paris).  A few years ago, when sampling oysters on the half shell for the first time, I reached the far limits of my thrill meter.  Me–adventurous?  Not really.

But, by God’s extravagant grace, I have dared this one thing.

I have dared to believe that the Bible is true.

I have dared to trust in a God I cannot see.

I have dared to put my faith in the work of Christ on the cross, to believe in impossible promises, to love the God of divine surprises.

And I have not been disappointed.

I am learning the sweetness of repentance . . . forgiveness . . . mercy . . . grace.  I am growing in the ways of God, loving deeply, from the heart.  I am walking in the path of life.  I am watching Him change me from glory to glory.  And my restless soul has found rest in Him.

Linking up today with Amanda’s “Habit of Being.”

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Samuel

(This post is a few weeks late, as it took me a while to get photos of Sam.)

October 22

I remember that September morning.  It was one of those clean fall days with blue skies and sunshine.  One of those days when I usually get a burst of energy and start my fall housecleaning.  But on that day, September 11, I was all weight and fatigue, heavy with squirming life.

I remember that morning.  I was cleaning up an apple juice spill when the phone rang.  The news was breaking and Steve told me it was unbelievable.  I turned on the tv and terror’s story unfolded right before our eyes.  Airplanes.  The World Trade Center.  The Pentagon.  Pennsylvania.  I quickly switched off the tv, longing to shield my children from any image of the horror on the screen.  And I went back to my sticky floor, going through the motions.  Washing and rinsing.  Adding my own tears to the water on the floor.  Longing to be clean in a world that was darkened with evil.

A few weeks later, as our nation still shook with grief, I delivered a son . . . all eight pounds of him.  The air filled his lungs and we both cried.  There was a sudden pairing of grief and joy, and a surge of relief that life is sweeter than death.

It has been twelve years since that October evening.  Those twelve years have been filled up with securing the homeland, rooting out terror.  For me, those years have also been filled with “boy noises” and percussion, with Legos and nerf darts, with soccer and baseball and snowboarding and playing in the woods.

In the midst of it all, I have found a certain  acquiescence to the grander scheme of things.  I have set my heart to enjoy God’s good gifts to me–my dear children, my loving husband, sweet friendships, even the beauty of the world–but more than that, to enjoy the Giver of all good things.

I think back over the gift of Samuel’s years.  How do I sum up this boy?  Do I talk about that Thanksgiving morning when he was a toddler?  He woke up before everyone else and climbed up on the table before dawn and took a nibble of each cookie I had laid out to cool the night before.  His cuteness made him so very forgivable.

Do I tell about our trip, just the two of us, to visit my brother in Washington, and how he loved his first airplane ride?

Yes, we have stories.  Lots of them.  But in the end, I am just glad he is a part of us, perfectly fitted into our family at just the right time.

Happy Birthday, Samuel.  I am so glad there is you! 

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Posted in Grace Gifts, Sons | 3 Comments

Hand in Hand

The hills are dancing with painted leaves.  Autumn color is cresting like a wave through the countryside.  The sun sends shafts through the clouds and lights the leaves between the shadows.  I tell the kids to hold on to this in their memories.  They have grown up here and this has become their October expectation.  So I toss out some reminders . . .

“Do you realize how beautiful this is??”

“Do you know that people come from all over just to look . . . to see . . . to behold all this goodness??”

My parents come for a visit.  They were here in the fall of1964, back when they didn’t know what the future held.  Now they are back and holding hands with us, walking down a path with their grandchildren.  Life comes full circle before we know it.

DSC_0077I run up the trail to capture this moment–a still-small hand clasped together with her grandfather’s.  I want it to last forever, but all too soon there is the hard good-bye, and they drive up the hill and blow kisses.

DSC_0080All of the goodness of the week–the beautiful weather, the evanescent glory of “peak color,” the warmth of family love–it is all gift.  And my heart is full with the sweetness of these gifts, lavished in grace by the Giver of all good things.

Posted in Family, Grandparents, Seasons | 2 Comments

Safe

In Colorado, the rivers swell.  There is a flood.  A town is washed away.

In Washington, a man is on a rampage.  It is a perverse precipitation, a rain of bullets.

And all this in our own borders.  Do we dare try to digest the news from the Middle East?  Africa?

There is all.this.pain.

And I just want Canaan.  I want rest.  I don’t want any more headlines or heartache.

Like every mother, I wonder–“Into what kind of world am I bringing my children?”

Like every mother, I have wanted to create a safe place, a quiet harbor from the churning seas.  I want my kids safe.

283186_10150251261446516_4506974_nBut I wonder–is there any safe place?

I have to let them go.  There is no other way.  I put them on school buses and I let them get their drivers’ licenses and they go.

It is an unsafe world.  It is a world scattershot with curse.

And there is only one safe place for our souls.  There is only one place where the brokenness can be made beautiful.  There is only one Redeemer.

{The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.}

And even in all the brokenness, there is a fullness of His presence.  Reminders of the safe place that awaits where there is no crying or mourning or pain.  Canaan is coming.  Peace is promised.  Oh, we are nearly home.

Posted in Grace Gifts | 6 Comments

A New Day

Welcome to your new day! 

There are words of life to be read, and said, and lived!

There are hands that need holding, arms that need enfolding.

There are mouths to be fed and souls to be led.

DSC_0377Welcome to your new day!

A day for you to make a choice to rejoice.

When the oil of gladness does not flow freely, this is your sacrifice of praise.

Welcome to your new day.

It is a day to forgive, a day to give grace.

A day to fold laundry while you pray over your dear people.

A day to feel the August breeze as it whispers the last breath of summer.

I have learned in recent days

that there is no excuse for a bad day.

No excuse not to love.

No excuse to leave the important things unsaid, or the sorrows unmended.

This is your new day.

Oh . . . live it well.

Posted in Grace Gifts | 2 Comments

Beauty

I had a few errands to run yesterday.  The first stop was Rachel’s classroom at the middle school.  Anna came along.

I was chatting with a teacher and Anna made herself busy by the door.  She was working with words, stringing together some magnetic poetry.

The first sentence was cute:  “See that fun woman shine like snow.”  Nice little simile.  But the second gave me pause:  “Beauty is always at work.”

Hmmmm.  Really?

On the gray day when the air hangs heavy and my heart is heavier still–is beauty really at work?

Well, no.  Not really.  But God is at work.  God is always at work.  Recently, John Piper said that “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”

And God is doing beautiful things.

imagesA friend of mine stood up at church a while back.  She shared a verse from the Psalms; I remember it still.  She read, “The Lord takes pleasure in His people; he will beautify His afflicted ones with salvation.”  (Psalm 149:4 NASB)

I love this sweet word!  In an unimaginable stroke of mercy, the Lord took pleasure in me. And He continues to take pleasure in me.  He is always at work–making me beautiful, delivering me from the ugliness of my sin and healing my afflictions with His transforming grace.

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,

in those who hope in his steadfast love.”

Psalm 147:11

Posted in Daughters, Grace Gifts | 1 Comment

The Last One — {Five Minute Friday}

Someone had to be the littlest.  The last.  Oh how she struggles with being the baby of the family.

Not only is she the youngest, but she’s also a bit petite for her age.  She wants to be big.

Of course I know that she’s just where she’s supposed to be.  Yes, at the tail end, but right in the middle of our hearts.

Just last weekend, we ventured to the highest point of the highest mountain in Vermont.  It was quite a climb.  We counted bridges, scrambled up rocks and played a game of stepping on each trail blaze.  We sang songs and talked about God’s creative power of design.

MountMansfield 057_edited-1The God who designed a world also designed a family.  Just when we thought we were all but finished with babies, this one snuggled her way in.  And we need her.  We need her just like we all need each other.

Sure, there is nothing quite like the awe of holding the firstborn.  But there is also an exquisite joy in loving the last one.  The final gift.

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Posted in Daughters, Grace Gifts, Weekends | 7 Comments