The Gift of Time

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There is a certain safety, a quiet comfort that comes with time. Lately, there’s been a quiet contentment settling in my heart each time I spend time with him. I can’t explain why this is different than the awe and marvelling that we’ve done all our married days at how easy this comes for us, and maybe that’s it, it doesn’t always come easy anymore.

This man knows me more intimately than anyone has ever known me. I carried his children in my body. He was there as I delivered each of our 6 children, stayed by my side, strong and steady. He’s seen me in my most vulnerable state and been a pillar of strength to draw from in it all. We’ve only been at this for 15 and a half years and I am starting to sense this steady comfort that grows with having a protector of my life, my body, and my heart . A man who fears God and leads me to Him again and again.

I was merely a girl when we married, 18 years old, insecure and unsure of who I was. As I discovered who God was making me to be, he was always there to cheer me on, push me a little; support me a lot. There’s been a new transition as I’ve turned thirty and discovered my voice, my opinion that doesn’t always match his; as I learn to assert myself with respect and love. This dance becomes more complicated as our days go on, our life together is more detailed, intricate, complex and full. But, dance we do, stepping on toes and reorienting ourselves to dance in sync.

There’s something unique and special in being blessed with time, extended time, with the same person. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience, and I’m not promised length of days, but I’m thankful for the days I’ve been given. I’ve truly seen the goodness of God in the land of the living; I rejoice.

I’m thankful for you, Anthony Huy.

The Woman Who Came to Dinner

Observe and Understand His Lovingkindness

I saw her standing there with the baby strapped safe to her chest, snuggled in, on that cold afternoon. Her small son stood beside her, in his little black hoodie, looking well cared for and loved. Standing beside her man, like we women do, for better or worse, we do. Most of us anyway, those “unenlightened” ones of us. She stood there beside her man who was holding a sign. I couldn’t see the sign, but I could see them. Sometimes that’s all that’s desired, to be seen, truly seen.

I considered buying her dinner, drove right through KFC and considered it. There was a pause as the man waited for the rest of my order… don’t buy them food, they aren’t homeless, invite them to dinner. “That’ll be all, I don’t want to order anything else.”

Invite them to dinner. I don’t invite my friends to dinner, I can count on my two hands how many times I’ve invited a friend to dinner in the last 15 years. Invite them to dinner.

I didn’t feel safe inviting them to dinner myself, call it wisdom, call it fear, I don’t care much what you call it. I was getting that feeling, you know the one where you know that you’re about to be swept away in the will of God and you best just go with it?

So, I drove home. I went to my husband who was studying for his sermon the next morning. Minutes are critical on Saturday, I’ve blocked them off, considered my husband gone on a retreat every Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon. But, I was a woman on a mission.

“There was this family… they were holding a sign…”

He knows me. This man who has walked with me for 15 years, he knows me.

“You think I should go down there?”

“Yes, or something. I’m about to make chili… there will be enough… if you feel like you should, you know, invite them to dinner.”

So off he goes with our daughter to see this not homeless family in front of Taco Bell.

Shortly after, I received a phone call, they’re coming, 30 minutes. They’re coming to dinner. Ok.

The kids jumped into action, this was all of our routines and schedules in action, this was in large part, why we do all of these things. The ministry of availability, this was it.  Make a salad, add chairs and leaves to the table, make room, pick up, put away those electronics, bake a batch of brownies! They were champs, I praised them for it afterwards.

These kids, they too were caught up in the random adventure that God laid out for us. We didn’t know what He had in store, but we were being obedient. “Loaves and fishes, loaves and fishes” they kept repeating it and giggling. Loaves and fishes, a cry we learned from my friend Melissa, a wild cry for God to extend our hand of giving and provide in a wild way.

Then she came.

She brought her little one year old daughter, her son, the child she carried within her, and her husband. She came into my home and ate my food. We cared for our children, we fed them, corrected them. When her daughter took my daughters cup, she made her return it. Often, we would look across the table at each other and smile, nod, laugh a little.

We invited our friend and he came to join us. He came after being woken up from a nap, this friend who has never been to dinner at our house, this friend whom we’ve talked to only a handful of times. On this night, he was a welcome protector, rescuer, friend. Forever after this night, he is a dearly beloved brother.

After a while, she went home. She took her little family and went to her apartment home 2 miles away. I looked her in the eye, I hugged her. We were women. Wives. Mothers. We’d shared a meal together, lived a bit of life together. With this hug I wanted her to know that I saw her not as a woman asking for a handout beside her husband, but as a sister who came to share a meal, a moment of life together.

We hugged and she left.

Our dear brother stayed and talked for a while, there was a comfort, knowing we had done this thing together. There was no physical reward, no grand stories of redemption, there was just the deep, lasting fellowship that comes when believers gather in His name.

And that’s what happened when the woman, a real, live, self proclaimed gypsy, came to dinner.

Seen & Heard: Random Phone Photos

wpid-0127141616.jpgThis guy got new glasses on Monday. Every time I looked at him, I laughed out loud. That made him self conscious, sorry about that. :/ The truth is, I love this guy and wouldn’t be the same woman without him.  I sometimes blame all of our issues on his wild passion for God, but ultimately I know that he seeks God wildly and I would be so frustrated with anything less. 🙂 Love you honey, and your new glasses too!

wpid-0127141652a.jpgWe went to the park, we’ve been stopping in at the park for an hour here and there more often these days. The poor 3 year old at the end of this clan hasn’t had enough park time and we all do better with some fresh air. These two brothers are discovering some commonality as one is finally old enough to engage in the pursuits of another. They still keep a safe distance, but they are finding their way. God works in all things.

wpid-0127141802a.jpgWe were having dinner and I was thinking what a blessing it is to have the entire family together at the table. This is a common occurrence these days, but I know it won’t always be the case. I took this to capture the normal moment of “dinnertime” and they all thought I was strange. That’s ok, they always think that.

wpid-0128141919a.jpgOn Tuesday night we celebrated this guy’s 7th birthday with my mom and no cousins.  It’s a new normal and we miss our cousins, but we are taking full advantage of having grandparents all to ourselves!!! 😛

wpid-0128141333.jpgThis guy wisely removes himself once a day to swing on the swings by himself. He’s done this everyday for years and years. It’s for all our good, I need to find my own swing – for the good of all!

wpid-0130140701a.jpgThe three middles successfully made it a night in their new tent. It’s so fitting that all of the gifts that Maury chose this year were things he could do with his brothers, he loves and adores them.

wpid-0129140933.jpgOur baby boy turned 7, he loves to make people laugh and he’s good at it. 🙂

 

wpid-0129141900b.jpgWe have great friends that come over every week for community group. It’s been neat to watch the kids bond and grow to love each other as they spend time week after week. Look at those guys back there standing right in front of the TV…!

 

wpid-0130141216a.jpgThis girl’s reading level is higher than mine was at her age, a book and a tree, is there anything better?

That’s a week in our life in random pictures. 🙂

Happy Friday!

Seen & Heard: How I Do It

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I was at the dentist yesterday so I had the typical deja vu experience of having conversations that seem original, but are played out anytime I go anywhere new. As soon as it’s discovered that I have 6 kids, the story is always the same.

“Wow! You look really great for having 6 kids!”

Thank you! I think? Is this some sort of backhanded compliment? No, they’re being friendly. Ok. Thank you!

Then comes the inevitable, “I don’t know how you do it!”

I laugh and smile and be polite. It’s really not so hard, but I have done my homework.

Here’s how I do it in 5 quick bullets. It doesn’t always work out pretty and different seasons have looked different, but this is how it works in our household.

  1. We have a routine – It’s not always followed strictly, but there’s a sense of what comes first and what comes next. Breakfast is generally at 8am, everyday, for years. You must come to breakfast dressed, boys don’t like to sleep in shirts and I don’t want to see your chest. Dressed. No exceptions. Breakfast, chores, school.
  2. Kids do chores – They begin having strict chores at the age of 4. We start small and train with an older child, but they do chores, they expect to do chores. Those systems where mom gobbles up your things? I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with those. The house has been divided up in chores and chore times and they get done. Many hands make the work light!
  3. Speak principle – Ok, this is silly, but I do like to say teaching phrases over and over. “Always be honest.” “Work hard, play hard,” “Many hands make the work light,” “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” They’re silly, but I know they’ll come into the minds of my children when they have a decision to make. There’s nothing more powerful than strategically playing Jedi mind tricks with your kids by getting into their heads.
  4. Stay home – We miss out on a lot of really great opportunities by not jumping on every one. We jump on very few. Ask any close friend of mine, not only do I not answer my phone, but I don’t go to places I don’t want to go.  This is my normal nature, but this is also very intentional. We live a busy life, we need to be ready and available to live that life and we won’t have energy to live well if we’re maxed out.
  5. Be flexible – How do I do it? By God’s grace! Every child, every situation, every season of life requires much prayer and much flexibility. I have children that I have to watch and monitor their level of stress and their needs to have time alone, if I miss the cues and we break the threshold of tolerance, we pay! There have been seasons where nothing is how I would like things to run, but it’s for the good of the household at the time so we went with it. Pray!

That’s how I do it. As the kids are getting older, I’m learning to rest and sit more, but I don’t’ have a lot of down time. Such is life. God has always been faithful and gracious to guide us each step of the way.

Happy Friday!

The Church Planting Wife – Chapters 5 & 6

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Chapter 5: The Sacrificial Heart

In chapter five, the focus is to be willing to be spent, to serve others and “eradicating pride.” Here are some quotes that give insight into the chapter:

“Am I willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?” – Oswald Chambers

“My greatest ongoing struggle as a church planting wife has been primarily with myself.”

Some personal thoughts spurred:

People will often say to me, you’re the pastor’s wife, you shouldn’t be doing this or that. This is actually a boost to my resolve that I must continue doing what I’m doing, I must serve all the more. If I, as a pastor’s wife, will not serve, then I’m worthless for the work of the Lord.

There’s a lot of serving behind the scenes as a pastor’s wife; that hasn’t proved to be my problem.  I’m good at that, I’ve done it for many, many years.  What’s proved difficult is serving not in my strength, but in my weakness.  For me, putting myself out there, reaching out, doing the up front jobs, puts me in a place of having to depend on, trust in and rely on God like never before. Serving out of weakness has stripped me of my strength so that I have no other choice but to throw myself on God’s mercy and ask that He might work in and through me.

Chapter 6: The Faithful Heart – Forsaking Fear

This chapter goes right along with the lessons I’m learning about serving in weakness, being fearless and trusting God.  It talks about being out there, planting a church, safety harnesses gone. This can be a fearful place to be, going out on a limb for God. Christine challenges:

“When we fight to stay in certain and controlled circumstances, seek comfort over discomfort, or need a fully mapped out plan, can we even claim faith in God at all?”

Personal thoughts:

Fear spreads, fear can be sensed and felt. Fear says, “God, I do not believe you are enough for this.” Faith spreads, faith can be sensed and felt. Faith says, “God, I know that I’m not enough, but I believe you are more than enough for this.”

These two chapters were timely and further cemented the lessons God is teaching me right now.  Fear leads to partial obedience (disobedience!), a plan B that seeks to take God’s will and tweak it to our strengths so we don’t have to rely fully on Him.  I’m tired of serving in weakness, but my aim is to be spent in the service and glory of Him and doing this means I must be fully obedient.

Living fearless, transferring my fear of circumstance into a fear of God, that’s what I seek.

Seen and Heard: 3 Things in 3 Days

Three days into the New Year!

1.SOMETHING NEW: I learned something on New Years Eve, if you say you want to go to bed early, you should specify how early. A certain man in my home went to bed at 9:15 and that made me very discouraged.  I watched Monsters University and then headed to bed myself. Happy New Year! :/

2. SOMETHING BORROWED: I sent my husband on a personal retreat to pray and plan for the new year. He was there only ten minutes before he called and asked if I wanted to join him. 🙂  Our dear friends gifted him with a beautiful room that turned out to be an excellent workspace with plenty of room.  I sent along some good books for inspiration, a couple of personal notes and this list by Kevin DeYoung. The list has useful questions like this: “Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?”

While he’s gone I have the job of entertaining the teenagers after the youngers go to bed. They just sat there looking at me so I decided to learn how to play their game:

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3. SOMETHING READ: My 2014 book reading plan is in full force right now, I’m currently reading through a couple of great books and thought I’d share quotes from each, but there wasn’t really anything quotable in them, so here are some thoughts:

Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung: He sounds a lot like my husband. Driven, doing many things at once and not daunted by the many tasks coming at him at once. I figured it would be best to read this one at the beginning of the year in case it had something useful in it, rather than getting more Crazy Busy and then back tracking.

Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax: I have hopes for this book. I am skeptical that a writer of theology can write a good novel.  Is that terrible? I am. Skeptical I mean, but I’m probably terrible too. After reading part of the first chapter I went back and read all of the good reviews of this book just to remind myself that this is going to be great, really great!

The Church Planting Wife by Christine Hoover: I’ll be blogging on these next 2 chapters (5&6) as this continues to be a good book. This book, along with a study of Judges I’m doing, along with one other thing I can’t remember right now, all talked about full obedience to God without making a plan B out of fear. 3 (or maybe 2?) of the same messages in the same week,things that make you go: hmmmm.

Judges for You by Tim Keller: My sister and my husband both say if Tim Keller writes it, you should read it. I read his book Galatians for You and loved it, this one looks to be the same. I have only read the introduction, but I’m doing the study guide in preparation for our women’s study this February. This is good stuff. I bought a stack of books and poured and prayed over all of them and this one floated to the top.  I’m already learning from it as I shared in the previous section above. Tim Keller = Good Stuff

Systematic Theology by, Wayne Grudem: I read the 1st chapter this week, which means I’m ahead of my schedule! 🙂 This one is going to be good, I already know that. For the first chapter this was an application question that jumped at me:

What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer?

Well… I have lived this. As a teen and young adult it made me very frustrated to be in a system that didn’t teach systematic theology. Not that I knew what that was, but I was always discouraged when older christians and pastors would talk about the apostles creed and various doxologies because they had been taught them in church as children. Here I was in a system that didn’t believe in teaching such things and yet I was surrounded by older christians who had benefited from systematic theology, catechisms, creeds, etc.  I didn’t know where to obtain such information, my parents were not saved as children and were also trained in the same system.  As I began to have my own children and sought to rectify this situation, I found the pertinent information very difficult to find.  It wasn’t until I reached beyond my borders, went into forbidden territory, that I found the information I had been seeking for a large part of my life. To be sure, there were a great many blessings that overshadow that portion of my experience, but that was what I experienced and how I answered that application question.

Al Mohler has a good article out today on reading books: Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books.

Ok. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past 3 days, a lot of planning, preparing, cleaning up… We’re back to school on Monday!

Happy Friday!

Battle for the Souls of Men

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Battle for the Souls of Men

Go forth, valiant warrior of the King
Answer the noble call
Take up your sword and fight
He’s given freedom for us all

The warriors are few
The courageous fewer still
Sound the Battle cry!
You fight in His will

 Gird yourself in armor
Leave everything behind
Stand firm in His power
He brings healing to the blind

 Victorious is the warrior
That rises again and again
Rise up valiant warrior
You battle for the souls of men

The story: God gave me this poem for my husband as he embarked on pastoral ministry. He had an experience with a man who was demon possessed and as he prayed over him, he sensed this spiritual battle. It was then God cemented in His heart this desire and call to “battle for the souls of men.”  I thought this was an appropriate reminder as to what and whom we fight for as we enter into this new year.