unworthy

There’s this Love who saw all of me, knew me to the depths of my sin-steeped soul, recognized the reality that I would never be good enough, and didn’t hold it against me.  And not just that, but took everything good, everything holy, everything righteous, everything perfect that He is and traded with me.  He was willing to bear all this horrible imperfection of mine, so that I could be all the righteousness that He is.  He knowingly bore the shame and ridicule, the beating and the cross, the crushing weight of sins beyond number and complete separation from the only source of life because He wanted to.  For me.

This King of kings,  this almighty God – He humbled Himself.  He emptied Himself.  He counted Himself as a servant.  For me.

I don’t think I could ever begin to comprehend this love.  I certainly can’t ever match it.  And He knew that, too.  He knew that this gift would always be greater than anything I could give in return.  What’s more, the only thing He wanted in return was me.  This helplessly flawed, selfish, incapable, sinful wreck that I am – this is what He wanted, what He died to rescue, to make new.

And even as I grasp tightly to all of the lesser things that could never compare to what He has given, even as I struggle to offer myself completely to Him, even as I feel the pull of longings that can never satisfy, I am humbled by this disparity I see:  He is worth so much more than I could ever lay at His feet, and I am worth unimaginably less than all He has given for me.  It’s Love beyond reason, Love beyond measure, Love that deserves every bit of this life I have, and immeasurably more.

if I had a choice

I’d rather see you, imperfections and all.

I’d rather know you in your weaknesses.

I’d rather hear you – in your brokenness – testify to God’s grace that covers and rescues and redeems.

I’d rather be able to weep with you when you weep.

I’d rather pray for you when you’re struggling.

I’d rather be given the chance to help carry your load.

I’d rather trust that you’re not hiding your flaws.

I’d rather you not be afraid of what I might think.

I’d rather you know that there’s nothing about you that is beyond forgiveness, acceptance, or mercy.

I’d rather you believe that love covers over a multitude of sins.

fog

My brain is in a fog.  My baby girl doesn’t like sleeping at night, and while this makes me physically tired, I notice its effects most in my mental capacity.  I’m prone to thinking long, analyzing, and grappling with things until I understand.  But I just can’t do that right now, and it really bothers me.  I see problems that need solutions, questions that need answers, plans that need to be formed, and I am incapable of accomplishing any of it.

Maybe it seems trite, but it brings me to tears on almost a daily basis.  I feel incapable of functioning on even a somewhat sufficient level.  I would worry that there’s something more than sleep deprivation to blame, but when I realize that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten even four straight hours of sleep in the past 6 months, and that the total number from the past three years is probably in the low double-digits, I think the chances are pretty good that I just need sleep. So, I find myself almost panicking at my inability to form cohesive thoughts, or come to mental resolutions about anything.  My memory fails me, my vocabulary suffers, and my already limited conversational ability has been diminished even further.

And I wonder if there’s something God is trying to teach me through this.  Even as I pray – desperately sometimes – for Him to give me a sound mind during these days, I feel like He’s urging me to let go and just trust that He is sovereign over my days and all of the issues of life that I worry are suffering because I can’t think.  Beyond that, too, is the sense that He is gently, but insistently, forcing me to give up trying to figure out things that I’m perhaps not meant to understand anyway.  I have a tendency to want things to make sense, to be convinced that I can figure anything out if I just think about it enough, to not be okay with not understanding – but maybe God wants me to acknowledge that there are things beyond my comprehension, and at times, perhaps things that I shouldn’t seek to understand anyway.

So, as much as these clouded thoughts frustrate me, I’m trying to be content knowing that most of my immediate responsibilities, thankfully, don’t require much mental acuity.  I can give baby snuggles, and answer [most] math questions, and read history books, and give baths.  And if, occasionally, I forget I have something under the broiler in the oven, or I realize after my shower that I failed to wash my hair, well…those things aren’t likely to actually have any lasting repercussions.  At some point, I’ll have to concede to the reality that God doesn’t need my help to keep my days and my life safe in His hands.

it’s not all bad

I don’t honestly feel very thankful right now.  I’ve been at a loss for how to have a better attitude with my kids, and motivation for daily tasks, and trust that this life isn’t in vain.  But I don’t know what to do except to try to somehow adjust my perspective.  So, here’s some of the good of my days.

:: my two littlest girls becoming best friends.  They wake up in the morning and “call” back and forth to one another by making their own special sound that is something like a squeak, except made by sucking air in.  Ava will also yell out hi, Belle-belle! and come running to find her, and tells her many times throughout the day how much she loves her.

:: things starting to grow in my garden, even though there’s still snow covering almost everything.

:: I’ve been healthy, despite everyone else dealing with some level of illness the past couple weeks.  And this even though there were four consecutive nights last week where Isabelle never slept for more than an hour straight.

:: the hard-boiled eggs we had for lunch today were easy to peel.  Silly, but I don’t know if I could have handled the frustration of uncooperative eggs this afternoon.

:: birthday flowers on my dining room table.  I like flowers a whole lot.

:: an almost-completely-clean bedroom.  Since all things that don’t necessarily have a home end up in our room until a home can be found, this is quite a process (because I procrastinate), and such a relief that an end is in sight.

:: lots of avocados.  Because I’m convinced that avocado and eggs were meant to go together, and even eating them at least a few times a week for months hasn’t made me tired of them.

:: my oldest boy asking for me to keep reading the Hudson Taylor biography at lunch because he is so engrossed in it.  And it was the same when we read about Jim Elliot, and George Mueller, and Gladys Aylward, and Adoniram Judson, and William Carey, and Amy Carmichael.  It’s hard to say at only 11 years old, but I think his heart has a particular bent here.

:: my husband vacuuming the cobwebs out of the corners of the crazy high ceilings above our stairs.

:: sunshine.  While I nearly always like sunshine, I like it most in early Spring.

…and that’s all for now.  I guess it’s something.

nothing new

It’s happening again.  This feeling of abandonment.  This searching and not finding.  This longing for something to help me see God, but being disappointed over and over again.  And I wonder what I’m doing wrong.  I’m so far from perfect, I know.  But I honestly feel like I’m trying to seek Him, I’m trying to find Him, I’m trying to know Him more.  Why doesn’t He answer?

It’s always this time of year that I feel more…pressure?… to be seeing Him more clearly, too.  We are celebrating this defining moment of Christianity – of human history – after all.  But, despite my best efforts to focus on the cross and to gain a deeper appreciation of this salvation I so easily take for granted, I come away from my Bible and prayer times underwhelmed.  I want to scream.  I want to cry.  I want life to have some sense of eternal purpose.  I want all of the things that fill my vision and cloud my heart and make life seem pointless to fade into the background of the joy of knowing Him and having fellowship with Him in my days.

I just want to see Him.  That’s all.

tomorrow

Tomorrow, I turn 36.  I have kind of a love/hate attitude toward my birthdays.  If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I like the thought of having a day when I get to feel special.  I like gifts, and not having to cook, and my family doing extra little things for me that they might not normally do.

But, as much as I try to not have high expectations of my birthday, I tend to have vain hopes of extravagant gestures that never quite get met.  And then, usually, my day heads south pretty quickly.  Because at some point, I get disappointed at others not really seeming to care much that they’re supposed to be celebrating me, and then I feel guilty because I realize just how much I don’t deserve to be celebrated anyway, and I often end up wishing that there was no such thing as a birthday observance. This generally results in Tim feeling like he has dropped the ball in some gigantic way, and I’m left trying to explain my irrationality to him in a way that won’t insult his always eminently practical, but still completely selfless and loving approach to making my day special.

So, I’m trying to prepare myself for tomorrow.  I’m trying to set reasonable expectations.  I’m trying to adjust my perspective to look for good in the simple things and not really care about the rest.  And maybe this year, I will be able to demonstrate that I have, indeed, reached a maturity level beyond that of a ten year old.

our girl is 9

Bethany is nine years old today.  She is beautiful and I love her.  There are so many things about her that are remarkable.  She is strong – both physically and in conviction.  She is brilliant, even though spelling still confounds her.  She is so capable…just really a quick learner, when she wants to be learning.  Her memory is astounding – she can reiterate something she has read almost word for word without having put any effort into memorizing.  She is affectionate and exuberant and always optimistic.  She is full of ideas and full of hope and full of zeal for life.  She is quick to forgive and keeps no record of wrongs.

She looks for beauty in everything and has the heart of a rescuer – a salvager.  In her eyes, there is nothing that is beyond fixing up or cleaning up or restoring to usefulness.  In this, I most clearly see in her the likeness of her Savior.  She looks past the dirt and the brokenness and sees what could be…maybe what once was, or what was hoped for, or what transforming might do, and she values and finds purpose.

She is moving past little girl years and there is maturing and refining happening in her.  I miss it a lot.  Though I worry that I’m going to fail her, I am so very thankful that she has a God who never will.  He has a plan for her life that even I can’t mess up.  And the more time passes- the more I see the foundation that is forming in her – the more excited I get to see how His plan unfolds in her life.  She is an exceptional and precious girl.  Happy Birthday, Miss Bethany.

 

hearing Him

I’ve been doubting my ability to hear from the Lord, lately.  It’s not that I don’t think He’s speaking to me.  I just question if what I think I’m hearing is Him.  I wonder sometimes if my heart gets in the way, if my unintentional biases color what I think He’s saying.

I’m guessing it’s not supposed to work that way.  It’s supposed to be about knowing His voice, right?  Being able to tell when something is only me, or when something is Him, or when something is just nothing at all – isn’t that what it means?

But there are things that I desperately want Him to be saying.  There are areas where I fear I might choose to not listen if He was trying to tell me something other than what I think should be said.  So, I hesitate to put stock in what I think I’m hearing.  Because I don’t want my hopes to be misplaced, and I don’t want to stubbornly cling to something that will prove wrong in the end.  And when circumstances don’t seem to support what my heart says He’s speaking, I become more convinced that those words I thought for sure were Him were really not, after all.

I don’t know how to be certain, or even confident.  I want to hear clearly, and then be able to trust His voice when the rest of life seems to be against it.  But I also want to be able to just trust His goodness and sovereignty when I’m not hearing anything at all.  I falter there, too.  Really, that’s probably what this comes down to in the end, anyway.  It seems like that’s always what it comes down to.  In all of it, I obviously need to know Him more. 

God, help me know You more.

Izzazilla

Isabelle is ten months old today.  Her newest nickname aptly describes much of life with her these days.  While all babies tend to some destructive tendencies, and are generally not known for being especially gentle at this age, Isabelle has demonstrated aptitude in both taking advantage of every opportunity to get into something she shouldn’t, and in being adept at behaviors that can best be described as vicious.  Biting, hair pulling, scratching, hitting, grabbing and mauling are all common occurrences.

And, as much as is possible for a not-quite-one-year-old, she can take it as well as she dishes it out.  With so many older siblings, and a less than gentle closest-in-age sister specifically, there are many bumps and tumbles, accidental and not, that come her way.  Except for the times when she has decided she is wanting the attention that comes with being the injured baby, she is only rarely phased by any of it.

I would be concerned if it weren’t for the fact that her personality seems to be an inherited trait.  I can’t count the number of times throughout my childhood that I was told of the attitudes and actions that I displayed as a baby, which seem remarkably similar to those I’m seeing in my girl.  It gives me a particular affinity for her, and makes it easier to extend grace when I think she might rip the nose off my face.  It also makes me acutely aware of the need to purpose to teach her about compassion and gentleness early and often as she grows, so that she doesn’t follow in my footsteps and reach adulthood before recognizing the need for such things.

Not that she is anything other than her own person, and she has a cheerfulness and tenacity that are definitely not qualities that I’ve ever possessed.  She smiles easily, plays happily, and loves clapping (really, it’s her favorite thing to do).  Her usually unflappable nature fits perfectly in our house of sometimes more… flappable?…others.

Brutish-ness, mayhem, growls and all, we love our Izzazilla.

I have dark circles under my eyes.  Various under-used muscles are sore from exercising them yesterday.  Sleep last night was poor because of a baby girl waking up her customary 3 times through the night, and because the aforementioned sore muscles made me uncomfortable.  My house is less than neat and tidy.  There are items on my to-do list that I kind of wish were just done already.

But, there is joy in my heart today.  I have a thankfulness for my children and my home and my life that tends to be hard for me to come by, most days.  I have peace about this day.  There is a renewed awareness of the impossibly bankrupt state of my soul, and of the great redemption that God has miraculously worked on my behalf – this truth that makes my heart ache with gratitude and awe.

He makes life worth living, in so many ways.  I just thought I’d take a moment to say so.