A closing window

When Tim found out that he would be out of work at the end of December, we both kind of concluded that our window for only looking for a job that would allow us to stay here will run out at the end of January.  At that point, our finances, and the time it would take to go through an interview process and potentially move, will make it necessary to apply to any jobs that seem like a fit, so that something can hopefully be found before money runs out.  Well, this week is the closing of that window.  Sunday is February 1st.  Up until now, nothing has shown much hope of working out.  Today, though, he got a reply from a job he applied to, asking to set up an interview for Friday afternoon.  It’s just an interview…a long way from a job offer…but it’s something.  I really felt like God promised to answer, to provide before we have to go scrambling, looking for something somewhere we don’t feel led to be, but I’m having a hard time hoping that this interview on Friday is the answer.  I don’t want to be even more disappointed if next week comes and we’re still at square one.  But, at the same time, I want to have faith that God can and will come through for us.

So, I’d like to ask for prayer, if you’re reading this.  Obviously, if this job that he’s interviewing for on Friday could work out – if it was the type of work Tim can excel at, if it would pay enough, if they would offer him a job – that would be huge.  But if not, we could really use prayer for direction, for peace, for wisdom, for faith.  It just doesn’t seem like a good plan to continue only pursuing jobs that would keep us here, just because we want to stay.  We want to be responsible, and also recognize that it’s possible that what we want is not what God wants in this.  I don’t think that’s the case, but there isn’t enough certainty to bank our family’s well-being on what, at this point, amounts to little more than feelings.

Psalm 18

There it was again, yesterday, in the kids’ devotional reading for the day.

He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.

I’ve been reading some or all of Psalm 18 most days lately, because it seems there’s something I’m supposed to be seeing.  Or maybe, I just need the frequent reminders that God is in these days.  I’m trying to listen.  I tend to have a problem, though, when I read Bible passages of not actually seeing how things go together…reading verse by verse instead of getting the big picture…and I miss some pretty simple things sometimes.  So it took me reading it a couple times to understand what the chapter was talking about.  See, how I read it was: David is in distress, and then gears shift completely to talking about God being big and powerful and kind of scary, and then to talking about God’s goodness to David.  And somehow, I missed how it all was related.  But then I looked at the transitional verses

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.

David cried out, and God heard and proceeded to literally move heaven and earth to come to David’s aid.  Almighty God was zealously protecting His own.  He didn’t respond half-heartedly.  He wasn’t unconcerned for David’s need.  On the contrary, He made sure that David’s enemies knew just exactly Who they had to contend with when they went after him.

But, interestingly, God didn’t show up before David was in distress.  He didn’t keep him out of the battle.  In fact, David seemed convinced that his situation was dire

The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.

God waited until David was at the end of himself.  Why?  For (at least) a couple reasons, I think.  First, so that he would know beyond any doubt that his deliverance was of the Lord and not his own strength

He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.


For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.

Second, so that David would be strengthened for future battles

He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

And in the rest of the chapter, David goes on to talk about his victories over his enemies.  God had reminded David whose strength it is that wins battles, and that deeper knowledge, that increased faith, that broadened humility(?), brought David to the place of victory.

God had a plan.  He had a reason for letting David get to the point of distress.  He wasn’t slow to answer.  He never was anything but absolutely, unconditionally, passionately loving. But He knew the end from the beginning.  He knew what was necessary to accomplish His purposes.  He knew what would be the greatest good for David.

So, here now, for us, I will trust that God has a plan. I will trust that God has a reason for letting us get to this point of distress (though I hope that we won’t end up confronted by the snares of death).  I will believe that God is not being slow to answer, and that even in this, He is only absolutely, unconditionally, passionately loving us.  Because He knows the end from the beginning.  He knows what is necessary to accomplish His purposes in our lives.  He knows what will be for our greatest good.  And He will perform it.

On the normal days

I’m kind of feeling like I should take note of these days…you know, life that’s happening when I’m not panicking about what ‘tomorrow’ will hold for us.  ‘Cause, despite what my posts on here might seem to indicate, I really am trying to maintain some sense of normalcy.  Here’s some moments, as proof…

…Isabelle officially crawling, just in the last week.

…Elijah finally catching on (somewhat) to the whole addition and subtraction thing.

…rediscovering my love for the O.C. Supertones, and doing my very best [read: ridiculously unimpressive] ska dancing with my kids while completely ignoring the fact that schoolwork and chores were supposed to be happening

…watching Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary as a start to our history unit on the roaring twenties.  Possibly a bit self-serving, since I find it fascinating and my kids…well…don’t, but I think it is giving a good picture of what life looked like for certain segments of society at the time.

…Tim working on the house for his Mom…she was going to hire someone to do the work, so he is now the “someone”.  It’s been a mild adjustment not having him around the house all day…some of it difficult, but some of it beneficial, too.  Just a temporary solution to the job need…I have mixed feelings about it, but I can’t deny that it’s better than nothing.

…eating eggs a lot.  We get 13-15 eggs a day, which means most days need to include a meal of eggs.  Surprisingly, I’m not tired of them, though the kids have had their moments.  Tim has figured it out to be just under $2 a dozen, when taking everything into consideration, which is definitely a more economical alternative than most other proteins, so I’m not complaining.

…very little sleep.  Well, okay, for me what I get is very little.  And actually, it’s more the lack of uninterrupted sleep.  Isabelle has been waking up a minimum of 3 times a night with very few exceptions for more than 2 months.  She’s had a cold this week, which has meant even more interruptions, and more difficulty in getting her back to sleep.  It affects me…energy, mood, productivity, patience, and the quantity of desserts I eat.  I almost never ate sweets before I had kids…but, I digress.

…calisthenics every school day before recess (outside play time)…stretching, sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks.  It hardly constitutes a PE class, but it’s something.  And maybe, eventually, they’ll all have it firmly ingrained in their minds that push-ups require bending their elbows, and not just moving their waists up and down.

…reading to my Ava Grace, and “eating” all of the fantastic play food creations she brings me throughout the day.  Also, our many-times-a-day exchange of I love you/I love you, too; you’re beautiful/you’re beautiful, too; you’re cute/ you’re cute, too; you’re precious/you’re precious, too; and, occasionally, you’re handsome/no, Daddy and Caedmon and Nathanael and Elijah are handsome; oh.

Well, speaking of Isabelle not sleeping…I guess I’ve got to be done.


He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and sets me on my high places.  He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. —Psalm 18:33-34

This verse.  It’s come up so many times these past couple months.  Sometimes I question what God is doing through these days, when my feet feel more like those of a toddler than of a deer climbing mountain crags, when my arms are barely strong enough to lift in surrender, much less to endure battle.

Over and over, in the midst of my doubt that God is in this at all, He has brought me to this passage in Psalm 18.  The words stick in my mind and I can’t get around them.  When I fear that we are going to be forced down a path we don’t want to take, or stuck in circumstances that promise only difficulty and not enough, I am reminded that the whole point of trials, the only way to increase in faith and strength, is to be taken beyond our abilities…to know the pressing of a weight we haven’t yet borne, and to find that before we can be crushed, He gives an answer, and we come to know His strength in greater measure than at first.

I would think that a deer must surely stumble when first daring to walk the harder path, and a soldier must push himself to the limits of his strength – to the place where he finds himself faltering – in order to grow stronger, and so some trials only serve their purpose if we are brought to the end of ourselves and, in that place, learn more the faithfulness of our God who promises to be our everything.

I forget this truth easily, which is probably why God has been setting it constantly before me lately.  And it’s what I find myself clinging to, this hope that He is working His purposes through these days, to make us more fit for service in His kingdom, to enable us to proclaim His faithfulness with even more certainty, to have strength to stand through future storms.

Despite all of the unpleasantness of this season, I am thankful that God will do what’s necessary to draw us closer, and make us stronger, and help us see ever more clearly that He is always faithful and always good.

He gives good gifts

Isabelle stood on my lap, holding my thumbs, and said “belle-belle, ma-ma”, and it made me cry.  I just love her so much.  Elijah came over and hugged Isabelle, his cheek pressed against hers, and she smiled her favorite squinty-eyed smile, and stuck her tongue out for good measure.

I have lots of moments of wondering why God withholds certain blessings, why there’s struggle and want and abandoned dreams.  I see, oh so easily, all the good gifts He’s not giving me.

But with tears running down my face today, it was clear – these kids? they’re His best gift.  And I am blessed beyond measure.

Isabelle at 8 months

Tomorrow, Isabelle will be eight months old.  Still often smiling, but now displaying an obvious stubborn streak that can make for some not-so-happy moments as she very purposefully sets her jaw and screams at the top of her lungs until her demands are met, at which point she promptly desists and returns to her smiley ways.  One of the most common demands these days is to hold onto my thumbs and stand on my lap, with an occasional back-bend thrown in, just to make sure I’m paying attention.  While standing here, she will frequently grin at me with her squinty-eyed, cheesy, aren’t-I-the-cutest-ever grin, and practice talking, which at this point amounts to what I think is her attempt to say “belle-belle”.

She abandoned sleeping through the night months ago…much like Ava did as a baby…and has instead decided to wake up 3-4 times a night, almost every night.  Occasionally, Ava joins the fun and we end up with nights like last night when my longest stretch of sleep was just over an hour.  I assume Isabelle’s two bottom teeth, that both finally made an appearance this past week, are most of the blame for the poor sleep, but since there are always more slowly pushing their way through, I’m not holding out hope for any kind of reasonable sleep in the near future.

During the days, she is making progress in her mobility, albeit with a kind of lazy approach that would still much rather somebody pick her up and carry her wherever it is she wants to go.  So, while her two older sisters were well past the just-crawling stage at this point, she is content to still inchworm her way across the floor.  It works, though, and we now find ourselves in full pick-that-tiny-piece-of…what-is-that???…up-off-the-floor-before-Isabelle-gets-it mode.

Though still pretty much only nursing, we have started sitting her in a high chair at the table during meal-times.  Her first experience with this was met with the biggest smiles all meal long, as she clearly was so happy to have her own seat among us.  She has been given small tastes of banana (which she clearly loves), hummus (which she clearly did not love), potatoes and avocados (both which seemed to receive mixed reviews).

She has a fairly well-established bedtime routine at the moment of being held by her Daddy, after the other kids are in bed, while he plays some hymns at the piano with his free hand.  This pretty reliably puts her to sleep and she clearly has an expectation when that time comes around each night that this is how things should go.

She still sucks on her fingers.  She still stares, smiling, at each person that walks past her…and for certain special people (like her Daddy) she will twist herself around to continue staring until her smiles are returned.  She loves music, even when it’s me singing to her.  She grabs at anything and everything within reach, and her legs move like crazy when she’s excited about something.  She’s learning to be content playing with toys, and is starting to find books entertaining.  When I think about who she is, and what God might hold for her, I am struck over and over by how, even now, there is tenacity and conviction in how she behaves.  I pray for these to be strengthened in her as she gets older – that she would be able to stand in faith before trials and persecution with an unflappable confidence in the truth of the gospel; that her gaze would be set on Jesus and never, ever waver; that her trust would be a testimony to the hardest of hearts that He is faithful and good.  God, may it be so.





It hurts, this chest-constricting, vision-darkening, hope-deferring season.  It’s not that I intentionally dwell on it…it just kind of blindsides me when I’m trying to do life-as-usual.  It’s getting the wind knocked out of me because the laundry detergent is low and I realize I have to spend $10 to get more, and then I realize that $10 doesn’t actually matter when our need will be thousands, and that just to get through one month.  It’s the tears that fill my eyes when I think about piano lessons, or chickens, or choir performances, or baseball, or anything else that might be wrenched from my kids if we have to leave to make ends meet.

Financial belt tightening won’t do us any good.  We’re not just facing a little, one-time, budgetary shortfall.  We’re facing nothing.

I don’t say that to try to convince anyone of how bad we have it, I say it because I’m trying to wrap my mind around it.  I’m trying to figure out how to have faith for all of that nothing to turn into something that can sustain us here.  I know it doesn’t matter that for 7 weeks there’s been almost nothing in the way of hope-giving possibility, that it just takes one open door, except passing closed door after closed door makes it hard to believe there will ever be anything different.

Being held

The other day, Tim was holding onto Elijah and spinning him around (at his request).

Elijah said Daddy, stop!  I can’t hold on much longer!

Tim’s simple, obvious reply?  That’s okay.  I’m holding on to you.

I feel like we’re being spun around (not at our request).  I can’t count the number of times I’ve prayed for God to make it stop, told Him we’re losing our grip and can’t hold on any longer.  I want His answer to be to stop the spinning, to let us adjust, wrap our arms tighter, feel that He’s firmly within our grasp, and know that we have made ourselves secure enough to handle the trials that come.  I want to be able to trust our strength, our abilities, our wisdom, our resolve.

But maybe these spinning, upside-down, storm-tossed days are to make us fail.  To make it obvious that our strength isn’t enough, that our determination isn’t enough, that our ability to mitigate circumstances isn’t enough to make life work.  Maybe God is trying to shake off all illusion we have that we are the ones keeping ourselves safe and secure, so that we will acknowledge that He is holding us, and guarding us…and is in complete control of every dizzying turn and crashing wave that causes us to feel helpless.

If I let myself think otherwise, then I would be utterly hopeless right now.

He hears

The car won’t start.  It just goes ‘click’.

I stared back in a bit of disbelief, then left the room.  Even if it turned out to be a minor issue, this was more than I could handle.  I stood in the kitchen and made a decision.  I walked back to where Tim was sitting.

I’m going to go out and try…just ’cause God’s gotta make it start.

It was more denial than faith.  I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my keys and went out the door.  As I sat, key in the ignition, I pleaded with God.  I told Him this was too much, that we couldn’t take another thing going wrong.  I turned the key and the car started.  I cried.

Yesterday,  Caedmon looked at me, almost teary-eyed, and relayed how he had been playing with a certain toy (that had the goal of moving from one ‘level’ to the next) and was stuck on a particular level.  He said he asked God to help him get to the next level, and right away, he had success. Tim and I talked to him later last night about holding onto those “little” moments of answered prayer, about how they help to build faith, and remind us of God’s love and care and provision, about how sometimes, prayers will seem to go unanswered and remembering these moments can be important to trusting that God is working for our good.

I’m thankful for this answered prayer today.  I’m thankful for something to remind me that here, in the midst of uncertainties, He hears.

The good of 2014

For posterity, mostly…


Tim installed our new dishwasher.  Holly came to visit.  Upward started.


Caedmon turned 10!  We went to an indoor waterpark (and Johnny Rockets…simple things sometimes make the biggest impressions with these kids).  A trip to Toys R’ Us, where each kid got $20 to spend on whatever they wanted.  Basketball games.


We got our Excursion, and in the process had a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C. which lasted less than a day, but allowed us to quickly run through the Air and Space Museum and the American History Museum, plus get falafel and hot dogs from a food truck (a big deal for my foodie-in-the-making kids).  More basketball!  My biggest girl turned 8, I turned 35 (one of these occasions was more celebrated than the other…).  We got chickens :).


Hmm.  I don’t remember April very well.  There was Easter…which I’m sure was exciting and memorable for the kids (obviously, not as much for me??).  Oh!  We turned our unfinished “utility room” in the back of the house into a mostly functional guest room.


Beautiful, smiley, precious Isabelle was born.  Lots of baseball.  I like watching my kids’ baseball games.  The fourteen year mark of being married to the best guy.  Celebrating his 36th birthday.


Bethany got baptized…I don’t have words for how wonderful and special this is. More baseball.  The start of summer break.  Elijah learned to ride his bike!  Tons of strawberries from the garden…or about 20 quarts, I think?  Sugar snap peas and asparagus – yum!  Plus the start of our summer CSA share.


Swimming lessons – and the three oldest kids learning to swim despite temperatures that, more often than not, were below 70 degrees…they did such a great job!  My parents and a few of my siblings came for a visit.  Then Holly came and introduced us to [her now fiance] Chad.  I started going for walks…short, but really a blessing for me that I could get out of the house for a little bit most mornings.  Our first eggs from our chickens, I think?


Nathanael turned 7, and we went to the Watertown zoo to celebrate.  Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, squash, kale, broccoli.  Ummmm, was there more to this month??


Ava turned 2, and we went to the local playground to celebrate :).  Bethany started gymnastics lessons (during which Tim took ALL the rest of the kids to do miscellaneous shopping each week, so that I could just watch Bethany and read books).  Speaking of books, I read two that I really liked…The Family – God’s Weapon for Victory, and The Pursuit of God…probably should have read them before now, but better late than never, right?


More gymnastics.  More walks, and some running, too.  The start of Friday school…and Elijah got to go this year – so exciting for him!  We hiked Azure Mountain together (which, though a great experience, made me feel more embarrassed by how out of shape I am than anything else ever has).  The Hallelujah Party – it’s just a given that the kids will have a blast.


A trip to Wisconsin for Tim’s grandma’s 90th birthday party, and a chance to see his family (and mine, on the way back through MI).


Cookie baking, house decorating, gift buying.  Caedmon and Bethany singing in the Christmas cantata, which I really enjoyed.  Playing my clarinet in the holiday orchestra…maybe someday I will make time the other 11 months of the year to practice.  The kids’ CFA Christmas concert.  Nathanael reading at the Christmas Eve service.  A quiet, peaceful Christmas day at home.  Elijah’s fifth birthday, and his request for Happy Meals as his birthday meal.  A fun New Year’s Eve with snacks for dinner and a family tournament of Fitivities…a new favorite “board” game that, with a little tweaking to make it slightly more competitive, was so much fun, and pretty good exercise.  Staying up past midnight with Tim, just us, talking and completely missing the turn of the hour, day, month, year.