lean into the bondage

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Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Mary Oliver, “Swan”

He is chuckling.

“I can’t believe they’re letting us take him home. They don’t even know us!” My words to Seth as we drove home from the hospital with our firstborn emanated from a humble sensibility that waned much sooner than it should’ve .

The responsibility to train them in the way they should go is beyond our ability. Did it really take seven years to know that? Did it require moving across the world to be so violently confronted with the need for God’s grace in parenting…in everything? I don’t know; blessedly the lesson keeps repeating. As they grow and learn I grasp more clearly what is at stake. Will my children choose to suffer with Christ, knowing His glory and redemption are, no contest, worth the risk of pain, loneliness, disappointment, rejection, etc?

Ronnie Stevens, towering rhetorician for the gospel, on The Faithful Life Defined. Listen to the whole thing; it’s only 35 minutes long. But if a tornado is coming, skip to 27 minutes in and listen for 3 minutes. “…even the presence of Jesus Himself, teaching and modeling, didn’t close the gap between their carnality and what God wanted unless the Spirit came…”

I prayed for them today. God knows the burden, and He granted me the time and the will. Help Andy to grasp his need for Your grace. Send Your Spirit to work in his heart. A couple chapters of First Chronicles later and the big seven year old bounded in the front door from school. He sat down on the couch next to me, and I began to share with as much winsome excitement as I could, “Andy, guess what!? I was just reading about how cool it was that Davi-” ( b l a h   b l a h   b l a h ) “Mom, where’s my Bible? Oh! I know!” He runs off to grab it and returns. He has no interest in David right now, only in finding my page number in his Bible. I explain, “Well, we have different fonts and translations…you have to look at the table of contents to fin- ( b l a h   b l a h ) “Okay…(searching for First Chronicles)…Oh, look! Ezra!” He has a friend named Ezra. He flips many pages to the book of Ezra and starts reading chapter one. Daisy hears him, runs and grabs her Bible, sits down on my other side and picks up in Matthew chapter one.

(By the way, Andy does not say, “blah blah blah” to me. Not yet anyway.)

Halfway through the first chapter of Ezra Andy says, “I want to read one chapter everyday.” They are both simultaneously reading aloud to me from Matthew and Ezra, politely interrupting each other for help with big words like, Sheshbazzar and myrrhI look up at my Father in the middle of their voices and see

His folded, everlasting arms.

He is chuckling…

that I didn’t know how delighted He would be to bless me today with their interest and confirm to me again not only that He hears me, but that He loves them.

Psalm 116

Not worried about their souls for tomorrow, because tomorrow isn’t real.

Seven Months In

We did not have, a fifth. Following our pattern and timing of having children, we should have delivered kiddo number five by now. No, we moved to Indonesia instead. Here we are, adjusting to change…again. Very different change. Language, markets and supermals, food, transportation, environment, faith, class, pace, etc. We are adjusting and adapting, slowly. This is OKAY. I have not included myself or the rest of the family in a show-down for “who’s the most well adjusted expat?” and who needs that?!

Seven months in and we are feeling more settled than less, although moving anywhere (or having a baby) takes about a year for most people to relax in the new normal. As soon as we arrived, our family moved close in to each other. This was probably because we were looking for support and security, to breathe easier and hold on to one another.  Sadly, there has been plenty of loosing it, general panic, and yelling, but I’m grateful that in God’s grace we’ve shared plenty apologies and forgiveness. Seth and I are often back to back, sorting through a thousand minuscule, seemingly insignificant, but completely foreign “what-in-the-worlds!?” . More under my belt and more relaxed now, I think it’s time to record and share some news or interesting parts of our new life here in the beautiful tropics, sometimes known by Seth and I as “crazyland”.

Best part, God is here.

Flowers Are Cool

Eli: I was talking quiet in my bed.

Me: Oh, what did you say?

Eli: O Lord You have searched me and known me.

Me: Yes! “You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar.” That means, God knows what you’re thinking!

Eli: I think…(long pause)…flowers are cool.

The Future Isn’t Real

“Of the Present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of the reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present –either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure…

“It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the future enflames hope and fear. Also it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it, we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time…”

The Screwtape Letters | C. S. Lewis

A fourth Holler babe.

God promised He would help me with you, June; fourth Holler babe. We found out about you officially the day after our van was totaled, but in the previous month, June, God moved. I believe He led me to think you were on the way in order to begin a conversation.

It worked.

“I really don’t think this is what’s best for our family.”
Believe Me.
“How can I possibly manage this? I’m drowning.”
I will help you with this one.

His superior understanding and judgement of my own happiness wins. I pray now that you, June Elizabeth, learn quickly how much better His plans are than ours.

A week of prayer and resisting later, I was surprised and confused to learn you were in fact not on the way. Then I felt relief. Was the whole week a test of faith, and should we continue as before intending with even more gusto to be parents of only three kids? One month passed and I went to the hospital to have my knee X-rayed, the only real sore spot after the wreck. A routine pregnancy test told us you were on the way!

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Now I don’t know what I would do without you. Below is one reassurance He gave me when I felt so very afraid of becoming a mother to four. His promises are sure, sweet June.

Psalm 93
The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!
Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.

Evidence Not Seen

darlene
I was in a car wreck last night on my way home from a book club meeting. Our book this month was Darlene Deibler Rose’s Evidence Not See; a new favorite. Our car was totaled. The other driver made a left in front of me, and I smashed into him. While searching for my phone and the rest of all my things, I noticed two people by the other car. The driver was on his phone, and the other man, white-haired and wearing all black, was stepping out of the passenger-side door. Seth, with his catholic sympathies, laughed as I thought the passenger looked like a priest.

Three or four kind, burly black men came around to see if they could help. I found my phone and made a call to Seth when they started asking, “where’s the man who was in this car? (pointing at my van) Did he just run off? He just ran away! Did someone call the police yet?!” I explained I was the driver and was alone. Not everyone heard my response, and one of the other men came and asked me, “Where did the driver go? You were the passenger?” When I explained I was the driver, he asked where my passenger went. Eventually everyone understood that I was alone. I learned later that the other driver had been alone as well.

?

Bruised on my hip and with slight knee pain, I’m full of gratitude to be clear of serious injury. The doctor prepared to x-ray my knee, but the routine pregnancy test revealed another Holler babe is on the way.

a true toy story

“Hello pretty! I’m in the bathtub!” Daisy Duck very busily hops around inside a play kitchen cup.

“Oh. You’re getting dressed,” replied Lighting McQueen matter-of-factly.

What’s a matter? What’s a matter? What’s a matter?” interrupted the Tiny Town Truck.

“What’s a matter, corn on a cob?” Daisy then gnaws on the corn for a few minutes before reprimanding the truck, “Tiny Town Train!!!!!!!”

(Hush Daisy.)

Sir Topham Hat drives up, “Topham Hat. You’re in there,” she says, shaking him around in his little blue convertible.

(Imagined by Daisy. Recorded by Mom.)