Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Poem for Christmas

I've reclaimed Christmas this year in my heart. After a few years of feeling distant from the story, of feeling like our real celebration should come at Easter, of feeling like Jesus in the manger is only the beginning of the story and that Jesus on the cross should illicit the most emotion, the most praise, the most celebrating, I am bursting with the joy of Christmas. This poem is why. Well, Jesus is why, but this well-timed poem has made me rethink my faulty notions of Jesus in the manger. And it has reminded me that Jesus was Jesus before he was ever born. He was Son, Savior, Sacrificial Lamb before the foundations of the earth. And that when he came slipping into this world, our salvation was already as good as finished.

And now, I see it all differently. The carols all mean more. I'm seeing the nativity with fresh eyes. Even the star on top of my tree makes me giddy. Emmanuel has come. Redemption has been given a body and a mother and a home in this world. The tiny, infant Jesus, God in flesh, is a perfect picture of our Father's redemptive heart for us. He nailed himself to our poor plant, so that we could be free.

There is much more, but I'll let the poem speak for itself. Merry Christmas!


Mary's Song

by Luci Shaw


Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star fallen
to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly.
Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by dove's voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.

Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Broken Hearted

Working with high school students will break your heart. It just will. They are fickle in their affections, not just with each other, but with those who love them best. Their parents, their mentors, their God. But, working with high school students is also exhilarating. All that hope and promise. All that fight they have in them. All that conviction that they can make a difference in the world. It's one of the best jobs in the world.

Feelings run the gamut in our line of work and, in a way, we've learned to embrace the bipolar-ness of it all.

One of our Young Life students, a student Loren pursued and loved and who met Christ at camp three years ago, is dying. He has stomach cancer. Terminal cancer, at 20. And he has, at most, a month to live. So, Loren has been going over, trying just to be there. Giving him communion. Just sitting with him cause it hurts too much for him to talk. It's heartbreaking. And yet, when Loren speaks at his memorial, he'll get to talk about how Jedd's life was changed because of Christ, how he had peace in his last days, how he was ready to meet Jesus.

On Sunday night, I cleaned up the kitchen while 20 high school kids and Young Life leaders piled into our living room to study the bible. I watched them come in, many who have broken the hearts of these leaders as they prayed and pursued and waited and hoped that Jesus would woo them to himself. And now, here they are. Praying, studying, and singing lullabies of, "Holy is the Lord" as I tuck my kids into bed. It's overwhelming. To be that close up for someone else's journey into life with Christ.

What I'm learning is that my heart should be broken. There is beauty in that. A broken heart is the work of the Holy Spirit. He uses it to ignite my passion for his work. He uses it to expose me and then draw me close. And, he uses it to show himself as the only true mender of the brokenhearted. When my heart is broken, I get to share in the sufferings of Jesus. And I get to feel his delight as he turns mourning into dancing, sorrow into joy.

This year I've seen hearts smashed to smithereens. I've experienced it, too. It's been the best year of my life.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Gang

Last week Hope told me she was in a gang.

"A gang? " I said. "What kind of a gang?"

"You know, like Scooby Doo," she told me.

She went on to tell me that a gang is four or so people who hang out and play together and maybe they fight but they always make up. It sounded good to me. I think I've always hoped that my children would be a part of a gang...well, at least this kind of a gang. I want them to have a close, core group of friends, and to feel a part of a group. I know what that feels like. That's a good thing. Long live the gang!

As we talked more about it later that week, I started to feel like a "gang" in Hope's definition was also a little...well, exclusive. Some kids were in and some were out. Then, I didn't like it as much. I know what that feels like, too. And, it occurred to me that my 7 year old might not be mature enough to be in a gang. That she might not understand how it could hurt people's feelings. I told her I wasn't sure being in a gang was the best thing. Down with the gang!

Then, I wrestled with it a little. The truth is, I've wrestled with this same thing a lot in the last year or so. I mean, I have a gang, if you wanna call it that. (And I do!) Is it okay to have a small, core group of friends in the midst of a larger group of friends? How do you do that and keep people from feeling excluded? And how do I teach this to my child if I can't even figure it out for myself?

In the end, I told Hope what I believe to be true. That it is okay to have a small circle of friends that you are closer to. People that know you inside and out. And, that it's not really possible to have that with everyone. But, that we are to love everyone like Jesus loves and that means that we can see and appreciate just how special each person is and treat them that way, too. And that really, this is what your whole gang should be about.

I'm not totally sure she got it because then she went on to describe some fantastic, Scooby Doo- like, adventure that they had during recess. But, it was good for me to process and made me come up with some good answers for those questions that I know will continue to pop up in both of our lives.

Today, I get to celebrate seven years of loving my sweet Hopie. And I continue to beg God for wisdom as I parent this amazing little girl. And I pray that with each passing year, she falls deeper in love with Jesus...who blessed us with her.

Hope - "I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Africa

Well yall', it looks like I'm going to Africa!


More specifically, in March, I'll be heading to Tanzania with some of my Young Life friends!


Last March, at our Women's Young Life retreat, my friend, Shelley, asked us to pray about this trip she was putting together to Africa. As she talked, my heart starting pounding. You know the feeling. The one where God starts to stir up something you never planned on? At any rate, as we were getting ready to leave, I just casually mentioned to her that I wanted to be kept in the loop. I wasn't sure what God was doing but I knew he had been making my heart tender towards Africa ever since my beautiful Zambian/Kenyan daughter was born and maybe this was a part of that.

So, last month, when she called with the dates and the details, and asked me to pray, I did. And, despite all of the reasons why it doesn't make any sense for me to go, (and there are many), I'm gonna. Not because I have to go. Not because God needs me to go. But just because I can sense that the Lord is asking me to lean in. That he desires to show me more of who he is. I can also sense, by the way, my own sinful resistance to that, and because of that, my decision to go felt really good. It felt like the Spirit inside of me stood up to the flesh and said, "Hell, no!"

So, at the end of March, I, along with three or four other women, will head to Tanzania to serve and love on and encourage the women on Young Life staff all over Africa. One of the staff helping to facilitate our time there said you can't overstate how important this will be. That certainly there is a great need for people to come and care for the poor and the orphan. Those needs may never go away. But, that we have to realize how important it is to care for and pour into these women who are a part of the solution in their own countries. To equip and refresh them to go back and continue to serve those they come in contact with every day. To allow them a long, slow drink from the Fountain of Living Water, that they might go back and share the gospel out of the overflow. What a privilege to be a part of that.

And, just so you know, I'm pretty sure I'll come back, unable to overstate the impact it has on me. I just have a sense.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween!

Halloween is way too much cuteness for one night. It makes me want to have periodic costume parties just to have an excuse to dress my kids up in adorable costumes. This year we were:

Princess Tiana from "The Princess and the Frog"....Loren's mom made this dress. Seriously...she is just ridiculously amazing!

A Pink Poodle. We decided on this last minute. Bella couldn't decide between this and Cinderella, but after putting it on Friday night, I think she just knew she was so stinkin' adorable in it, that it won out. And she was right.
And a sweet little lamb. Ava could live in this costume this winter as far as I'm concerned. It is so soft and so cute! And, lest you think she didn't get the whole Halloween thing, this baby had her first sucker and was addicted! She gets it....oh brother, does she get it. It's all about the candy!


We went trick or treating with our friends after small group on Sunday night. This was a picture of some of the kids, after getting all sugared up. Hey...I feel like having a sugar hangover is a great way to start the school week!
And this then....just because I need to tell you that I found these magic glasses while unpacking a few more toys. They magically make this baby stop crying when I put them on her. A little handy tool I discovered while trying to cook dinner and deal with a fussy, teething baby at the same time. Something I am so grateful for, that I just stopped writing to thank Jesus for the magic glasses. He knew I needed a little magic yesterday.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Texas Wedding

This weekend, we made a quick little trip to Texas to celebrate my cousin's wedding. I love my cousin, Britt a lot. We have tons of great memories from growing up together and his parents (my aunt and uncle, of course) are some of my most favorite people in all the world. It was a beautiful wedding and Britt's new bride, Crystal, is such a sweetheart. We just wouldn't have missed this wedding for the world.

The icing on the cake (I seriously just realized that was a pun...and I wasn't even trying!) is that my entire family would be there, which doesn't happen that often (and yes...I know that is mostly my fault for living out here in hippie Colorado). So, I came to the most beautiful part of Texas, the hill country, for a fancy wedding and some much needed family time. I got both.

I love it when we get to be with family because I just know my kids are making memories. I have great memories with all my cousins and I know my kids will, too. Here they all are at the rehearsal. This is the absolute best picture we could get. With seven kids 7 & under, it just is what it is.
And then, on the day of the wedding, we took lots of pictures of all of us dressed up. My kids love dressing up, which is so fun. But, I told my mom, I DO NOT know how she dressed all three of us girls every Sunday morning for church, without my dad's help (since he was at church much earlier). But, she surely did, and we were always dressed to the nines, with our bows tied correctly, matching shoes, and our thick hair curled and tied up in matching bows. The woman is some kind of a superhero.

Sweet Bella. Doesn't she smile with her entire face?
I have a sweet one of Hope, too, but who am I trying to kid. This picture is totally more her.

This is Ava's favorite new pose for pictures I love that she throws her little head back and laughs. She is so much fun!

The Fleming girls! Here we all are. My beautiful mom, who just last week was almost refused senior admission to the State Fair because she looks so darn young, and my gorgeous sisters. I have spent my whole life loving these women and am so blessed by their love for me and their love for Christ, which overflows onto everyone around them. We look GOOD, girls!And, how about that? They all looked at the camera. That is a miracle worth documenting.


It needs to be said that, though my roots are Baptist, my family can get down with the best of them. But, we decided we might need a little practice before the reception that night and we wanted to show the kids our moves. So, we did what any normal family would do. We had a little impromptu dance party on the porch, where we all did our fair share of dancing, and where, all the adults but one eventually figured out that the camera was rolling and this film was very likely to end up on someone's blog. Sorry mom, but I do feel like I gave you fair warning. Besides...it's time everyone knew where our wicked dance moves come from.

video



After the wedding reception, we took off, headed back to the great state of Colorado. And, as the kids quickly fell asleep (thank you, Jesus!) I was thankful for my time with my first family and all of their families. And, I knew that I was blessed to be heading home with this family. This one who will also someday sprout new branches and grow bigger. This family, who began with a wedding, and has grown now to this. Thanks be to God!

Monday, October 11, 2010

One Year Ago Today

It hardly seems possible that, a year ago today, we met Ava. A year ago today, we came into a hospital room and saw the first glimpse of her face. Only her face, since the rest of her was tightly wrapped and a stocking cap was firmly planted on her head. A year ago today, her birthmom handed her to me and I felt the weight of her body against mine for the first time, and the magnitude of being a mother. A year ago today, I pulled that cap right off of her head so I could see what was underneath. Oodles of black curls, which made me grin and tear up immediately. A year ago today, I slowly unwrapped the blankets from around her so I could have a precious peek at those baby hands and feet, and then quickly tucked her back inside. A year ago today, I said to her, through blurry eyes and with deep conviction, "Hi, Ava. I'm your mommy." And I wondered how it was possible to feel this awestruck the third time around. But I did. And I do.

Today, she babbles to me like she's known me all along. She throws her head back and laughs at my silliness like I was put on this earth just for her. She toddles over to me with her arms up, knowing she's welcome. She cries and finds that my shoulder is a magical place that makes everything better. And knowing that one who was never at home in my body is at home in my arms, is a miracle that pays tribute to the God who can do exceedingly more than we can ask or even imagine.

Happy Birthday, precious Ava, "breath of life." On this day I celebrate God's goodness in giving you life. And am mystified by his goodness in giving me the privilege of knowing you best.

"Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds." Psalm 72:18










Friday, September 10, 2010

Content

Renovations-are-us in the Kolman home. And, we are really enjoying checking some things off of our list. But, there is a limit to how much chaos I can handle and, this week, I reached it.

It's my own fault, really. When there are projects to be done, I just feel compelled to do it. And it's hard for me to move on until I do. It's hard for me to think about almost anything else, until it's done. And therein lies the chaos. Because life keeps on moving. Kids still need to be fed. Homework still needs to be finished. And normal everyday cleaning still abounds. You might be aware of some of my recent ramblings about how unexpectedly hard life with three kids has been. If you are, then the knowledge that I am adding to my workload by trying to steam off wallpaper and paint rooms should tell you all that you need to know. Chaos.

Today, I read in Hebrews 13, "be content with what you have" and it hit a nerve and apparently some kind of water valve because water started coming out of my eyes at an alarming rate. I used to think of contentedness as the discipline of not wanting too much. Or, learning to like what you have. And that may be true. But today, I realized that it's a lot more than that. We are told to be content for our own darn good and not because God looks down on us and shakes his head at how selfish we can be. We are told to be content because, when we aren't, we obsess over something other than God and as it subtly begins to take over and crowd out the spirit, I experience an unrest that I am unaccustomed to. When I can't think of anything else except getting my room painted so I don't have to live in the guest room anymore, I don't make time to sit in his presence. My brain, in it's discontented state, does not allow me to rest in Him, or at all for that matter. Such a simple thing. But, I have found it to be so hard. Especially when I'm in a place where there is much to be done.

So as I sat with that passage in Hebrews, I knew that God meant to convict me of more than my most recent obsession. And he proceeded to gently reveal how my discontent with any part of my life is a sneaky way in which Satan gets me focused on myself. And how, if I don't nip it in the bud, and quick, it is a seriously downhill spiral into unthinkable sin. Souls in unrest will do unimaginable things to forget that they are not at rest. And, his grace, as he revealed the dark places reminded me that I wanna be at rest in Jesus. Always. I don't want Satan to have a foothold in any part of my life. And, as ridiculous as it seems, painting a room created just enough chaos in my life to shift my gaze away from God.

And here's what I know about the view from there. It's a freakin' wreck.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First Grade

How can it be possible that this little munckin started first grade yesterday? I knew back then how much I loved her. How much her smile could light up a room and how her head on my shoulder had magical powers that made my world slow down for a bit. But, I had no idea how funny she would be. How adventurous and strong and smart she was. How she would keep me on my toes and on my knees. No idea how much delight I would feel when I saw her light up as she talked about school.
So, here we are. First Grade. She's ready. She's always ready. But, we'll miss her at home. And little sister was none too happy when Hope smiled and waved and ran into her room.

So I did what any decent mom would do. I snapped a picture. And then, I gave her a big hug and a piggy back ride all the way home.

The littlest one took it all in stride.

How did I ever get so lucky as to parent these three lovely creatures?

The House: Part 2

I haven't posted in a while and there is good reason. Darn good reason. Anyone who has ever moved with three children knows that just getting everyone fed, in the midst of all that needs to be done, is an accomplishment. Packing and, now, joyfully unpacking have left little time for anything else. But, now that we are able to see the floor (somewhat), it's all starting to feel a little more normal.

The house that God gave us (see this post if you aren't familiar with this story) is amazing. Just what we have always dreamed of. With lots of neat features like these cool old gas lamps that were turned into electric ones,

awesome doors, including a pocket door from the living room into the dining room and a swinging door from the kitchen to the dining room (can't you just see me in my apron swinging through that door with a silver tray in my hand merrily saying, "we've got crabcakes" in a sing songy voice? No? Too 1950's? Well, then you don't know me at all. I am sooooooo 1950's),

a lovely hearth with fireplace, built-in bookcases and, the kicker, windows that peek through to the kitchen. Oh how I love those windows!

It has all the lovely things that you would expect a one hundred year old home to be filled with. But, it's also filled with lots of wallpaper. Lots and lots of wallpaper. The likes of which make my eyes hurt.

Wallpaper like this (at one point someone said, "honey, wouldn't this be romantic in the master bedroom? I know how much you love pink and blue flowers.")
and this ("wouldn't it be wild if we tried to find wallpaper for the bathroom that made people dizzy when they went in there?")

and this (I do not understand ivy wallpaper. Nobody has real ivy growing inside all over their walls. Why would someone want to pretend they do?)

and this (Thomas Kincade lovers, eat your heart out!)

And I'm just getting started. There are 10 rooms in this house with wall paper in them. TEN! So, it has inspired much of this

and this (FYI...this bedroom had 7 layers of wallpaper. 7! I feel like I gained some square footage in the room just by removing it. And, because they are so awesome, I have to mention that a bunch of Young Life kids came over during their last week of summer and helped us strip this wall paper. They rocked!)

and this

I just can't help myself. It starts with me noticing a little rip in the wall paper and the next thing you know, whole walls of it are coming down. It's addicting. Like peeling a sunburn only not as gross.

We have lots of wallpaper stripping in our future and it's not gonna happen overnight. But, we love our new place and all of it's oddities. Mostly because it feels blessed by God. A good gift from One who knows us so well. And one we know he plans to use to bring people to him. And we can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Three

I think that having a three year old is one of the most perfect stages in all of parenthood. Some of you with your own little three year old will laugh at that statement. But, I think you know it's true. It's not because I love temper tantrums or illogical questions or that shift from napping to not napping. I'm not crazy. It's just that, at three, a distinct personality begins to come out in full force and it leaves little doubt about who this child will be. The details of their lives and the specific ways their personality will show itself may be a mystery as of yet, but there are very few questions about how this child sees and interacts with the world. Three is when I begin to have those moments where the curtain between now and years from now falls away and, for brief snatches of time, I can see and hear and smell my daughter at 15, 16, 23...saying something in the exact same way she does now, only she's bigger. At three, I can experience parts of her that will be the same when she is all grown up, only I don't have to let go of her just yet. I love three.

Bella is three and we are experiencing all of the above. When I see her love for books or for art and music, my heart is full with the thought of all we will enjoy together. When I see her being a mother to her "honeys" (her dollies), I just know that mothering will come more naturally to her, and I can imagine the delight it will be to watch her with her own children. And the conversations we have! Loren and I have a perpetual "trying to hold it in" grin on our faces when she talks to us because she is just so cute. Her head slightly cocked and eyebrows raised when she's feeling particularly sassy, her seriousness in conveying her side of the story, her confident way with mispronounced words (the latest, "scone" is the most obvious pronunciation of a favorite flavored ice treat). All of it will be present in one way or another in the grown up version of Bella. And, oh my, the clumsiness...and the way she laughs it off, gracefully allowing us all to have a giggle at her expense. I see her becoming who she is and it's one of my deepest joys.

And, I guess it's one of my greatest hopes as well. I hope, as she grows and changes and understands more and more about who God created her to be, that she would be confident in the fact that I see her. That, even if she is quieter and doesn't demand as much attention, she would feel known and enjoyed and appreciated for the perfectly unique reflection of God that she is. That she would know what a delight she is to Loren and to me and most of all, to the God who made her Bella...beautiful one. I pray that she would know that her quiet spirit and sweet nature is a strength and not a weakness. That she would embrace her beautiful, vulnerable heart. The one that makes others take a deep breath and slow down for a moment to bask in her sunshine.

I know she'll be all grown up one day. And I'm already starting to see what that may look like. But, for now, I'll just concentrate on enjoying three. Because 23 will be here before I know it. And letting her go is not something I'm ready to think about just yet.



Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Hair Blanket

I could write an entire diatribe on our culture's messed up view of beauty. I really could. I am actually getting a little irritated just thinking about it. Because what kind of culture would dare to try and convince this little girl that she is anything but gorgeous?

But, they do. And so, sometimes, she wishes that she had lighter skin and long flowing hair. I know that's not unusual for any little girl. I'm told that Loren's little sister, Connie, was pretty bald for the first two years of her life and would look longingly at little girls with long hair. I can remember wishing mine was curly and wild. ( I have the crazy perm pictures to prove it!)

I know that there are all kinds of ways to make Hope's hair longer. Weaves, relaxing it, wigs, etc. But, I guess I'm hoping that she will learn to really love her natural hair before we experiment with any of those things. And, in truth, I secretly wish that she would just flaunt a rockin' natural afro all of her life and always feel as beautiful as she is without any additions. :) For now, she has settled for this.

It's her own creation, fixed with a safety pin in the back and made out of a blanket I made her last year when Ava was born. She calls it her hair blanket and it is a fairly regular fixture on top of her head. She likes to feel like her hair is blowing in the breeze and she likes that it swishes when she moves her head. She proudly wears it out and I proudly let her because she is darn cute in a hair blanket, too.

Most of the time, though, we are all natural and on most days, I don't think Hope struggles with self image. I know that is in large part due to that fact that she has a daddy who has taught her how not to take herself too seriously.


And a daddy who loves her unconditionally and tells her often what a beautiful gift from God she is.
So, I think she's gonna be alright. Cause I never underestimate a daddy's determination to see his daughter delighted with who God made her to be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ava Elizabeth

I've got lots to say, but very little time, lately, to write it in a way that is pleasant to read. So, for now, you get to see pictures of Ava. And, I know that the pictures are why most of you come to this blog anyway. :)

She is growing so fast!


Ava's learned lots of new tricks lately. Clapping and pulling up are just two of many. My favorite is the one where she indiscriminately puts things into her mouth off the floor. Dog food, wood chips, paper, pennies, etc. Yep...that's my favorite.


I can never resist a good profile shot. Which is funny, cause I'm not really a big fan of my own profile. Her's is delicious though. Couldn't you just squeeze those precious cheeks?!

Come on! It doesn't get much cuter than that!

And finally, one I got of her and her cousin, Pax when my sister, Mel, was down to visit. I love his face in this picture and I love how it looks like Ava has her hand on his knee saying, "Now Paxton, let's be good little babies and smile one more time for the insane mommies with the cameras."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mama Monk

My friend, Micha, has a ridiculously good blog. And really, if you have 5 minutes in the course of your day to sit and read something, I'd highly recommend it.

Today, though, if you stumble upon her blog you might just find some thoughts from someone who is slightly more familiar to you.

Check it out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Days

There are a million things to love about summer. Pool days, the 4th of July, iced coffee, longer daylight hours...... I could go on and on. But, some of my favorite things are all the fresh fruits and vegetables. We are lucky to have a great farmers market in town and it is so fun to go on Saturdays and see what's there. And then spend the next week coming up with a thousand uses for golden beets.

This year, we discovered that one of the trees in our own backyard is an apricot tree. It's never had fruit until this year, for some reason. So, we spent the last weekend picking pounds and pounds of apricots off of our tree.
And then, subsequently reading that once apricots are picked, you have to do something with them within about five days, or else they go bad. If we were moved into our new home instead of living out of boxes, I might have canned a bunch of them and made jam with the rest. Instead, lots of our friends are getting fresh apricots these days and we are eating our fair share as well.

Then, I noticed that, at the new house, we have a sour cherry tree in the backyard. Now technically, we do not own that house yet and, technically, we are not allowed to be hanging around the property like we do. But, technicalities aside, it seemed a shame for those beautiful bright red cherries to all be eaten by the birds. I'm happy to share with the birds, but a cherry pie and some jam sounded so darn good. So, technically, I trespassed and picked all that I could reach. And then, my friend and neighbor-to-be Debbie brought me her ladder, and I picked a whole lot more.

I don't feel bad at all.

And, just so you know, there is a plum tree in the front yard of the new house. And if we haven't closed on that house in the next few weeks, you better believe that I will be trespassing again in the very near future. Fresh plums, people! How could you even ask me to resist that?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sabbath Rest

My kids, especially the biggest, the little stinker, have been used mightily this week by God to do a work in me that soooo needed to happen. In the process, though, I have been frustrated, angry, scared, and at my wit's end.

So, I cried out to God in exhaustion. And, as I sat and prayed with clenched fists, these are the things that kept coming up:

Lord, I work so hard at parenting and she is still selfish.

I work so hard to protect them, and they are still exposed and enticed by evil.

I work so hard at having good relationships with my girls, and they deliberately disobey me.


Then, I unclenched my fists in hopes of just listening to God.

I sighed a deep sigh and laid it all out.

God, I'm angry and frustrated. "Because you don't have control..."

I'm worried about evil. " I have good plans... "

I don't like the neighbor girl who acts way too old for her age. "She's a wounded child and I love her deeply... "

I feel like I can't do enough and it's too painful to fail. "Come to me..."

I felt such hope afterward and I couldn't really explain why. But, the next morning as I read in Hebrews 4 about Sabbath Rest, it became a little clearer. We are encouraged in that passage to enter fully into His rest - the completed work of redemption - and to be careful that we do not fall short of it. We are asked to cease working to bring about redemption in our lives and in the lives of others. We are invited to be still, and understand that God alone redeems. And if we don't do that, we risk falling away.

I can see how that would happen, actually. My own frustration at not being able to produce the results I want with my children has me in tears regularly. And I realize now that my anger, frustration, and worry about those things are because I believe that somehow I should have more control. That somehow all the work I do should produce perfectly behaved children who never encounter evil. Somehow I have made the subtle shift from guiding and helping to shape my children to taking it upon myself to do the redeeming work in their lives. It's a shift that has, at it's core, a belief that God's goodness towards me, and towards them, that his grace, is not sufficient. And just like that I have taken a nose dive off the edge of my faith...I've fallen away.

But here is the hope in it all and what snatches me back from the edge of faithlessness.

I can't do it. I'm ill equipped to be a redeemer.

And thank goodness. Because in spite of my great love for my kids, what I have to offer in that regard would fall so far short of what God wants to do. Pitifully short. And I want more for them than an earthly redemption that would make them good little robots who are motivated by my fear or anger or frustration to do the right things. I want their hearts to be redeemed by the One who invites us to live life to the full, and transforms us by his love.

There are still issues. My kids are still selfish. The neighbor girl is a 10th grader in a 2nd grade body and I'm not sure how to handle that. My kids continue to wound me with their little rejections. And all of it is likely to produce suffering in their little lives that I feel like I can not bear to watch. But I hope I will let those things lead me to a life of prayer and surrender, instead of fear and frustration.

As I attempt to daily enter into the Sabbath rest, I pray that I will parent with more hope, and less fear, as I understand more of the character of God. I pray that I will be more apt to trust that his desire to relentlessly pursue redemption in my life and the lives of my children is far greater than anything I can drum up. And I pray that as I pry open my hand and release my children to his tender care, that I would know better how to love them in a way that invites them to willingly place themselves in his grip.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Goodbye Quaker Ridge

Well, almost as quickly as we came, it's time to say goodbye. We leave camp tomorrow to head back home to Canon City. And, just like that, people that we have gotten to know and who have imprinted themselves on our hearts, will all head back to their respective homes and their lives. Some we will see again. Most we won't. That's just the way it is with assignment.

What a privilege it was to work along side these that served, prayed, sacrificed, and loved on students for three weeks, all for the sake of Christ. Laborers in the Harvest.

And what a blessing it is to know that God delights to use all of us, at any age, in spite of our past and our weaknesses, to bring people to himself.

Have I mentioned how much I love being at camp? I really do. But I know I'm blessed to be able to say that I can't wait to be home. Amidst those who know the depths of my wicked heart and the beauty of the redeemed one and whose steadfast love continues overwhelm me.

To you that we are coming home to: Get ready...cause we have missed you terribly. We are coming home and you won't be able to be rid of us for weeks and weeks to come. Practice these words: "Go home...we'll see you tomorrow."

I leave you with some pictures from camp. Some of our favorites.
Ava just didn't quite know what to do with Loren in his Gnome costume.


Amy was Ava's second mom up here at camp. She carried her around almost as much as I did, which saved me from coming home with arms like Arnold Swarchenegger. And look at those cute western freckles. If I painted those on her just for regular every day stuff, would that be weird?

There was no tub in our room so we had to make due with the sink. Ava didn't mind, though. She liked that she could see herself in the mirror and wash at the same time.

Never underestimate the importance of a girl's cowboy boots. They go with everything.


I just love this picture!


I love Bella's goofiness in this one. Oh my goodness, she had such a great time!


That's Hope...getting ready to make a strike in the bowling game. Too fun!


And...well...what can I say? Two of the most lovable people in my world.

And a sweet little family picture. I'm up there in the sunlight where you can't really see my face. Maybe you could just think of me as an angelic creature shining brightly down on my family. :)