{we’re not through yet}

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i sit on the bed and he across from me on the other side of the room.
both our shoulders slumped.
mine even more.

i feel the extra burden of wanting so badly to say the magic words to make the light come on and everything to suddenly make sense and be easy like it was when he was younger and i thought my worst battle was trying to get him to sit still and not hang upside down from his chair while i homeschooled him.

now. moments like this.
when it can feel like you don’t even know this child in front of you..
and i wish for those simpler days of a hyper boy standing on his head during math.
and i wish the outcome were different as i stand to leave his room. and i pause.

“is there anything else you want to say?”

hoping maybe by some miracle it might be, “thanks for this, mom! i know it’s only because you love me. i’m so grateful for parents like you and dad. i know God is using you in my life. i want to be that super teen every parent hopes for and tomorrow i’m getting up at 5 a.m. to spend time with God! and then i’m going to go start a bible study in the neighborhood…”

i stand and wait. and he only shrugs and mumbles something that sounds like, “no.”
and i pause longer. let out a sigh. then turn and walk out.

later i tell shayne, “i fear we’ve lost him. i don’t know how to get through. i feel we’ve done so many things wrong..”

and shayne smiles calm, as he always does, and puts his arm around me –

“we’re not through yet. there’s going to be tough places along the way, but i’m confident he’s going to be just fine!”

—-

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it’s been weeks ago now that i recorded that in my journal.
but a conversation in the kitchen last night, going into the wee hours of the morning..
and feeling very similar, had this truth meeting my discouraged heart when i woke up.

we’re not through yet!

i love that word. through.
it’s a journey.
beautiful. wonderful.
we’re crossing this life together.
but there’s going to be rocky parts.
the ebb and flow of the tide.
things are going to get stormy.
there will be those times of stale mate across a bedroom floor.
midnight talks in the kitchen of tears and frustration.
those feelings that you’ve completely screwed up. done it all wrong. ruined them.

that they’re too far gone.
heart too hardened.
nothing can penetrate.

but when God is our God, that’s just not the case.
because He saves and makes new and waste nothing and redeems and uses it all.

there’s no such thing as too far gone.
too hardened.
or too screwed up.

and as we’re going t h r o u g h He’s teaching me some things along the way –
one being, to make sure the things i’m choosing to battle out with my kids actually matter.
for the future? for eternity? are they important?
or is it my own fear? my pride? my own mold? worrying what others will think?

oh, man! how i’ve parented too many times from the perspective of others opinions!
social media has revealed this in my heart big time.
“you put WHAT on twitter?”

but also not being afraid to take the strong stands.
my kids are my best friends and there’s no people i’d rather hang with..
but i am their parent first and have to be willing at times to risk a little popularity with them
in order to protect and guide where they can’t see they need it.
to remind them that yeah, they better believe i love them exactly as they are right now –
but i love their future selves as well!
and they don’t always get that. it’s okay. they will one day.

how many of us ourselves can recall things we hated and didn’t understand our parents doing?
a decision. a boundary. a rule.
and yet, looking back we see the wisdom of it.

love them through.
walk them through.
pray them through.

more important than clean rooms and pants pulled up over their boxers and hats on backwards or sideways, are HEARTS!

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one thing i’ve realized is there is nothing we need fear in parenting..
except ourselves getting in the way of God’s work in our kids hearts.

i remember when my two oldest started into high school after homeschooling them the eight years prior.
i was so afraid that, “what if all the things people say about public school is true?”
what if they get into drugs?
what if they come home drunk?
what if they have sex before marriage?

well, it turns out what they say about public school is pretty accurate.
lots of scary stuff there.

but one day while washing the dishes and worrying over the, “what if’s?”
God said to me, “yes, what if? am i not big enough for those things too?”

and though we’ve not had drugs, or drinking, or sex to deal with yet in our house,
we have had lots of other things..
one that landed us in counseling for one child a year and a half ago.
and i went through the shame at first, but then, crazy found freedom that, we were that family! and it was okay.

and no matter what.
homeschooling.
public school.
super strict rules.
or more lenient.
unless The Lord had been our help we would have never made it through.
and be making it through still!

this is the only parenting advice i have to give anyone – cry out to God!

do we think that Christ would die on the cross for us when we were still sinners, and now that we’re HIs children He’s going to leave us desolate?

run to the one whose parent heart beats deepest.
and rest on His unconditional, all-wise love.

i feel such a burden today for all our kids {yours.mine.all of them!}
the battle is intense!
and i want to shout out loud and clear to all you fellow warrior mama’s –

carry on!!

carry on.

—-

and since this feels to be a very vulnerable blog. raw and present.
i want to say to those who will often ask about me being so open here –
i feel God has brought shayne and i, and the older kids as well, to a place
where we’re done playing the part! done doing the good christian, cookie cutter thing.

tired of the bull crap. {anyone?}

we want real and authentic.
to take what we’ve been through and use it to remind others they’re not alone.

there is this wonderful freedom in letting go of what others think.

to be able to own your own junk and be okay with it.
to admit, this is where we are. this is us. yes, we’re that family!

and we might not be where we need to be. where we could be.
but praise God, we’re not where we used to be!!

we’re moving forward.
one grace paved step at a time!

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{surviving love}

it was eighteen years ago today i walked down the aisle and became his wife.
funny how eighteen years can seem only a few days and a lifetime all in one.~

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i laid in bed long after he left this morning.
the sound of the wind howling and fierce all around as my mind went back over the years..
of all the winds that have threatened to rip us right apart, and near did.
those times when i felt we might not make it to this point.
and then i smiled as, “but we survived,” washed across all the other thoughts swirling..

to say you’ve “survived” sounds about the most unromantic thing you could say about your marriage.
i’ve heard older couples say it and wrinkled my nose in the past. positive they must have lost sight of true love.
but. now i wonder if they didn’t know more than i gave them credit for.

maybe those who’ve made it the longest know love the truest.

surviving love.
committed. loyal. determined.

and maybe surviving love is really the most romantic love after all.
the real kind. the kind only God can give. the kind that has endured the battle. stayed.

the kind that says i’m not just fighting beside you. i’m fighting with you. for you.
we’re going to make it to the other side. and we’re going to make it together.
we might be limping. we might even be crawling. and yes, there might be times one will carry the other.
but we will get there. we will survive.

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how easily we forget or grow passive about the fact that we have an enemy of our souls that’s stops at nothing in trying to destroy our homes and marriages and lives. he never lets up. he never gets tired. and he’ll never feel he’s suddenly done enough and just leave you alone. he is constantly {constantly} seeking those he can bring down and devour and he loves nothing more than taking something that is supposed to be the very picture of Christ and his church and making a mockery of it. making it seem that God has lost His power. that maybe He’s not strong enough to change and transform lives and hold hearts together.

but i’m here to say today. that’s not true!
He does transform. and yes, and amen! He does hold us together.

these past two years have been hell for our marriage..
the hardest we have yet to face.
i’m ashamed to say the word divorce crossed both our thoughts if not our lips.
it’s what happens when focus is on self and you’re looking to someone to be your saviour other than who your Saviour truly is.
that’s what i was doing in my marriage. trying to put my husband in the position only God can fill.
but no human alive can meet the deepest needs of our heart apart from God.

we try so desperately to cram in what’s tangible. what we can see. what seems to be bringing fulfillment at the time but it’s not lasting. not solid. not the kind of stuff battles are won from and storms endured.

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you can be married to the sweetest guy in the world. i know i am!
you can be great lovers and have the hottest sex.
enjoy each other’s company and be the best of friends.
but if you’re not constantly looking and running and finding your source to love IN HIM..
when the battle intensifies, the winds increase, the burdens press in..
well, all the sweetness and sex and best friend feelings in the world cannot sustain and carry you through.

we need HIM.

our marriages need Him.

and though my marriage is not where i want it to be. i praise God it’s not where it used to be.
i hope i never feel completely content with where it’s at but always want deeper and more and closer.

and i just want to encourage anyone reading this that no matter where your marriage is at.. keep on!
if it’s good – keep fighting for better.
if it’s shaky – remember where the victory lies.

there is healing for the hells of our lives.
and there is {always} grace to be and room to become.

there is love that survives because there is a Saviour that redeems!

heart

 

*from the archives:
because sometimes you just need to replay redemption’s song.
how great is our God. sing with me, how great!

{letter to my senior}

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dear kate,

you bounded down the steps with your hair curled and floral book bag
draped over your shoulder.

“it’s my last first day of school, mom!” you beamed.

i just stared.

those moments where you seem so big and so little all at the same time.
and i wonder, how can it feel only days?

only days since i first found out you were in me.
only days of first steps and first words and that first day of school.
sitting across from me at the kitchen table.
how inadequate i felt. always.
to teach you all you needed. still do.

i so often feel i haven’t got a clue.
but you’ve been the best child to learn to parent on.
you’ve made it easy.
you are gracious and patient and let things go quickly.
i’m sure this is why we’re still friends.
not because of anything right i’ve actually done but because of how forgiving you are.

your spirit of easily letting go will take you far.
far in relationships.
far in freedom you’ll find within.
far in keeping your heart tender.
never lose that.
your open heart towards others.
hurts will come and you’ll want to shut down. cave in. give up on people.
but when you stay tender. sensitive. you win!

because loving the way Jesus did always does.

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i love that you already see this.
that taking a chance on people is what it’s all about.
that a life lived for others is a life truly lived.

i pray your senior year finds you living hard. living free.
living full and living without fear.
there’s so much talk and emphasis put on what you’ll do when school is done.
don’t sweat it, babe.
you’ll do what you always do. what any of us can do –
you’ll do the next thing.

the same God who’s led you till now will keep right on leading.
people plan and save and map out their lives.
nothing wrong with that. only..
all the preparation in the world matters little if it’s not His voice you’re following.

sure. chase dreams. follow your passions. embrace your gifts. run after adventure.
but always let your steps be guided by the still small voice within.
His way – though not ours – is best.
and His will – though not always making sense –
is exactly what we’d choose if we knew all the facts.

you can trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.

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i think of how much i love you. how my love only grows..
and the more i know you the more i fall in love with who you are.
but in all that. in the deepest, most glued tight together bond a mother feels for her child
it can’t compare to that of your Heavenly Parent.
His love is perfect. it is everlasting. it is your life-line.
and it is, and will be, your confidence.
loved by God. cherished daughter of the King. crafted by the Creator of the Universe.
who thought about you. planned for you. made you on purpose. for a purpose.
of any title you could ever claim remember it is this one, “He knows me”
where your true identity is found.
it always comes back to that.
that we know Him and are known of Him. and loved just as we are.

it is the hope that anchors us.
you are precious and valued.
you matter to God!
where else can hope like that be found?

education can inflate.
degrees fade.
friends disperse.
plans change.
dreams take on new forms.
and paths aren’t always as straight as we once perceived.
but this.
love God. love others.
this is success!
this is eternal.
this is life!

i don’t know what the beginning of all these lasts this year looks like.
we’ve never walked this way before.
where you’ll be next year. what lies ahead.
but i have confidence in the One who gave you to me to begin with
and i put you, once again, where i’ve put a thousand times since..
right back in His more than capable arms.

fly high little bird.
you were made to soar.
do it without fear.

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i love you.

mom

{the shards that remain}

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i’ve always cooked my roast in the crock pot.
same as my mom always did.
then. my crock pot broke and when it came time to fix another pot roast,
i’d yet to replace it.
so, as things like this can go i happened to be watching the food network late one night.
trisha yearwood was sharing her favorite pot roast recipe where she cooked it in the oven. in a pan.
“well, there i go,” i thought.
“tomorrow i’m going to make my pot roast, in a pan. in the oven.”

about 2 in the afternoon i put it in.
a whole onion chopped on top. salt and pepper to taste. aluminum foil wrapped round.
and tucked down into a glass 9×12 pan with a layer of water in the bottom..
i remember there was a lot of emphasis on making sure to keep water in the pan.
i set the oven at 250 and pretty soon the house was filled with it’s alluring smell.

i love meals like that.
10 minute prep. cooks all afternoon.practically fixing itself.
ready.set. go at dinner time.
always makes me feel like such a june cleaver kind of mom.
so organized and with it!

and with head held high at my rare super mom status for the day,
i went to take a walk with reese.
we were just going around the block. but we pass the park..
so of course, there had to be a stop.
and then all the pretty flowers {weeds} blooming everywhere she just has to pick for me.
by the time we got home i was rushing to grab the van keys to hurry to pick up one
of the older kids from somewhere…
but passing through the kitchen a smell that wasn’t quite burnt
but soon to be caught my nose.

“my roast!!!” i said, as i threw open the oven door.
totally forgetting that earlier feeling of accomplishment as i stared at my very
parched looking roast sitting in a very dry pan.

i grabbed the oven mitts and pulled the rack out to access the roast.
all i could think was trisha yearwood said, “whatever you do don’t let that
water dry up in the bottom of the pan!”
so i grabbed a glass of water from the tap and poured it over the roast
as if putting out a fire.
and the instant.. the instant, that first drop spilled over the edge
and before i could even turn my wrist back upright again,
i suddenly realized what i had just done.

extremely hot pan. cold glass of water?

i turned my head back in the opposite direction to brace myself just as..
the glass exploded with a loud bang in every single direction possible.
and when i turned back. there was my poor little roast
sitting on the only tiny section of what was left of the shattered pan,
looking quite pitiful.

it took awhile to clean up the mess.
and even days of making the kids wear their shoes because i knew i missed slivers of it…
there was just no way to possibly get every little piece.
i knew there were some i had missed.

but crazy thing is. this was months ago. and even after all this time now –
still, i’m finding remnants of what happened that afternoon.

just the other day something shiny caught my eye in front of the sink on the floor.
looking closer, i saw it was glass.
and yesterday. sweeping, as i’ve done a dozen times since,
a huge piece came out from under the stove!
“how?” i thought.
“i’ve swept this same place so many times since then.
why is this piece just now coming out?”

and as i moved the stove to find even more pieces i had missed..
i began thinking of times throughout my life where my heart has felt the exact same.

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shattered by something that happened. something someone did. someone said.
a lie. a humor. a piece of gossip.
an action. something you never expected coming from that direction.
something that came quickly. suddenly. poured out over what was going to be so good.
and.. just like that, and in that moment. in an instant.
sending your heart. your trust. your insecurities. your fears.
your relationship. your belief… flying in a thousand pieces.

and as most hurts go.
we pick up the major pieces right away.
the ones we see. the ones obvious.
but that’s the thing with anything that’s broken..
we don’t always know exactly where all the pieces landed.
where they ended up. where they might be tucked away.
and there are times. times when we least expect it.
times we feel we’re doing just fine. times we think we’ve got it all dealt with.
then. one casual, any kind of day, we’re sweeping away in the kitchen and bam!
there it is.
a huge chunk we didn’t realize was still there.

an ugly jagged piece.
a piece it seems too obvious to have missed.
a piece that even puzzles us.
and we sweep it away. and hope there aren’t any more.
but somehow, we know there will be.
somehow when things shatter you can never really, truly, find every single
tiny part and put it together again.
with some things, there is no putting together again as it was.

at first, as i’m cleaning behind my stove and thinking all this, it saddened me.
that what was, could never be that way again.
that things can’t just go back to how they were.
that once shattered. there is no fixing.

but then, this truth came to mind.
i give beauty for ashes.
and the years the locust have eaten i restore.
behold, i make all things new.

it doesn’t say He gives back what was.
HE GIVES NEW!!
and He doesn’t give what we had. He gives beauty in place of ashes.
yes, He puts the broken pieces together again. but He puts them together in His way.

a vessel with cracks and marred and imperfect.
but the holes only give His light more places to shine!

suddenly i see that the things that have shattered me
have not rendered me less valuable or useless.
only the opposite.

and though there will still be pieces always coming from places i didn’t expect.
that’s okay.
with each piece i can see it as a chance for His grace to fuse together what was broken.

there is beauty in the shards that remain.
the pieces missing.
the pieces still to be discovered.
each one an opportunity to allow Him to take and put together again. as it should be.

as only He can do.

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“I’ll make up for the years of the locust,
the great locust devastation—
You’ll eat your fill of good food.
You’ll be full of praises to your God,
You’ll know without question
that I’m in the thick of life with you,
That I’m your God, yes, your God,
the one and only real God.” joel 2:25

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” isa 43:19

{the house we bought but didn’t move to}

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thank you all so much for all the love and kindness over the last post.
i am forever floored by this community of online people.~

i wanted to clarify since a few wrote and asked..
the reason we waited so long to tell about the miscarriage
was simply because it took a month and a half from the time i went to the clinic,
to when i had my tests, and then the doctor’s appointment for the results back.
(that’s national healthcare for ya – if you’re not near dead or dying they don’t
really get in a hurry)
only half kidding! ;)

we feel total peace about the Lord’s decision.
we know the little ones that haven’t been able to stay with us here are not lost to us..
they have only gone on before us home, and we will see them again someday in heaven.

it’s a day that grows only more dear.

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but for the pain and hard of these past months
it has carried much joy as well.
which seems so often the case –
the good and bad cradling each other.
both, strangely needed in order to fully appreciate and see the depth of the other.

one of those joys was being able to, for the first time ever, become homeowners!
we bought a house, y’all!!
which i know alot already know since i shared on instagram..
it just feels really good to say.
we bought a house, y’all.

i finally feel all official and grown up or something.
guess a huge amount of debt does that to ya, huh?

but the coolest part there was no packing.
no going around to wal-mart and costco to collect brown boxes.
no u-haul or planning where to put things in a new place.

we bought the house we’d been renting here for the past two and a half years!

i could just leave it at that.

it’s pretty great right there.
but this is one of those stories that means way more if you know the back story!~
so if you’re a back story liking kind of person.. cozy down. here goes.

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it was last november –
we had just gotten back from thanksgiving.
a day of 10plus hours in the van and exhaustion and emotion leaving family behind.
pulling onto our street, finally, late in the early hours of the morning.
i thought i could see something in the front yard.. but not sure.
was that our house?
or the one next door?
it looked like a sign. a.. for sale sign?

as we neared and slowed and pulled in,
any doubt was confirmed as the headlights glared the words plain and bright.
i can still remember my heart instantly catching. pounding nervously.
all the questions and what if’s? that came pouring in.
we knew our landlord was thinking of selling.
we just didn’t know it was going to be, now!

those months that followed were strange. and strained, if i’m honest.
to suddenly feel not at home in your home.
to wonder where your home was going to be six months from now. even sooner?

and it wasn’t just the house being for sale.
there were decisions shayne was making with his company..
other possibilities. opportunities. all south of the border! ;)

funny though, it was shayne who was more ready to leave than me.
and i confused even myself with what i wanted.

we talked and prayed and went round with all the options.

we included the kids in everything. especially the older ones.
talking about it at length as a family.
wanting to know their thoughts. their hearts.
every single one certainly with their own opinions.

kate wanted to stay. to finish school.
ben wanted to stay. or move somewhere with snow so he could snowboard.
it was all about the boarding for him!
emma wanted to go back to cincinnati. right next door to mamaw and papaw.
and reese said, “where you go, mommy?” she was just all about being by me.

my heart ran in all directions and it was hard to decipher.
there were too many emotions clouding everything.
and so i learned, what i’ve learned again and again, and seem to always come back to;
just to live where i am for that moment.
to find the joy and remember His faithfulness.

and so each day became that.

taking my eyes off further down the road and looking only to the next step.
bringing it to Him and laying it down.
my prayer becoming, very simply, “open and close doors, Lord. lead us in your way”

and day after day as i looked out the window and saw that for sale sign..
i found my heart catching less and less.
the fear of the unknown never completely gone, only, much quieter.
cushioned against His grace.

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then, came the week of the open house.
and here i would say, i take back everything i just wrote in the above two paragraphs.
of living day by day, of trusting His faithfulness.
people began to buzz this place and i freaked!
strangers stopping and looking.
cars sitting in front of the house, pulling in the driveway.
people randomly coming to the door to ask to see inside.

and on saturday, as i cleaned, i thought of how odd it was to be “preparing” the house.
what had been OUR house for two and a half years..
for someone else to come in and like and be impressed with and want to buy!

i asked shayne to come upstairs to the bedroom.
because i didn’t want the kids to see me cry.
you know those times in life when you’re trying to be so strong for your kids?
but you feel nothing more than an abnormally tall 10-year-old yourself?
once upstairs, i told shayne, through tears, that we needed to come to a conclusion.
and it was one i felt he was going to have to make for all of us.
there was no making everyone happy. there was no truly knowing, or guarantee.
and i did one of the hardest things i’ve ever done in our married life – –
i told him i’d trust him completely with whatever answer he gave.

not that i’ve never trusted my husband.
i do. explicitly.
there’s no one in the world i have more confidence in.
but this was one of those times as a wife i could feel how heavy my influence was.
that with just the right turn or tug i could sway him. and it scared me.
that much control. and not knowing if i would control it in the right direction.
so i turned it over to him.

i wondered if i was being cowardly – yielding my right to help make the decision.
but as soon as the words came out of my mouth, i knew just how much courage it actually took.
trusting that an all-wise God can work in and through others for my benefit?

trusting God alone is one thing.
trusting Him through flawed individuals is a completely different kind of trust.

the next morning, sunday, the day of the open house,
shayne said he had prayed about it.

“i think God wants US to buy this house, babe!”

i stared at him blankly for several minutes before saying,
“and.. what’s plan b?”

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being self-employed has always been the main deterrent to us owning our own home.
and if you’re self employed, you know what i’m talking about.
not to mention, real estate here in canada is double what we pay in midwest america.
so even if we were in a position to secure a mortgage,
no way we could get approved for the asking price of this house.

shayne said we should look at it like a fleece.
because yes, so much had to happen for that to ever be a reality.
a lot more than just a wet and dry side, i was thinking.
if you don’t know what i’m talking about, look up the story of Gideon in the bible.
bless him! so glad for guy’s like that that make me feel a bit more normal in my doubting.

shayne text our landlord, “we’d be interested in buying the house.”

of course i’m thinking the timing couldn’t be any worse..
hours before the open house.
where i’m pretty sure people were lined around the block like the nanny scene in mary poppins to buy it!

we went to church. out to eat. browsed stores. waiting for the time to pass.
still no word from our landlord.

when we returned later, after we were sure everyone was gone
there was a guy in his car in the driveway.
as soon as we got out, he did too.

“um.. so i understand you guys might buy this place?
and i want you to know that if you don’t, i am!”

shayne and i just looked at each other. then him, “okay..?”

later that evening our landlord came to the door.
he told us he had 3 offers that day, for the full asking price.
my heart fell. and his voice muffled in my head until,
“but, i’d rather see you guys have the place than anyone…”
my eyes shot straight to shayne’s to hear his response.
to see if i had misunderstood.

shayne told him we weren’t sure we could get approved for the loan.
he said, no problem. he would hold the mortgage.
and a few days later as we sat down to more officially go over things
he said he would like to take all the back rent and use as a down payment.
as well as lowered the price considerably than the original asking price.
{let’s just refresh here – that THREE others had been willing to pay!}

who does that kind of stuff?

God does.

the God of mama’s that fret and worry and think we’ll be living in a tent.
the God of people who need fleeces.
that need both sides. wet and dry!
the God who can strengthen a wife’s faith to trust Him through her husband.
to move a landlord’s heart to do what’s out of the ordinary.
a husband’s resolve to lead his family.
and four kids whose eyes lit up when we told them there would be no moving.

we had bought a house.
and we weren’t going anywhere.

to see the relief wash over their faces..
i hadn’t realized how much of a worry it was to them.
wondering where we would end up. what the days ahead held.
and my peace felt more solidified from their response.

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i will admit that as exciting as this whole new homeowner thing is –
when i dreamed of buying a house all these years, canada wasn’t exactly the location i had imagined.
especially since it seems to make this “temporary move” even more permanent.
i felt, and still do, this strangeness of emotions of finally being settled, and yet the struggle of
contentment at where it is we have settled, after all. for now anyway.

but the thing is this.
when you’ve walked with the Lord through so much..
look back and see all He’s done. witnessed His faithfulness.
there is comfort in that.
knowing no matter what lies ahead it’s going to be okay.
the same One who walked with me then, walks with me now.

He will lead me safely home.
to my true home.

there’s no fear –
when He’s your travel companion.

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{of loss. and trust. and a God we call, “Abba!”}

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it’s been almost two months now.
a little life we didn’t even know was there
until we were already saying goodbye.
and then the complications. the questions. the tests.
the final doctor’s appointment last week.
and though we already knew..
to hear the official word felt tender.
knocking a deeper ache i didn’t even recognize was there.

this would be our 4th miscarriage now through the years.
and though familiar, the pain isn’t lessened.
it still catches me.
perhaps in different ways now.
we would have loved another. have prayed for one since reese.
but yet, at this stage of life my heart also feels content – to a degree.
i find myself thinking maybe more than i thought i would about what an addition would look like for us.
and where to go from here? and when is time to stop “trying?”
another baby would be a game changer.
and yet.. there still seems that small empty spot inside that another would fill.

and i find myself in territory i know far too well.
of learning {once again} that all i need, God already is!

i feel it settling more within me.
the hurts and doubts and dark places of these past weeks.
but it’s been a process.
and there so much more to the story {there is always more to someone’s story}.
and though not at liberty to share those details-
i will say, it has been way more than just babies that needed surrendering in this heart.

so often what i think i fear inside these clenched fists of mine isn’t really the battle..
the battle is opening my hands to begin with.
loosening my grasp of control in exchange for trust in a God that is Soveriegn and cannot make mistakes.

do i pretend to always understand why He does what He does? no.
and i certainly don’t always like it.
but i believe that only the wisest love filters all that touches my life.
and therefore, i don’t need to dread or be afraid of whatever i’m facing. whatever lies ahead.

“for you have not received the spirit of bondage that leads you into fear again ..
but you have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father!” rom.8:15

i think all of life. ALL. is about coming to this place of intimacy with Him.

every heartache. every loss. every dream shattered. every question raised. every trial faced.
every point of surrender. every dark night. every wilderness. every red sea before us..
it is all to bring us to a point of realizing there is a story so much bigger. a home still to come. a Saviour who holds the victory. and a God we can run to called, “Abba!”

this. is what it’s about.
this is what it’s always been about.

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“what if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?”

yes.

so fill me, Lord.

{a safe place}

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i sorta ran away home because i needed to get away.
sometimes when life seems closing in i feel i need to do that.
run.
back to familiar.
back to my country.
back to chick-fil-a.
and american target.
they have it in canada but it’s not the same.
lots of things aren’t.
i often feel i’m not.
that i don’t breathe as easy here.
feel my head clear.
so i pack up.
throw the younger ones in.
take a girlfriend along too.
and away we set.
and always, this happy little settling inside when i cross the border.
think i’m home.
and it is.
but home changes.
or maybe it’s me.
and i ran to where i thought would be a safe place.
aren’t we always –
looking for shelter?
where to turn?
our husband.
a friend.
a country.
a place.
family.
security.
stability.
and it felt all directions i was coming up lacking.
and then my mom says to me – because moms know the struggles we never really verbalize.
“i know you’re looking for a safe place..
you want it to be your husband. you want it here at home..
but amber
there is only one
and God is your safe place.
the strong tower where you must run to find all you’re looking for.”

and her words were for me.
but i thought maybe they might be for you too.
just from a mom’s heart to another.
a sister in Christ.
a friend.
a slight smile and tap on the arm that reminds you the same.

we DO have a safe place.
and it’s name is,  Jesus.

“show me the path of life
in your presence there is fullness of JOY.” ps.16:11

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happy monday all you sweet ones who stop in here~

{a life spilling joy}

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i woke today feeling overwhelmed with things beyond my control.

i wanted to stay in bed with the pillows over my head.
sometimes giving in is easier.
darkness inviting.

but it is never the way to joy.

joy comes only as i trust that God is bigger and He IS at work.
that He cares. and all He allows is only His absolute love for me.
because He knows best. because He knows what i need.

“may the God of hope fill you with all joy as you trust in Him, so that you overflow.” rom.15

i want that –  a life spilling joy.
but first, i must come to a place trust.

one is the prerequisite to the other.

the position of joy comes only through a posture of trust.

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so i got out of bed.
flung the curtains wide.
embraced the light.
chose joy.

chose trust.

“and if trust must be earned hasn’t God unequivocally earned our trust
with the bark on the raw wounds..
the thorns pressed into the brow. your name on cracked lips?
how will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right?
He’s already given the incomprehensible.
Christ our crossbeam.

the radical wonder of it stuns me happy. hushes me still.
it’s all Christ.
every moment. every event. every happening.

it’s all Christ and in Christ we are always safe.” -one thousand gifts

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“oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord.” ps.40

{sunday sweetness & giveaway winner}

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yesterday was good and full.
starting at 6:30 a.m.
heading north to be with shayne’s family for church and lunch.
then a tour of the town daddy grew up in for the kids.
they’ve seen it before but always like hearing his stories.
a romp through a random field in our bare feet.
driving home in the rain.
trying out the new yogurt shop by the lake.
dipping our feet in the water to feel how chilly it was.
taking a walk.
meeting an old man with two birds on this shoulders.
watching the kids all play together.
the two older. the two younger.
the fascinating dynamics of siblings.
finishing the night at the park.
with poutine’s, sweet potato fries and dollar drinks from mcdonald’s.
shayne pushing the little girls on the tire swing.
the older ones sitting at the picnic table by me.
ben says, “I like our family..
we might not have a lot of money to do stuff but we make our own fun.”

i immediately felt a lump in my throat, “aw, ben!”

“well, it’s true,” he went on.
“we just have a good time no matter what. and we laugh a lot.”
then he got that cute little boy grin
that even though he’s not so little anymore, still comes out.
“we’re a cool family!”

now tears are full on brimming..
you have to know. ben doesn’t just say these kinds of things.

“that’s the best mother’s day present right there, bud. what you just said.”

and he smiled, then turned to watch his sisters playing, while i kept watching him.
a moment i’ll remember for a long, long time to come.

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on saturday kate took me to a pottery sale and told me to pick out whatever i wanted.
i choose these adorable tiny pots with succulents.

i’ve never had succulents but i’d been wanting some.
i’ll have to google how to care for them so i don’t kill them.
for now i’m just admiring their daintiness.
they’re my new favorite things!

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when i came home. ben had made me this arrow from an old pallet.
i had shown him a picture of some and said i would love one.
and i do. it’s perfect.
i’d like three more so i have a set of four.

“as arrows are in the hand of a warrior so are children of thy youth…” ps.127

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and the little girls showered me with homemade notes and cards and flowers.

when i asked reese what her card said she took it and in all seriousness began to read-
“i love you mom. you are my favorite. you are my best friend. and i love you.”
of course that’s what those purple swirls said!

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my heart just spills right over in thankfulness that i get to be their mom.
every day that thankfulness grows even more.
no matter what – it is so worthwhile.~

i am your mother
you are my child
i am your quiet place.
you are my wild.
i am your calm face.
you are my giggle.
i am your wait.
you are my wiggle.
i am your dinner.
you are my cake.
i am your bedtime.
you are my wide awake.
i am your lullaby.
you are my peekaboo.
i am your goodnight kiss.
you are my “i love you.” -maryann k cusimano

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happy monday moms!

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AND… the giveaway winner is: sherri
i’ll be emailing you deets!
thanks to all who entered.
let’s do it again SOON. xo