Monthly Archives: April 2013

because maybe our house isn’t the only one that’s had some storms lately.

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it was over a party and whether or not she should go. after all, it was a school night.
it didn’t start out a big deal. but suddenly, like most arguments when emotions and self escalate, they spiral.
and before you even know what’s happened it’s all turned huge. and somewhere in there shayne and i are now at odds.
and what it even started as no one can even remember and the entire house is torn apart, just like that.
because especially when mom and dad are torn apart it trickles right down through to every last one.
and i hear the 2 year old expressing what all the rest of us only wish we could..
standing there at the bottom of the stairs just screaming at the top of her lungs for her way!
we think we’re so mature to not show our selfishness so blatantly. and yet. are we?
our silence. our walking away unresolved.. is it really any different.
it screams the same, “i want what i want!”

and i stand in our bedroom, looking out through the thin white curtain, the rain falling steadily down..
so fitting it seems. i wish i could feel that same down my cheeks but, i’m just too exhausted to cry.
have you ever felt that before? this huge need to cry, but not the energy to do it?
parenting can do that to you. that soul exhaustion that leaves you feeling you can’t even muster the strength to express what it is you really even feel.
and all i can do is stand and let out a long sigh. and in that sigh, a prayer.
it’s only something like, “God, help us…”
and as my shoulders start to slump i hear this thought back – it’s not as big as all this! it doesn’t have to be. turn round. make it right with your husband. go make it right with your daughter. it’s not worth it!

sometimes, yes. being the parent means just that, you have to be the parent. you must set rules, lay boundaries, and maybe for no reason you can give at all have to say, no. you won’t win the popular vote. they’ll say you don’t understand. that’s okay. sometimes a temporary wall ends up making a perfect bridge when it finally falls.  but then.. then there are other times. times to just. let. it. go. lay it down.

and i turn. and his figure in the bathroom door, hair standing straight up on end.
i tried not to smile. i still wanting to hold on to my mad a bit more. but.. the corners of my mouth broke.
“have you looked in the mirror?” i asked.
he leaned back. glancing in. a smile played on his own lips. “and..?”
“well, you are obviously the total crazy one of this family. you even look the part!”

he stuck his tongue out.

“go get your daughter and drive her to that party.”

“but i thought….”

then i stopped because i knew.. God had been whispering the same to him as He had me.

i went down the hall to kate’s room… suddenly feeling so free about it all. like a burden lifting with each foot step closer to her door. closer to making things right.
walking in i squatted down eye level a few feet away from where she sat on the floor.

“let’s go, babe.”

the funny thing when i look back. she didn’t seem a bit confused.
apparently God was working in all our hearts the same way.
He does that, ya know…
without any help from us, work in individual hearts the same as He’s doing in ours.

there’s times it seems nothing can be fully resolved until we completely hash it through. argue points. go round and round. sometimes that’s what’s needed. sometimes nothing short of a national peace treaty will do. but then there are other times. as i’m learning. that being a good parent isn’t only about holding your ground it’s knowing when not to as well. and why is it we always think it’s the child that needs their will yielded when ours is just as strong and actually might be the problem even more.

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man! if i’ve learned {the hard way} anything about parenting teenagers so far it’s that humility and taking care of my own heart speaks far louder to them than what we think might be the best sounding lecture in the world! i have been stopped dead in my tracks time and time again when the words coming out of my mouth are words i know i’m not living. my kids see right through that as clear as anything~ that’s why i think parenting is so hard. not because of our kids, but because of ourselves!

a short while later we all stood in the kitchen.
the heavy cloud lifted. even the 2 year old happy again!
as i was about to leave with the older two, shayne staying back with the younger two, the rain still gently falling, but then.. the sun suddenly came from what seemed like nowhere and cast this gorgeous glow all across the yard.

as we were pulled out of the driveway, kate pointed. “look!”
and there, at the end of the road one of the brightest, most vibrant rainbows i’ve ever seen!

as i drove we could see it closer. i turned onto a road from the one we were supposed to be on.
“let’s go chase a rainbow for a minute…”
and we set out. driving along that country dirt road. windows down. the cool evening breeze blowing in.

“it’s pretty crazy when you think about it, mom..” kate said beside me.
“when we were fighting it was raining and dark. but then when we cleared things up at home, it cleared up outside too. and now.. a rainbow like that! i just think that’s pretty cool!”

and those tears i felt earlier but too tired to cry, snuck to the corners of my eyes and i blinked hard.
i had had that same thought..
the darkness. the heaviness. the storms that come and shake the very foundation of our homes. of our lives. and yet..
this. the storms do not last forever. there is an end.
and we don’t always see it during. when clouds hover and rain relentless. when the wind beats down and us bent right over. but there is Light! there is the promise of hope… and sometimes, yes. written out across the sky like that for us to see in full neon color so we won’t doubt it. that He is with us. on our side. He wants us to succeed. for our home to be one of harmony. of peace. of unity. He wants families to be strong. to fight together. He fights with us for that!

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and just as there’s a certain calm that only comes after the storm. that freshness in the air.
so it seems with the storms of life. though hard to go through. God uses them to wash away what shouldn’t be there. to cause us to see more clearly. and it’s only after a storm that we fully appreciate the beauty of His promises. ~

this past month, like never before in my life i have felt the storm clouds gathering.
something so much bigger. stronger. seeking to destroy our family.
and i have a feeling the hutchins home isn’t the only one feeling that intensity.
there’s a fight going on that’s way more than just between spouses or our children – but the enemy of our souls is fighting like all get out to blow our lives wide apart! and.he.never.stops.  never let’s up!

and.. wow! how i’ve felt a weariness in the battle lately. i’ve wondered, will we make it through?
i’ve lost sight and stood drenched in the rain looking up, “God?”
but this week. and even not so many hours ago i’m feeling a renewed burst of promise, just like i saw across the sky.
there is HOPE. there is healing.. there is a Redeemer!

and driving down that country road last night it was really more than a rainbow i was chasing. it was more like a declaration – that i’m not going to stop. i’m running to The Calmer Of The Storms The Keeper Of His Promises. i’m fighting on! satan is NOT having this family! and though we have felt near torn apart we’re not letting go. we’re holding together..

not because we’re that strong or that spiritual, have that great of marriage or are some stellar parents. but for one reason only – we hold together because we are held by Him. I can’t tell you how many times I have expected to hit the bottom only to find myself suspended in mid-air, secured by a pair of nail pierced hands.”

and i feel like a broken record. writing the same thing all the time. but i write to remember. to rehearse what i believe. to declare His faithfulness. and offer out a squeeze to hands across the screen, you are not alone. we have a God that’s big enough! no matter what it is we’re facing.

“He has delivered us.. and he will deliver us… on Him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us still.” 2cor 1:10

His deliverance. past. present. future.
love that!

bythelake

p.s. and on a totally unrelated but happy little note.. just opened my camera bag and found 20 bucks in the pocket!
looks like lunch out for reesey and i! :))

happy friday all~

there’s a church pew far away that’s growing smaller.


i woke with the sun on my face long before i opened my eyes and my thoughts went almost instantly to mom – today’s her birthday.
the ache of missing her pressed down a bit harder as the warmth poured through the window.

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i started thinking of a conversation with her the other day where we were laughing about memories of us kids growing up.. stories from us at church.
after awhile the laughter died down and mom said quietly, “that pew at church just seems to keep getting smaller and smaller… ”

dad has been the pastor there some 37 years now, i guess it is.
mom was 26 when he started. i was 3.
i’m sure she’d say her kids weren’t the only ones that grew up there.

we always sat in the second row. right underneath the pulpit.
mom sat directly in the middle.
her legs crossed at the ankle. hands folded in her lap, usually holding a kleenex {she’s a crier}. :)

i can still see that look on her face as she looked up at dad.
it’s the look she has still.

then. down each side of her us kids all lined up.
as we got married. our spouses joined. then our own kids as well.
our pew got fuller. more crowded.

we’d cram in week after week, telling the one next to us to move down..
until it came to the point where there was no where else for the next one to move to!

sometimes we’d climb back and forth over mom.
getting from one side to the next. or chasing a runaway toddler {ben}!
and yet there mom would sit, week after week, exact same spot. never moving.
i can still see myself leaning forward and looking down the row. yes, there she is. same as always.

as i write this out i feel the tears brimming.
in many ways it’s the perfect picture of mom’s life –
her consistency and faithfulness to the Lord. to my dad. to our family.

these past few years have been some of the toughest- things with church. her health declining {she has ms for those who don’t know}. her kids moving on. moving away… and i know her heart has broken a little with each change. felt itself running out in all directions.
and yet. in it all. every hardship. every trial. every move her legs cannot make. every church member that’s gone. every space left vacant around her in that pew. with every filling and emptying of dreams and plans, she has clung to the One who never changes and He has been her strength through every single step. even in those times she felt she couldn’t do even that, take another step. especially in those times. she’s only tightened her grip more. grace has held her!

and though i’ve seen the tears. we’ve cried them together. questioned together… yes, why does it seem that suffering is part of God’s plan? and again and again she’s reminded me, “if  we don’t believe He knows best then what else is there?” there’s no other way of finding rest except by trusting He is fully in control.

she used to have this little piece of paper as a bookmark in her Bible, with these words she’d written across it –
“there is nothing, no problem or circumstance more powerful than God. absolutely nothing.”

and i know those were more than mere words to her.. it was a life that had lived it. found it to be true.

i often think of the night shayne and i told mom and dad we were moving here.
sitting in their backyard around the campfire. mom was crying, but this is what she said –

“you know.. i would rather you be on the other side of the world and in God’s will, than right next door and not..”

and she has taught me that it’s okay to cry. it’s okay to question, to not always understand God’s ways, what He’s doing.
but at the end of it all our conclusion must be to open our hands wide, letting it all go..
extended to Him in full surrender.

what a way to live – with arms high and heart abandoned.
probably the most beautiful position we can take.
and come to think of it, mom’s the most beautiful person i know!

i have often wondered what makes parents and kids become friends.
what makes that grown child still want to come home?

maybe the answer is different for us all but for me it has been that place of knowing i am accepted for the person i am and not based on the performance i give. those seem to be the homes that produce best friends for life and kids that want to come back.

i’m so grateful that i have that.

and though that church pew far away grows smaller.
all the hearts that have sat there through the years only grow more aware of the treasure we have in that woman who still sits there, right in the middle.

happy birthday dear sweet mom!
love you forever and ever.

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amber.

{a parenting lesson from a mud puddle}

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seems the one thing i’m constantly being reminded of in parenting is to choose your battles wisely.
even when it comes to your two year old and her wardrobe choices! Lord, prepare me now for her teen years!!
she’s the youngest of the three girls but the one with the strongest opinion on what she wants to wear.

on this particular day for a trip to the park and walk in the woods she was adamant about her pink tulle skirt.
it’s a favorite of mine and i was afraid she would ruin it…
but since the battle i knew would take place wasn’t worth it to me, the frilly skirt it was.

we were actually almost done with our time out when it happened.

she was running fast ahead of me and i saw the puddle coming.
i called out to her to stop, which she did..
but she was already at the edge and when her feet stopped the slippery mud sent them flying out from under her..
and there she went. sliding all the way through it!

i hurried towards her. a little mess of tears in the middle of the mud and scooped her up..
mud now all over the front of me too.

for a ways after she stayed by my side. hand clenched tight in mine.
eventually the mud dried. alot fell off. she let go and ran ahead again.

and as i watched her i thought of this –

that our kids falling in “mud puddles” is inevitable. it’s part of growing up.
and even though we see those things, try to warn them..
we cannot spare them from the dirt of this world.
all we can do is walk beside them through it.

there to comfort. brush them off. watch them run on once more, finding their own way.

and though we get weary of the mundane –
having them close for us to take care of and teach is easy.
having to let go, to allow them to make mistakes. make their own choices…
knowing the mud and mire that awaits – that’s the hard part.

but in all parts of this parenting journey i’m grateful for a Heavenly Father who is wisdom. grace. guidance. calm.

for the mud that smears across all our lives, He is the only answer!

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amber.

{alot of easter pics and a little about hospitality}

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seems i sat down on tuesday to post this and somehow it turned to friday!

we did have a nice long easter weekend though~
of taking walks. painting eggs. making cupcakes. watching Leave it to Beaver!
emma got to go skiing for the first time and she was thrilled.. shayne said she was a little natural.
we attended church on friday and sunday and was thrilled to see a good friend of kate’s get baptized.
her testimony was just so moving!
i was already crying.. but when i looked over and saw kate crying i cried harder!

i think i cried through the whole service sunday actually!
easter and all it represents just leaves me undone.
i love singing and worship. but at easter..
it seems all i can do is stand with my hands up in praise, not able to really get any words out.

yesterday when something was pulling me down i felt the reminder in my heart –
the same risen Lord you were praising on sunday is the same risen Lord today!!
all of of my struggles, fears, worries, the power of sin, He conquered when he rose again!
He’s already won the victory! there’s no need to fight and strive and feel i can never attain it..
it’s mine to claim because of what He’s done!
that’s the power of the cross. see the chains fall!!! 
AmeN.

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sunday we had a house full. with easter dinner and a glow in the dark egg hunt! 

when everyone was leaving that night someone thanked me and said, “you’re so hospitable,”
i laughed. “oh, i’m really not!”

and it’s true.
i’m not naturally bent that way.
i want to be.
i admire those who are.

two years ago, on our first easter here, a family in the church invited us over for lunch…
saying they wanted to have families that didn’t have family close~

i was so moved by that and have wanted to do the same. i’ve tried.

but it’s an effort. i spazz.
i get caught up on stupid things..
like, the curtain rod that’s hanging crooked in the living room and the christmas wreath that’s still on my door! what will they think if i have to wash the silverware between eating dinner and dessert because we don’t have enough? and i sure hope everyone knows we rent and this isn’t the color countertops i would typically choose!!

and suddenly there’s just all these things that have GOT TO BE FIXED before i can truly be hospitable.

because of course, who could possibly be blessed if my pioneer woman strawberry sparkle cake turns out flat as a flitter, looking like the plastic plumbing ring you set your toilet on! {true story}

but guess what? i think they were blessed anyway. toilet ring looking cake and all. ;)

that’s the thing i keep learning again and again every time i step out of my comfort zone and have people over.~  no one really cares about crooked curtain rods and christmas wreaths still up. if the dessert is a flop and your centerpiece looks weird.

hospitality is more of an attitude than an act.
kind of more what we are than even what we do. ~
because our homes don’t just display our decorating styles they display our spirits as well.

i’ve been in homes that are gorgeous and everything in it’s perfect place…
and in homes where i was stepping over banana peels on the floor!!
and in both, i’ve felt completely at ease and comfortable.
not because of my surroundings but the people in them –
which typically seems to be the woman, since she’s the main one who sets the tone and atmosphere of her home.

those are the kind of women who know the true art of hospitality.
who have this graciousness about them. a sense of welcome and acceptance. a calmness.
and a women whose heart is at rest makes those around her feel at rest too…

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that’s the kind of hospitality i want. the kind i’m working on.
not the kind that might get it all looking so pinteresty but then have to run to my room t
o do a little zen or pray away the curse words floating in my head right as my company is about to walk through the door ~

true hospitality is about blessing, not impressing.

and where i find myself right before the company comes –
in the bedroom or not ;)
is usually a pretty good indicator where my motives are at.

true hospitality is about getting my heart right, before my home.

and whether hospitality comes more naturally to some than others, i think it’s something we all can learn how to do better~

here’s some mental notes i’ve taken through the years from watching others much better at this than me..

*focus on cleaning the parts of the house people are going to see – getting that marker off the bathroom door in your bedroom really won’t make a difference! ;)

{i’m especially bad about this. getting side tracked so easily and spending time on things people aren’t even going to notice, then freaking, because hello!  i forgot to set the chicken out to thaw!}

*buy a coffee maker – even the cheap 20 dollar black and decker one from wal-mart will do! everyone likes a coffee or tea after dessert.

*don’t start cleaning up till after guests leave – which might be obvious to most, but.. guilty!

{i may or may not have even been known to full on get the vacuum cleaner out while company was still here! i told you – i’m learning!}

*be prepared for kids – have a place for them to eat if everyone doesn’t fit around the table and also, reassure parents they are fine when they’re running wild around your grandmother’s heirloom vase. if you’re going to worry about the vase, put it away before they arrive! ;)

*just be real – tell your guest the strawberry sparkle cake didn’t turn out!  or the book page wallpaper is covering the ugly border since you rent. or that you crammed all the dirty laundry in your husband’s office.

*sit – don’t be up constantly doing things. have as much prepared beforehand and just relax and enjoy your company once they’re there!

*and lastly – don’t wait to be more hospitable until you have a bigger home or more money or more time or more silverware.. ;) if we’re not hospitable with what we already have, we never will be.

there’s more, but these are just a few~
what’s some things you’ve learned about being hospitable? i’d love to hear.

{edit: scroll down in the comments and read what smilesbymiles had to say – such a good point to remember as well!}

ya know. usually without fail, the two things running through my mind as company leaves is-
WHY did i spazz? ;)
and. i need to do this more often.

reaching out and ministering to others is like that waterwheel effect…
it can’t help but come back and fill our hearts in return!

****

more from our easter weekend::

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and now i’m off to toronto for the home and garden show with a very cute blonde guy!

have a wonderful weekend friends!
He’s STILL risen. hallelujah. :)))

amber.~