Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Change in Plans?

"A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

We all make plans. If we go about it in the right way, we seek first the Lord, and He is the one who gives them to us. But what happens when, while following His direction, things go suddenly, very awry? What does it mean when The Plan we are confidently following, takes a sharp turn in a direction we never imagined, and suddenly The Plan is no longer clear? Have we taken a wrong step? Has our Leader forgotten to lead and left us spinning our wheels on the side of the road? Has The Plan inexplicably changed? 


Have we been looking to our own understanding for so long, that even when He gives us His Plan, we interpret it based on what we can see and make sense of? He gives us the next step, and we draw up road maps to a self determined end point, and start marking down scenic detours along the way to enhance the journey. He says "Go!" we respond in faith, but then expect the path He has set us on to look a certain way, and are surprised when our view is not as clear as we had imagined. 

Perhaps, in actuality, nothing has "changed." Perhaps The Plan has always been to follow this road, to hit these bumps, to turn here, to stop there. Is it merely our view that has changed, not The Plan itself? God knows where He is taking us. He is not surprised by the twists and turns we encounter. He is not caught off guard when we walk slower, or trip along the way. Our frailness and shortcomings are not strong enough to knock His will aside. His plan is sovereign, and when we are following Him, the plan doesn't change. We do.

We have arrived to the top of a hill, and can suddenly see a little farther ahead, and it looks different than we had imagined. But we are confident that we are still following the same God given plan. We are still on the path He set us on months and months ago, and we are still headed towards the same future that He had always intended. Step by step, day by day, year by year, He is moving us forward. I can't wait to see where He takes us. 
Stay tuned...

Monday, February 18, 2013

To My Ezra

Darling Little Boy.

Do you know that your Mama is absolutely, head over heels in love with you? I have never seen your face, never kissed your cheeks, and I can only assume that you have all 10 toes, since I have never counted them to make sure. Even so. You thrill me, child. I am utterly captivated.

I suspected your presence, several weeks before I knew for sure that you were on your way. My heart was ready for you; the Lord had been pushing back its perimeters to make a you sized space for months. When that little fate-holding stick clearly beamed the word I was eager to see, I sat on the floor and wept tears of joy. You were not even the size of a tiny, green pea, and your Mama loved you.

Your big sister lit a fire in my heart that you have made burn even brighter. She made me a mother, and taught me about what true love really looks and feels like. God used her to begin the melting of my heart, and now He has given me you to help her. I am ready little one, so ready to love you.

You have made yourself quite comfortable, nestled in my middle, and every resulting ache and uncomfortable moment that I feel, is absolutely worth it. Your little body has stretched mine in unalterable ways. My skin bears the marks of your growth, forever streaked by every gained pound, every added inch, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

For 33 weeks, your Creator has been intently crafting your every detail. I am so in awe that He would choose to paint the masterpieces of you and your sister, in me. I can not wait to see you two, sitting side by side, learning from one another and growing in tandem.

You are so strong, my little son. I am amazed by the force of your movements, the determination with which you strain against the confines of my belly. You are already a force to be reckoned with. I pray that the Lord will be your strength, even now, and that from your first breath, He would fill your every molecule with His presence.

Your Dada and I chose your name with great intention and prayer. We asked that the Lord would name you, and we believe that He has. The man you were named after was a man of great bravery. His steadfast commitment to the word of the Lord, deep confidence in His power and unwillingness to back down, changed an entire generation of his people. Ezra called God's people to stand apart, to separate themselves from the surrounding cultures, people and practices that drew them away from the truth. He stood up and demanded that they live according to a higher standard, and to look different from everyone around them. They had begun to blend in, and he reminded them of who they were and of who their God was. And the people listened. They were deeply convicted, and they changed. Ezra was not a great man who effected great change because he was strong in and of himself. He was strong because his God was strong. He was brave because the Lord gave him courage. He spoke out against the complacency of his generation because he was looking heavenward, and saw a great disconnect. We pray that like the man we named you after, you too would be a man who stands with integrity and courage in a generation that is complacent and wayward. We pray that the Holy Spirit would fill you with the same fire that changed an entire generation. We pray that you would never speak and move in your own strength, but that with unshakable conviction, you would hold fast to the Rock that is Higher.

Our hearts are full of you, my son. We can not wait for you to make your way into our arms. You are already so loved and so cherished, both by us and by your Savior.


Your Mama

Friday, February 15, 2013


Linking up again today for Five Minute Friday

This week's word is Beloved.


My daughter. A skinny little three year old, bursting with life, words and imagination. The spoonful of sugar to my every day.

My son. This little tiny infant, who has yet to take his first breath. Small, still forming, but whole in my heart and wholly loved.

You. Formed in the image of God. Painstakingly crafted with infinite care and attention to detail. Every day numbered and filled with purpose, before one of them came to be. Passionately pursued, intensely loved beyond all comprehension.

Me. Unworthy and small. Covered in the love of a Savior, and therefore given immense value. Unable, incomplete, unattractive, unmade by sin. Blood bought, and therefore Able. Complete. Beautiful. Made Whole in His love. 


Friday, February 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Bare

Five Minute Friday. "Not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing... Throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys... Just five minutes."


Bare. This word poses a challenge to me. Bare.

My eyes look up and I see a wall in the hall. It needs some color.

Cold arms on a day that turned out to be a lot cooler than the sunny skies alluded to.

Empty table, cleared counter. Crumb-free, devoid of work to be done.

Feet. Toes with chipping red polish, a bit grubby from frolicking out of doors. Small. Skinny. Like mine.

Bare. Known. Understood. Soul-naked before the eyes of my Creator. No excuses. No pretense. Seen and loved, despite.

Bare. Shimmery sunlight dances with browns and reds, fluffing a little head, like a breeze over the grass.


A Letter to My Toddler

Little girl, where to begin?

In just a few short, short weeks, you will be all of three years old. The days have piled up, and all of a sudden, you are not the baby anymore. We are living our last few weeks together as just Dada, Mama and Lani. It is hard to wrap my heart around that thought. 

I can not tell you what incredible joy you bring me. You are my always companion, my shadow. My days are so very full of you and your cheery self. I miss you when you are not around. Your constant dialogue on the world as you see it, rarely skips a beat. Your words, and funny little tunes and expressions fill my days like a fluffy swirl of confetti. It is hard to be lonely with a little friend like you.

The Lord blesses my heart daily with your loving words and physical nearness. Your affectionate hugs and smooches are bestowed all day long, often followed by your unprompted "thank you"s and words of affirmation. "Mama, do you know something? I just love you." is repeated all through your waking hours. You fill my heart right up, Leilani. And I just love you too.

Your enthusiastic curiosity in the world around you is a delight. I love discovering things alongside of you. Your favorite color is yellow, and it suits you perfectly. Your crayons create piles of firework scribbles every day, and I love how you interpret your lines. You have filled 3 whole sketchbooks in "grasspoppers," imagined letters and numbers, and the faces and scenes in your mind. I can't wait till they begin to take clearer shape on your paper, and I so enjoy watching your motions become more intentional as you color.

Mealtimes sometimes pose challenges to your toddler tastes. Preferences change with unpredictable frequency, but one thing is for sure, you really love "treats." As we have settled into Memphis, you and I have ventured out on many little dates, and it tickles me how excited you get over a surprise french fry, apple juice or a doughnut. You relish your vitamins, and chug your water bottle with enthusiasm, helping to balance out your love of the sweeter things. I am always impressed with your self control when it comes to your treats. You eat just enough to really enjoy it, but already, you know when to say "I am all done." I am proud of you for putting sweets down half eaten, and for picking up your water as quickly as you picked up your juice. Let me just say, for the record, your everyday meals actually do contain nutrients, and snacks and sugars come with regular infrequency. I truly appreciate your declarations of "Mama, that was so yummy! Thank you for the food." You always let me know when my cooking has "hit the spot."

Watching you learn to love the Lord is such a blessing, Leilani. You pray to your "hethenly Fahthur," with great intention, and you give thanks for His blessings freely. Listening to you sing songs you learned in Sabbath school or at Bible study makes me smile, and I love your deep interest in the stories depicted in your colorful Bibles. For some reason, your favorite story is about Samson, and you often read to your dolls, flipping through the pages, smooshing all the stories together into new creations. We will work on the accuracy of your understanding later, but for now, I am so thankful to watch you grow in the Lord.

You are slowly learning about making choices that please Him. I am proud of how you have chosen several times this week to have a happy heart instead of a cranky, sad one, and how you have decided to be patient when it was hard for you. Sharing is still something that you think a lot about, but that your heart struggles with. Your honesty when talking with me about shows how much you really understand, and I know that one day (hopefully soon?) you will have learned to think about others first, and be able to put it into action. Until then, your little buddies seem to love you in the midst of this steep learning curve, and I am thankful for their young patience and friendship.

You sleep so well these days. When you were a littler you, I wondered if you ever would. You ask to go to bed when you are tired, and most naps and nights, fall asleep by yourself. It was a hard learned skill, but you have got it down at last. The earlyish morning sunrise of this current winter has had you popping right up, to climb into bed with me. You wait patiently until your Mama is ready to roll over and start the day, and never seem to mind my initial five minutes of cranky. We trade off at naptime, when you frequently wake up with great dramatic flare, full of crank and fuss. You cheer up quick though, and are usually perky again when Dada comes home.

Oh Leilani. Soon you are going to be a big sister. Our lives will take on a new shape and flow to a different rhythm. I am eager to watch you step into your new role, and I know you are going to be phenomenal and such a help to your Mama. I am so very excited for your little brother to join us in our everyday, but my heart does feel a bit of bittersweet at this passing of a stage in life. Our life is about to get much more exciting! And I am so thankful that I get to jump right in, with you by my side.

You have changed me forever. When the Lord gave you to your Dada and I, I never could have imagined the journey my heart would take. You opened my heart to a totally new kind of love and a new kind of joy. It was a hard, hard newness, but one that my life was so meaningless and incomplete without. Your small, sweet self has melted my heart. My ability to love your brother, unmet, and to look at the work and sacrifice ahead with joy and actual pleasure, is all the result of lessons our Father taught me while I was holding you. I know how Life can only come after dying because of you. I know Jesus in a new way because of you. I know a deep-down, peace because of Who He showed Himself to be because of you in my life. I know love because of you. You are such an absolute treasure, Leilani. I am indescribably thankful for you.

I love you, my darling. I am so proud of you.


Your Mama

Monday, February 4, 2013

Word Prompt: Again

I am following a new (to me) blog written by the Lisa-Jo Baker over at the Gypsy Mama. And she has this great Friday tradition (I know, today is actually Monday) but this prompt from last week got me thinking so I decided to set a timer real quick and get typing. January 25th's word was Again. And here we go. 



I say something funny, and he laughs. Full, eyes crinkled up around the edges, deep and sincere. I feel a tingle of happy deep in my middle and I want to hear it again.

A sweet snuggly kiss. A calm sigh and a dark room. Her little voice says "Mama, I just love you." Warm fills my heart and I say it again, "I love you too."

Sunlight pours in, unexpected, through a bedroom or kitchen window. I walk past and feel the heat from it melt like butter on my chilled bare feet, a bird whistles, and the sudden cheer makes me pause. Then a cloud covers the sun again and it is cold again and I go to find a pair of socks. "Again!" I think up to the grey puffs that cover the sky.

A good conversation, a shared laugh or moment of real connection. My extrovert heart leaps and I feel that involuntary thrill of happiness. I KNOW you! You know me! And we are friends. Silly? Perhaps. But I want it again.

A kiss that passes too quickly. Busy swirls my minutes and I want him to come back, for the moment to slow down a little longer. "Kiss me again!" I think. But I am already in the car, headed off to get groceries.

"I Love You." I hear, clear as a bell. My Savior has managed to catch me by the hand, stand me still and remind me that He, unexplicably, deeply, loves me. I inhale in awe, the tears prick my eyes and I feel like I could glow. "Tell me again," I whisper. And He does.



Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Lie and The Truth

This past week, at Bible study, the Lord had something to say. He always has something to say, but I am not the best of listeners (I talk too much) and I frequently miss The Point. But on Wednesday, He made sure I got it.

In last week's episode, I talked about how the Lord had been working in my heart, and how excited and thankful I was over all the fresh air breezing through my dusty self. I have experienced a heart change (the first of many such operations, I hope) and while it is a new realization, I am already quite attached to it.

Worry and anxiety are no longer gnawing away like aggressive little termites at my heart and mind. *cue birds chirping, the hallelujah chorus and a tall cup of cold lemonade* But I really didn't have anything to do with eradicating it from my heart. He did it all, quietly, slowly, without my complete awareness, and suddenly it was gone. It was a gift given in Grace and I am thankful.

We sat down in our small group this past Wednesday and had some time to fellowship before we dug into the lesson. Several of us shared what the Lord had been up to in our lives, and I concluded my summary with a confession: "I am worried that my worry will come back." I think I feel that, because I had nothing to do with earning this change, I am powerless to make it a lasting one. I doubted that I could really experience something permanent in my heart, that I could really move on and grow past the debilitating habits of anxiety. So I was worried that my worry would come back. (I know. I know.)

Then the lecture part of the morning came, and we dug back into Genesis 20 and 21. Many tangents could now be branched off onto, but I shall try instead, to keep to my point. We have been studying the life of Abraham. Fascinating, and utterly relevant in many surprising ways. But somewhere in the middle of the lecture, our speaker asked

"When fear enters your life, what is your default response?"

I very quickly responded to myself "I respond in anxiety, I always want more control." Fragments of thoughts and scriptures and the wise insights of others had been floating around in my head inconclusively for several weeks. Leesa brought them all together when she addressed "The sins we tolerate" a few minutes later. Anxiety is a sin. It may be socially acceptable, but it is the result of sin festering in the heart. I think I knew this deep down, but hearing it articulated so clearly really caught my attention.

The Lord had worked in my heart and freed me from a burdening sin in my life. The significance of His mercy lept out in a new way. I had been carting around a deeply planted sin in my life, but had labeled it as merely a "problem." And He was not ok with that. So He gently dug it out, pulling it up by the roots. Anxiety was a sin issue in my heart, He had freed me from it, and yet I feared that it would come back, like a weed you just can't kill.

All of these thoughts ricocheted quickly around my brain, and then the Lord made His Point of the Day. Leesa said:

"It is a Lie that we can not walk in consistent victory over sin."

Bam. Fear was already wiggling back in, determined to stay in my heart, trying to sneak in innocently as "worry about worry." And it lied. And God smooshed it.

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been set free from sin... In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:6-7, 11-14

We can have victory over sin, because when He kills it, its dead, folks. By His mercy, through His blood, we are dead to sin. It has no power over us, we are free from it. But we must first recognize our sin as sin, without making excuses or calling it by another name, and we must bring it unflinchingly before the cross. We must confess it to the Lord as sin and accept The Truth: That by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are free. We are dead to sin, and Alive in Christ. It is time to leave it dead and buried, and to walk forward in faith. It is time to Live. 

Merciful Grace is reaching out to you right now. Right this very moment. You can be free. Not because you have the ability to muscle through it and kill it dead yourself, no. You can be free because your Creator is not content to let you keep living in your sins any longer, and HE has come to bring you Life. Look at your heart, bring it to the Lord. Confront your sin head on and let Him change you. Don't listen to the Lie that says you have fallen and you can't get up. You can because He can

And here, I conclude.