Overflow

While cleaning sewer overflow out of my basement carpet I considered the day ahead.

So many gaps...

Not yet 8am on Saturday morning and the day felt like it’d already been long.

How am I going to fill in the gaps?

My husband lay in bed, recovering from a surgery.  He would be at home all day, recovering, resting… regaining his mobility.

Where are the resources to fill all the lack?  How do I steward what little I have?

My ears stuffed with earbuds pumping celebration in toward my eardrums, my thoughts… I almost laughed out loud.

There is no way I will make it today! 

Searching for answers, to truly be responsible with what little I have to stretch over the yawning gaps in resources for the day… just this day, not even tomorrow yet… searching for some kind of plan;  a strategy… something…

“Go, I will cover you,” says the quiet voice in my knowing.

No plan.  No detailed direction of how to go.  Just, GO.  I WILL COVER YOU.

I set my mind to it.  One step at a time, I decided.  Like walking on water.  One foot in front of the other.

I can do this.

Look at the God who’s serving me… SERVING ME!  The God who never ceases to provide, to amaze, to extend grace…  He is covering me today.  My job, according to Him, is to go and receive His provision in each step.  To receive!

My job as wife, mommy, every other role I will play today… my job description in all of these is to move into receiving.

To discover what it means to live in grace – to see my gaping areas of lacking filled to overflowing with His grace covering me, providing.  Me, my husband, my children… those who will touch our lives today.  His overflow will increase in me, will increase me.

I don’t see it.  I don’t see how my circumstances are possibly going to work today.

But I see God, who is more than able, at work for me.

And I receive.

Surprise!

We recently had an incredible surprise… We are unexpectedly expecting baby #5! Ironically, we discovered this precious little miracle within days of scheduling the appointment that makes adding to our family impossible.  Paradoxically, we’d been grieving the end of our … Continue reading

Five Years Ago Today…

It’s our 5-year anniversary for one of the sweetest miracles we have walked through. Joshua Iason Noah was born in the evening of September 17th, weighing just barely 6lbs, being induced early for safety reasons and deciding to arrive so … Continue reading

Confront{ation}: denoting a result or product of action

“Can I be completely honest with you,” my friend asked me one evening as we lounged together.  These words have become comfortingly familiar.  She is a woman whose friendship has become a source of life and strength.  I often walk … Continue reading

Reflection {the change in direction}

“You are brave and strong.  You are My pride and Joy.  You radiate with My love.  Remember, you are not who you think you are.  You are who I created.  I know you. You are every bit the perfect one … Continue reading

{the silence} In a Heartbeat

In the background are the faded noises of busy laughter, the business of getting dinner on the table, dishes unloaded, and the day’s events downloaded by each tiny muffled voice.

A heart beat thrums steadily in my ears.

Beautiful.  Life.  Steady.

A grounded, rhythmic lifeline to all that seems so incredibly important, and so indefinably fragile… a heartbeat thrums steadily in the silence… 

The flutter in my chest rises.  I should be with them.  Did I tell them I love them today?  Did I yell at them too much?  Do they know that I love them?  What memories have we made?  Will they remember that I love them? Does he know how grateful I am? Will he know how much I love him? Does he know how important he is to me? More muffled laughter and clinking plates…

Anxiety flitters around, searching for a place to land… NO.  I breath in.  I breath out.

A grounded, rhythmic lifeline to all that seems so incredibly important, and so indefinably fragile… a heartbeat thrums steadily in the silence… refusing a resting place for anxiety.

I breath in.  I breath out.  A heart beat thrums steadily in my ears.  But one persistent question looks for a spot to land…

Am I doing enough?

My Bible and three books that I long to read lay tossed around me.  My journal just a few inches away.  Tears roll down my cheeks as I realize how much I long to do more, to soak up more, to understand more and to live from a depth that draws my family in… to envelope them in the same love and life that has begun to consume me.  I long for my husband to know how truly head-over-heals in love with him I am; to show him every day the love that builds him up and pulls him closer, always closer. To shower my children with adoration in measure with the miracles that they are.

Longing.  Is it all just a longing?

A stream of scenes roll across my mind as this questions looms larger than life. Feelings… less than loving… rush like rapids over my lungs, and I am gasping and choking on the tears as I recall words, thoughts, attitudes, emotions, all proving me to be completely lacking.  Failing.

For a fleeting moment I am trapped in this tug-of-war with anxiety…

The rhythm… steady… beautiful… life.  I breath in. I breath out.

Life steadily pounds in my ears.  I hear my name.  Just a whisper.  A life-line.

What do you want to say, Lord?

“Daughter, you measure up.  You do enough.  You are amazing in My eyes.  I am pleased.  So much more than you know, Child.  I love that you are here, with Me.  Waiting, listening.   Daughter, you are forever searching out My thoughts, seeking My heart.  I know your deepest desires and I love you for them.  Daughter, you treasure Me and what I think. You keep Me in the center of all you do, even when you forget, you are quick to remember.  I look at you and I see Perfection.  Thank you for coming away.  Thank you for valuing Me enough to step into the quiet places, to trust Me with the welfare of those babies I knit together.  Thank you for loving Me.  You are enough.”

In the quiet, steady, silence I can hear it.  His heart beating; beating steadily for me.

Beautiful life; His living in me, His power at work through me, on my behalf.

You Speak – Audry Assad

Processing a Miracle

How do you process a brush with death when it isn’t your brush?

Twelve years ago, a month before our wedding, my fiance’s mother was admitted into the ICU with Septic Shock.  She had a strep bacteria in her bood and it caused her to be placed in an induced coma and on a ventilator.  At one point we were told she wouldn’t make it.  We took turns by her bed around the clock, praying. God heard our prayers and the hospital staff called her a miracle.  She was out of ICU by the time we got married, and our wedding party pictures were taken at the hospital with her.  She was alive to meet her frist grandchild.

Five years later we were back in ICU, this time to say good-bye to my mother-in-law.  She was back on the ventilator, this time the coma wasn’t induced.  Her brain was infected, and it was shutting her body down.  We stood around her as a whole family this time.  Her husband, three sons and wives.  Six grandchildren waited for their parents to come home.  This time we watched her slowly slip away, peacefully.  Her chest just stilling.  This time, we didn’t hear the word “miracle” from anyone.

A week ago I walked back down an ICU hallway.  It was a different hospital.  A different mother.

This time, it was my mom.

It’s funny what your mind thinks up when you face the potential of loosing something, someone.  I remembered my mother-in-law’s face, the breathing tubes, the IVs and number of bags hanging hear by.  I remembered the beep of her ventilator, the numbers of her oxygen and heart rate.  I remembered the smell of her room and the feel of her skin.  The color of her nails, and the nail polish I’d painted on her toes for the last time.  All these things flooded to the front of my mind with each step down the hall in this ICU ward.

The text from my dad had given a few details.  He’d taken her into the ER the night before and she started loosing blood pressure.  Nothing they were doing to her was increasing it.  Her blood tests came back full of infection.  They’d admitted her to the ICU, in need of immediate surgery but unable to stabilize her. Surgery would kill her.  A doctor told my dad that he thought there was a 70/30 chance he could do something to help, it was a risk, but doing nothing was killing her.

The tests came back.  My mother’s blood was full of a strep bacteria.  She had Septic Shock.

The doctor who took a risk saved her life.

I walked into her room and her eyes met mine.  She had an oxygen tube in her nose, but that was all.  She had the pic-line in her neck, and some IV sites on her arm, but that was it.  She only had six bags of fluids hanging near her, and there was only one machine tracking stats.   She spoke to me.

My husband couldn’t wait to flee.  I didn’t want to leave her side.

I was afraid that if I took my eyes off of her, left her room, that I might walk back in and see the ventilator covering her face, miss her eyes looking back and mine… not hear her voice again.  I knew, just by looking at her that she was going to be fine.  But I wanted to keep looking at her.  To keep reassuring myself that she would be just fine.

How do you process this?  How do you get your emotions to line up with your mind so that you can comprehend all that is taking place?  All that didn’t happen…

Another miracle.

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Motherhood: a ministry of the willing woman

Motherhood is not defined by children in her care, by those she carried within herself till birth.  Motherhood is not defined by those who’ve adopted, or fostered or inherited by circumstance.  Motherhood is not withheld from those who have lost, or never had. Motherhood is not waiting for those who are longing to become.

Motherhood is the formal title for the ministry entered into by the woman who is willing to receive those who are in need of her, whatever form or method in which they arrive into her life.

The ministry of motherhood is a gentle art forged in the fires of sleepless nights and interrupted life.  It is a ministry that keeps long hours; a ministry of sacrifice, service, and of selfless offerings. It is a ministry of coming to the end of herself, of being ministered to, being filled with that which is beyond her so that she can continue to pour into the endless depths of another human life.

The ministry of motherhood is a timeless garment, a veil of transparency worn best when cinched with a belt of humility.  It is a display of beauty when accompanied by grace.  For, as each eye seeking material to reproduce will at some point place on display her every flaw and imperfection, repeat her words both wise and foolishly spoken, and will do so completely beyond her realm of control.  The ministry of motherhood is embroidered with the delicate art of laughing at herself when seen through the eyes of those who look to her for imitation.

The ministry of motherhood is at the heart of every woman, from the time of Eve.  It has touched us all.  The ministry of motherhood is not always one of blood and birth, but is always of heart and soul.  A mother is one who is familiar with sacrifice, her own self tearing and ripping with the tearing and ripping of another.  She brings life into this world, whether by body or spirit overflow.  It is a pouring of herself into the living self of another, tirelessly, relentlessly, forgivingly and patiently, with endless empathy.  She is one who teaches what love is, nurtures understanding, coaxes up the learning.  The ministry of motherhood weaves up that forgiving place for those she loves to retreat within, finding safety and grace. It is a ministry of understanding what lies beneath, of speaking truth in loving tones, of harboring the helpless through storms and lifting high the matured to catch wind and take flight

The ministry of motherhood is freely given, to the deserving and undeserving alike. It does not wait for her to gain an understanding; she learns her skill through the hours of setting aside herself for another. The ministry of motherhood is not merely a calling. It is the very heart of life.  It catches her all by surprise, whisks away her breath and calls her into unknown waters in the blink of an eye. It is she who rises up, it is she who will claim her place, whether or not she is ready and whether or not she understands the package it comes to her in, it is she who will leave us with legacy after legacy of wonder loving grace

It is her life laid down for another that shows us the meaning of living, this ministry of motherhood.  It is here that each woman finds her captivating beauty, her exquisite elegance, her ageless allure.  For at whatever age a girl becomes a mother, and through whatever the circumstances her ministry is birthed, her touch, her voice, her love and her life will last, reaching down through generation after generation, and long beyond her final breath.

To my mother who gave birth to me and raised me well, to those mothers who have and continue to nurture me in spirit and to all these mothers who accept and invest selflessly into the lives of my children.

Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you, this world would not be the same without your love!

Easter

A day of sunshine in the midst of so many rainy ones.  A quiet start, before the sunrise, worshiping my risen Lord.  Words of promise, ribbons of hope, bolstering of joy.  Alone with my Savior; loved, filled, revived and fulfilled.  Prayers spoken, heart written out.

Joyful good mornings, with baskets to find and scones to fill with fresh made maple butter – the empty tomb, when butter mets way.  Giggling children, chocolate smudged faces.  Peaceful laughter turned to ruckus play while mommy and daddy cook away.

Daughter slips quietly into the kitchen, picks up the knife and the veggie and goes to work, happily helping along side me.  Daddy scoops up toddler and trundles him off for a snooze.  Son works contentedly on secret projects.  The house filling with delicious smells.

Today is special in many ways.  The conquering of death, for one.  The penalty paid, and price freely given.  And today, my children publicly declare their love and surrender to Him who died in their place. My daughter and I tuck ourselves into the bathroom before the grandparents arrive for our meal.  She and I, we need to prepare.

Our faces smothered in a mask and hair pulled back, she giggles and nervously asks what will be expected of her.  I ask if she is having second thoughts, “Oh, no! I just wonder if every one will be watching me,” she asks.  We chat.  She asks to go and play, her face now glowing, her hair all curled at the ends.

Grandparents are a treasure.  At least, mine are.  When they arrive we bustle and hug and laugh and fix up the meal.  They joke and tease and cut food with ease.  This time, a gift growing rare, a fortune to which none can compare.  My grandparents here in my home now, when so many an Easter was spent at their table, when plate got shoved away from the edge, and we all clamored to help clear the dishes at the end.  Being Grandma’s helper was the prized role.  How grateful I am that they are here to share this day with us, one more year.  I pray for many more to come.

And off we go, all tucked and pinned and pressed and fresh, filled to brim and excited.  Each week we look forward to this time of worship, but today, Easter Sunday, today my children are taking a step toward being grown.  Publicly declaring their hearts’ allegiance. Declaring it all on their own.

We sing and we praise, and we fill ears with words that nourish, cleanse, light up dark inner spaces.  Then all gathered round the water, kids laughing, everyone clapping.  Let every curse be broken and blessing be released and under the water you go, portraying your death. And up you come, risen anew – clean and made whole, declared and claimed.  Death defied, conquered, no longer that wich has any claim.

My toddler claps wildly and laughs joyously and hugs my neck tight. “What are they doing mama?” Being baptized I answer.  “Getting wet?” He wants to know.  Yes, I tell him, in awe of his innocent face.  “Getting wet in that water?” He confirms with me.  Yes, I affirm, getting baptized in that water.  “My turn?” He wants to know.  “My turn be water-tized?”

Yes, son, yes!  When the day comes that it is not just the fun of getting wet, and you are ready to align yourself with the will of your Creator, surrender your heart and choices to His leading, and publicly declare your old self dead and new self risen in Him – yes, it will be your turn.  May that day come soon, little one.

We pile in and head home, the kids hardly able to contain themselves, so full of joy.  And I find my daughter in the shower, singing, “I am baptized, haleluia!” And I find my son so excited he can hardly get his pj’s on straight.  And I snuggle my toddler and he tells me he loves me and reminds me that it is his turn to get wet in the water-tized.

And my heart is full and it is overflowing.