When you love God (and Disney)…

I’m a minimalist. We budget. Save. Look over Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps at least once a year.

I’m married to a “giver.” We’re committed to the Summit, Compassion, and church planters around the world.

But I’m also a Disney fan. And that’s not cheap.

So in this perfect triangle of crazy, my life joins together.

Give to the Kingdom. Save for the future. Make memories at Disney.

I’m not sure how it all happened. How it all works. But it does.

I’m often inclined toward guilt. We shouldn’t spend that. People are suffering.

Sweet gifts from God can feel like burdens while they’re actually intended to cause rejoicing.

It’s a balance we seek. Long for. Try to teach our kids.

God loves us like a Father. And Fathers give their children good things to enjoy.

What kind of God would our kids grow up knowing if we never point out the good? If we always talk about what He’s wanting from us and not giving to us? Why would anyone serve someone like that?

Please hear me in total, not pieces. The Gospel is worth sacrificing for. It’s worth moving across the world for. It’s worth, well, everything.

But I won’t let myself believe the lie that to sacrifice means never to enjoy. That it means not to embrace the grace that God has planned for us.

So friends, we’re gonna take Disney trips over here. We’re gonna be a family and laugh and eat and be thankful for God’s goodness to us.

And we’re also gonna take missions trips. And serve and love and be thankful for how God is moving around the world.

Because our hope isn’t based on our savings account. It’s not based on our budget. It’s solely based on the love of our Father, “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (I Timothy 6:17)

 

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“Christmas Adam” (and other favorite traditions)

We have a new (non-stressful) Christmas tradition.

…CHRISTMAS ADAM…

A few years ago Caleb suggested we add a new day of celebration to our Christmas countdown.

“We celebrate Christmas Eve. What about Christmas Adam?”

And that’s how it began.

On December 23, the excitement ramps up. It’s Christmas Adam for our family. Everyone gets a small gift. We all eat dessert.

It’s nothing fancy. Mainly silly. But another fun way to celebrate the season.

We’ve actually cut out some traditions this year. The one Advent book got re-packed. The other Advent calendar got forgotten. We returned a Christmas book to the library that I knew we’d never finish.

Yes, we still use our favorite Advent calendar. Each day we get a verse to read, story from the The Jesus Storybook Bible, a fun activity, and a giving activity.

The big boys and I are also reading The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. And we love it!

We’ve stuck with the “Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, Something to read” gift pattern for the kids. The predictability of this has been glorious for all of us.

There’s a real tree up in the living room. Stockings over the fireplace. Constant Craigslist searches for a new puppy (shh…don’t tell the kids). A wreath on the front door. Flashing “headache” lights in the boys’ room. Crafty snowmen. Glitter everywhere. Cookie tins in the pantry. Overall excitement filling this house!

But there’s still quiet (kinda). When we sit around the table. Or gather in the living room. And read about Him. The One who came. The One who died. The One who gives us reason to celebrate. To have traditions like Christmas Adam.

That’s what Christmas is like for us. It’s loud. And expensive. And bright.

But it’s also beautiful.

Because last Christmas was grace. This Christmas will be grace. And that first Christmas…it was definitely grace.

Merry Christmas (and Christmas Adam…and Christmas Eve) from our family to yours!!!

 

 

 

How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

Forgive the drama…We’re really excited over here!

“Well, it looks like I’m gonna have to let you go.”

Usually the beginnings of bad news.

“Stephen, you just graduated today.”

Excuse me. What?

Y’all…after 11 years…Stephen was released as a patient from the Pediatric Neurosurgery Department of Baptist Hospital!!

We didn’t see this coming. Thought we’d be doing x-rays for years. Figured this final door of our story would keep swinging open.

But not today!

I hugged Dr. Couture. Had to. Couldn’t help it.

We met in 2007 when he dropped the world’s biggest bombshell on my lap. All while I lay fighting for my own life in the ICU. He handed me procedure names and unanswered questions. And phrases ending with “we won’t know for sure till it’s all done.”

I processed and cried and waited for days. In a world without a husband. In a world that may end without a son.

But for grace…

You know what Dr. Couture told us yesterday?
-They only do this surgery in infants every other year (because they don’t normally make it through the trauma that caused the injury).
-There are only 10 metal plates like Stephen has in the whole world. 10!!! And our boy is wearing number 9 or 10.
-He would never forget Stephen.

And we’ll never forget him. A doctor fresh out of medical school. Who took on a nearly impossible case. Who can’t look at our son without saying, “Amazing.”

But mostly we’ll never forget how faithful God was. In who He sent our way. In how they got there. And in what He used them to do.

We’re over the moon over here. All tears. And shock. And yes…it’s been 11 years but by God’s grace, it’s done.

I know God loves us. Really. I do. I’ve based my whole life on that one big fact. But today…it feels all new and real again.

We serve a God who just keeps loving us. And just keeps being faithful. And just keeps amazing me through His beautiful (but not always easy) plans.

Wow…

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“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20,21)

 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39)

 

 

 

 

 

Today we go back to hard places…

Every 2 years we do this. Sit in that waiting room. Stare at the x-rays. And every 2 years I hate it.

He was 16 months old when those screws were drilled into his skull. 16 months old when that baby rib was transplanted into his neck. 16 months old when that metal plate secured everything back together.

And 16 months old when everything I thought I knew about being a Mom got crumpled. Wrecked. Smashed into pieces like our little car.

He’s 12 now. And healthy. And happy. And most days clueless of the fine-line scar that runs up his neck.

And most days I’m fine. Really.

But maybe not today.

Some scars never go away entirely. They are arrows to the wounds we’ve endured and grace we’ve encountered. They’re proof that God gives us what we need when we need it. And reminders that we’ll never, ever be the same.

Today I’ll choose to see it like that. Choose to not let that stiff waiting room air suffocate me. Choose to smile as his doctor explains how this and that are in place.

And we’ll rejoice. All of us.

Because yesterday was hard. Today may be. Tomorrow is unknown.

But God is faithful. And present. And close to terrified 16 month olds in unknown hospitals. Close to confused 12 year olds in old hospitals. And close to still broken Moms in memory-filled hospitals.

Today we choose thankfulness!

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

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