Monday, July 28, 2014

It

I had a feeling that it was going to be one of those days...


She woke up grumpy that particular morning. Earlier than normal. Louder than normal. Intent on waking everyone else up in the house.

Stubborn, strong-willed, more feisty than any of her brothers. I love this little girl of mine, but once she wakes up in the morning, she doesn't stop. And that means I don't either.




Wild and curly hair. Wild and spunky personality. Her Daddy has nicknamed her Brownie, and I can't help but smile every time I look into those big brown eyes of hers. It's like looking in a mirror and seeing a miniature reflection of myself.




She didn't want her diaper changed. I insisted. She was mad, kicking me, telling me "no, mommy!" and that's when it happened. When I knew it was going to be that kind of day. She took one look at my Bible verse taped to the cabinet door behind her and yanked it off





Consider it all joy 

My reminder ripped in half. A crumpled mess on the kitchen floor.

This was a minor incident. Major for Evie. {Kicking Mommy always results in discipline.} But very minor in the grand scheme of all that would come later during that day.

It did in fact turn out to be one of those days. A day when I needed every single one of my reminders. A 
day when I had to break out the ice cream {again} for breakfast for two of my more mischievous ones so that I could deal with it




IT
pronoun [nominative it, possessive its, (Obsolete or Dialect) it, objective it; plural nominative they, possessive their, theirs, objective them.]

1. (used to represent an inanimate thing understood, previously mentioned, about to be mentioned, or present in the immediate context): 


for example:  a bed covered in throw-up, a floor covered in throw-up, another bed covered in throw-up, a mattress soaked through with urine, a pair of pajamas soaked through with urine, a pair of shorts soaked through with urine, another pair of shorts soaked through with urine, another pair of {my} shorts soaked through with urine {not my own}, a dining room floor covered in throw-up and urine {multiple times}, a washing machine and dryer that have not stopped running in three days, a mattress airing out on my back patio, a pillow thrown away in the trash pile because of the aforementioned vomit and urine, a smell that reminds me of a nursing home, a smell worse than that of a nursing home...





2. (used to represent a person or animal understood, previously mentioned, or about to be mentioned): 


for example:  a little girl who is making progress learning to chew her food, but enjoys her pasta so much that she swallows most of it whole and then throws it all back up during her nap {and then lays in it for the remainder of her nap without crying out or even attempting to call me for help}, another little girl who throws up later that night for no apparent reason {and laughs about it the next morning when I find her covered in throw-up), that same little girl who finally stops making herself sick after multiple incidents and instead decides to wet her bed (or me if I'm holding her during a raging fit) although she has been fully potty-trained for well over a year, and then the following night decides to…

{I will leave that sentence unfinished because it is more information than I'm sure you care to know. I also edited the picture so it was not quite as distasteful. Forgive me if it is too much information.}




Stinky, filthy messes. One after the other. Day in and day out. This is my it.


Consider it all joy...
James 1:2

My it may look different than yours. Mine might be stinkier or messier than yours. Yours might be harder or easier than mine. It really makes no difference, and it never does any good to compare our own its with another person's its. But what does matter and what's critically important to the well-being of our souls is that we remember that it is possible to find joy in the midst of all our its



Whatever it may be!


Even when it is hard. Even when it is frustrating. Even when it is exhausting and constant and I don't possibly see any sign at all of it letting up. Even when it stinks, and, yes, friends, if I'm perfectly honest, it stinks right now. But what I'm learning in the midst of it, in the midst of these messy, messy days, is that He is enough. His grace is sufficient. That joy is possible, not because these circumstances warrant a joyful and glad heart, but because His joy fills my heart, and that joy is my strength.


And now, more than ever, I desperately need that strength. Because I have no doubt that the Enemy would love for me to become embittered and resentful and angry at my two little girls who have such broken hearts, minds, and bodies.



As much as I would like to tell you otherwise, the truth is that at times he succeeds. My response is not always a joyful one. There are times when I have lost my temper and raised my voice. Times I've responded in anger rather than compassion. Times I've reacted too harshly or disciplined too severely. Times more than I can count when I've had to look into those big eyes, brown and beautiful just like my Evie's, and ask for forgiveness from ones who cannot even understand the words I am saying. 

It's been a humbling week.


But what I am finding is that no matter what the Enemy throws at me {or on me}, the Lord is faithfully and consistently giving me the strength I need to do what needs to be done. Is it always with the right motive, the proper perspective, and a joyful attitude? Far from it. But, more and more, I see how He is changing me. I see how He is creating in me a clean heart and renewing a steadfast spirit in me. {I have prayed Psalm 51 so many times over the past few days that I know these words by heart.} 

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, 
and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,
And done what is evil in Thy sight,
So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,
And blameless when Thou dost judge…

Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Make me to hear joy and gladness…

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me…

Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation,
and sustain me with a willing spirit

Psalm 51:1-12


And I see Him cleaning up my own messes and dealing with my own filthy junk. Because, yes, it is there. In me. In all of us. It might not be as noticeable or evident as what comes out of Sophi, but it is there, tucked away, hidden deep in my heart, places that need His healing touch. Anger, frustration, fear, insecurity, stubborness, pride, control. All sorts of yucky messes in me. I need His help as much as she does.

Much like what I have experienced with Sophi, the Lord deals with one area of my heart. There might {or might not be} progress in that particular area. And just as I think a break-through is on the horizon, before I know it, something else comes to the surface that needs the be dealt with. Scrubbed. Sanitized. Disinfected. Washed clean. But all too often, I find myself back in the same spot, in the same filthy mess, all over again. More cleaning. More scrubbing. More messes. 

Praise the Lord, His patience never wears out. His grace never stops washing over me. His love for me never wavers. He never ceases to forgive, and He constantly gives me second and third and fourth and one thousandth fresh starts. His mercy always abounds. This alone brings me such great joy and hope.


As I've dealt with the messes and cleaned up the accidents, there have been times that I have literally had to hold my breath and turn away to keep from getting sick. {My other kids have actually gagged at the sights and smells they have witnessed this past week. And as you can tell from the pictures below, they have spent a lot of time outside where the air is fresh!} 

One of the things that always comes to my mind when I'm in the trenches doing this dirty work are these words from Charles Spurgeon. They've been highlighted and underlined, the page turned down for many years, but never have I understood them as fully as I do now


We were mingled with the mire: we were as when some precious piece of gold falls into the sewer, and men gather out and carefully inspect a mass of abominable filth, and continue to stir and rake, and search among the heap until the treasure is found...and when mercy came after us with the gospel, it did not find us at the first coming, it had to search for us and seek us out; for we as lost sheep were so desperately lost, and had wandered into such a strange country, that it did not seem possible that even the Good Shepherd should  track our devious roamings. 


Glory be to unconquerable grace, we were sought out! No gloom could hide us, no filthiness could conceal us, we were found and brought home. Glory be to infinite love, God the Holy Spirit restored us!


The lives of some of God's people, if they could be written would fill us with holy astonishment. Strange and marvelous are the ways which God used in their case to find His own. Blessed be His name, He never relinquishes the search until the chosen are sought out effectually. They are not a people sought today and cast away tomorrow. Almightiness and wisdom combined will make no failures, they shall be called,"Sought out!" That any should be sought out is matchless grace, but that we should be sought out is grace beyond degree! We can find no reason for it but God's own sovereign love, and can only lift up our heart in wonder, and  praise the Lord that this night we wear the name of "Sought out."


And that's why I know it is going to be ok. That's why I know it's possible to keep going and to keep cleaning up the messes and to keep giving fresh starts and to keep pouring out the grace {and the cleaner}.  

That's why it's possible to... 

Consider it all joy...


Here's another song that was part of my playlist when I was in Bulgaria. In fact, on Faith Ana's Gotcha Day, this was the song I set my alarm clock to play. And since that day, this continues to be the song that I turn on when I go into Sophi and Faith Ana's room to wake them up every single morning.





When I pray for a smile and a cheerful voice. When I pray for love to fill my heart for these two little girls. When I pray for all the patience that I will need and the grace and the compassion for whatever it is that awaits me when I open their door. This song in the background. These words filling their room and filling my heart.



When doubts and fears creep in. When I become anxious and worried about how it is affecting all of my other children. Again. These words. {Especially these.} Through the fire and the flood, He draws His children in. The gentle reminder that comforts this momma's heart. He loves these children more than me, and He is using it all  {especially these hard things} to draw not only my heart but also each of their precious hearts closer to Him. 

So, I will keep singing it out and shouting it loud...



Sing it out, shout it loud
Cover all the earth

Let the sound of the saints
Everywhere be heard

Praise the God who has come
To cure every broken heart.



He is Lord over all
His reign will never end

Through the fire and the flood
He draws his children in

He's the light of the world
Brighter than the brightest star.



The God of brilliant lights
Is shining down over us

Breaking through the darkness

Covering all the earth
Oh, His love is like an ocean
Oh, forever overflowing

The God of brilliant lights is shining over us


Sinners come to the cross
And lay your troubles down
At the feet of the one whose mercy will abound

He's not afraid of our filth
He will never turn away


The God of brilliant lights
Is shining over us

Like the morning rises
God your light is shining
Shining over us
Is shining over us

Like the morning rises
God your light is shining
Over us



Praise the God who has come to cure every broken heart!!!



XOXO,
Melanie

P.S. As I was finishing up this post early this morning, I came across these words and knew I should include them...

The Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and storm... 
Nahum 1:3

I recollect, when a lad, and while attending a classical institute in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant, sitting on an elevation of that mountain, and watching a storm as it came up the valley. The heavens were filled with blackness, and the earth was shaken by the voice of thunder. It seemed as though that fair landscape was utterly changed, and its beauty gone never to return. But the storm swept on, and passed out of the valley; and if I had sat in the same place on the following day, and said, "Where is that terrible storm, with all its terrible blackness?" the grass would have said, "Part of it is in me," and the daisy would have said, "Part of it is in me," and the fruits and flowers and everything that grows out of the ground would have said, "Part of the storm is incandescent in me."

Have you asked to be made like your Lord? Have you longed for the fruit of the Spirit, and have you prayed for sweetness and gentleness and love? Then fear not the stormy tempest that is at this moment sweeping through your life. 

A blessing is in the storm, and there will be the rich fruitage in the "afterward."

Henry Ward Beecher



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Reminders

con•sid•er 
(kənˈsɪd ər) 

it all joy
when you encounter various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurances. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4


~contemplate~


~reflect on~


~examine~


~review~


~note~


~appraise~


~mull over~


~make allowances for~


~deliberate on~


~ruminate on~


~evaluate~


~assess~


~meditate on~

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
Thou dost support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the Lord continually before me;
because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely…

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In thy presence is fullness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.

Psalm 16:5-11


~be mindful of~


~count~


~deem~


~believe~


~see as~


~reckon to be~


~adjudge~


~ponder~


~take account of~


~chew over~


~bear in mind~


~hold to be~


~remember~


~think carefully about~


It's just what I've been doing these past few weeks. Thinking carefully about these words as I go about my day. Placing reminders in every single room. Especially in those places where I tend to forget the quickest (the boys bathroom, the place where I change diapers, the laundry room, next to Sophi's bed, just to name a few).

Little notecards taped to doors and mirrors, inside of cabinets, and, yes, even inside of the refrigerator. Reminding me to see joy in all things!

The boys asked me why I was putting notes everywhere in the house. And when I explained, they each insisted on me making one for their room. I love how such a simple thing is reminding us all to choose joy!


And it's making a difference. He's making a difference. Our circumstances haven't changed much, but my heart has. 



He sees me. He knows these hard places. He sees these struggles, and He has not forgotten. He is at work. It might be behind the scenes where I cannot see. But He is here. Working healing in Sophi's heart and mind, in Faith Ana's, and in mine. In all of ours. 



Working all things together for our good and for His glory! Working joy in our hearts and bringing peace into our home!



And although we had some very difficult moments during this past week, we also had plenty of joyful ones! By far, my favorite moment of the week was hearing Faith Ana sing these words. We sing it every night before bed, but lately I've found myself singing it throughout the day, especially during those rough moments. During Sophi's rages. When the boys are fighting and the little ones are fussing. When the baby is crying. When I feel like crying. 

Faith Ana has heard these words often since she's been home, and I love that even though she has no earthly idea what she is singing, she is speaking truth. Her sweet voice is filling our home with heavenly reminders, and this makes me smile. I hope it does you too!





Notion your mind with the idea that God is there. 



If once the mind is notioned along that line, then when you are in difficulties it is as easy as breathing to remember - Why, my Father knows all about it! It is not an effort, it comes naturally when perplexities press. Before, you used to go to this person and that, but now the notion of Divine control is forming so powerfully in you that you go to God about it. 



Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those who have His Spirit, and it works on this principle - God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, why should I worry?



There are times, says Jesus, when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but trust Him. God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural Father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. 



Keep the notion of the mind of God behind all things strong and growing. Nothing happens in any particular unless God's will is behind it, therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him…

Oswald Chambers



Another one of my favorites when I was in Bulgaria! I loved these words then, and I'm hanging on to them now as much as ever!


XOXO,
Melanie

P.S. Sophi has continued to struggle this week, and we have had some extremely hard days. I will try to share more soon, but, in the meantime, we are very, very grateful for your continued prayers for this little girl.





When I listen to the words of this song, I'm reminded all over again that just as I was not alone in Bulgaria, even though at times I felt very alone, my precious Sophi is no longer alone. She has a Momma and Daddy who love her fiercely and will not stop pursuing her wounded little heart. No matter how much she resists and fights, kicks and bites, pushes away and shuts down, no matter what, we will continue to have hope in the One who alone can bring healing to her soul. 

And in this place of darkness and confusion, a place of not understanding what it means to be loved, fighting with every bit of strength she has to resist our love and help, He is with her. Those words bring me such tremendous comfort and hope...



Sophi,

When you walk through deep waters, I know that He will be with you.
When you're standing in the fire, you will not be overcome…
In the midst of deep sorrow, I see His light is breaking through. 
The dark of night will not overtake you…
He's your strength. He's your defender. He's your refuge in the storm.
He's always been faithful. He brings healing to your soul.

Praying for you, precious one, to know deep in your soul that you are no longer alone!