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!






Thursday, July 10, 2014

Every Moment


I listen to this song every single morning. It was on my playlist when I was in Bulgaria with Faith Ana, and it continues to be one of my favorites now that we are back home. These words serve as such a good reminder for me as I start my day…


Your life, your death, your blood was shed, 

for every moment...

Our days are made up of hundreds of little moments. Over the past few weeks, I've tried to capture a few with my camera to share here. Most of the moments that you'll see are the ones that make me smile. Ones that are easy to be thankful for and mercies that are plain to see. Moments that I know with full confidence that the Lord knew just what He was doing when He was writing our story and weaving our family together. Moments when it all makes sense.



Sometimes during the day, Will calls from work to check on me and see how our day is going. My typical response goes something like this...

It's going ok, but we've had our moments.

He and I both know what I'm talking about. It's not the type of moments you see in most of my pictures. 




A bowl of maple syrup gets spilled on a freshly mopped floor

A little girl rages for no apparent reason. She alternates between wanting my embrace and then pushing away.


Two boys fight over a Lego head. A few minutes later, I hear a third boy get in on the argument. A nerf gun fight breaks out, followed by a wrestling match, followed by the inevitable. Someone ends up in tears from a battle wound. 

Another little boy, the one who spilled the maple syrup, needs help on the potty. He screams for me, even though I had just told him to be quiet. He wakes up the baby. 

The baby needs a bottle. Our newest little girl needs me to help her with her bowl of oatmeal. 

My brown-eyed, spunky two year old, gets into a bag of chips. Half end up in her tummy. The other half in the bottom of my new toaster.

The baby spits up.


I attempt to empty out the toaster. 


I send the three big boys to their beds until I can deal with their Lego controversy. 

Sophi realizes her fussing isn't getting her what she wants and decides to eat her breakfast. 

Barrett wants more syrup. Sophi decides she doesn't want to eat her oatmeal. Barrett licks the syrup off his plate, his fingers and face become a sticky mess.

One of the boys {who I forgot was supposed to still be on his bed} wants a bowl of cereal because his cinnamon toast tastes like burnt chips. He needs me to pour the milk. I need him to do it since I'm feeding Faith Ana and Haddon. Milk ends up all over the kitchen floor. 

He forgets to close the refrigerator. Evie grabs a bottle of sprite. She accidentally drops it, and it spews everywhere. 

Haddon needs his clothes changed. Evie needs her diaper changed. Faith Ana needs her diaper changed and needs new shorts. The rug needs to be cleaned from Faith Ana's diaper malfunctioning. The floor needs to be cleaned in multiple locations. Oh, and I didn't even tell you about the bathroom incident with Barrett. A major clean-up of the potty and the surrounding floor was involved. 


Haddon finally takes a morning nap. Thankfully, the big boys resolve their conflict without my assistance and go back to their Lego creations. I let Elmo entertain Sophi and Faith Ana, and I send Barrett and Evie outside with ice cream cones so that I can have a moment to breathe. {The nutritionist in me cringes, but desperate moments sometimes call for desperate measures, and I tell myself that there are worse things than ice-cream for breakfast!}

And in the midst of this one calm and peaceful moment, my phone rings. It's Will calling to see how our morning is going.


mo·ment 

n.
1. A brief, indefinite interval of time.
2. A specific point in time, especially the present time
3. A particular period of importance, influence, or significance in a series of events or developments
4. Outstanding significance or value; importance
5. A brief period of time that is characterized by a quality, such as excellence, suitability, or distinction



Rest with Me a while. You have journeyed up a steep, rugged path in recent days. The way ahead is shrouded in uncertainty. Look neither behind you nor before you. Instead, focus your attention on Me, your constant Companion. Trust that I will equip you fully for whatever awaits you on your journey.

I designed time to be a protection for you. You couldn't bear to see all your life at once. Though I am unlimited by time, it is in the present moment that I need you. Refresh yourself in My company, breathing deep draughts of My presence. The highest level of trust is to enjoy Me moment by moment. I am with you, watching over you wherever you go.

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling


The days feel very full right now, and, believe it or not, the afternoons are usually much more lively than the mornings. It's an incredibly busy and exhausting season and one that definitely does not including many free moments during the day for writing. And, by the time the day ends...

Well, it really doesn't end. 

One boy can't fall asleep because he keeps thinking about spiders and wants a night light on.

Another boy had too much birthday cake and feels sick.

A third boy complains that the nightlight is too bright.

A fourth boy continues to talk about spiders to aggravate the brother who is scared of spiders {and snakes, tornadoes, venomous ants, and rabid foxes}.

A little girl wants to kiss Henry one more time. And then wants to read one more book.

Another always has a very hard time falling asleep at night, and our newest little girl, though she falls asleep quickly, often wakes up 
early in the morning, talking {very loudly} and squealing. Typically, this wakes up the one who is still sleeping.

Many nights Haddon still wakes up in the middle of the night for a bottle.

And any chance of me having a moment to myself, a little bit of quiet time, or sneaking in an early morning jog mean I have to wake up very, very, very early. 


Like never before, I feel like every moment of my days and nights are full...


I especially love that fourth definition of moment, and lately the Lord has been impressing this on my heart. Reminding me that every single moment is important, full of outstanding significance and importance.


Some noteworthy moments during June, other than Faith Ana's homecoming, were FOUR birthdays, Vacation Bible School, a beach trip for the boys with their grandparents, swapping all of our bedrooms around, and welcoming Henry the dog into our family! Will and the boys continued to make progress on their treehouse, and they also built a boardwalk from our bottom patio to our top patio, which has been very helpful in getting Faith Ana around our backyard. 




Faith Ana seems to be adjusting well into this lively and active family! In fact, I think the moments I have heard her laugh the loudest are when she's sitting on the trampoline and all the kids are bouncing and jumping around her! 



And it makes me smile. Because I'm learning to do the same. 


To laugh the loudest when it feels the wildest. To celebrate in the midst of the spills and the strong wills. To see the muddy tracks through the kitchen and the mountains of laundry left on the bathroom floor, the dirty dishes and the dirty feet, the stinky diapers and the stinky attitudes. All the messes. All the madness. All the mundane. And, yes, even all the miserable moments that you don't see in the pictures. All of it. Every single moment is sacred. Moments that can draw me closer to Him and make me more like Him. 

And as I am learning to see the significance in every single moment, I recognize the opportunity that I have been given to impress upon my little ones' hearts this same truth. That every moment matters. This perspective makes such a difference as it helps me to see these many moments during the days {and nights} as opportunities to point them to Him. 

Every time they want my undivided attention, and I can't fully give it...

All the hundreds of times a day they hear me say, just a minute, and they have to wait...

The times they look at their friends' families and know that theirs looks different...

When even a simple birthday celebration is challenging because one little girl is again struggling with significant behavioral issues... 

When they are confused, frustrated, angry, or sad, and don't even know why... 

When we have mornings like the one I described...

When a day just feels like one disaster after another...

When it is hard... 

And, yes, it has been hard. It's been hard for me, so I know there are moments during these days that are hard for them. I pray for the right words to say to comfort them, but even more I find myself praying that they will open their precious hearts to receive comfort from the only One who truly understands these moments. The One who ordained each and every one of them. The One who orchestrated my moments and theirs to bring about our best good and His greatest glory!



I want them to know that this story is a good one. The words might be hard to read. The chapters might be long and seem like they will never end. The characters might be different than what they anticipated. The plot might have developed {or not developed} in a way unlike what they expected. It might be full of twists and turns, conflicts and struggles,  flaws and weaknesses, unfamiliar settings and unusual scenery. It might feel like there are surprises with every turn of the page and some days we might be holding our breath, not knowing what is going to happen next. But I want my children to know that it's these things, these hard things, that make a story good! And I want them to know that the ending is guaranteed to be a good one. Better than good. Better than they could ever imagine. And that's why they must persevere. That's why I must persevere. 



So we will keep turning the pages. We will keep choosing to see every moment as a priceless and precious gift, and we will continue to practice celebrating. Preparing for the grandest celebration that anyone could ever imagine. A day that every tear will be wiped away. Every broken place made whole. Every hurting heart perfectly comforted. A day when my little girl who can't walk will jump for joy, and a day when my one who struggles to talk will sing with joyful abandon. 


But until that moment, even in the midst of all of these wild and crazy moments, we can live joyfully. Each moment full of value and significance, full of mercies and things to be thankful for, full of  joy and grateful celebration!


It's written on a chalkboard in our dining room. It's on a sticky note on the refrigerator. On a notecard in the window sill above my sink. In the laundry room. Next to my bed. In the boys' room and in the girls' room. It's engraved on my heart. 




When the sun comes up and the day starts early. This verse. 


When I'm not sure it's ever going to end. These words. 

When it does finally end, and I never knew it was possible to be this tired. I whisper it in the dark. 

When my back aches. When my feet are tired. When I'm overwhelmed. When I don't know what to do. When I wonder how in the world this story is going to turn out. In every one of these moments. This.



Consider it all joy... 

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 


knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.


And let endurance have its perfect result,


so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4


In a new year, the only hope of a new me, is only Christ in me.


Nothing will happen this year apart from Him. Nothing will be remade, nothing will be transformed, nothing will be satisfying apart from Him. Jesus is the only life I have. His shed blood is the only blood I have. His given heart is the only heart I have. His identity is the only real identity I have.


Just be with Jesus. Listen to Jesus. Rest in Jesus. Wait for Jesus. Be Loved by Jesus. Wonder over Jesus. Live through Jesus.


When who Jesus is overwhelms you — nothing that happens can overcome you.


Steep your soul in Jesus and nothing is too steep to overcome.


The commitments, the kids, that I fear I am going to fail?


The impossible mountains that lie ahead of me?


It was like the Father hushing all my fears as I stepped into a new year:

“Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?”  

2 Corinthians 13:5


Mount Everest in front of you?  But “Christ Jesus is in you!”


The wilderness stretched before you?  But “Christ Jesus is in you!”


The Red Sea staring like a wall ahead of you? But “Christ Jesus is in you!”


All there is to see is Jesus.

For others to see Jesus in me. For me to see Jesus in others.


All there is to be is Jesus.

For everyone, the call is to be Jesus. And to respond to Jesus in everyone.

All there is to mirror Jesus. Mirror to everyone the face of Jesus… And see everyone as mirroring the face of Jesus.


“Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus…”  
Col. 3:17

“Whatever you do, work willingly, as though you were working for the Lord Jesus…” 
Col. 3:24



Whatever you do, do it as Jesus.
Whatever you do, do it as to Jesus.



The New Year just got ultra-simplified:


Do everything as Jesus.
Do everything to Jesus.
8 words.



And the grace to actually do the everything?
Just One Word: Jesus.

Ann Voskamp

I read these words back in January, anticipating all of the changes and challenges that I knew this new year would bring to our family. And just a few days ago, I came across them for the second time and was blessed again. They were just the encouragement I needed


Because over the course of these last few days, there have been moments with this precious child that have been more difficult than anything we have ever experienced. This picture was a rare, rare moment in the midst of some extremely hard days.

And every time I look at this picture, every moment of these past few days that this little girl is awake, I have been challenged by the very words that I have written. 

So, once again I ask for your prayers. Prayers for wisdom, patience, and grace like never before. Prayers for love to fill my heart and strength to fill my body, specifically my back. {Lifting and caring for Faith Ana has put an extra strain on it, and I feel like it's on the verge of giving out on me.} Prayers for joy to fill our home.

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Amen

Saint Patrick

XOXO,
Melanie