Friday, October 16, 2015

if I should speak

Men see not the bright light which is in the clouds...
Job 37:21

Much of the world's beauty is due to clouds. The unchanging blue of a beautiful, sunlit sky still does not compare to the glory of changing clouds. And earth would become a wilderness if not for their ministry to us.

Human life has its clouds as well. They provide us with shade, refresh us, yet sometimes cover us with the darkness of night. But there is never a cloud without its "bright light." God has told us, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds" (Gen. 9:13). If only we could see clouds from above - in all their billowing glory, bathed in reflective light, and as majestic as the Alps - we would be amazed at their shining magnificence.

We see them only from below, so who will describe for us the "bright light" that bathes their summits, searches their valleys, and reflects from every peak of their expanse? Doesn't every drop of rain in them soak up health-giving qualities, which will later fall to earth?

O dear child of God! If only you could see your sorrows and troubles from above instead of seeing them from earth. If you would look down on them from where you are seated "with heavenly realms" (Eph. 2:6), you would know the beauty of the rainbow of colors they reflect to the hosts of heaven. You would also see the "bright light" of Christ's face and would finally be content to see those clouds cast their deep shadows over the mountain slopes of your life.

Remember, clouds are always moving ahead of God's cleansing wind.

Streams in the Desert

The windows and doors are open this afternoon, and it's such a good feeling to see cooler days coming and to know the seasons will soon be changing. Today, the clouds are rolling in, and the wind is starting to pick up. The leaves are starting to fall, and, more and more, my little people are spending every free moment outside. Fall, most definitely, is in the air. 

Other than the sound of the kids' laughter coming in through the open windows, our home is remarkably quiet. {Kind of like this blog - I do apologize for the silence!} So many, many of you have faithfully and diligently prayed for our family and have followed along and supported us in our adoption adventures over the past few years. I am always amazed and blown away when I bump into somebody - somebody that I don't even know - and they ask how our family is doing. It happened just the other day. I was walking into my doctor's office, and someone stopped me and asked how S and Faith Ana were doing in school. I had no idea who this woman was, but she told me that she reads this blog and had been curious how the girls were adjusting. So, thank you to everyone who follows along, reads our stories, and prays for our family!

For the most part, the girls are doing well. They have both had some ups and downs at school - S more so than Faith Ana - but it's nothing that we didn't expect. We continue to be hopeful that school will be a secure, safe, and structured place for both of them. We are incredibly blessed by a group of teachers and staff that genuinely care about our girls. And can I just tell you that every single time I see a school bus, I thank the Lord! What a huge blessing it has been to have a handicap accessible school bus pick the girls up every morning and bring them home every afternoon. Compared to where we have been in the past few years and the challenges we have faced, it really is quite remarkable that they have done as well as they have! Especially, at home during the weekends and in the evenings, they are happy and content, often easier than their wild and rambunctious brothers! We were able to leave them with my mom recently while Will and I snuck away to the beach, one time by ourselves for a quick anniversary getaway and then another time with the kids (minus Haddon who stayed at home with the girls), and they both did such a good job here with my mom. It has taken a lot of time and training, but I finally feel like they are settled into a good, albeit very simple, routine. 

<<<insert big sigh of relief and a huge thank you to the One who has worked this miracle!!!>>>

Our other six are also doing well. They, too, have had their ups and downs, and homeschool for one child in particular has proved to be a tad bit more difficult than we had anticipated, but I'm pretty sure that this just goes with the territory of having a big family and lots of little boys growing into big boys. There's definitely a learning curve when it comes to teaching your own kids, especially when they are each so different. Thankfully, they have also settled into a good routine that works well with Will's work schedule, enabling him to do the bulk of the teaching and instruction.

<<<insert another big sigh of relief>>>

Of course, there are still battles over handwriting and tears over multiplication facts and days when they struggle to sit still. Almost every day includes a struggle to keep Haddon off the middle of the school table and Evie from singing and dancing her way in and out of the schoolroom, but Will and I both agree, that for now, homeschooling these little people has been such a huge blessing. I, especially, love not having to rush to get everybody out the door in the morning, with uniforms ironed, lunch bags packed, and homework checked and initialed. I love our slower, less frenzied life, and rarely do I feel guilty that most days, most kids are still in their pajamas at lunchtime. I do feel a twinge of guilt when I see the bottom of their feet at the end of the day and can't remember when the last time I gave the littlest two a bath, but even that guilt is incredibly fleeting! 

I know these days pass so fast, and I feel incredibly blessed by the sheer privilege of watching them grow and learn, seeing their minds come alive and watching the ways that the Lord is working in their hearts!

I am so grateful for this life the Lord has given me. A houseful of little people and a husband who is so incredibly patient. On days, like today, my heart is just so simply overwhelmed with the Lord's sweet mercies to me. 

Everywhere I turn, I see His fingerprints. 

His faithfulness. 

His mercy. 

His love. 

And His grace. Especially, especially His grace. 

And yet, somehow, I've struggled over the past few months to find my words. Because as overwhelmed as I feel today with the ways the Lord has provided and settled our family into a relatively calm and peaceful season, for me, this season has been anything but that.

I've struggled in ways that I haven't struggled in quite a while. And it's a humbling thing to admit, especially in light of how well everyone else has been doing, that I have been the one to struggle. The girls have had their ups and downs as have our boys, but the past few months have brought more downs for me than I've experienced in a long time. In retrospect, I can see how, even in this, the Lord has been so merciful. How kind of Him to allow everyone else to enter this new season and transition (relatively speaking) so smoothly into this new school year, in spite of my own difficulties.

The days are flying by quickly, and I can hardly believe my eyes when I look at the calendar and see that we are already halfway through October and that I'm more than two thirds of the way through this pregnancy. It really is no surprise that I'm struggling with swollen feet and varicose veins and headaches and insomnia or that I am so unbelievably exhausted some days that I can hardly function. Pregnancy {along with being a momma to lots of little and lively people} can do that to you! But as I've found myself struggling in other ways throughout this pregnancy, I have been surprised by the ways the Enemy has attacked as well as the intensity of these battles. 

It's here, in this place, that I've struggled to write the words and to tell this particular part of the story. It's been these challenges that have made all my other, more typical pregnancy complaints seem so trivial. It's a chapter that includes a struggle to balance the exercise and running that I love {and is a good thing in moderation} with the rest my body needs. Its pages include the difficulty I have of keeping both this little baby and myself growing healthy and strong. Its words, if I wrote them freely and transparently, would tell about a depression that attempts to take me out and many days has rendered me too weary and overwhelmed to fight these battles for my health that I know I must fight. And then there's the guilt that surfaces for all these ways that I struggle and falter and feel as if I'm letting all my little people {and especially this littlest person} down.

This pregnancy, this little life, is stretching me in ways I never could have foreseen. This baby that even now I can feel pressing {rather painfully} on my ribs and kicking away inside of me is being used by the Lord to press out more pride, control, stubbornness, and self-sufficiency than I care to admit. 

And this is all good. Painful. Humbling. Hard. Challenging. But good. Very good. 

Over these past few months, as I've wrestled and struggled to know how to share this particular chapter, the words to this song have been impressed on my heart...

If I told you my story

You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine

If I should speak then let it be

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story

You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song

Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

When I'm reminded of these words, my own words flow so much easier - because I know what He wants me to speak. It's so simple. If I should speak, it will be to tell of HIS grace. It will be to tell of HIS mercy and how HIS mercy wins and will keep winning, no matter how intense the battle is. It will be to tell of HIS kindness, and how even in the storms, He draws us in. As I continue to tell my story, I know that I will be telling of HIS faithfulness. And, in all the pages that I write and the pictures that I show, my prayer is that, more than absolutely anything else, you will see Him and He will be glorified.

They looked...and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the clouds.

Exodus 16:10

Our trials are great opportunities, but all too often we simply see them as large obstacles. If only we would recognize every difficult situation as something God has chosen to prove His love to us, each obstacle would then become a place of shelter and rest, and a demonstration to others of His inexpressible power. If we would look for the signs of His glorious handiwork, then every cloud would indeed become a rainbow...

If we would look at our past, most of us would realize that the times we endured the greatest stress and felt that every path was blocked were the very times our Heavenly Father chose to do the kindest things for us and bestow His richest blessings.

A.B. Simpson


1 comment:

  1. That song, "My Story," has been speaking to me as well!! Congratulations on your new little one. And I'm glad to hear that homeschooling is going so well for your family! I shudder at the thought of getting everyone ready and out the door first thing in the morning...and ironing uniforms, how do you even?!?! We are usually still in PJs close to lunch time, too. :) But we're looking into getting Kami into school and I am encouraged at how good it's been for your girls!