Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sweet Olivia!

Dear Olivia,

Today is your second birthday, my sweet Olivia. Two years ago today, you came surprisingly easily and quietly into the world. There were no big banners or a waiting room filled with family and friends. You weren't the first or the loudest or the biggest. No drama or anxiety. You came so quickly and with the tiniest little cry. So sweet and precious, such a gift from God. If I ever had any doubts about having enough room in my heart to love another, you pushed them aside with your tiny hand wrapped around my finger and your sweet smile wrapped around my heart.

The last two years have been rough for you. First the battle with allergies, then your ears and finally, the CDIF infection. But, God has held you in His hand the entire time and taught me to leave you in His tender-loving care. He has shown me what it means to trust Him with your life. He has healed you completely and for that, I will forever testify of His faithfulness and sovereign grace.

You are such a beautiful child. You are starting to assert your own will and I'm finding that you have a good deal of determination. (I could call it stubbornness, but I refuse to believe that the Lord won't put it to good use!) Your personality is changing our family in some very good ways. You are a cuddler and a mama's girl for now--and I love that! You adore your older sisters, but are also learning how to hold your own with them. They still think of you as a baby and you are beginning to show them that your baby days are a thing of the past. Your vocabulary is amazing for a two year old--just today your said, "Actually, I want pancakes instead." You love Strawberry Shortcake (or "Strawberry Cake" as you call her) and your favorite stuffed animal is a purple care bear named "Share Bear" that you refuse to share with anyone. You have already memorized 2 Bible verses and you love to sing "Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" and "Patty-Cake."

I love you, Olivia, and I am so very blessed to have you as my daughter. My prayer is that you will grow in your knowledge of the Lord, Jesus, over the next year. That you will be blessed as a part of our family and the family of God. That you will be all that God has made you to be. You bring me such joy and happiness already--I'm excited to see what God has in store for you in the next year! Happy Birthday, my sweet, sweet baby girl...Love,Mommy

Monday, September 24, 2007

Do You Still Love Me?

Ruthie got into trouble at dinner tonight. Nothing major, just a bit of rebellious running around and not eating her food. When I told her firmly that she was facing discipline if she didn't correct her behavior, her little head dropped down to her chest and she started to get emotional. Thinking this was a ploy to get out of obeying, I reminded her that she needed to eat her dinner. She lifted one forkful of food to her mouth and I encouragingly said, "That's better, sweetie." She looked up at me with her big, blue eyes and answered, "But, do you still love me?"
Talk about piercing a mama's heart!
I immediately picked her up and showered her with kisses and hugs telling her over and over that I did indeed love her and that nothing she could ever, ever say or do or think or be would cause me to stop loving her. She threw her arms around me and said, "Good!" and went back to her chair to finish dinner. All was right as rain in Ruthie's world, but it made me start thinking about our Father's love for us....
Haven't we all wondered that same question, "Do You, God of the universe, Creator of all things, Master Planner, Infinite Wisdom, still love me, a nobody, nothing sinner, always getting it wrong, unable to make it right, unworthy of this life you have given me?" Isn't that the root question everyone is asking, whether they know the power of Christ's love or not--Do You still love me, God? After all I have done. After all I haven't done. After all You have given me when I deserve You still love me?

If you don't know or don't remember or need to see it written down, the answer is a resounding YES! The very nature of God makes it impossible for Him not to love you and me and every other person He created. You see, God is love (1 John 4:16). Not the kind of love you and I demonstrate each day--that shaky "I-love-you-because-I-get-something-out-of the-deal" love--but real self-sacrificing love. We can't even come close to the kind of love God is.
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
God gave up His own beloved Son so that we could spend eternity with Him. He gave up Himself to make us free to choose Him, free from sin and its' eternal death sentence, free to learn to love as He loves.
And the great thing is, He still loves you and me today. When we ask in our hearts the same question my little girl asks, "Do You still love me, Father God?" He scoops us up and lavishes us with His great love and mercy and truth and grace, reminding us that we only need look at the cross for the answer. Yes, He still loves me. Yes, He still loves you. Yes, yes, yes...the answer will always and forever be the same. No matter what you have done or what you will do, He still loves you. No matter where you go or don't go, He still loves you. No matter what you say or don't say, He still loves you. His love won't run out, turn away, fizzle, dry up, turn cold. It will remain. It will be the one constant in our lives--what a joy and comfort to know that!

Thank You, Father, for reminding me that You do indeed still love and always will love me. Use this post, Lord, to remind someone else that You love them, too. Minister to our hearts and bless us with Your peace. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I hurt my back Saturday. I've done it before and pretty much in the same way. I was leaning over Olivia's crib to pick her up and as soon as I started to straighten up, yowzer! Super pain in my lower back. I managed to get Olivia safely to the floor before collapsing and then crawling downstairs to find Charlie for help. This time was different, though. I'm usually incapacitated for a few hours and then slowly able to mend. By Sunday evening, I was barely able to manage a hobble. Monday was a bit better, but still excruciating at times. By Tuesday evening, I was asking my study buddies where I could find a really great chiropractor. I called and made an appointment for this afternoon, feeling pretty pessimistic about the outcome. It isn't that I don't believe chiropractic care works; I was just in so much pain I couldn't imagine one visit doing much good.
I was wrong.
After about 45 minutes, Dr. Molin had me in such great shape I could turn my neck from side to side without wincing once and touch my toes completely pain free. He even helped relieve the pain in my elbow and wrist with just a little stretching! I will have several more visits for adjustments, but I'm on the mend and feeling almost normal.
It made me think about where I'm at spiritually and got me asking some questions. I thought I would share them with all of you in you need any re-adjusting, spiritually speaking?

1. Am I in any pain, spiritually? Am I angry at God? Do I feel disappointed in any way with God? Is there anything I am having trouble trusting God with? Am I entrenched in any sin?
2. Am I willing to be well? Am I willing to accept that God is right and I am wrong? Am I willing to let God perform "heart surgery," if necessary, in order to restore my relationship with Him? Do I even want to be in right-standing with God? Do I see God as holy?
3. Will I accept the discomfort that comes with God re-adjusting me? My heart? My attitudes? My beliefs? My priorities? My relationships with others? My commitments? My thoughts? My emotions?
4. Will I acknowledge that only God can do this work in my heart of re-adjusting and re-aligning me to glorify Him? Or, will I continue to look to other "cures" for my spiritual condition?
5. Am I committed to God's continual re-adjusting over a course of time? Do I acknowledge that it will take time and effort and patience and perseverance to be made holy and clean? Am I pliable and soft to His leading?
6. Do I give God the glory when He has in fact re-adjusted? Or, do I take the glory myself? Do I recognize God's sovereignty and perfectness?

Thank You, God for stopping me in my tracks, literally, and showing me that my spiritual condition needs some re-adjusting. I give that work over to You and ask You to make me willing, pliable and able to obey. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

God Found Me

It's been crazy busy here what with remodeling (going ever-so-slowly), homeschooling (wait, are we still doing that?) and a catering event I'm doing this weekend (yes, I'm crazy!). I'm stealing away to the computer for a few minutes to capture a classic "Olivia moment" before it slips from my memory forever...

Yesterday, Olivia was coming down the stairs--not an entirely unusual activity. We have taught our girls from the beginning to come down the stairs backwards or on their bottoms for safety's sake. She decided she was big enough (at just a few days shy of 2!) to attempt walking down the stairs just like the big girls. I could see her but my voice couldn't come out of my chest fast enough to stop her. After one step she was suddenly pitched forward and flipped onto her head, back to her feet and onto her head again. I screamed (guess I know what I would do in an emergency now!) and her body just paused in the weirdest way. Instead of continuing to tumble wildly down the stairs and to a certain broken bone or two, she was just suspended there on her head for a few seconds. Almost as if she were being held there purposely. Her little body crumpled just as I reached her and scooped her up. She cried and I cried and Emma and Ruthie kept patting us both saying, "It's okay, baby. Mommy, it's okay. God protected her."

After we both calmed down, I asked Olivia, "Are you hurt or scared?" She answered, "Scared!" I rocked her for a bit until she seemed to relax. I then said to her, "Olivia, you cannot walk down the stairs. You will fall and get hurt. You only go down the stairs on your bottom." She said, "I'm okay. God found me."

I was speechless. Did I hear my child correctly? I asked her to repeat herself several more times to make sure I was understanding what she was saying. God found her? Where on earth did she come up with something like that? I even asked her sisters if they had been talking about God with Olivia earlier in the day. They said no. God found me. God found me. God found me. I thought about that all day. Just like Olivia, God found me as I was about to tumble to certain disaster. He found me and rescued me. I was bruised and battered and headed in the wrong direction, but he saved me anyway. He scooped me up and wrapped me in His loving-kindness and held me until I was strong enough to walk again. God found me. God found me. God found me.

And, He can find you, too. Just turn around. He is there, holding you, loving you through whatever you are going through at this moment. His every thought is of you and His great love for you. He cannot help but be in love with you. He is eager to talk to you, to tell you of His love and concern for you, to bind up your brokenness and wounds, to fill your grieving heart with hope, to restore your mind with His truth. Just believe. Just receive...this gift, this precious gift. God has found you. Put your trust in the Lord and His life-saving and changing grace. I'm praying for you...

Lord, Jesus, thank You for my little Olivia's words "God found me." Thank You for reminding me that you did indeed find me and claim me as Your own. Thank You for loving me! O pray for anyone reading this who might be hurting or struggling to find you. Give them strength and help them to know that You have found them--the search is over. Bless them, Lord, and give them peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Brush Your Teeth

It's time for bed girls. Brush your teeth.
Okay, Mommy. Where's my toothbrush?
Where we always keep it, in the cabinet.
(Giggles) Oh, yeah.

Where's the toothpaste?
Also, in the cabinet next to the toothbrushes.
How do they make toothpaste?
I'm not sure, honey.
Where do they make toothpaste?
Probably in a factory somewhere.
On the other side of the world?
(checking the label) No, in the United States.
Which "untited" state?
It doesn't say, sweetie, now brush your teeth.

Can we have waffles for breakfast?
We'll see...
Can we have chocolate chip waffles?
We don't have chocolate chip waffles.
How about M&M?
We don't have those either.
Sprinkles with whip cream?
Excuse me?
Sorry, mama. Sorry, Jesus.
That's better. Now, please brush your teeth.

Where do babies come from?
They come from God.
Because they are a gift.
How come they don't come in a box?
That isn't God's way of bringing babies in the world.
They come in mommies' tummies, right?
Sort of.
Annee says they come in a room.
That's "womb," honey.
That's what I said!
Anyway, she says they come in a room and at church we heard that it hurts to have a baby because of Satan and the apple and sin.
That's right.
Gifts shouldn't hurt people.
Let's talk about this later. Now, brush your teeth!

How do they make carpet?
I'm not sure, sweetheart.
I bet they make it the factory right next to the toothpaste.
Maybe. Now, brush your teeth.

Are dinosaurs real?
We don't have dinosaurs today, but who knows what was alive before the Great Flood.
Yeah, I bet there were beautiful purple, glittery, sparkling dinosaurs with rainbow wings and pink hair.
Well, we'll have to ask God about that in heaven.
I have a lot of questions for God when we get to heaven.
(Sighing) I'm certain you do. Now, I have a question for you.
What is it, mama?
Are you ever going to brush your teeth, Emma Rose?
Yeah, I was just waiting for you to stop talking, silly!