Haddon’s 1st Birthday . the story of his psalm

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This photograph in the hospital on the way home is proof that we were absolutely elated to have and to hold you, darling Haddon. Welcome to the world! 

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Before he was even born, I sifted through the pages of the psalms, searching for a psalm for Joseph Haddon. I offered my list to Tyler. And as he read through the different scriptures, he said – I think this one. Me, too. Me too.

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oh Jesus thank you for Haddon

A year ago today he entered our world, our family, our hearts and we are forever transformed, from glory to glory, into your image, into the likeness of your Son, by this little life, this little gift, this little baby You gifted us.

Through this new life You have re-shaped and continued to make new each one of our hearts.

We have learned how to love in new ways; how to protect and care in new ways; how to prefer one another in new ways… how to love new, little, fragile, growing life. What gift to learn together!

I remember when the ultrasound-lady told us you were a boy. I was floored with excitement.  I was floored with His purposeful ways, leading us through deep waters and dry deserts.

As I flipped through photographs to include in this post, I saw a photo of a phone conversation with Tyler – I whispered to him through text…

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick. And my heart is sad and sick and waiting is wearing on me.”

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Here we all find ourselves – Lord, let us find ourselves here! – waiting and sick and heartbroken. We pray we find ourselves here because it is in these fragile moments that You come. Grace comes and heals and saves and binds up and Glory shines through us, and Glory becomes us. And Glory is all around us.

If we never find ourselves wanting and waiting and without, sick and sad and sore from sin and hopes deferred, then we will never find ourselves in Christ.

God takes what was meant for evil and transforms it into Good.

This reality – this is your reality and my reality! – hush ups my heart and floors me with humility. Hush up and Worship and Hushes me into Rest and Ushers me into Glory.

How can this be? Mary asked…. How can this be, Lord, I asked….

And then one day, suddenly and silently and almost without warning, baby. 20 weeks later, another boy. His name – Joseph Haddon. And four days past his due date, after two days of giving thanks with both sides of the family – there he was! in all of his screaming beauty and hungry holiness. Thank you, Lord.

We chose Psalm 146 for Haddon because it begins similarly to both Leland and Grafton’s psalms. We loved that when we chose Grafton’s psalm, it was almost an exposition, or a commentary on, or a more full description of, the blessed man in Leland’s psalm one.

Psalm 146 begins “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! … and in verse five, it reads, “Blessed is he…” so this Psalm is about praising the Lord and the blessed man who praises the Lord, who lives his life in fear of the Lord.

We desire this – we pray this into – Haddon’s life – that he will be a man who praises the Lord, who is blessed because his help is the God of Jacob, because his hope is in the Lord his God.

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Psalm 146 Put Not Your Trust in Princes

1 Praise the LORD!

Praise the LORD, O my soul!

I will praise the LORD as long as I live;

I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,

in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.

When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;

on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the LORD his God,

who made heaven and earth,

the sea, and all that is in them,

who keeps faith forever;

who executes justice for the oppressed,

who gives food to the hungry.

The LORD sets the prisoners free;

the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.

The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;

he upholds the widow and the fatherless,

but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10  The LORD will reign forever,

your God, O Zion, to all generations.

Praise the LORD!

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Reading through this psalm, you might have noticed how many of the verses hearken God’s work in Israel’s history, and while I don’t think this psalm specifically mentions Joseph from the book of Genesis, the Lord “executes justice,” “gives food to the hungry.” The Lord “sets the prisoner free” – who is it but the Lord who set Joseph free from the prison!? The Lord opened the eyes of the blind and Joseph was elevated to a position of power, not according to his plan, but as he feared the Lord. “The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” – this description of the Lord was so evident in Joseph’s life. The Lord fed the Egyptians, the Israelites, and even his own brothers who disowned him years before through Joseph’s wise, proactive, God-given plan.  And we pray the Lord’s character will be so clear to our Joseph Haddon. “The Lord loves the righteous” “The Lord watches over the sojourner” – Joseph was loved by the Lord; the Lord watched over him even as he traveled far from his own country. Joseph didn’t have his father with him for a long time, and in the end, those who had risen up against the Lord, and against Joseph, were brought to an end. Joseph lived a life that trusted not in princes, but feared and trusted in the Lord, and his legacy declares “The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!”

This scripture also could describe Joseph, adoptive father of Jesus, and that too is precious to me.

And this psalm, along with both of these Joseph’s godly models, undergirded by the character of the Lord, gives us such a holy desire to pray His Word into our Haddon’s life.

We pray that through whatever sort of life God gifts our son with, his life will praise the Lord; that he will be a blessed man who fears the Lord, and that his legacy will praise the Lord throughout all of the generations.

Each night before I lay our growing son down in his crib, I whisper in his ear…

“Praise the Lord.”

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thanks . giving — counting blessings + considering the Cross

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Count your many blessings name them one by one

Count your many blessings see what God has done

Count your many blessings

Name them one . by . one

Count your many blessings

See what God has done!

Ever since I can remember we would sing out this chorus on Sunday mornings, feeling blessing and singing happily. Everyone is singing, everyone is counting. Everyone is blessed.

There was this one time when I was a teenage girl, I took the time to start a list.

  1. Jesus
  2. the Bible
  3. Salvation
  4. my church
  5. my family
  6. school
  7. friends

The list kept on going,… there are so many blessings to count. The length of the list almost overwhelmed me, and I rolled my eyes at my own naïveté, that I could actually write a list, that I could actually count my blessings.

I could sing the song with everyone, but I could not count the blessings, every one.

Older now, instead of rolling my eyes at the length of the list of blessings, I’ve moved past naive list-making and realize the number of blessings are like the numbers of the stars over our heads, infinite, too many too count. And these countless stars and countless blessings are not meant to be quantified, they’re meant to cause us to marvel at the Creator, the One who Blesses, to see the Lord, and to worship Him for all of who He is and all that He has done!

Every blessings, each day, each hour, each minute – – – 365 days in a year. 24×365 = 8760 hours in a year. 525,6000 minutes make up only one year. Then the seconds… and then all of the moments and memories that make up those numbers, that make those numbers mean something significant. Blessings heap into a countless pile, like the countless stars.

Counted blessings overwhelm me, but instead of rolling my eyes and throwing the list into the wastebasket, I choose to let the blessings pile, let the blessings turn my gaze upward, let the counting and the counted become worship of the One Blessing.

These heaped blessings – family, and friends; church and community; memories, journals, books, and cups of hot tea; salvation and sanctification, suffering and pain – pile up on top of me, pressing me face up the sky, back down to the ground, arms out from my side, legs straight, feet pointing into the air… I’m pressed into the shape of a cross.

Heaped blessings press me, shape us, into the shape of a cross. 

This is the power of piled blessings.

Piled blessings are not meant to be counted and saved, like gold coins in a vault.

Piled blessing are not meant to be quantified and are are not meant to qualify.

Piled blessings are meant to press us into the shape of a Cross.

Piled blessed are given so that we can give out.

Piled blessings are meant to be poured out, blessings multiplied, a joy shared is a joy multiplied.

Piled blessings are meant to be treasure hunted from heaps of pain and suffering and all of our various trials. Only Jesus can transform what was meant for our evil into eternally good.

One more blessing for the pile.

Piled blessings are meant to point us to praise the name of Jesus.

Piled blessings are meant to point others to praise the name of Jesus.

Piled blessings are meant to pile praise to the heavens.

Piled blessings are meant to blaze a trail of people who carry the life and love and name of Jesus to every family member, each friend, neighbors who line our streets, strangers who line our lives, all the way into eternity.

If we make a list and count our blessings and we only pile up the blessings and we stop at the blessings, if we forget to list and then look up to the One who blesses us, we are prone to despair; we are prone to pride. We might think that our blessing are not enough compared to the person’s list beside us. Or we might think that all we gave ourselves this list, or that we deserve this list, or that all of these blessings deserve our praise.

Our blessings are gifted to us so that we might praise the name of Jesus, so that we might look up and worship, so that we might look out and welcome. 

So this Thanksgiving, let’s count our blessings, one by one. Heaping blessings humble us, pile on us. Pressed under these blessings, let’s conform to the Cross, and live with hearts and arms opened wide for the one name of Jesus.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”

(Ephesians 1:3)

 

the turn from 31 to 32

This year has been one for the books. It has been one of the fastest, fullest, craziest, most wonderful, best, sweetest, difficult, slow, relaxed, and contented years I have known.

  1. We welcomed Haddon soon after my birthday, and our lives have changed in all of the wonderful ways life does when you welcome a whole person into your home, into your family. We are so appreciative to the person who invented the pacifier, and we are so glad that Haddon is the hungriest, happiest, humblest, handsomest Haddon we have ever known.IMG_1356
  2. We transitioned local churches. This transition is something we have done/are doing in full confidence before the Lord, and has been frustrating and difficult in ways I didn’t expect and still don’t remember to prepare for. It’s an undoing and a remaking, and for it I am so glad, and over it I have cried so much.
  3. Tyler has traveled less this year, which affects all sorts of things. We are not glad about it but we do like him, so there’s that. I generally hate when someone replies “oh well now that you have three kids…” or “well isn’t that nice!”…. y’all, that’s dumb. We like going out there for the gospel and His Glory and we love it when Tyler gets to play the guitar and be a small part of this massive movement of God called the sharing the gospel with people. But the cool thing is – it’s one on one relationships that Jesus uses to spread His kingdom and we have three young men who need the gospel and their daddy has been home to share it with them and to show it to them, and for that, we are so. glad. 
  4. We are homeschooling – for real. And honestly, I love it. Y’all are crazy for sitting in carpool and for doing all the homework and for making all of the lunches and doing parent/teacher conferences and all. of. that. stuff. but hey! you be you, and I’ll be me. 😉 at home, with my children, comfortable, drinking coffee, sitting in the sunshine.
  5. At the end of the summer, I did whole30, which I probably at some point said I would never do, and realized I have a gluten intolerance (due to severe joint paint in my hands, knees, and feet which goes totally away when I do not eat gluten) which I am sure I hoped I would never have (I didn’t want to be one of those people) but the pain isn’t worth the bread or the pasta, so I’m a gluten-free girl – what can I say (but HELP!).
  6. Noelle cut my hair. and I was soooo nervous but now I love it! What was I waiting for!? It’s not that short hair = perfect hair, but it is that short hair = great for me now hair!IMG_1319
  7. I have realized sometimes done is better than perfect and perfect – like what you and I both know I mean here – is retarded. Life is dynamic, not static, and in heaven, where we who believe in Christ will be most alive, life will be most dynamic, and nothing will stay still and be perfect (like what we both know I mean about perfect ((think, model-home)). the thing is with model homes – nobody lives there. And if you start looking past the perfect plush furniture and on point paint colors you will realize it’s not comfortable, and it’s nobody’s favorite. which takes away from the immediate shiny-star appeal and makes you realize you want to go home. to your home with your stuff and your dust and your dishes and your laundry and your people. and basically life is made of relationships that are not perfect but definitely alive and unconditionally loved, and also cozy and lived in and loved and (sometimes barely) done stuff.
  8. I am in the middle of writing a bible study. Goodness, just typing that makes me question all of my merit. But!, I am so glad to be writing it. I am so happy that the Lord gave me the space, and gave me the girls to do it with me. The whole undertaking is a lot like doing homework. I just do the little bit that I can, when I can, and I just plod through it. I thought – before I started – that it would be a lot more like floating through, magically writing a gleaming glittery bible study. But it’s a lot more like digging in the dirt work. And I am so happy about that, too.
  9. As of the beginning of October, I have a four year old and a 6 year old. I am in this thing. I am a momma. For realz. There is no talking about how I am brand-new at this; no hiding behind some sort of ignorance or naivety. Nope. I am a momma. and not any momma, but one to three little men. I read an article in the latest Magnolia Journal with a question that asked “What sort of mom do you want to be?”… and then encouraged the reader to go be that mom. This is a question I have been asking myself and answering with the Lord over the last little bit. As much as I so admire my friends who are free-falling, driving to the beach without a plan or a care in the world, eating all of the ice-cream and about to fall over with laughter and amazing spontaneity, I am just not her. Because holy moly what if she runs out of gas on the way!? A plan would have helped. And besides that, my plan falls under my principled convictions and fierce passion to live up to those. And my principled convictions are not some trite self-realized, self-identified, self-fulfillment sort of list I have created. They are the very Word of God as the Holy Spirit helps me to understand and apply His Word in my context, and by His upholding grace, I will come under and I will live out of them. This is what I am talking about – I want to be a momma, a woman!, who, if my boys get to decide what gets etched as my epitaph would choose “she sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of the rest was just added on as well”… I want my life, each of my roles and tasks to be about seeking first His kingdom. So I cannot! and pray I will not! be about trite, stupid, and otherwise ridiculous sinful ways and selfish ambition. I want my sons to know I have laid down my life for the cause of Christ, and for His Life to be made manifest in each one of them, little men, big man. I want them to know I did this happily, out of the joy set before me, for their good, and for His great glory. I want them to know with every hug, kiss, hot meal, chocolate chip cookie, and set of clean sheets, that Jesus Jesus and ONLY Jesus is who I want for them. If I haven’t made this clear yet in this paragraph, my face and my heart, my mind and my day in and day out ways are set like a flint toward this desire. Oh God, please, let it be so.IMG_1289
  10. It’s fun fun fun to be married to Tyler. We have been married for ten and a half years and we are realizing one. We are not newlyweds. and two. We are still so young. Ha! It’s fun and funny and the bestest thing ever 🙂 Since we were dating I have been reminding Tyler of my birthday this way : when the clock says 11:06 I tell him it’s my birthday. Thankfully this ridiculous reminder has worked for the last several years; he has not forgotten my birthday yet. IMG_1231
  11. Turning into thirty-two I realize I have only begun, but in all of the ways that I have started to begin, I have set patterns and habits that are forming who I am. Some patterns and habits must be repented of and abandoned, and others must be steadfastly continued. I have begun to realize not only am I not invincible like I felt before I had children, but I am also fragile, fallible, and finite. I am the weaker vessel, and I am a weak vessel. I sin easily; I forget all too often. I am flesh, covered in sun spots and freckles, the beginnings of wrinkles… soft, stretched, and gluten gives me pain. When I haven’t eaten enough or slept enough, I get upset and impatient too fast. And I cannot always control whether or not I have slept enough or… well, I cannot control. I cannot make up the perfect world. Ha. not even the perfect moment. or perfect me. But… I have also realized that if I say I believe that this world is the best of all possible worlds, and I do; and if I say I believe in His meticulous Providence, and I do, then I don’t always have to be on the hunt for the best, and the better, as if it is something to accomplish and gain on my own… I can rest and relax, I can simply wake up today – and see His best, His good, His care, His providence, all around me, for me. So happy birthday to me, and heres to 32.

 

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life-giving home . how to host your own

What started as a “How can I do this?” has turned into a “We can do this in so many ways!” for me, and I want to share with you a few ways you can host your own Life-Giving Home experience.

—> After I read Life Giving Home last spring, I had an aha! moment. The women’s ministry at our church wanted to revive our book club, desired decentralized small groups, and prayed to connect organically the seasoned and younger women at our church. I thought – this book would be perfect!

So with the pastor’s wife and the women’s ministry coordinator we worked out my dream. Through our life classes and the church worship folder we advertised and personally invited all of the church women to sign up for this experience. It was something like we had never done before, so plenty of people had plenty of questions. And once we began to answer them, everyone wanted to be apart of it!

We began in January … we met at the pastor’s wife’s house for a big ole lasagna supper over happy conversation and meeting the ladies who would be our small group throughout the year.

When the ladies signed up, the trio-team got together and prayerfully divided the women into small groups. We tried to have a couple of seasoned women and a few younger girls. These ladies were put together at the January supper, and then went from there – with introductions, discussing when would work best for them to meet next month, and all around chatting excitedly about the new endeavor.

Now, each small groups meets once a month when they want to and where they choose. The month’s chapter serves as a springboard for discussion.

This idea created Titus 2 – style small groups. It’s neat to be able to have a collection of ages, experience, and life stage. Everyone can open their homes so their friends can peek inside. (It’s such a treasure to see how other people live!)

That’s just one of the ways.

I wanted to host a book club with friends and neighbors, and just all of the girls who had taken interest in the Life Giving Home book, but I only saw all of the obstacles. Tyler said “utilize Facebook Live!” I’m so glad I said YES! It’s turned into a fun way to connect with family, friends, and people I am just getting to know, over a great topic – God’s vision of home + homemaking. You can join our Life Giving Home Facebook group here. Invite friends who live in another state to join you for our Facebook Live event — it will be their event, too!

Share the book with a small group of neighbors or friends. Y’all could go on a walk or chat about the book while the kids play.

Another good idea —> Host a “soup and a story” supper in your home and invite neighbors to come enjoy soup together and share their story of how they purchased their home, memories they’ve made, and what their dreams are for the future. Then you can see if there’s interest to continue to get together and use the book as a conversation starter for your get togethers.

Open your heart and open your home! Engage whatever the Lord shows you as you enjoy our book this year.

 

 

 

homeschool, honestly : one-piece life

This school year, I have felt the difference.
Leland, if we were going the public school route, would be up our backyard’s hill at the neighborhood school. I watch, washing the dishes and listening to my boys playing, as parents drop off their littles ones in the morning. I see moms pull up the carpool to collect their small students as I cuddle with my sons on the couch, reading a book. All of these sights, just up the hill.
It’s a difference I’m aware of when all four of us, Haddon tucked into the ergo, a boy on each elbow, walk into the grocery store – the library – the indoor pool – the playground – in the middle of the day. Others’ eyes ask.
I’m happy with our decision and ok with the difference. I’ve heard from other seasoned homeschool moms that we homeschoolers are actually among the majority in North Carolina.
I’m not upset by it, or uncomfortable with it, but it is something.
On the other hand, I grow more happily confident in the rhythm of homeschooling each week. We do, as Ann writes, live one-piece lives. The line between learning and living is a hard one to trace; we can barely make it out. And I like that so much. I want our sons to be life-long learners, and learners who live life well. I have the opportunity personally to cultivate this lifestyle, and to erase the line.
At the same time, I understand that education is a discipline, and subtly but surely, it is one I am almost daily working into the habit of my children. Most days, we get out our school box and go through the pages of math, reading, and writing. And each day, we go through the pages of history, science, literature, poetry, and Scripture and soak in whatever we are able to absorb. Sometimes we draw; sometimes we imagine. Sometimes we ask questions and find answers in another book we’ve been reading. We ask, and listen, we learn and we laugh. We work and we play and we live, together.
Learning. – Living. – Home.
This is our one-piece life rhythm, one I’m realizing is different, one I’m growing in, appreciative and content.
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Leland’s 6th Birthday . the story of his psalm

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I don’t really remember how I thought to choose a psalm for him. But I do remember that once I did choose one – we have prayed it over him, read it over him, and so desire for him to live under the banner of psalm one.

The canvas hung in his nursery before he was even born – the words a prophecy and a prayer over and for him.

And now, after this past year of growing as a young boy and also coming under Christ in new life , our prayer was answered!!, this psalm is our charge and challenge to Leland.

Psalm 1 . The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the lawof the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

 

He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he doeshe prospers.

The wicked are not so,

but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

 

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked will perish.

Oh this psalm – the way we pray these holy words for Leland goes something like this – 

We pray Leland is a man who delights in the law of the Lord, day and night. This is the primary reason we teach him to read, to read the Word.

Be assiduous in reading the holy Scriptures. This is the fountain whence all knowledge in divinity must be derived. Therefore let not this treasure lie by you neglected. Every man of common understanding who can read, may, if he please, become well acquainted with the Scriptures. And what an excellent attainment would this be!” – Jonathan Edwards, “The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth,” in Sermons and Discources 1739-1742, 101.

We pray Leland walks in the Way, who is Jesus Christ (John 14:6). 

Oh, when I see a strong tree, a mighty oak… I think of my sons, I think of Leland. I pray deep roots in the banks of God’s life giving Word for his soul, mind, strength; I pray a strong trunk to withstand and stand firm; I pray for lots of long branches full of life, leaves, fruit, shade to provide rest and comfort for others. 

This idea that in all of his activity, his doings, he would prosper… an idea that’s been awfully thwarted by american-pragmatic-progress/health-wealth-and-prosperity-pseudo.gospel… Psalm 90 records a prayer for all of the work of Moses’ hands to prosper… the word connotes that the work would last into eternity and for all of eternity… that the work would be worth it work, work that goes through the fire and remains, pure work, good work, work for the glory of the Lord. work that prospers. This is the kind of, the real kind of, prosperity that we pray for Leland. 

The last part of the psalm reads “the Lord knows the way of the righteous” oh that Leland would be deeply, intimately, always known by the Lord… I pray Leland will be a righteous man. I pray that he will live forever in the presence of the Lord.

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All of this for our six-year old son. All of this for our Leland, who made us parents, who already shows up and proves to be a lion-hearted leader. OH Jesus, all of You for all of our little man… this is our prayer, our gift, for our birthday boy, Leland.

 

{ photo credit – amy noon free photography }

 

 

Tyler’s Birthday . the celebration of our leader

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Praise God from whom all blessings flow – and you, Tyler, are one of my, one of our, deepest, most significant, eternal blessings. You are our fearless, loving, gracious, kind, patient, long-suffering, leader. You answer for us before the throne of God, in confidence of Christ, with wisdom and salvation. You protect, provide, and purpose for us God’s glory and good. So we thank the Lord for you, and we thank the Lord for sustaining your life, for gifting us with you for one more year, and we pray for many, many, many more years. Happy birthday, my love, my leader, my Tyler.