life-giving home . march

In one of my all-time favorite movies, Steel Magnolias, one of my all-time favorite characters, Truvy, declares, “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.”*

Ten years ago at the very end of this month, Tyler and I were married. Golly – I remember it like yesterday. And when I think back I tear up and swell with smiles all at the same time. Laughing + crying at the same time is my favorite emotion, like raining and sunshine is my favorite weather – uncontainable, your heart, the sky, smiles and weeps simultaneously. The glory and the gravity of life, overwhelming.

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Between days of celebration and sunshine, days of storms, dry spells, quiet snowflakes, flashing thunder, rainy downpours, seasons changing, years passing… all of these days connect and cause and string together the days of sunshine + raining, the moments of weeping celebration.

Nothing is any longer ordinary; all of the mundane works itself into the miracle.

And in the march of time, in the month of March, each day, all thirty-one of them, together. Enjoyed and forgotten; embraced and remembered.

When Tyler and I walked down the aisle to the Doxology, married, I jumped up and hugged him with all of my might. Praise God from whom all blessings flow

… these same words introduce each one of us to the Lord around the table as we hold hands and sing them before we once again sit to eat supper, jump up and down “let me get that for you, honey,” serving each other, enjoying life together, as the sun sets, the stars shine, later that night we settle into sleep, jumping up in the dark to answer the baby alive crying, settling once more, slipping back into bed, warming up with each other,.. time marching on.

And as we look at who we are today – Tyler, stronger, Rachel, much more gracious; Leland, our lion-hearted leader, Grafton, our kind and tender hearted good brother, Strength and Grace our heaven babies who tilt our chins to the sky, Haddon, our abundant gift, who already lives life to the full, hungry and happy and wholly alive (all of us, new creations)… I watch time march on,… I look in the mirror and see happy smile lines wide and cheeks tears have crashed down, one after the other, unstoppable. I see blue eyes that See – see Jesus, fixed on Him, see how Jesus sees, set on things above, see that we see dimly now, but one day, fully! glory and gravity, grace and glory.

I see that time is marching across my face, and I welcome the blessing of a new day, new lines, new wisdom, mercies new every morning.

In the ordinary-ness of life, in the all is a miracle and a grace, in the sunshine and the rain, in the laughing and crying all at the same time, The Lord is ushering His Kingdom into our hearts, ushering us into His Kingdom.

As we walk, as we march, as we are carried into the next day, the next minute, our next emotion, the next season, our next relationships, let us seek first the kingdom of God that we may See Him high and lifted up, our Righteousness, and the rest of these days will be added to us as well…celebrating and connecting and causing our path to lead us straight into Heaven, straight into His holy home.

“May your mundane March realities be the ground in which you plant the seeds of faith, beauty, and hope that sprout into a life mart by the goodness of God.” (100)

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monday . needy

I woke up with a feeling of neediness that seemed strapped to my chest. As I unloaded my burden to the Lord, nervous and not sure, He answered me. 

Yep, girlfriend, you are needy. And yep, I’ve got you.

Isaiah 57:15 

For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,

who inhabits eternitywhose name is Holy:

I dwell in the high and holy place,

and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,

to revive the spirit of the lowly,

and to revive the heart of the contrite.

— We don’t want to admit that we live lowly, but the High and Holy One says He lives with us… and don’t we want to live with Him?

Then I read this

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read the post by clicking the picture
“God has given you so many limitations because he loves you. He wants you to experience as much of his love, in as many ways as possible. And for that to happen, he must provide you a never-ending river of reasons, and an enormous range of diverse ways, to receive and give love.⠀


And this is just what he’s done! He has made you a very limited part of his body, the church, and he places you with other parts that are also very limited in different ways (1 Corinthians 12:18, 27). As the interdependent parts work together, the whole body functions (Romans 12:4–5) and it displays the love of God (John 13:34–35). Your unique strengths and weaknesses are indispensable gifts to this body. Without them the whole body suffers because unique expressions of God’s gracious love will be missed.⠀

If you’re frequently discouraged over your limitations, it’s an indicator that you’re looking at yourself from the wrong perspective, and looking at yourself too much. You’re not seeing what God sees; you’re likely feeling discontent from comparing yourself to other people, other parts of the body.⠀

A wonderful treatment for such discouragement is prayerfully meditating on 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. And also it’s likely time to reframe the question from ‘Why can’t I be more like that?’ to ‘What opportunities is God giving me in my limitations to experience more of his gracious love?’⠀

Because the truth is, you are so limited because you are so loved.”⠀

— Jesus, thank you for loving me.

I heard Him singing this song to and over me… Lord, I need You by Matt Maher

 

The Lord spoke to me

 “‘My grace is sufficient for youfor my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknessesso that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of ChristthenI am content with weaknessesinsultshardshipspersecutionsand calamitiesFor when I am weakthen I am strong.'” – 2 Cor 12:9

Your greatest need, forgiveness + life, was met in the greatest act of history, the Cross, by the greatest person ever, Jesus Christ. I am your Need-Meet. 

 

welcome to us 

Saturday is for sharing – a yummy breakfast. a walk. a good conversation. a fun game. an afternoon nap. a table for two. a slow dance under the stars…

and today I want to share with you a few photographs. We are husband+wife, daddy+mommy, & three little men – our sons – our children –

welcome to the new us. welcome to our family.

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unspecified“Joy shared is joy multiplied” – Tyler, our fearless and loving leader

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“You have filled our hearts with joy” – David, in the Psalms

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“Come to me, little children” – Jesus

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“I sing over you” – God our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer

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“Children are a gift, a blessing, a heritage from the Lord. Happy is the man whose quiver is full.” – Psalm 127:3-5

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“May these boys abound in brotherly love” – my prayer for them

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“My son, listen to your momma’s instruction, and live” – Proverbs 1:8

“I’d rather do nothing with you than something with anyone else”

>>> photographs . amy free photography <<<

 

 

Christmas Quiet Times

With the recent arrival of a newborn, life has changed!, my body has once again changed, and my schedule, too. Plus, it’s the Christmas season, which makes everything exciting & different from the normal. 

With all of these changes, my time with the Lord has changed too. 

Everyone assumes that with a newborn it’s hard for me to spend any time in the Word. And I know what they’re saying, but for me, it was the last several weeks of pregnancy that were so hard – hard to wake early (I was so tired!); hard to journal (my hands were swollen and numb); hard to take in any more (I was emotionally and mentally “full,” so I meditated and prayed with the scripture I know). And in those last weeks, the Lord was so faithful to me. He upheld me and strengthened me. He fought against and won the self-inflicted guilt about not having a “proper” quiet time. He used Sunday morning sermons to “feed” me all week. 

So after bringing Haddon home, I was ready to jump back into my quiet time. I missed Jesus! And my morning time with Him. 

Now, I wake at 6A to nurse Haddon… and this is when I spend time with the Lord in His Word. 

It’s the Advent + Christmas season, I have focused my quiet time there – at Jesus’ birthday. 

My quiet time looks like reading a bible verse or few about Who Jesus Is; today is December 14th and I read John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” 

I write it down. I try to memorize it, or refresh my memory. I pray/meditate on the verse. I want the scripture to stick in the forefront of my mind for the day. 

Then I read this little book “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas,” edited by Nancy Guthrie. It’s 23 readings from various authors, pastors, theologians on Christmas. The date is the 14th, so I read the 14th chapter. 

And in those quiet dark sweet moments in the morning with littlest love in my arms and bible in my lap, I take in His Word. I pray. I’m so glad to meet with Jesus. 

Throughout the day I read other little things, and we have moments as a family where we get into the Word. My next blog post will be about family Christmas devotions. 

on a name

He had been quiet for a while.

I had been listening… and though some say that it’s through suffering the Lord speaks the loudest, in waiting, in my experience, He is very quiet.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

We walked into Jubala, all four of us, for a pre-supper afternoon treat. We wanted to relax. We wanted to enjoy the best cup of coffee we know. We wanted to watch our little lives run around in the sun.

I don’t know the exact time frame. I just remember it had been a while.

There on the wall, in hand lettering on a huge canvas created by a friend, hung these words

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I looked closer, reading carefully.

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HE gives and gives and gives again.

It was like a whisper. a Really Pretty one.

I knew. I knew that I knew – this is a word from the Lord.

“One day – this side of heaven – I will give again – to you.” — It’s only because of Him and from Him and through Him. It’s not because of me or something I did or earned or… no.

I waited and listened and listened and waited some more. He was quiet. He was near, I knew that. But He was quiet.

Friend, it was a long time. When you’re waiting, a minute feels like a long time. Months feel like eternity. And with the anniversary of a year of waiting,…

I wanted to wait well. I wasn’t always sure what that looked like. Sitting still? Doing a project? Praying like I was talking my head off? I wanted Him to speak. to come. to answer. to move.

Most of all I wanted Him. I waited like the watchman waits for the morning. Any sign. Any glimpse. Is that You, Lord?

In the waiting, I would remember His whisper. “I give again.”

I learned about Annie Johnson Flint. She’s a woman who exemplarily lived out her faith in the living God. This hymn, one of her many, sings:

  1. He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
    To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
  2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
    When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
    Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
  3. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
    Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
    Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
    The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
  4. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
    His power no boundary known unto men;
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
    He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again

Sometimes I drove myself mad. Other times I cried. In the afternoon, I might sleep. There were days when I would whisper back, “I cannot do this anymore.” And He would respond, “You are right. But I can.”

So I put my face to the Lord’s like a flint. I was gonna get Him. I was gonna see the Lord. I held Him to His Promise, because He says He is The Faithful One. He is The Promise Keeper. Not because He owed me, or I did something, or I had earned…

“While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.”

Eventually, I rested. I was like Jacob, who demanding the Lord bless him, after wrestling with the Lord, could say, I have seen the Lord face to face and my life was spared… and the limp was a blessing, and the new name was the gift, and seeing the Lord was really the only thing that Jacob had wanted all along.

I wrote in my journal:

“I know Good wins. I hold my breath, baited breath – eyes fixed – I want to make sure Good wins.

God, win.

In the moment of wrestling all goes silent. Still battling – still baited breath – warring. waiting. watching.

God win.

Here I am right before the battle ends. Right before the Victor conquers. Come on. Come through.

GOD WIN.”

I stopped crying. I knew He was coming. I sat up, alert. I could almost see Him.

It was the end of February, cold, and there was a morning I – by some miracle… – got a good long time in the warm sunshine in the Word. My boys were sleeping, from what I remember, and I just sat there with the Word pouring into my heart, the sun pouring into the windows. He was speaking again.

(I want to pause and say that there is so much more that I could write to share with you, there are so many ways I could write this post, and perhaps I will write more at another time, but suffice it to say, Our God is a Great God, in the biggest of big ways and in the every-little-jot-and-tittle ways… He has done great things, and with the same heart that John ends his gospel,

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” )

I read through the story of Joseph, found in the book of Genesis. I decided to look up what the name of Joseph meant.

Right at the top:

“May Jehovah add,/increase // to add, to increase, to repeat // means to add, increase or do again”

— to give again —

O LORD.

I nearly fell through the floor.

I knew it. I didn’t know when… but I knew. He was going to do it again.

Jehovah – the Holy God, the unchanging, eternal, self existent God – came to me, in His Word… “the I am that I am” promised to me (little me, little little me) that HE would keep His covenant, because, after all, He is THE Covenant-Keeping God.

And this Jehovah, The Lord of All, was promising little us our Joseph. The Lord was promising another boy. The Lord was promising that we would see life in the land of the living.

And there is just something so scary and so heavy and so messy about holding God to His Word – except that He commands that we do it and His character says we can – because He is The Faithful One who Keeps His Promises. because He is I am that I am.

I wrote down the words in the my journal, I read through the Scripture again, and I stared Him straight in the face and I said

– You are scary and You are Good. and I will not let go, I will not stop waiting, I will not stop praying and holding You to Your Promise until you answer me, bless me, re-name me, re-make me. give me all that You are and all that You promise.

And on that spring March morning when I held the positive pregnancy test in my hand, early morning, fully awake, I was quiet.

The Lord had spoken.

I limped upstairs, silently, and showed Tyler the test.

On that hot summer morning, sitting in the ultrasound room, when we looked at each other’s blue eyes, we smiled —“another boy” we silently nodded at each other

Joseph Haddon

Of course.

Not because we had done anything or earned anything… no….

But because He is Faithful and Good, Scary and Sovereign. He is the God who remembers, who removes reproach, who comes, who gives again. He is Jehovah. He is the God of Life.

“Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’ And she called his name Joseph, saying, ‘May the LORD add to me another son!'” (Genesis 30:22-24 ESV)

Psalm 46:10 / Psalm 27:13-14 / Psalm 73:28 / Psalm 130: 6 / Psalm 145:13 / 1 Corinthians 1:9 /  Hebrews 6:13-18 / 2 Peter 3:9 / Romans 5:8 / Genesis 32:22-32 / Hebrews 12:2 / John 21:25 / Genesis 30:22-24; Genesis 35:24; Genesis 37-50 / Exodus 3:14 / Revelation 3:12 / Isaiah 42:5 / Job 33:4

I am excited to share with you soon where the name Haddon comes from, too… there’s another good story. And that weighty Genesis scripture…. there are stories upon stories here. Praise the Lord.

 

 

The H Word 

It’s the word that corners everyone. It’s the reality that makes some celebrate and motivates others to cringe. It’s a fully loaded word : loaded with emotions, thoughts, methods, worry, and prayer.

It’s the H Word.

Homeschool.

— We plan to homeschool our sons. —

And homeschooling Leland and Grafton was about all I could think about and work on (talk with trusted friends, search Pinterest a bit mindlessly, read article and website after article and website) in my first trimester. All of this requires very little physical effort. So it was perfect.

Even though I realize the whole idea and practice of home schooling is both unifying and polarizing, I want to share with you what we have decided for this upcoming fall.

I want to share with you just in case it might be encouraging to you. Just in case you’re thinking about joining me in this venture. Or maybe you just want to read about the crazy adventure we are about to embark.

A. Let me state some caveats :

First, this is our plan (that we think is from the Lord and we have made in wisdom) but the Lord orders our steps. What I mean is – the plan might (it will) change.

Our plan is a skeleton.

We hold our plan with tender hearts and open hands before the Lord.

We don’t know what we are doing in the sense that we have never done this before. (It’s like having your first child, or, perhaps like starting a new job.)

We don’t think home schooling is the end all be all. [Good – (like categorically good, not like ‘approved by Rachel and Tyler’ good)] -Homeschooling is just one of the means and methods to steward family life under the Lord.

B. Ok so. This is our plan :

Use Sonlight’s pre-K (with readers) curriculum.

Isn’t that simple? Of course it didn’t come together in only 20 seconds and 5 words, but it is what we have concluded (so far.)

We also have signed up Leland for clubs – a homeschool community program at New Life Camp – where he will be with other kids his age + will enjoy games, science, art, and generally being friends with kids. It meets once a week from the middle of September through the middle of November which is perfect because in November our lives are welcoming a new life 🙂 and we will be all turned upside down and enjoying every roller coaster minute.

On the day Leland goes to clubs, I will spend one on one time with Grafton, focusing on him, and wherever he needs attention.

C. And most importantly, why :

Well y’all before the Lord and looking each other in the face, we think this is what the Lord wants for our family.

Tyler and I received an excellent education in college and we asked ourselves, “Golly! What if we had gotten this kind of education before we were 18 years old!?”

It was the sort of education that equipped us to learn. The kind that taught us through the Christian world (not only what is approved by the Christian world view). It is the type of education that invited us to ask questions, think, come to a real conclusion on issues and subjects that matter. We learned how to love God with our minds.

And we so desire this for our sons.

Now, we won’t start with Plato and Plutarch, but we will begin building a framework in which to hold knowledge and wisdom, in which to supply tools for learning. We will begin with stories that all tell The Story.

D. We chose Sonlight because we appreciate that :

– it looks through the Christian world view

– it has a missiological bent

– it’s literature based

– it’s organized with the lesson plans done for me (I can always add or subtract, but I appreciate having this work done for me)

– also I like that it comes in a box = done and done, on my doorstep!

– the curriculum encourages that you do the Core together with children close in age (I like togetherness!)

– it integrates subjects (history + reading, for example)

There are probably more reasons for it; of course there are cons. I was happy to invest because it’s mostly books – good books! – and our family loves a good story.

In Conclusion :

Y’all – before the Lord and with each other Tyler and I want to raise our sons in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We desire that Leland and Grafton grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. We undertake this desire as our delightful duty to, before God and under His great care, steward our heritage. There is so much sobriety here. And. There is so. Much. Grace and Freedom to go about pursuing His glory and His Good – the Gospel!!  for our children.

And here we are. At the end of the summer, at the beginning of birthday season and little life coming, embarking on a new family-adventure.

If you have any questions, are slightly confused, but especially if you are almost encouraged, please let’s talk! We can begin our conversation when you leave a comment on the blog.

second trimester : only the Lord

With my boys’ pregnancies, the ‘sick’ didn’t stop the first day of the second trimester… and this pregnancy was no different.

I was feeling better though; there was less creeping and more normal eating. I still would move in and out of nervousness and excitement, feeling the weight, feeling the reality, feeling the fact that this life is inside of me, but this life is not up to me.

I want it all – every little jot and tittle – each week, each development, each day – to be up to the LORD. HE is Sovereign and HE is Good. Sometimes the idea that everything, the good, the bad, the hard, the ugly, the mundane, each mystery, is up to the LORD is a hard idea to wrap my mind around. But just think – who else would you want it to be up to? Who else would you want in charge? Who else would you want to order the universe? order the day to day? order each development? order the inward parts and order your soul? Only the LORD.

We traveled – Orange Beach. Home. Nashville. Ridgecrest. Home for a day. Oriental. Caswell. 32 days of traveling. 5 different places. different beds. different landscapes. different people. different food. lots and lots of road.

We travel with Tyler, who helps to lead worship through music (he plays electric guitar) and he takes care of the band, takes care of us.

It’s our calling and our heart cry. The boys and I get to do the fun stuff, including watching daddy help to lead people into the throne room of God. fun + awesome. these weeks are pivotal weeks in the lives of the students, parents, pastors, and staff represented.  these are the summer days that some of these souls will remember for eternity.

Each day, each event, each person present – ordered by the Sovereign, Good Lord. Only the Lord. And we get to engage and enjoy.

We came home on a Wednesday afternoon, started the laundry, and ordered a pizza. The next day came, and early that morning we all piled back into the truck and headed to the doctor’s office. Along the way, we asked each other – what if they find something not right? what if something is not right? – and we answered each other before the Lord, life is lived this way. in faith. in hope. We are always doing the next thing this way. [This is no different. (We just feel it.)] So with our faith resting only in HIM, our hope settled in the LORD, we walked through Wilkerson’s doors.

We saw a heart beat. Bless the Lord.

We saw a baby. Lord, thank you.

We saw legs and arms and a head – a face that looks like daddy’s.

We saw it all together. We saw life. Grace upon Grace.

We are having another boy. another brother. another little man. 

He gives and He gives and He gives again.

Only the Lord could have ordered this story – this life – this day – this moment of discovery, elation, exhaling, and praise. He’s true in giving and He’s true in taking away. He’s true for happy days and He’s true for hard days. He’s true in death and He’s true in life. He is the Only True Sovereign Good Lord.