Enough

Once upon a time, a little girl thought life somewhere as natural and wild as her oddly curled hair would make her happy.

DSC_9727-9

So she explored barefoot and hatless, feeling all that she could feel from the Louisiana sun hot on the top of her head, the sun and forests and pastures of Germany warm around her body, to some Ohio mud cold and slimy between her toes, to Virginia and Carolina and all the way to Montana.

DSC_9729-11.jpgBut still she wanted more.

Someone to explore with would make her happy, she thought.

DSC_9732-14So she married a man from Appalachia who was dark and ruddy, like an American gypsy.

DSC_9730-12He moved her all around like one too, loved her sweetly, and gave her blue-eyed baby girls, and she loved them and all the new places they would go.

But even together, still she wanted more.

DSC_9734-16So she prayed and searched for some brown-eyed boys, and the ones she found didn’t come home with her but two perfect ones did.

And she named them and loved them, but still…

DSC_9741-23she just had to have more.

It was like hunger, constantly whetted, but never filled.

DSC_9738-20More

Better

Wilder

Different…

more of something.

DSC_9743-25It wasn’t more land, more house, more critters, more people, more food, more skinny, more coffee, more time, more wild, more beautiful, more need, more calm.

DSC_9745-27She only had more,

when she had enough.

DSC_9744-26The day she realized she has enough

laid her flat and curled her tight and made her cry like something new was being born from a place deeper than her heart, mind, or gut knew was even there.

She has enough, and she is blessed among women for it.

.

that Black Hole

Is nothing but Fear,

DSC_9227-10

painting a tunnel onto a rock that looks so real,

DSC_9581-5.jpg

so dark and endlessly deep,

DSC_9587-11.jpg

that you dig in your heels hard and desperate and

DSC_9592-16.jpg

when that doesn’t work, you

DSC_9676-100.jpg

 thrash in your spirit thinking you’d rather face bodily death,

DSC_9711-135.jpg

even death, than go into that terror, that Black Hole just ahead.

DSC_9677-101.jpg

Open my eyes to see You between me and It.

DSC_9690-114.jpg

Your servant angels bearing me up on their pinions,

DSC_9383-10-2.jpg

gently staying my runaway train on

DSC_9579-3.jpg

the track where it rises up, higher and nearer 

DSC_9707-131.jpg

To the Light of Your everlasting presence.

Some Foolishness

Here’s some Montana-branded foolishness…

DSC_9165-102

that they call a ranch rodeo.

DSC_9150-87

God made people crazy creative, didn’t He?

DSC_9199-136

He made all these little pockets of people

DSC_9148-85

who collectively come up with the darndest ways to turn work into foolishness and fun.

DSC_9074-11

(and keep my doctor husband supplied with plenty of business as long as this rowdy, hard working culture carries on)

 DSC_9144-81

DSC_9145-82

DSC_9146-83

See the fourth photo down if you need to see the man up and smiling after his little encounter with that cow with a much more sour sense of humor than he had about it all:)

Feeling Like You’re About to Go Down?

At eye level on my fridge is a card with this little phrase from Amy Carmichael written on it:

DSC_7285-98

“If you would live in victory… you must refuse to be dominated by the seen and felt.”

Seeing and feeling blind us, don’t they?

We hardly notice the streetlights in town as we walk beneath them at night. The sky feels black and small around their yellow light, and we cannot see up and over to the sky above, nor do we even think to. We walk along as if the street is just another room in our world and sometimes those barely visible stars on the edges catch our eye, but they are drowned out by incandescent and so they should be, is how we behave.

And all the while, in the vast universe of reality, it is those streetlights that are mere glimmering flecks on a tiny planet, while the night sky is filled with billions and billions of stars!

Refuse to be dominated by the seen and felt this week. By God’s grace that life of victory is one that even you, and even I, can attain!

“Oh for grace to trust Him more…”

Prepared: No Eye Has Seen…

Nor ear has heard,

  DSC_8447-90

nor the heart of man imagined,

DSC_8408-51

what God has prepared for those who love Him... First Corinthians 2:9

DSC_8436-79

A future-  Hope!

But what is a body to do while we wait?

Why all this working, loving, creating, changing, suffering, relating, and laughing that we are in the middle of, right now?

DSC_8482-125

For we are His workmanship…

DSC_8452-95

created in Christ Jesus for good works,

DSC_8750-382Created for good works in a world subject to entropy.

DSC_8630-263

Able to do those good works in Christ.

DSC_8468-111

So the purpose, the point of the right now…

DSC_8430-73

is to work against the current of the world.

DSC_8459-102

which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:9-10

DSC_8384-27

A future prepared just for us.

A present prepared, just for us.

DSC_8389-32

Right now, grace to do those good works in Christ, because of Christ!

DSC_8438-81

And “some glad morning, when this life is over”,

a future too wonderful and good for words or any comparisons.

His Birthday and Her

When my daughters had their birthdays just four short days apart last May, I remembered like I do once a year every year, vividly, the day they were born.

I remember the feelings, the pain, the dark room, my husband’s presence, the mystery, the profound knowledge that very soon our lives would never be the same. I remember the blood, the dizzy, the terrifying pain, and a warm little person on my bare chest. I remember the exhaustion, selfishness that was being shredded from my skin as if my skin itself was being torn off, that moment the labor pains began in a process that might not end until that sticky selfishness is all gone or until I die, and I suspect the latter will come first.

I remember the sunshine, our family, our slightly larger family, the spring irises and peonies in bloom, old house smells and the new cribs bought with love by my in-laws. Waiting for sunrise, rocking to the warmth of a life in my arms, packing lunch for a weary husband before the sun showed itself, pulling covers over my head with her cry and crying just as hard as she was because all that pushing and carrying and stripping off of self is hard on a body.

Two birthdays out of the year I remember all of that and I smile. My girls are tall, beautiful, happy, smart, and they both want to take communion at church now because they believe that Jesus is real and that His shed blood gives them new life.

DSC_0051-51-3

And then there’s November 22nd. I remember that birth just as well as the other two, but differently. I don’t think of blood or pain, no dizzy, no black vortex of labor and babies coming out with joy and the hardest physical work of my life. I just remember the black smartphone, ringing early and me waking to my husband’s voice. Walking into the bathroom from our bed and not able to even see the light because I knew that we had been given a son.

Given.

I remember waiting, half hope, half terror, and waiting and waiting and waiting some more. Waiting as my husband talked on the phone to the person unexpectedly brokering this gift, waiting on the longest mile car-ride in the world, waiting in the elevator, waiting behind the nurses station. I twisted back and forth in my spinning chair and tried to hold on to at least one of the million thoughts swirling around in my head like glitter in a water globe. My husband sat still with his jaw set but his eyes just barely shined with hope.

And I will never, ever forget walking into a barely-lit hospital room to meet her. I sat by her bed, close to her face, with my back turned to the door. She was beautiful like all women are after they’ve given birth. She was a fellow mother, and she wanted to do right by her son. There was a look of certainty, pure beauty, and pain on her face all at the same time.

And so she signed some papers, and I spent the next day with our new baby boy. We named him Jonathan after the courageous, God-loving man in the Bible, and Haven, after his daddy and his daddy’s daddy and his daddy’s daddy’s daddy’s uncle.

Three years later, I think of her every so often, but especially on the day she gave birth to my son. I pray that one day we can meet, just one more time, so I can thank her and tell her how much we love her.

She gave my family the greatest gift one human can give to another- the gift of a life. And every November 22nd I get to remember, and the thought of him, and of her, makes me bow my head a little, and smile.

When You Want to Do This Right

When there is a planner with days scribbled on and scratched out and circled

And something to go in the oven, and stirred on the stove, bought at the grocery store, a list to be completed,

Image

A suburban, full plus one, to drive to school in the gray and snow, a little one in the front seat blinking hard to keep the tears in,

Only an already-gone moment to discern whether to speak, or be quiet and listen

Image

To do or to simply be available.

Image

When the shoe shelf turns into a heap of strings and colors, all different sizes jumbled into one

And time moves closer to later than you want it to be

A kitchen crowded with five humans and a dog, each one with stories from a day with people

Only one supper’s length to share it all in words and smiles

Image

To give, with hope that God really will provide what you need.

Image

When you just want to do this right

Image

And nice words from days already gone spread thin and dry up, so you sip at your coffee and find something to tidy but what you really want to do is tidy your soul, but you can’t, so you want to escape it all instead and buy a ticket to Tahiti.

You read Nehamiah, “the joy of the LORD is your strength“, and realize that the sorrows of the world are not your strength- who knew?

And sing “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” as loud as you can over the toddler boys dumping and stuttering and laughing and needing.

Image

When you just want to do this thing right

Image

And no one walks in your front door to tell you, with authority, that, in fact, you are.

Image

Take heart, dear sister or brother, that we are not home yet.

Image

And if anyone tells you that home is here and you can find it,

shut the door gently in their face.

And get back to circling, writing, cleaning, driving, speaking, cooking, listening, and loving.

Image

For your strength does not lie in the filling the needs that crowd around you, not much unlike those chickens when they see you carrying that bucket of feed-

Image

your strength lies in Yaweh- The LORD.

Image

The joy of the LORD is your strength.

A Home

We moved back into town just before Thanksgiving for a hundred reasons; but the thing that trumped them all was that we felt God pulling us to move here.

DSC_0140-49

I say God pulled at us to move here but I can’t describe at all exactly how God leads or pulls anyone to live any one specific place. It’s not science, but it’s not all wishy-washy feeling either. When we chose to move to Montana in the first place, we had to move somewhere after residency and so we prayed and interviewed and researched, and of all the places Doc could get a job, this one in Montana was right. It wasn’t in the most beautiful location although it’s close to pretty places, it certainly wasn’t the closest to family and friends that we love, it didn’t have the best pay or schools or air quality- but it was right. And we didn’t really know that this specific place was right until it was time to make the decision, as nice as it would feel sometimes to have the luxury of knowing God’s will in decisions like that ahead of time.

DSC_0138-47

We jumped the gun when we got here and bought a house outside of town because we desperately wanted a home. Growing up military will do that to a girl! If I could pick anywhere in the world to make my home simply out of things that I like and that make me happy and comfortable, I would pick an old farm in Appalachia somewhere with a white farmhouse, a creek or two, some pastures for kids and critters to play in, a woodstove, and my man working hard up in the hills somewheres. But Montana doesn’t have many old white farmhouses, there are even fewer creeks, and pastures that are naturally green sell for lots of money here in the high desert. DSC_0134-43

Our country-esque Montana house was the closest thing we could find to “home” within money and distance-to-hospital parameters. But it didn’t even remotely make us happy or comfortable. Much worse than that, we felt a need to be closer together as a family (Doc’s office was on the other side of town), and more deeply involved with people (most of those were on the other side of town, too!). God makes different people in the church for different things and whether we like it or not, God made Doc and I to be a part of a community and to live right in the middle of it- to be involved with people, not just as a ministry on the side, but as a way of life.

Last night under the covers I worked through a little more of the book by Oswald Chambers, If You Will Ask. He said, “Jesus did not make religious hermits; He makes men and women fit for the world as it is (see John 17:15)….  ‘No one understands me!’ Of course they don’t; each of us is a mystery. There is only One who understands us, and that is God. We must hand ourselves over to Him.” 

In my family’s case, right now, handing ourselves over to Him means trusting- really, perhaps tremblingly trusting- that He alone is unimaginably better than what I’ve conjured up and deeply feel that I want.

He is infinitely better.

DSC_0128-37

Sometimes God pulls us to a place or a person, and it takes time and maturing to get used to getting something other than what we thought we wanted; but when we follow, it’s not entirely without reward.

DSC_0119-28

With that in mind, we’re committing to this community by more than Doc’s job and attending church here. We’re building a house! It will be blocks from Doc’s work, the sugar beet factory, the oil refinery, our beautiful church, brothers and sisters in Christ, people that we love, people that we’re learning to love, and there’s not a cow or a mountain in sight.

We are oddly and beautifully at peace with that fact! I consider that sheer blessing from God.

DSC_0115-24

The house that’s sitting on the property right now is unsalvageable, so an excavator and two dump trucks are parked and ready to go. There was discussion on whether buying and remodeling would be better or more cost effective than building and, had we found the right place, it would have been. We didn’t find the right place but we found the right property, so building it is. We’re excited!

DSC_0114-23

I don’t know how long we’ll be here, it could just as easily be two years as twenty, but I’m thankful for a place to live and work together with my feller.

DSC_0111-20

God is good even when we are stubborn and sinful, He is always after redemption.

And because I’m excited, I’ll keep posting pictures of the process:)