Friday, March 28, 2014


So... This is our hallway in preparation for the big move.

But... The big move is on hold. The bank is not so sure of our housing choice.

Therefore... If you are of the praying persuasion, we could use prayer as we decide whether to pursue this house further or find a new one. Either way, we are living on hold for the next few weeks in a house full or boxes. You can also pray for our sanity as the rain returns, and we lose our outdoor time.

I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

All Things

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
This afternoon I am breaking from packaging tape and cardboard. I took a break yesterday too. But that was a different type of break. Yesterday I was on a mini strike, a passive housewife tantrum because the home buying process jumped off the pleasant track it was on. We were closing tomorrow. Now we are not. Hopefully we will close some time in the next two weeks, but even that is in jeopardy. Yesterday I expressed my frustration by unpacking a few boxes and cleaning the house we are still living in {most pathetic protest ever!!}

Today is different. My head held a fury storm all day which was raging strong this morning, threatening to blow my day to pieces as I vented my irritation to a few loving listening ears. Out of daily ritual {lest I claim extraordinary wisdom}, I sat down to my Bible only to find my mind so tumultuous that it would not adhere to the task at hand.

From a heart desperate for quiet, I cry:

Lord, our compounded trials are not under your radar any more than Carrick crying through my "quiet" time again. I want to give obvious, public glory to you in this situation. Then I don't mind the difficulty. Your glory is worth it. Especially your glory declared!
{Aha moment} That's what Paul means, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." I can be content in all these things: in fixed cars that immediately break again. In the other car that joins the fun and breaks too. In homeowners that don't want to sell. In challenging lender requirements. In our rental house full of boxes. In the fixer upper that won't be fixed up as soon as we thought. In the house falling through. I can be brought low, I can abound, and in all things I can be content in Christ.

Blogging is the cheap literal answer to my prayer. There must be more. A personal manifestation of holding onto the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul," Jesus Christ.

Might be it starts with an end to the mental tantrum and a return of my sense of humor and patience with my family. Might be I turn my thoughts to praying for my friends {multiple} struggling with babies in life-threatening conditions. Might be I use my words to find reasons to thank rather than supplicate our great God. HOnestly, I'm not sure what this contentment looks like {I haven't practiced it often}, but I am certain of the source.
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I'm watching things grow

In honor of the great green day, I’m making corned beef, just like my grandmother used to cook for our family. The nostalgic smells have me thinking about legacy and what a blessing my grandparents, especially my grandmothers are in my life. Not just childhood memories, the things they’ve passed on to me, practical and spiritual, that I see everyday. Regular Bible study. Scripture memory. Love for and loyalty to their families, especially their husbands. The universally appropriate advice, “take a minute away to read a book - you’ll feel better.” I am blessed, my children are blessed by their lives.

I see this blessing in Gwennan right now. Her four-year-old brain is processing the complexity of God in ways that astound and encourage me.

Just last night while we were praying, she says, “Dad, I mean God,” then her head pops up. “Oh, I have two dads! You, Daddy, and God is my dad.” Bows her head again, “God-dad...”

My heart is still smiling at that recognition. Especially on the heels of this conversation...

The house is quiet while the two little ones sleep. Gwennan is up from her nap early helping me in the kitchen. “Mother, when does God stop looking at people?” 

I’m caught off guard for a moment, “Are you talking about our prayer, ‘the Lord turn his face toward you?’” 

“Yes. When does God stop looking at people?” 

We embark on a long discussion about common grace (in 4 yo terms) and heaven and hell and who goes where, when they go, how we know we are children of God. She receives it all with her deeply thoughtful expression and sums it up, “Because I have a new heart, God never stops looking at me.”

She understands better than I do somedays.

I think to quiz her and ask, “What is the place God’s children go when their bodies die?” 


“Good. And what is the place people go when they don’t love God?”


“Nope. That’s the neighborhood we’re moving to.”

“Oh... hell.”

As I’m sure it was for my grandmothers and mother before me, the greatest blessing in my life is watching my little ones turn their faces to the God who always looks at them. Seeing the truth we daily repeat take root and grow. Witnessing the people you love best in the world learn to love the One you love best. Grace upon grace.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Our family identity

I caught her again Saturday, still clutching the hastily eaten tube of toothpaste. This is the third tube this weekend. My discipline arsenal is exhausted. She’s bought more toothpaste with her own carefully saved aquarium money. She sat in time out until she fell asleep. Frustration sags my frame.

“Why are you doing this?” Two concerned parents sit down with the wayward three year old.

“Because I sneaky. I your midnight ninja.”

That silly nickname I made up one morning after she crawled into our bed in the middle of the night without waking us. How could I guess that she would own my joke as her identity.

“You are not sneaky,” her daddy replies. “You are our Sweet Afton. You are a good girl.”

Talking and more talking ensues. Talk with her about who she is. Our girl. Our sweet, big hugging, hard loving, good girl.

More talk with each other about how we present identity to our kids. We are in an uphill battle to build their frame of reference, how they see themselves and the world around them. Our task is to give them a Biblical frame in the face of a society with a fundamentally different understanding.

In society, what you do determines who you are. You bank, therefore you are a banker. You blog, therefore you are a blogger. We wear these activities like so many name badges, creating an identity. 

In God’s kingdom, who you are determines what you do. You are an adopted child of God, a new creation, an heir to Christ’s eternal glory. Therefore you worship the Lord; you love the church; you serve other people; you spread good news. All your activities, even quilting, cooking, mowing flow from a predetermined identity: Christian.

In society, my girl is an untrustworthy sneak. I want to treat her as such, taking away the privilege of privacy from her day, insisting that my all-watching eye be on her every move until she proves that she is other than what I think her to be. Which is why God gave her two parents. Daddy, who is not operating out of desperation to correct behavior, sees God’s way.

“You are our good girl, so we will treat you like a good girl.”

What?!” My heart screams. “And let her disobey again? If this backfires, what will she get into next?!”

The conundrum of the Christian’s relationship to God. God doesn’t treat his children as screwed up messes unworthy of trust. He doesn’t hold back His hand of blessing. We are new people as He has promised, as He has identified. Thus He treats us as His good children, knowing that in doing so, He is further subjecting Himself to injury through our disobedience.

More than that, we will label God as weak and passive because He stays His discipline. He stores His wrath for another day to show His goodness now, and we mock that He is impotent. Still “the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Exodus 34:6

Gracious. Merciful. Slow to anger. Abounding in steadfast love. He shows these things because He is these things. They are His identity.
But you have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
We are not who we were. We do not think according to the established pattern. Because we have the mind of Christ. Now. in the flesh. not just a promise for another day.

As parents, we make every opportunity to speak identity over our children. You are good. You are helpful. You are important. You are ours. Disobedience works against who you are. It does not define you.
Christian, you are God’s much loved child. You are sealed with his Holy Spirit. You have a new mind with Godly desires. You have a heart that longs to worship the one true God. Your sin acts in direct opposition to who you are. Your weaknesses do not define you. They cannot. Your identity is set in the cross of Christ.
Therefore, act like who you are! Throw off sin as counter to your nature. In the words of the immortal Mufasa, “Remember who you are!” Or as Paul would say, “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

As always the proof is in the pudding... 

The tube of toothpaste remains untouched since our good girl heard her true identity...

And we guard the silly monikers we create to mask our frustration with our children...

And we are defining our family according to truth...

Because we are our beloved Savior’s, and He is ours.

P.S. If you are struggling with your definition of self in Christ, I humbly suggest reading 1 Corinthians. You are not the first person to need your identity laid out. The entire Corinthian church and every church thereafter needed this encouraging, convicting letter.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Changes ahead

A good news update: I am not drowning in baby poo and toddler tears. We are all doing well. I didn't leave off blogging to wallow, as I so often have.

Last month, we used up all our data... looking at houses! Then looking at pinterest for ideas to spruce up the lovely 1940's cape cod that we're slated to buy on March 28. That's right folks, we are under contract to become bought in residents of Hampton Roads.

A lot of prayer predated this move. We hunted houses 3 years ago. After six months of hunting, Tim's credit score disappeared. You can be punished for paying off student loans and refusing credit card applications. We no longer qualified for a mortgage, so the search ended. We settled more comfortably into our lovely rental house where we've happily brought two babies home from the hospital and spread out quite a few Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.

Tim's brought up home ownership before, practically offering a paper bag to me when he opened Zillow. The last time we bought our forever home and painted it just right, we moved while the perfect paint was still fresh, held on to that vacant house from another state for almost a year, and watched our investment drop to zilch. Part of me trusts God for the timing of that move and the ensuing stress. Another less trusting part never wants to put myself in that position again. Hence the stomach churning stress over house hunting.

But this time didn't go that way at all. Pre-approval was a cinch. We found the home on the second day of searching. Of the other houses distracting us, one sold, another with no explanation was taken off the market. So here we are. A house that fits our wants and needs in a neighborhood we love at a price we can afford. Thank you Lord for easy, obvious provision.

I should stop typing now. Tell you all that I'll post when I can and show lots of pictures of the slow renovation.

That wouldn't be right. I can't leave this post with the idea that God is working when it's smooth sailing but not at harder times.We prayed before we bought the other house. We sought wise council. All the things we are doing now.

And while we were in that first house, we used the extra space to house people and extend hospitality. While in that house, we followed the Lord's confusing instructions to walk away from a career I loved and trust him to provide through one career. While in that house, we followed the Lord's obvious calling to leave family, friends, the mountains and a mortgage to shepherd a subdued middle school group. God was all over that house.

So He must have been all over the months and months it sat loosing value while we learned to trust the Lord's provision above the number in our savings account. That year was full of wild, unexpected turns. For instance, right before Afton was born, a tree fell on that dream house. The difference in the insurance payoff and the good friends discount tree removal was the cost of our OB bill. God wasn't only working through the amazing good events. Through that trial my covert mistrust in the church was replaced with absolute confidence in God's work through our adopted family.

I can't wait to be a bought in member of the peninsula because I am already an all in member of our Northside church family. I, no, we love, love, love the people of our church. We can't imagine serving anywhere else. It only makes sense to buy into the community and plant deeper roots.

As a bonus, we get a sweet house in need of just enough elbow grease to justify creative projects.

Please be in prayer for this process, especially our daily lives. We are all operating with a short fuse thanks to the chaos of packing. Closing is scheduled for March 28. All of you who like to offer babysitting days, pick a date in April. I'll be burning the candle at both houses trying to scrub and paint one and pack the other. I'm sure our kids will want a break from the VOC's and mess.


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