I won't give too much of an intro on this one but the Lord has brought me through a lot of different seasons. Throughout each of them, there have been books along the way that have provided a lot of wisdom, understanding and comfort. I wanted to share those with you here!
Life can be very unpredictable. You are likely either going through a trial, about to go through one or just out of one. The good news is that God has a miraculous ability to not only sustain us through pain, disappointment, hard news, huge life changes, betrayal, etc... but he actually grows us in it. When we choose to look through the lens of "What am I supposed to be learning here? How do you want me to walk through this?", we tend to see things from a much larger perspective and we invite peace, hope, joy and meaning into our lives and situations. It certainly isn't a quick process and it's often the harder way through things but the end result is worth it. Beauty from ashes.
"Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
That's the beauty from ashes. That we would be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
It's hard to share such a vulnerable side of life: pain. We tend to shrink back and want to either deny it or hide it but I know there is purpose in sharing it. And very often the things we have gone through are actually for the benefit of other's lives, too.
To hear more of my heart on this, check out the video below.
Beautiful day here in South Alabama. Absolutely perfect weather. I woke up yesterday and knew we had to do something outside. We rented a couple kayaks and cruised the Mobile Bay Delta area. Although my kids ate all the snacks in the first 30 minutes, had to pee the whole time and played bumper boats at my expense...it was still wonderful. Being a mama to boys, you have to lay aside expectations on a day like this. You can't imagine a serene, leisurely kayaking experience where everyone is quiet and peaceful. If you want that, you'll have to go alone. ;-) I have found over the years that just as refreshing (.....ok, almost as refreshing) as those quiet, peaceful times, are the times where you laugh your way through the day so much that your cheeks hurt.
We do a lot of that.
So when you get a pretty day, relish in it! And when you get an ugly day...relish in that too because it's still another day to breathe air, experience new mercies and be with people you love.
"Time is a monster that cannot be reasoned with. It moves like a snail at our impatience and races like a gazelle when we cannot catch our breath."
It has been 3 years. Wow. I explain in the video below about my heart for relaunching this blog and the meaning behind its new name. I don't know exactly where it's all headed but I've felt the nudge lately to get back out "there" or... "here", rather. I'll share more about what has been happening in our family and my life lately, but to summarize- I feel like he's leading us into a new season. I want to document whatever that road looks like for us. Writing and journaling is a way for me to process the mysterious ways of God and the misunderstandings of life as well as a way to look back and see where He has connected the dots through it all. This is just another expression of that process.
About 8 months ago I got off of Facebook as I felt this "nudge" to simplify and remove clutter as well as make time for the most important things around me. I had no idea what a blessing that would be! While I have missed really major life events such as baby announcements and engagements, it's been refreshing too. (Sorry, Mom) :) If we want to glean from the Lord's wisdom, we really do have to be intentional about getting our minds and lives in a position of being a good listener and learner.
So much has been happening over the past few years, right up until today! I look forward to sharing some of those moments with you.
to form by interlacing; to make a complex story or pattern from a number of interconnected elements
"I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then, you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ." Colossians 2:2 Msg.
My precious gifts. I want you to know how valuable and special you are to me. As I rub your sweet heads and backs at night, I am reminded to be THANKFUL you are with me.
The joy that you bring me cannot be adequately described. The way your hugs make me feel. The scruffy sound of your voice. The fading "Love you Mommy" as I shut your bedroom door. The kiss on my cheek as you leave for school.
You two are the most precious things I have in my life.
There is no amount of peacefulness or solitude or vacation time or rest, that can compare to the beautiful chaos of having you two with me.
Brayden- you are independent, spunky, strong willed, fearless and yet cautious; you are tender, yet tough. You will be an incredible addition to your friends lives. You will be a wonderful father, husband and fearless servant of Christ. You are bold and full of courage and I ADORE YOU!
Dylan- you are talented at everything you seek to do. You are a born protector and encourager and leader. You are thoughtful and loving and giving and generous. You are empathetic and smart. You are charming and witty. You will be the most wonderful father and husband one day.
As I see you two grow, I become more proud of who you are.
There isn't a greater pleasure in this world than to see you two love each other. Your bond can not be broken. Do not ever let anyone come between you. You are different and unique and strong and special. Find the qualities in each other that are different and view them as strengths. Always be there for one another.
There are times I wish my house were cleaner or my car were quieter. Or that Dylan, you would finally learn to get your boxers off the bathroom floor. Or that Brayden, you would aim better. Or dress neater. Or comb your hair. Or pick up your Hot Wheels cars. Or shake the sand out of your shoes.
But these are part of what make my time with you two so...
The sandy shoes.
The mismatch clothes.
Running late so Brayden can "just get one more thing!"
The towel on the bathroom floor.
The chaos in the car.
Walking around the opposite side of the grocery store, just to get the "driving cart".
The dirty smelling blankie.
The cleats you wore inside the house.......and the track of clay you brought with it.
The book bag you didn't unpack.
The dishwasher you didn't finish unloading.
The "art" on my fridge.
The smell of your watermelon shampoo.
The 8 different toothpastes I bought just to try and find one that you liked.
Arguing over the car seats....
and the radio
and the movie we're watching
and the basketball game
and who will be the Red Ranger
and whether you can hear the "h" in "cheese"
These are the beautiful pieces that make up our lives together.
I could write a book to you boys. I could spend an entire night telling you what I love. what I need to do better, appreciate more, do differently. There isn't enough time in my life to adequately share my love with you.
There aren't enough back rubs to have.
Sunscreens to apply.
Hairs to brush.
or shoes to put on.
An eternity as your mom, doesn't seem like enough.
If my love for you bursts through time and space and any limits, I cannot imagine how much Christ loves you.....and me.
Choose your friends wisely.
Choose work that you love but more importantly, choose to work faithfully, earnestly, and honestly at whatever you do.
Work at the relationships that mean the most to you.
Learn from others.
Read God's Word.
Pray about everything.
Protect your families.
Guard your hearts.....and minds.....and bodies.
The "bliss" that this world can offer you will never compare to the eternal, everlasting, unending and incredible bliss of a dedicated life to Christ. No person, no job, no fun, no experience, no adventure, nothing is worth the cost of your life, your peace, your future or your family.
Trust Him in the Valley- He is working.
Trust Him in the Darkness- He is there.
Praise Him in the joys.
Listen to His Spirit in you.
Test what you hear, think, say and do against His Word. It is the source of life and will never lead you wrong.
Your understanding is finite and can only see a section at a time. His view is eternal and sees it all.
You can have every opportunity, every resource, all the charm and wit and adoration of humans, but if you have not loved it is meaningless.
I've wandered from my reflection of your precious childhood to a handbook for your life..... Sorry. That's what mommies do :)
Forgive me for the moments where I've not shown you love.
Forgive me for not appreciating every moment I have with you.
Forgive me for losing my temper or ever making you feel inadequate or less than the special creation you are.
I am sorry.
Everything, everything, that I have gained from knowing you and loving you and raising you has enriched my life! I wouldn't ever want to walk this life without you two wonderful boys.
Thank you for loving me. Thank you for laughing with me. (And at me.)
Thank you for drawing in my journal. And for the Spiderman stickers on my car window.
Thank you for insisting on pushing the cart....and convincing me to buy that stupid coconut. Then laughing at me when I broke it open and sprayed milk all over my face.
Thank you for camping with me.
And killing all those horrible bugs in my house.
And for leaving your light saber on the couch.
And for your backwards letter "d's"
Thank you for bringing the mail in for me...and helping me cut all the credit card applications up.
Thank you for working so hard in school.
...and making me laugh because you got a discipline note for cracking pecans in the hallway. :) Yes. I laughed.
Thank you for letting me defend you. protect you. cuddle with you. play music with you. paint with you and love you.
My heart is full.
I love you forever and ever and ever and ever aaaaaallllll the way to the last star in the sky...
I got an email from Jaime Saint that Steve Saint came across this post and has shared it with others. First of all, how awesome is that?! Like I said on Facebook this week, some people are star struck by celebrities, I am star struck by missionaries :) I would love to hear some feedback below in the comments section if you have the time and feel led to share something. If you have a word of encouragement or a scripture that comes to mind for our family or my son, Dylan, in particular, that would be awesome too. If you would rather send it in email you can do so at email@example.com. Thanks for sharing in a portion of our families journey via this blog. I look so forward to sharing more as we walk the life God has called us to.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose"
I just finished watching "End of the Spear"- the story of 5 missionaries who went to the jungles of South America in search of the most isolated people they could locate. After much hard work and prayer, they laid eyes on the Wadoni people- a tribe who spent their lives spearing outsiders, foreigners, other tribes and even each other. A tribe who had never heard of the true and living God, they lived in fear that the only way they could "jump the Great Boa" (cross over into paradise) was to kill their enemies. But this belief was challenged when they speared the 5 missionaries to death. The missionaries never fought back, showing "little strength"- and yet, in that moment, the tribe was able to see these men carried into heaven. Their eyes were open to the Heavenly realm for a moment. Later, the missionaries families would return to the tribe that killed their husbands and fathers, and continue the work that was begun- to share the message of Jesus Christ.
Here is their story shared through their wives:
It's so hard to wrap my mind around why these men would be "called" to do something that would end up, not only killing them, but killing them before they could even see the mission accomplished! It takes years sometimes to see why things happened the way they did. But it's in that moment, we can say confidently, "Now I see why."
This is a video of the man who murdered one of the missionaries. Now, he travels the country with the son of the very man he speared to death over 50 years ago.
I thought about showing Dylan "End of the Spear". I want him to have an accurate view of the suffering and great need in this world- but I also don't want to shatter the innocence of childhood by showing him too much, too soon. I decided that I would watch it with him and talk to him as we watched. That night, I put him to bed like I normally do. We prayed, I rubbed his back and told him how special He was. He went to sleep but about an hour later, he came to my room sobbing. I don't know if I have ever heard either of my children crying like that. At first, I thought "The images were too much and he's scared." But after talking to him, I realized that wasn't it at all.
Dylan's heart was broken. He sobbed as he tried to explain what was wrong. He said, "I just don't understand. How did they do it? How did they have that kind of courage? I want to love God like that. I want to love Him that much!" Over and over... he was inconsolable. I just rubbed his back and listened to the cries of his heart. We stayed awake for almost 2 more hours. Falling asleep together, I started quoting Jeremiah 29:11. His voice merged with my own as we recited it together. I told him that he didn't need to be scared of what God would call him to do. Still crying, he said, "That's my favorite verse, Mommy. Thank you." I told him he was so precious to me and he said, "No Mommy, you're the precious one." So sweet...
That February 4th night, my son was deeply impacted. It is such an honor to guide and lead him through his childhood and into adulthood. It's not fun to think about, but I'm already half way done parenting him. In 9 more years, he will be 18. At that point, not only do I want him to have a faith that can move mountains; that can offer himself to be used however God leads him...
...but I want that kind of faith too.
"I have no greater joy than this: to know that my children are walking in the Truth." 3 John 1:4
Since coming home from Haiti, I have had 2 deaths in my family. 2 very special, wonderful, people. My Grandma Watt in Tallahassee passed away after years of fighting for her health. Her husband, my "Moyo", spent so much time taking care of her, nurturing her, encouraging her... My Grandma and Moyo had 7 kids. They spent their lives giving and loving and serving. They used their expertise in the medical field to go to the poorest and most needy places in this world and provide medical care. In her medical practice in Tallahassee, she was able to encourage many women out of a decision on abortion. My grandmother's father, Henry Hicks, came to America from Siam (now Thailand) in the early 1900's. I had the privilege of visiting Ellis Island earlier this year with my mom and I found his name on the wall at Ellis Island. It was incredible. In addition, I was able (as you know by now) to visit the hospital in Haiti where my Grandparents served the people there many years. Visiting these 2 places this year, reminded me of their great legacy. It's a honor to have had those experiences...
The boys and I went to Tallahassee for her funeral and were greeted by cousins, aunts, uncles, and family that we hadn't seen in years. It was really nice to all be together again. Upon walking into my grandparents house, there is a distinct scent of their home. It conjures up so many memories. Throwing the tennis ball against the wall in their front stairwell, making potholders on my Grandma's loom, eating oatmeal made extra special by my Grandaddy Watt/"Moyo", playing with the dollhouse in the upstairs bedroom... My most recent memories of my Grandma involved a lot of watching her observe. She would quietly watch all of the action around her with the sweetest smile of admiration. She loved watching my boys when we would visit. She would notice the littlest details about them or their behavior and compliment them, or me, on it. She loved music, too. She gave me a classical flute CD when I started playing flute in middle school. She was so excited. One of her favorite hymns was "It Is Well With My Soul"- a hymn that my mom sang at the funeral....perfectly.
I got back from Tallahassee Sunday night and got a call from my dad Monday. My Appa Bull had taken a sharp turn for the worse over the weekend. He didn't expect him to make it through the night.... and he didn't. My heart sank. This man was like another grandparent to me. His stories were fascinating (and really l o n g!) More fascinating than his stories, was the way he told them. He didn't leave a single detail out. And he used whatever was near him- a fork, napkin, salt shaker, sugar packet, as a prop to tell his story. "Ok, now, if this is the bridge (places fork down) and this is the boat (places sugar packet down)...." It was great. But I also hate to admit that many stories I'd give my dad a look that said, "Rescue me, please. This story will never end!!" It was after high school, that I really realized how special my time with family was. The first year after I had Dylan I lived with my mom and stepdad. It wasn't a bad arrangement but I wanted to make a little home for Dylan and me on our own somewhere. At a lunch date with my Appa Bull one day, he offered to help me get into my own place. He said he understood my desire and wanted to help make it happen. "How much do you need?" He got straight to the point, he simply wanted to know how he could help. And from the day I moved out, to the day I graduated college, my Appa Bull helped Dylan and me have our own place. What a gift.
What I look back on and remember the most were, the stories, the lunch outings at his favorite, Whistle Stop Cafe. I loved his home on Park Avenue, I loved the dancing Christmas figures under his tree, I loved how excited he was to share about his Coy Fish Pond that he built. I loved how I could just walk by him and all of the sudden, feel this hand grab mine as he was sliding $20 in my hand slyly. I'd always say, "Oh Appa Bull, you don't have to do that." To which he'd always say, "I know I don't. I want to."
Something that struck me when returning from Haiti, was that no one has pictures there. I know that sounds like, "Well duh, Lindsey, of course not." but think about how special our photographs are. They are backups to our, sometimes flawed, memory. They are prized possessions for me, personally. When my computer crashed this year, my heart sank. Not because of the years of college material on it or the lesson plans I had saved, but because of all my pictures. When my Grandma Watt and Appa Bull died, the first thing I did was look through all my pictures for something of them that I could hang on to. Something that would help keep them fresh in my memory. Memories are precious... and photographs are precious. The day before we left Haiti, we prayed with a woman who had just lost her son a couple weeks before. She was engulfed in despair and sadness. When I left her home, I thought about her not having a single photograph to hang onto. Not. One. That is heartbreaking... Maybe my next quest will be to get Polaroid cameras and film to these villages! Hmm....now there's a thought! ;-)
I love the people in my life...the ones who are still in it and the ones who have moved on to their eternal home. I love the memories I have of all of them...of all of you. I want to create memories and hold onto memories. Most importantly, I want to hold onto to the people behind the memories.
I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas weekend. May it be full of love, joy, peace, worship, warmth, tenderness, affection and