Ten Days

piano

I am in awe of what God is doing. And I’m not at all sure I even know what it is. I only see hints. But the hints have been loud. Big. He’s making good and sure I don’t miss them.

Ten days, maybe more. But ten days ago is when I started to take note. God is moving – in my family and in my ministry both.

I’ll start at home. This is not the same place as a month ago. That first week after the new year was still dark. Fear still lurked. At night, especially. But something happened, and I’m not sure what except now a few weeks later it’s light. Really quite light.

There’s music. I well up with tears as I write. My boys are falling in love with music, and I think somehow this is making me fall in love with my boys. You wouldn’t believe how much time they’ve been spending at piano and guitar. Unprompted. And alone – save for YouTube, their teacher. We ask about lessons, but so far they’d rather do it like this. And if this feels safe I’m all for it. It’s all a miracle anyway.

There’s snowboard and soccer, too. Boys embracing winter with activities – new and old. And it’s activity we’ve longed for. Especially for one boy in particular whose default had been couch and screen – and this seemed to foster that darkness. But now. Two days straight on the slopes with Dad. Yesterday no school and today a weekend. And I’m in the habit of seeing those days off on the calendar and cringing at the thought – but who knows? This might call for a new habit.

Moods are lighter, too – and conversation. We can joke and laugh and not offend. It almost feels normal.

And that’s just at home.

There’s been another whole miracle unfolding for me. Personally. At church and in ministry. Too much to explain right now, except to say this. Ten straight days God has been affirming and confirming and making Himself known. To me. Reminding. Renewing. In so many ways I can’t miss it. A vision and calling, and I am blown away by all this blessing.

Tonight I’m home ALONE. Just me and Maple and she sleeps at my feet. Another blessing. So I take advantage of this rare solitude by taking note and writing it down. Yes, God, I see them. Those hints and miracles and breath-taking blessings. You’ve got my attention. Ten days and counting.

Testify

Testify

I feel like it’s worth noting. We’ve had a stretch of really good days. Yesterday Kyle and I had a coffee date, and all of our conversation was about what’s going well. And that just might be a first. After coffee we went to an evening service at church. Thanksgiving Part 2. A second opportunity for our church family to testify to God’s faithfulness. We started back in November but we ran out of time, so Pastor Randy said we’d do it again. And we did, last night.

Kyle and I both stood up and shared about God’s goodness to us during a crazy stretching year. We said thank you to our church for caring and praying. And then at the end of the night we all sang this song and the song was profound. As I sang I realized sometimes you need to LIVE a song before you can really sing it, and in that moment I cherished this journey.

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us
 

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful…

You should really listen for yourself. It’s worth the click here…

One of the things Kyle said he was most thankful for was the opportunity to gather every Sunday with our church family, Aaron and Nate leading, to sing songs of worship. Especially during those hardest weeks the music filled him up enough to keep him sane.

So today I picked up boys from school and dropped them off at home, and then went right out again for Maple’s walk. When we came back inside I was met by music coming from two different rooms. One boy was in the living room working out a pretty tune on the piano, and another boy was in Luke’s room figuring out some cords on the guitar. No screens. No gaming. Sweet mellow music. And I’m just saying right now I know what an answer to prayer sounds like when I walk into a room, and this one was beautiful beyond describing. This answered prayer.

But also today, earlier, I got some baffling news. Confusing in a God what in the world are you doing now? sort of way. I’ve been shaking my head all afternoon. I was shaking it still when the boys came home and I walked my dog and I came back inside to the sound of music.

And all I really know is I trust HE knows what he’s doing.

Standing on this mountaintop, looking just how far we’ve come, knowing that for every step You were with us.

 Indeed.

Dog Days

Maple

My puppy ate my blog.

Not quite, but nearly. Those few quiet moments I had to write each week seem to have vanished since Christmas. I said it to Kyle this morning. I think I gave my last remaining bit of solitude and sanity to a dog. My husband nodded in full agreement.

Goodness. She’s sleeping now by my feet. Sweet and adorable. And if we could go back and make the decision again we’d most likely say sure, why not. We do love her.

But why does loving have to be so complicated? So messy? Why can’t loving be a quiet thing?

I look around this house of mine and there is nothing neat about it. Even my brain is cluttered. I hurried this morning to read my Bible before taking a quick shower with Kyle still at home to watch puppy and boys. I’m in Matthew. The Triumphal Entry. Whenever I approach the Passion I feel this sense of responsibility to read it right. Pay attention. These words are holy. So I start reading aware, but by the Hosannas I’m pondering the location of that pet store over by church and wondering if they might have deer antlers for Maple to chew on like Jill was telling me about yesterday. I sigh and try again. And again. And by the fourth time I’ve resorted to reading out loud to my puppy like Father Tim in Mitford.

She’s taking bites out of our sleep, too. 5:30am her alarm goes off and it’s time to potty outside. At least the temps are in the 20’s this week. Last week was brutal. We’re used to waking up around six, so it’s not like it’s that much different. But when we’re talking about sleep every minute matters. Especially to Kyle.

He started this week again on empty. Several nights of mind spinning and no rest. Too much life keeps him awake, but puts me to sleep, and I willingly admit it’s not fair. So I try to be the one to hear Maple’s first barks and whisk her outside before Kyle’s awake. Sometimes it works, but not always. (The problem, I think, is those earplugs I wear to block out the snoring…)

Dad and dog do enjoy their early morning romps through the snow. Kyle recites Scripture while Maple plows headfirst through snow banks thinking it’s pure delight. And just maybe this frequent exposure to the Word is making her holy?

Everyone asks – do the boys like her? Yes, of course. Are they eager to help? Not really. Like everything else they’re content to defer to the parents when it comes to the division of work.

The guys all tell me I’m being too nice. My voice needs to be more firm. Maple – NO! And I’m trying. But this seems to be my problem with boys and puppies both. Not enough authority. Jimmy – NO! Now that’s not so hard is it?

Twice now we’ve gone to Puppy Kindergarten. Yep, that’s what it’s called. And we’re NOT at the top of our class. Not unless cuteness counts. Turns out Maple is exceptionally social and she struggles to focus in groups.

It’s not like I thought adding a puppy was going to make life easier. I was aware. Which is why I said no. no. no.

And have you ever noticed how all those well intended no’s vanish the minute you say YES?

Winning

Therapy Pup

Thank you for praying. The shift happened almost instantly, the day I made the request. Spirits lightened. The light broke through.

We wonder what’s going on in that world unseen where wars are fought. And if we could would we want a glimpse or would we rather not?

I think of Elisha, who wanted his servant to see. Those hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around. The heavenly army outnumbered the enemy by far. And wouldn’t it be the same for us if our eyes were opened, too?

I worked today on a talk I’ll give for our high school students on Sunday. Fear of the Unknown. That’s what it’s called, and it wasn’t my own title, but one assigned. Of course the teacher learns more than the students almost every time. So I sat down to write not knowing where I’d end up, but trusting the Spirit to lead. And He led to this –

We fear the unknown because our belief in false expectations is greater than belief in our awesome God.

 There are chariots of fire out there, and they’re fighting for us.

Last Sunday we were all a little down in the dumps about a football game. If you’re from Minnesota you probably know what I mean. A heartbreaker. And I overheard my boys talking about “Minnesota-sports” like the phrase meant more than just location. There are some unfortunate things we’ve come to expect. Disappointment.

Minutes after the game ended our friend-who’s-like-a-son Jordan showed up at the door. Looking forlorn. Where’s Maple? He asked. I didn’t get the significance until hours later.

Four hours – the time it takes to drive from Des Moines to Andover, and Grant and Kiana show up at our door, too. And there’s Grant with that same pathetic look and a nearly identical request. I need my therapy dog. That’s when I get it. Grown boys are looking for a puppy to sooth their post-football-game misery.

Losing sucks, but winning is fun. The motto of this intensely competitive family. And living in a certain state means sucking it up and taking the loss just a bit too often.

Last night Nils and his basketball team won by two points. A victory but barely, considering they played the worst team in the league. It’s been a tough season for the Legacy boys. Homecoming tomorrow and it’s no gimme. I learned long ago not to entrust my heart’s happiness to the arena of sports.

But there’s another arena. Out there, just out of sight. Where the chariots circle and war-horses fill the hills. And we know without seeing, our team is winning.

So, I’ll say it again. Thanks for praying.

Please Pray

Pray

Usually my requests are veiled. Not today. Today I’m asking straight out. We could use your prayers.

It’s been a dark week, and I’m not exactly sure why. I work at a church, and I do know the tendency. Crisis spikes after Christmas. Care Ministry has its busiest month in January.

So maybe that’s what’s going on here, too. The post-Christmas, gloom-of-winter, down-in-the-dumps blues. All week we’ve been heavy. All of us. Just on the brink of crisis for a day or two.

I hesitate to ask for prayer, and here’s why. There are others who need it more. I know. My own list this week is long. A mom of an infant who had cancer removed from her mouth. A friend in his twenties, cancer back for a second time. My niece’s best friend whose mom died right before Christmas. A neighbor in crisis. A brother struggling. The list goes on. This life. It’s hard.

I hesitate for other reasons, too. I shouldn’t be gloomy. I have reasons enough to be thankful. And truth be told, I’d rather tell you my cheerful stories.

But I know you pray, so I ask. This week, when we all feel a bit like we’re sinking. Hope hiding. Somewhat depleted of life.

I’ve said it before – this is battle. We know. It’s a fight for souls and the creep doesn’t like it. (My neighbor, Diane, calls the enemy that.)

The thing is, we hoped the fighting would be done post-Christmas. For some reason we’d set our sights on that. Victory for Christmas.

Plus – we celebrated. Our first year, a milestone. Looking back and looking forward. And all of us I think are a bit desperate for reassurance that the next year will be somewhat easier than the last.

So today, I won’t veil it. I ask boldly. Please, will you lift us in prayer?

New Year

Settlers

Two days before New Years Eve we celebrated our One Year Anniversary of being a family. The timing is handy. Each year as we look back, we’ll reflect on OUR year. Together.

We made a big deal of it, and took all eight of us to a Brazilian steakhouse for all-you-can-eat. Everything about the place said, “this is special.” What we’re remembering today matters a lot.

Last Sunday at church Pastor Sean talked about remembering. A fitting message for the end of the year. He talked about Joshua leading Israel to remember. How they left twelve stones by the Jordan River so their children would remember a faithful God.

God is good, and He is faithful. This phrase has been the theme of my year. It’s been a year of manna, and God’s provision. A year of trusting, and seeing Him work. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. It’s been hard, but good. We’ve said it that way, a hundred times.

Yesterday Kyle and I looked at our budget. It’s not something we typically do on New Year’s Eve. But we were doing some planning for the next several months, and we needed to know. How does it look on paper?

I said it out loud. It’s too good to be true. A miracle, really, how God has provided. And I know the money isn’t the final answer. Far from it. But still, we’re thankful to God (and our parents) who keep us more than afloat through a season like this.

Hearts ARE softening. Lately this has been our most frequent request. And it’s happening. Through Christmas and puppy and Brazilian steaks. The mood is lighter, the laughter more real.

Last night my sister’s family came for a party. Of sorts. I say “of sorts” – since Felipe and Jimmy made sure we all knew this Minnesota way of bringing in the New Year is LAME by their standards. What – no feasting at midnight? No pigs and chickens roasting over the fire? Umm. How about Dominoes for dinner?

So we sat at the table playing Five Crowns and Settlers. Cousins and siblings enjoying the night. And at one point Gina looked across the table at Felipe. You smile a lot. I like your smile. And he grinned all the bigger.

We’ve been nonstop since December 22 – Felipe’s birthday. Three rounds of Christmas. Adoption anniversary, and a New Year. Snowboarding and a concert thrown in the mix.

This morning we’re lazy. Sleeping in. (All but Kyle who was romping with puppy at the crack of dawn.) Boys are still in Christmas PJs. Uncle Brian stopped by for a round of Settlers. All of us cherishing a day with nothing to do.

We look back, and look forward. Prayers of thanking and of trusting. Hopeful as we face another new year.

I thank my God every time I remember… (Phil. 1:3)