Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where do you live?

There he was on stage, guitar in hand, stuttering into the microphone.

At least he was real about it. The way he put it, "One of the first things you should know about me is that I stutter." I would have thought he was joking if he hadn't stuttered through that very word.

In case you missed seeing Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb concert this year, you'll want to put it on your to-do list for next year's holiday season. Not for the amazing music or even for the message they bring, you just need to see it. If for no other reason, you'll get to see the stuttering singer.

Now, I call him the Stuttering Singer with deep affection, for nothing else has inspired me the way he has in a long time. His name really is Jason Gray.

I'll confess, I watched wide eyed with amazement as he talked his way through who he was and what he was going to sing about wondering if he would stutter while he was singing.

Not even once. When he talks, he stutters. I bet he even stutters when he whispers when he is alone. But standing on stage in front of thousands of people, singing the songs the Lord put into his heart, he communicates flawlessly.

As I watched in awe that night as he sang, I heard the Lord say to me, "He doesn't stutter when he lives out of his heart."

When he lives out of his heart...

I stopped to visit one of my dearest friends today. I wish you could all know her. She and her husband live out of their hearts. They make wooden toys, she cans homemade jams and jellies, she speaks French to her children! They are the kind of people you just want to be around, especially when you have a bad day and just need someone to love on you... But she told me today that now she is embarrassed to give her homemade gifts away because of something a thoughtless person said to them. I cried on the way home thinking how much of their hearts they put into those gifts, into everything they do, and how vulnerable that makes them.

What if we all lived out of our hearts the way they do, or the way the Stuttering Singer does? Can you imagine the comments he heard when he picked up his guitar for the first time? Or when people "who knew him when" heard he was a singer/songwriter? What courage he had to have to stand up to sing! What beautiful wonderful gift I brought home with me from my dear friend's house today! All because they both live out of their hearts!

It is hard! It is messy! And, indeed, people do not understand... I wonder if the things the Lord puts into our hearts sometimes are purposefully opposed to where we are in life. A man who stutters wants to sing. A family who is financially in a place to buy gifts, makes them instead. A family that has a "genetic disease" still wants to have children. Should we tell those people all the reasons they shouldn't do it? Should we tell them all the reasons it makes so much more sense to live in reality?

Or what if, for just a minute, we encouraged them to live out of their hearts? What if we encouraged crazy ideas? Those out there thoughts that make us scratch our heads and wonder. "Be anything you want to be!" Right, as long as it is socially, religiously, and financially acceptable.

In a few days, we will celebrate the single most poignant event in history of Someone living out of His heart. Can you imagine? Why, people STILL call Him crazy! But He did it. He dared to live out of His heart and send a Baby into a silent night. And long before that, He spun a dark and formless void into orbit and lit up what we call Earth. Only because all He knows how to do is live out of His heart.

What is the world missing because YOU are not living out of your heart?

Merry Christmas, and may you receive the gift of true life...

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's all fun and games until they come inside...

Isn't that a lovely picture? This was several years ago, when we got our first goat. Feather is her name. She is the black and white goat grazing so peacefully while Eden loves on Feather's first kid. Ahh, the beginning of farm many promising ideas of self-sustainability and good health. Oh, the joy of going out each morning and afternoon to sit in the cool of the day and milk while I watch the children play and the animals move around.

And then reality set in.

Eric: "I don't have time to milk this morning, you'll have to do it"
Me: "What?! Are you crazy? It is 20 degrees outside, I have to get everybody up, everybody dressed, everyone's breakfast! I can't milk!"

Now, I really do love having goats. I love fresh milk. I love making yogurt, kefir, cheeses, even soap! And to make life just (almost) perfect, last spring Eric introduced the children to the wonderful world of milking goats. So Eden at 6 and Moses at 7 years old took over the job of milking. And I REALLY love having goats now.

Until last week.

We took Josiah to Memphis for doctor appointment, and we didn't get home until 10 p.m. It was one of those times when it is late. You are tired. You have been gone all day, and you can't wait to get into your bed and go to sleep.

So you can imagine my dismay when we drove down the driveway and the headlights of the car flashed on the downstairs door and two goats were looking out at us! Yes, that's right. When I left at NOON that day I (ok, I admit it was my fault) ran out the door and closed it, but it didn't latch all the way. All they had to do was bump the door and in they went. Two goats and 3 cats spent the entire day INSIDE our house...

Now if I had a camera that worked (#1 on my Christmas list, hint hint) I would have taken a picture. My first thought when I saw Feather chewing her cud inside my house looking at me like "Well, where have you been all day? It's about time you got here to let me out" was my grain!! Because I make most of our breads, I buy grain in 50 lbs bags. I just bought grain the week before and had not put it away yet. So Feather and her boyfried, Footstock (Josiah named him), decided they would go ahead and open the bags to see what was inside... And of course they annihilated the most expensive grain (the spelt). Of course!

So walking downstairs was like walking through a sea of spelt berries and goat poop. (In case you don't know what goat poop looks like, think Coco Pebbles. And they poop CONSTANTLY.) They had been on the school table, in Isaiah's bed, lounging on the rug and chairs (and leaving behind all sorts of gifts). Then I noticed goat poop up the stairs. Yes, they toured the whole house. They ate all my plants, even the beautiful flowers Eric got me the week before. We had a trash bag in the kitchen upstairs that had not been taken out yet, so they ripped into that spreading trash all over the kitchen. Dirty diapers everywhere. Gross. And the cats? Yes, they, too, left their calling cards in my bathroom and closet.

We did clean it all up that night, although Eric tried to tell me we would just clean it up the next day. Um, yeah, I don't think so. The next day I washed sheets , mopped floors, and shampooed the rug. It's all clean and tidy again. So when you come over for dinner next time, no need to worry that you will be eating in unsanitary conditions. And I hope you like roasted goat!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Abraham's Seed

Well, it is 2 a.m. and I am still up, so I may as well go ahead and start with my story... here goes:

It was just over a month ago that I was pregnant. For the sixth time. When I found out that I was pregnant in July, I must admit excitement was not at the top of my list of emotions. More like shock. That feeling that you just got on a ride you didn't sign up for. Keep in mind, Moses, my oldest of five children, was only SEVEN YEARS OLD when I found out I was pregnant with number 6. So excitement? Not really. More like, um, seriously, we were trying NOT to have another baby right now. Hello??

But you know, pregnancy grows on you, literally, and I started to get pretty excited about having another baby. I started feeling him move (I always thought it was a boy). We started talking about him and the things we would do with him. He will be here at the end of March so we need to plan for the garden, for the bees, for the baby goats... Yeah, I think I am ready to have this baby. A baby! Thank You, Lord!

And then he died.

My stomach still churns to write that.

My midwife came for my appointment like any other appointment. Except this time, we couldn't hear his heartbeat. That heartbeat that just a month earlier raced through the room with such promise of what was growing so beautifully inside me... We went to have an ultrasound to see if perhaps we had missed something. Silence. Stillness. There is a moment in a prenatal ultrasound that the tech measures the baby's heartbeat. It is a wild collection of quick peaks and valleys as a heart that beats around 160 beats per minute is recorded. But my baby had only a flatline.

I have seen those flat lines before on movies. There really is not even a point in trying to describe what it is as a mother to see that flat line describe your child's heart beat... there are no words.

And I won't even try to describe the feelings in the days to follow... just such sorrow. For several days, such sorrow. And then, like any dawn, there is a hint of light in the darkness, a breath of hope. What a strange drink, sorrow mingled with hope. A cocktail only One Man can mix.

Abraham was born 8 days after that silent ultrasound. I was a few days from my half way mark of pregnancy, 5 months. He was born on Saturday morning. At home. With his brothers and sisters running around waiting to meet him. His Bowie (my mom) there to say hello. And his daddy to hold him while his mama cried... My precious friend, Tonya, was here to take pictures. One day I'll post some. When I can finally look at them myself.

You know, I really can't say that we had a funeral. Instead, we got to plant a seed into the ground surrounded by SO. MUCH. LOVE. Our family (some were blood relatives and some were not, but all are family) cradled us and hugged us and loved us and encouraged us and laughed with us and cried with us and were just plain with us through it all...

And like any good Farmer, the Lord watered Abraham's seed into the ground that day. Thinking back, it had not rained here since I found out I was pregnant. Oh, it has rained around here, but not HERE. And as we laid our precious seed in the ground, the wind blew. Eric, in an act that, God willing, I will never forget for all of eternity, took the shovel and rake and buried our son.

And then the rain fell, hard and emphatically, watering in a seed that already has and always will bear much fruit.

There is so much more I could say! So many more thoughts on life and death and the moments between... but just know, Eric and I are healing. I am beginning to realize there will always be a spot for Abraham, no matter how many children follow him. I also realize God did answer our prayers, just not in the way we wanted... And, most importantly, I am learning to take one step at a time, the one right in front of me.

And if I didn't learn that from Abraham, I don't know that I ever will. No one could have seen what was coming around the next bend.

Two days after we buried Abraham, Josiah was admitted to the hospital. And we stayed there for 16 days. But that is another story....

Friday, November 19, 2010

For the inquiring minds...

Man, I have A LOT to say...I am just trying to figure out if I want to commit to saying it...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Song....

There is a song in my heart that I long to sing... I just can't quite hear the words yet.... sometimes I feel like there is just not enough time. Or maybe not the right season of my life. Or maybe it is just some beautiful melody from Heaven that my fragile small heart cannot understand until I get there. So perhaps tonight I will dream of what it is that is deep within the recesses of my heart that has not yet been mined out....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I've forgotten what I started fighting for...

There is nothing wrong with my eyes. It is my vision I am having a hard time with.

Here is the scene: Days into labor, and I mean about five days. Finally, my midwife and I decided it was time for her to come, ready or not (I was only 10 days overdue), so after a few doses of a terrible tasting drink (herbs to get labor going) around 9:30 that morning, I was in heavy labor. Hannah is my fifth child, so I knew what to expect. But this just went on and on and on... I would set a goal. I can make it until 5:00 pm. I can make it until 9:30 pm. I can make it until midnight... At some point, I quit trying to see the end and just tried to make it!

It was about 2:00 am and I walked out of the bathroom into a HOT bedroom. Our bedroom door opened to the sunroom where the wood stove is and that was now stoked high and very hot. I remember so well saying, "You guys have got it entirely too hot in here!" My midwife answered, "I want it warm in here when the baby comes."

"BABY? Who is having a baby? Where is the baby? OH, that is what is going on here? This labor is going to end soon and there will be a BABY?" I will never forget those thoughts!

In my hours and hours of labor, I had forgotten the goal. I was so consumed with labor that I had lost the vision of the baby. As REO Speedwagon sings so well, "I've forgotten what I started fighting for..." There I was with a belly so big, I couldn't see my toes, and I was so distracted by my pain that I let go of the joy to come.

I remember when I went through a season of healing in my heart a few years ago that I thought the pain would never end. But I trudged everyday, sometimes taking a step back, but always moving, not stopping, trusting that Jesus was a Shepherd that knew where He was going. And now that I have walked all that healing out, I can say that whatever form the pain comes in, it never compares to the joy on the other side. Don't get distracted by the pain, press into the vision that there is healing on the other side.

I feel like that about a lot of things in my life lately. I get so consumed with the day to day that I forget why I am doing all this in the first place. Days of breaking up fights, cleaning up spills, folding clothes, washing dishes all make it so easy to forget that the children that require my endless time and energy will one day be adults. All that is being poured into them today will come back out tomorrow on the world. But how easy it is to get caught up in the fifth load of laundry of the day or the seventh time I have asked someone to clean up that mess!

This is my prayer for all of us: that we would be able to see beyond ourselves. That the Holy Spirit would give us vision so that we could run with endurance toward our goals. I pray that whatever situation you are in, your vision is as clear as your sight.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Seeing past the trash

I went for a much needed walk tonight after supper. A rainy day inside with five children wired for sound makes a mama don her raincoat and head outside!

Now, if you have never been to our house, you might not know we live in the woods. We live at the end of a cove surrounded by forests. Today it rained all day, and one of my favorite places to be on all the earth is in a green leaved forest after it rains. The earthy smell of the damp forest floor... the deep green of the leaves against the dark brown of the wet trunks of the trees... the coolness of the air and the quiet solitude of Nature watching her bathe in her renewed vigor... It is a time that I watch in expectation to see a little piece of magic in all that enchantment.

It was so beautiful. It calmed my tumultuous soul and soothed my mind to just stand there on the road gazing into the forest. It was one of those moments that you forget all about going home or when you were supposed to be there.

And then I saw all the trash the rain water dragged along the ditch as it raced by on its way to our pond. Trash! It was so out of place in that beautiful moment! It was like the camera catching you with your eyes closed in the everything-else-was-perfect family portrait. I got so distracted by the trash that I forgot all about what had stopped me in my tracks in the first place!

I tried to keep going back to that feeling I just had, like waking up from a dream and trying to will yourself back to sleep. But I just couldn't get passed that trash!

So as I walked home, I started thinking how very much alike the scene I just came out of and people are. How many times have I been stopped by someone because I glimpsed that rare beauty and then, just as I began to breathe him or her in deeply, I got distracted by the "trash"? Maybe they thought differently on some oh so important issue, maybe they *gasp* said a bad word!, maybe they were gossiping, maybe they had a life story that was a little too much information, if you know what I mean.

Or what about my children, or my husband? What about the people I really cherish and love, my friends, my family? What about their trash? Heck, what about my own?! What about the complaining, the arguing, the hurtful thing that was said yesterday? Are we really going to get distracted by that trash to the point we no longer linger in the beauty?

I must admit, I know where I have come from and who I was. Trash would have been a compliment to describe me...

And still I have the most incredible friends who love me. A husband that encourages me and cherishes me. A family that cheers me on. Children who absolutely don't seem to see any flaw in me (yet!). And best of all, a Savior who has forgotten more that I will ever know about my trash, and He is wild about me!

Friday, April 30, 2010


I want to introduce you to some really special people. They have been special to me for some time now, but recently, the word "special" has taken on new meaning.

This is Doug and Sue Bausch, my mother and father in law.

They look like ordinary people. They live in Iowa and work pretty ordinary jobs. They have an ordinary family (except their oldest son and his children, I think they are quite extraordinary!) They have an ordinary house, cars, clothes...

But recently they have become anything but ordinary. An ordinary day for any of us might include waking up, a cup of coffee, dressing for work, meetings, school, planning for the weekend, thinking about a vacation...

Nothing seems ordinary anymore when you find out you have two tumors in your brain and you have months to live...

You see, Sue is a cancer survivor. She had cancer a year and a half ago. And this is where ordinary stops. It is not so out of the ordinary for cancer cells to metastasize. However, as her doctor told her a week ago, he has only seen one other person in 35 years of experience to have it spread to the brain. So much for ordinary.

Eric and I took Hannah to Iowa last weekend because the same week she found out this incredible news was also her birthday. How ironic. And this is where I realized I no longer have ordinary in laws.

When we got there on Friday, her birthday, Sue informed me that the next morning we would be going to get her head shaved. After three radiation treatments, she was losing her hair, and she could have waited, but wanted me to go with her, so she went early. We talked later about how in the scheme of all that she is about to go through, having a hair cut should be so insignificant. She called it "just another step in the process". But we agreed that it was so much more than insignificant. It is facing with both eyes open the reality of what this is. It is an outward reminder that from this moment on, every single second is precious. It was anything but insignificant.

I wish more than anything I could verbalize what I saw her do. So many times this week I have felt like a painter must feel at Inspiration Point in Yellowstone trying to figure out how to capture all that beauty on one canvas. I don't remember ever seeing such grace, such dignity, such courage, and determination as I saw in Sue that day. Like David running toward Goliath in battle, she held her head high, and went forward. And when it was done, when her precious regrown hair from the first cancer battle littered the ground around her, she looked more beautiful than I have ever seen her.

And then there is Doug. You know, something I realized is that this is not just happening to her. He is losing his wife of 38 years. His best friend. His travel partner. His walking buddy. He calls her "Bugs". His fellow singer of made up songs to their grandchildren. Their marriage is one of those marriages that you hope your children find, that you hope to find for yourself. My earnest hope and prayer is that when anyone, not just someone I deeply love, is vulnerable and out of sorts, that I can be to that person such a safe place that Doug is to Sue. Because of the location of the tumors in her brain, she doesn't remember things well, or she gets confused, or can't recall what she just read. And he is her constant protector. He is so patient with her. So lovingly willing to esteem her and honor her. Again, if I just had the right paint brush or the right color, I might be able to paint my heart and thoughts...

So this week I have seen things differently. I have taken extra time to drink deeply the fleeting moments that so easily escape the busy mind and soul. Like when the children are laughing and playing with the wind in their hair and dirt on their feet. Watching Josiah today in the garden catch frogs and try to keep them in his toy truck. The flaming color of the azalea bushes. The smell of the freshly tilled dirt as I plant a seed. Trying to pinpoint the color of the full moon's light on the leaves of the forest trees I see out my bedroom window.

Beauty from ashes. That has to be one of Jesus' best talents. In the middle of a heartache we have never before matched has already come, for me, some of the sweetest gifts of my life. I aspire to face the impossible with as much resolve, as much unconditional love, as much life as I have witnessed from Doug and Sue.

Thank you, Grammie and Grandpa. You have given this family gifts no package could ever hold...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today is hard

Today is hard. Maybe because it is 7:15 am, and today has already been underway for me for about 4 hours. Eric was up at 3 am to get to work in Dyersburg (an hour away) by 5. Josiah seems to have a routine of coughing at 4 am for the last couple weeks. And by 5 am, do I really go back to bed just to get up an hour later?

Besides, my heart aches this is so hard to watch Josiah cough. So hard to watch him struggle to get that sticky mucus out of his lungs, coughing until he just throws up. Once he finally calmed down and went back to sleep, I got online to try to research CF information. I found some blogs that I know I need to read, but how do you face something like this and not become moved by it? Moved as in "none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself , so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God." Acts 20:24

How do you read about the lists of medications, treatments, hospital stays, deaths, husbands, wives, children, lung transplants, diets, doctors, and on and on and not be moved?

I really do know the answer. Really, I do.

But there is a difference between knowing the right answer and KNOWING it. There is a knowing based on theory, and a knowing based on experience. I think this is just a grieving time. And I can't imagine knowing based on experience without grieving.

So today is hard. And I can't imagine it without Jesus to hold my hand...