Keep going

My last post was very emotional, and in many ways I still am in a heightened emotional state.

I had a miscarriage.

Since then, I have:

  • Been on a little family vacation to the mountains – very encouraging and refreshing
  • Watched some new-to-me movies/shows – Knives Out, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Hamilton. All of which I loved!
  • Had a much needed and long overdue girls night with my sister
  • Finished draft three and began draft four of my book
  • Celebrated the 4th of July with BBQ and fireworks

I’m still a little raw, and sad. Yet, I am so encouraged by my husband, and my children. (See above: my youngest snooping on my coffee and my “phuun-eh”, a.k.a. “phone”)

I think that losing one baby has made me hold everyone in my life a little closer (all my family, not just my kids).

I have had three smooth, healthy pregnancies, and have three beautiful children. I have a wonderful, sweet, lovingly supportive husband. I have a wonderfully caring family. I have dear friends.

As my life, emotions, and mind are comforted and soothed by these precious people, the balm for my soul has been the Scriptures.

In the depths of very strong emotions, the very hardest thing for me is to sit and read. My God knew that, and what has been peppering my heart has been all the passages I have memorized over the decades.

Isaiah 54:10 (my “life verse”, memorized in NIV) – ” ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, but my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the LORD, who had compassion on you.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 – “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Isaiah 53:3-4 – “… man of sorrows and acquainted with grief… surely he has born our grief and carried our sorrows…”

Psalm 56:8 – “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

John 11:32-35 – “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” 

The most comforting, mind boggling, wonderful, and amazing-but-true things about having all these passages (and so many others) come to mind is that these passages are all talking about the same God.
The same Jesus who wept over the death of his dear friend, and over the sorrow that death had on his sisters, is the same God who keeps count of my tossings, bottling my tears, is deeply acquainted with all kinds of griefs and sorrows, so much so it is a title of sorts: man of sorrows.
He’s the same God who has good plans of hope for his people, who promises to guard my heart with his perfect peace when I keep my mind on him and not on myself and not on my worries.
He is a faithful, steadfast, loving, patient, merciful, and unfailing even in the face of our broken, fallen, fractured, deadly world.

Because of who God is, what he has done throughout history, and in my life in particular, I can keep going.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Rawness of mourning

12 hours through the worst 24 hours of my life up until now.

My eyes are swollen.

The tears still come.

It’s wrong, it’s painful, it’s not supposed to happen. But it does, and it’s happening to me.

I don’t know why, but I know I loved you already.

No face, no hands, no voice, nothing but a memory.

A sign said yes, a week later became a loud, unmistakable, gut wrenching no.

I never met you, but I loved you already.

I can’t think of the “what ifs”, the “would haves”, the “should haves”. It’s too much, too painful, too many tears.

I’m just sad.

So sad.

I loved you already.

To my angel baby: I’m processing your loss, my loss, your life, your death, your existence, and, now, my emptiness.

If I already loved you so, I know you’re in much safer hands now. More loving hands. Eternal, secure, sovereign hands.

I’m comforted by prayers, and truth that many who loved you are also in His hands. Already, and not yet.

I already loved you, but I have not yet loved you. Not yet held you, not yet seen you, not yet told you.

My angel baby.

I miss you. I’m sad. I weep.

I love you.

Father, I do not understand… “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief”.

Soli Deo Gloria

Patience? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

During this season of mothering littles, I find my number one prayer request being “that I would be more patient with my children”.

Man, I love these kids, and they never stop. I think the constant motion is pretty standard for littles, but it’s exhausting!
My youngest is still in diapers, and doesn’t have all her teeth in yet.
My middle has colossal meltdowns where no one but Daddy can calm her. My oldest is turning five at the end of the summer and will start kindergarten in the fall. I have a whole new set of things to think about! Have I prepared him enough? Does he know enough to be independent at school? Will he be kind to others? Will he listen to and obey his teachers? Will he get teased? Will he get in trouble?

My worries for my oldest, have often turned normal parenting moments into this “do or die” test, to see if he is really ready for school. Many days, my patience is gone before I even wake up, because I’ve lost sleep worrying.

But, God calls me to be patient.
Actually, He calls all believers to be patient, not just the “extra holy ones”. Patience is a characteristic of God we are called to have ourselves as his children. It is one of the many ways we image our heavenly Father to a broken world. This world has no patience.

So what is it? What is biblical patience?

Well first, let me tell you what it is not: patience is the not the same as waiting.

I don’t know why we think just waiting this is “good enough”. When we think about it, the act of waiting cannot be the same as patience, it just doesn’t make sense. I mean, have you ever seen a someone wait impatiently? Therefor, waiting cannot be what patience is.

Biblical patience is this: a Godly attitude towards circumstances and people, which is founded in and completely resting in God.
It’s an attitude of trust.
Why do I struggle with being patient with my kids? Because I am not trusting God. How did I diagnose that? Because I am worried.
More often than not, my attitude of anxiety has replaced the God-trusting attitude of patience.

When I get off, I need more of God, I need his word.
God’s word is our living water, our primary cause for heart change, and our gauge for our lives.
Here are some passages I found to do a quick study on what practicing biblical patience looks like:

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Practicing biblical patience means not worrying about circumstances or even about evil people, but focuses on the LORD, rests in God’s goodness, in God’s good promises. Therefore, we can be still before him, and wait patiently for him.

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Practicing biblical patience shows up in how we love others. See all the “not”s that follow? All three are me-focused. Therefore, a love that is patient and kind is others centered, it is God’s-will centered.

2 Corinthians 1:6
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Practicing biblical patience is playing a long game, an eternal game. It is seeing our world for what it is, temporary, not our true home, knowing that the relatively brief pains now pale in comparison to a joy-filled forever after.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Practicing biblical patience is remembering that those around us have an eternity ahead of them too. Dealing with others with patience infused love, focused on their good, not your own desires, or schedule.

How can we possibly do this? (That’s what I’m thinking, I’m sure at least some of you are thinking the same thing!) I lose my patience with my family all the time.

Here’s the progression: our love is shaped by our attitude of patience, which is caused and motivated by our remembrance of who God is and what he’s done for us. It’s all about perspective, and our perspective needs to stay fixed on God or we will get off track. On our own, we could never do it, but because God was gracious, loving, and patient with us first, and continues to be everyday of our lives, we can refocus our perspective, readjust our attitude, and restart our actions in a way that glorifies him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

All Is Bright

The holidays have come and gone, and oh my goodness they were wonderful and crazy. Here’s what went down:

Everyone arrived by Christmas Eve, and the crazy, fun, crowded, and busy family time began. A HUGE surprise was that cousin Avery brought a girl with him. A girl. Like a not-related-to-us girl. Like a girl-met-at-university-and-I-want-you-to-meet-her girl. Auntie T didn’t even know “the girl” existed until they showed up at Avery’s university to pick him up! She was pretty upset. It got a bit awkward when we realized that she would have to share a room with the rest of us girl cousins. Ellie was not happy, she was extremely sassy when they got here, way more than her usual sassy.

It worked out okay though. First of all, the girl’s name is Megan. She’s from California, but is going to school at Avery’s university. She’s very nice, though she dresses very colorfully. Cammie and I have caught Avery and Megan several times together under the mistletoe.

Now, we are all enjoying our presents. Oh, what a plethora (Father says that’s a better word than “a lot”) of presents! I think this is the most fun, seeing my cousins playing with their new toys, wearing their new clothes, and all using their new things. Ellie is walking around like a peacock, showing off all her new things, practically strutting. Cammie and I burst out laughing every time we see her prancing around and glancing at herself on every reflective surface (windows, clean tables, and mirrors).

The day after Christmas, Father and I have a tradition: We get up early, bundle up, take a thermos full of coffee for him and tea for me, grab our cameras, and “go for a wander”. We walk and take pictures, but only a few, because we have a rule that we can only take a picture of something truly beautiful. Before taking the picture, we must explain our reasoning to the other. Why is this picture of something truly beautiful. He always finishes our walk by taking a picture of me and telling me that he “must”,and “because there is nothing in the world more beautiful to me than you, Marie”. 

I asked him this year, why he started our tradition of wandering. He said that he didn’t; Mother did.

Father said that when he and Mother first got married, they didn’t have money to go anywhere special for holidays, or any other special day for that matter, so they would go walk, talk, and take pictures. When she got sick, and couldn’t walk as much anymore, Father started taking me on walks. This is how most of our traditions started, with Mother.

Our walk-wandering is probably my favorite Christmas tradition. More than presents.

The picture I took today was of a grey field, taken at a slightly crooked angle, and full of sheep. Normal, everyday beauty.

New Years is right around the corner. Father says we will be heading to the States after New Years and probably staying there for a while. That will be different. I know America is big, but we go around the world all the time, so staying in one country for a while is really different for us.

Mother’s side of the family is in America, so maybe that is why? Father really isn’t explaining much to me. He’s almost being secretive about it. It makes me nervous when he does this. I don’t like unknown things. Father probably thinks he’s being fun or that I’ll love the surprise, but I just want to know so I can talk to him about it and think it over and bond with the idea and…. I just want him to tell me!

Family and Holiday Time – Father and I

November is gone, and December is here! Family is arriving at Grandma and Grandpa Miles’ cottage house, making it feel full and festive. The Holidays are here, it’s Family Time. Father has two brothers and a fraternal (which means they look nothing alike) twin sister, and they will all be here by Christmas day. I love being with all the cousins. I am right in the middle age-wise, and I’m “the American cousin” (even though I’m really half) so they think I’m extra fun. I think it’s because of my accent.

Cousin Sid keeps walking around the house saying “Christmas time’s a-comin’!” in an absolutely horrible American accent, but it makes everyone laugh, so he just keeps doing it. He’s such a clown. 

Right now, it’s a couple weeks away from Christmas, so not everyone is here yet. Maybe I should explain who everyone is and which cousins go with what Aunt and Uncle… Yeah. I’ll do that first.

The oldest in Father’s family is Uncle Wesley. He is married to Aunt Mel, and they have two kids, Sid and Cammie. Sid is 16 and Cammie is 11, and is the closest to me in age of all the cousins, so we play together the most.

Uncle Will is the next oldest, and he is not married. He loves all us cousins so much, and he couldn’t stand watching his siblings be parents and not have any children himself, so he adopted Marcus about three years ago. Marcus is 7 now.

Auntie T, Father’s twin sister, and Uncle Vin have four kids, Avery who is 20 now, Ellie who is 17 and always sassy, Gemma who is 12, only three years older than I am, and baby Bert who is 5 now. Bert was a happy surprise to the family. Babies are so fun! I also learned last year that Avery is not Uncle Vin’s son, but when Auntie T and Uncle Vin got married, Uncle Vin adopted Avery, and since Avery was only two or three at the time Uncle Vin is really the only daddy Avery has ever known.

When everyone is here it is super crowded! All the girl cousins have to share one room, and all the boy cousins have to share one room. The parents all get their own rooms, except Uncle Will, who gets the couch. 

“That’s what I get for not getting married!” He says every year, very dramatically.

It’s not too bad though, the family room with the couch is separate from the hall, which leads to all the bedrooms, and from the kitchen, so we can maneuver (which means move carefully) around the house in the morning and at night without waking him up. Avery has offered to take the couch several years in a row now, but I don’t think Uncle Will much likes the idea of sharing a room with Sid, Marcus, and baby Bert. Father gets his own room, because he and Mother used it together, and no one wants to make him change now he’s alone.

Right now, it’s just Father, me, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Wesley, Aunt Mel, Sid, and Cammie, which sounds like a lot all listed out like that, but actually it feels spacious! Sid’s in a room on his own, and Cammie and I are sharing just the two of us (almost like we’re sisters). Sometimes we do pretend to be sisters and she talks with an American accent, (which actually sounds very good, unlike Sid) and I will talk with a British accent. We have fun, though every now and then we need “me time”. Aunt Mel suggested it, I think because Cammie is getting “pre-teen-y” and moody. Aunt Mel says it happens to everyone and Cammie is very sensitive to it. Aunt Mel usually swoops in an institutes (meaning put into place) “me-time” before too much friction (another word for conflict) starts between us, and we give each other space for a little while. I think Aunt Mel is very wise (I don’t think I need to explain that word).

Cammie is a lot like Father. She is creative and thoughtful, talkative but not outgoing (Aunt Mel had to explain that word to me, I’m not sure I get what it is, I just know what it isn’t…). Cammie is generally sweet and friendly, but can get “passionate” (as Aunt Mel calls it) when she disagrees with someone. 

Sometimes, when Cammie needs space, I go outside with Sid. Since he’s a boy, he doesn’t really like to sit inside and talk like Cammie, but he and I will play outside together for hours, at least until Avery gets here. Sid idolizes (also a new word I learned from Aunt Mel, it means you put all your attention toward that thing or person) our grown-up cousin Avery. 

Other times, I will go sit with Grandma or Grandpa and we will read a book out loud together, or I’ll tell them stories about places and people Father and I visited.

Tomorrow, Grandma and Aunt Mel are taking Cammie and me into town. We are getting last minute shopping done, and treating ourselves to some Christmas treats. We always go out and have a Christmas luncheon with tea, and cookies, and everything! Usually we wait until Aunt T and the gang arrive, but this year they are coming exactly on Christmas Eve (instead of on an earlier day like other years) because of Avery’s university schedule. 

The rest of the year Father and I are dashing around the world, but during the holidays Father stops everything and just enjoys “family time”. I love it. Father says this coming year we will be slowing down. I don’t know what that means, I hope it means more family time, because I would love that. At the same time, that makes me nervous. I’ve been traveling around with Father all my life. When Mother was still here, we traveled as a little family. Now, it’s Father and I, as a smaller family. I love traveling, but having a home might be nice too. I’m not sure, I’ve never really had a place to call home. Just family, which is good too. Just different.