Can My Children Forgive Me?

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(Tomorrow, I plan to post about how a marshmallow kept me from pulling my hair out.

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How She Won My Heart

When I delivered Juliette, I wasn’t expecting to feel the same bonding that I felt with our other children.

I wasn’t expecting to feel that deep love that took root when I held our first two squirmy, crying, nursing daughters.

And yet, I did.

She lay so still in the crook of my arm, and my heart gushed with love for her.

(I shouldn’t have been surprised, because God allows the same post-delivery hormones to race through the body; the same maternal instincts to rise up in the heart; so a mommy can know and love each and every one of her babies.)

I was smitten.

I looked at her little red body, which needed so much more time to develop, and I loved her.

No, she was not much to look at; for she was not meant to be seen yet!

But I felt so pleased about who she was; I am so pleased about how far she had come.

I am proud of her.

So very proud of her.

And I want the world to see our little girl.

What a wonder! What a delight! What a beauty!

The mystery is, she did absolutely nothing to win my heart.

She didn’t have to do anything to win my heart.

But did she ever.

So I caught a glimpse – just a glimpse – of the Father’s love for us.

Suddenly, it all made sense that even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, God’s love for us gushed forth and Christ died for us.  It all made sense that His love for me doesn’t even consider anything I might do, be, or accomplish to earn it.

He just loves me.

I have done nothing to win His heart, for His heart has won me.

(Thank you, my dear Juliette, for teaching me the gospel.)

(Oh, the inspiration that may come your way through 10 Million Miles… Become a follower today!)

Posted in All Posts, BEST OF, Motherhood, Stillbirth: Remembering Juliette Abigail | 16 Comments

With great sadness, I wanted to share this with you…

Vivienne (to Grandmom):

“You know, my mom won’t be bringing the baby home with her from the hospital.

But d’ya wanna know what’s great about it?

The baby is in Heaven… and didn’t even have to read the Bible to get there!”

Some of you knew, some of you didn’t know, that Ryan and I were so happily expecting our third child. At our 20 week ultra-sound appointment, we discovered that the baby had stopped growing at 18 weeks and was no longer alive.

And, so, I don’t really know what else to write except that we are journeying through a stillbirth.

I’ve always thought of it as one of life’s single-most terrifying words: stillbirth.

I’ve always thought of it as being a quiet, sterile experience with no pulse; no energy.

But, there we were… laboring, crying, reaching, and waiting.

And I realized I had overlooked all of the movement there would be.

All of the agony, anxiety, care, love, turmoil, shock, shifting, and growing of mother, father, nurses, doctors, grandparents, children…

All the beating hearts and falling tears and mourning groans…

The only stillness, really, is that precious little body that emerges to say, “I was really here. But I am not any more.”

And that one little person is so very, very still.

While everyone and everything  keeps moving, and pulsing, and groaning, and hurting.

***

It’s only been one day since.

But, I wanted to let you know about it because it’s very hard for me to pick up the phone or talk about it in person.

***

We’ve had incredible, overwhelming support from friends and family – even from some folks who we do not even know, but who are entering our mourning process with the perfectly placed Scripture or word.

On Tuesday morning, Ryan and I were like a mommy and daddy sheep, grazing contentedly on a mountaintop, not realizing that, the next moment, when we turned our heads, we’d be whirling headlong down a cliff, into the valley of the shadow of death, running, feet over feet just to keep up with the plunge.

But, no sooner had our feet hit the depths of the valley, when we heard the thundering…

…the thundering footsteps of dozens and dozens of people, running headlong behind us, to meet up with us there.

And to surround us. All around.

We thank God that people – like sheep – follow one another with such devotion.

So, though we are here in the valley, God Himself remains our rock, and our family and friends remain our companions, hovering all around, even as Christ is with us here.

And our baby – a sweet darling if ever there was – is in Heaven (and didn’t even have to read the Bible to get there).

Posted in All Posts, BEST OF, Motherhood, Stillbirth: Remembering Juliette Abigail | 46 Comments

The Life He Gives

Here’s a Memoir:

There I stand with our battery-operated weed-whacker.

Mid-August.

In the backyard, you know, where the woods

pushes against our rock wall,

persisting on invading our property.

I mean it: Persisting.

But I will beat it back! I commit.

I will kill the invading woods!

Even as I rev up the engine, those strong vines boisterously roll over the rocks, growing 5 more inches, tossing suckers into our helpless lawn.

Who am I kidding? I ask as I remove my safety goggles.

My weed-whacker and I don’t stand a chance.

Life keeps springing up.

***

And so I meditate on this: life keeps springing up!

It happens all of the time: life keeps springing up.

Despite the way we

- when left to our selfish devices -

tend to destroy life:

we buy too much,

sleep too late,

eat foods that kills us,

say words that kill other people,

build weapons,

waste time,

abort babies,

and hate each other.

Through our actions, we scream, “We. don’t. want. any. more. life!”

Yet, God persists.

He fills our gardens, our imaginations, our cells, our wombs.

He persists in growing trees, providing fruits and vegetables, giving wisdom, creating babies,

and breathing life through Scripture so that we are overwhelmed with growth:

life that multiplies from His sweet hands.

Father and Creator, forgive us for killing what you have created (in a million different ways),

what you have loved (in a million different ways),

what you have invested your heart in,

what you have written on your hand and placed upon your arm.

All I can request is,

“Keep going! Keep on in your mercy inundating us with life!

Your glorious power speaks for itself –

You are greater than death.

- thoughts by Laura

(Photo credit: The Independent)

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Self-Entitlement

Not too long ago, a friend of mine reminded me about this post. Because I was reading it anyway, I thought I’d post it again.

What is Self-Entitlement and How Do I Get Rid of It?

Self-entitlement: The attitude that lurks just under my skin, ready to emerge whenever I’ve worked my rear-end off and think I deserve some sort of a pay-back. (Also, when I imagine that people are deliberately disregarding my time or work.) (Also, when I self-righteously call myself a “servant”, but expect to be treated like a “queen”. I once heard a pastor say, “If you want to be the servant of all, expect to be treated like it.” Who wants that?!)

Its appearance: I’ve noticed ugly self-entitlement in my own life when I demand a “break” from the children, a mind-reading husband or a clean house (“I just cleaned this entry-way! Who left their shoes right in the middle of the floor?!”).

Its symptoms: So, what begins as an ugly thought, becomes a silent-though-deadly sigh, which becomes a snippy comment (“I said, who left their shoes right in the middle of the floor?!”), which becomes resentful behavior (shoving shoes into the closet), which becomes a sulky, mean, and demanding me.

Its friends: I find that when I am indulging self-entitlement, I’m simultaneously indulging discontentment, resentment, pride, selfishness, and independence. ‘Must be what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16)

Its food: Somehow, self-entitlement seems to gobble away the lovely things in life like relational peace, service, contentment, and joy.

Its fault: It turns out that, even if I did work my rear-end off, picking up those shoes is yet another practical way that I can serve the shoe-owner who – let it be known – did not intentionally leave his shoes there just to make me mad, or to disrespect my hard work. Rather – now that I think about it – he worked just as hard as (harder than?) I did and happened to leave his shoes on the mat on one (very) ill-timed occasion. And chances are, he didn’t have time to put them in the closet because he was rushing to relieve me of a whining child, a load of laundry, or a burning pot of beans, which made our house spell like cigarette smoke for days.

Its freedom: The way I see it, I am entitled to 2 stunning rights:

To love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength
To love my neighbor as myself. (Of course, these basically open a glorious storeroom of rights to me: the rights to serve others, love others, and to enjoy peace, kindness, and gladness to my heart’s content.)

Beyond that, though, I’ve got no self-entitlements. None.

I am not entitled to sulk, complain, demand, destroy, or resent. If my husband needs to work an extra hour on Tuesday night, or leave his shoes in the doorway; if my child needs me to leave a friend’s house early because she is strung-out from that 10 a.m. cupcake, or if she needs me to use that precious nap-time to plan healthier snacks for the week, bring it on. Let the thanksgiving commence! Let this woman say, “Praise the Lord! He has entitled me to love!”

It’s fought with: Philipians 2:3, James 3: 16, Romans 12: 1 – 2, Philipians 4: 4 – 9, Galations 5: 22 – 23

(Don’t worry! The author of this text took plenty of feminist-theory classes in college and has read piles of books about a woman’s rights, privileges, and expectations. She concludes that the feminist mentality doesn’t hold a candle to the glories of living a feminine life of Christian service and sacrifice that glorifies God!)

Posted in All Posts, BEST OF, Healthy Living, Marriage, Motherhood | 1 Comment

A friend of mine – Sarah Mae – writes blog posts that receive responses from all kinds of women who are trying, listening, discerning, changing, thinking… I really love mulling through the conversations.

Recently, Sarah wrote about her desire to embrace godly principles without (or despite) other people feeling judged or throwing rotten tomatoes. Plenty of responders wrote that they feel the same way. Needless to say, their thoughts got me thinking, too… my thoughts were too long for a comment on her blog, so I thought I’d just post them here.

They Won’t Throw Tomatoes

A woman who believes that what the Bible says is true,

works in her home to invite people in;

to build an environment that is immersed in

God’s grace and goodness

so that when people come in,

they bask in that love and acceptance – they don’t throw tomatoes.

A woman who believes that what the Bible says is true, works

to raise children who bless their neighborhoods

with godly attitudes, selfless actions, and sincere love.

She overflows with ideas, resources, and energy available to love

other children well;

she serves soups, cakes, and salads to hungry stomachs

around her table

and around the community.

She stocks up on band-aids, toilet paper, water bottles and Bible verses

for skinned knees, emergencies, and broken hearts;

she lays aside the clock when a salesperson knocks,

a neighbor-kid stops by,

or her husband calls – just to check in.

With lawns mowed, children welcomed, health concerns prayed-for, and stories listened-to,

they won’t throw tomatoes.

A woman who believes that what the Bible says is true

happily supports men teaching men because

they – just like women – need to dig into Scripture,

plead for insight,

organize their thoughts,

and communicate the Word of God boldly as they should.

She can see that those controversial verses are wise for this day

when a man’s platform is shrinking and his digging

is discouraged.

Neither men nor women would throw tomatoes at a teacher

who has stepped aside so that others may learn, too.

The won’t throw tomatoes and they won’t throw words like

legalism, conservative, or limitations

because they’ll see all of this for what it is: love.

They won’t throw tomatoes

because, you see, a woman who believes that what the Bible says is true

asks the Spirit of God to change her into a servant:

and – this is where I take heart! – there is always beautiful evidence

when God

intervenes

and a mere human woman learns how

to live like the Son lives,

and to love like the Father loves,

and to minister like the Spirit ministers.

Yes, Christians will – and do – face persecution, but

the work that God gives to His servants is so loving

healing

forgiving

and sanctifying

that even if one angry person throws a tomato,

a servant cleans it up and loves even more.

Because that’s what Someone did for her.

Posted in All Posts, BEST OF, Marriage, Motherhood | 3 Comments

I am the Keeper

Sometimes a book sits on a shelf

though it should be thrown away.

Sometimes a movie

or a phrase

or an attitude

lingers in our home a little too long.

Or, rather,

sometimes a wall remains blank

though it should be beautified.

Sometimes a gift remains ungiven

a smile, unsmiled

a lesson, untaught,

a song, unsung in our house too long.

These are the details I notice.

These are the “to do’s” on my post-it notes.

This is my career. My lifestyle. My goal.

This is why I pour my life into our home:

to notice the little things –

and the big things –

that come in,

and go out.

Like a bouncer, editer, manager, auditor, sanctifier, teacher, artist, cook, composer…

I box up the trash.

I send out what is meaningless, useless, wasteful.

I refuse entry to the thieves, the noise, the junk,

And say, “no” to things that might waste our vapor.

Ah, but I also keep the treasures.

I look for flashes of true beauty and tug, pull, stretch it out – to share it.

I gather the good – no, the best – and set it on our shelves, dinner plates, and ear drums.

I pray about everything I see, sense, and discern within our tiny family.

Every ounce of muscle, insight, and passion is required to be the Keeper of my Home.

No one else has been – or will be – asked to do this job within these precious walls.

It is on my shoulders, in my eyes, within my spirit.

And I gladly do it.

For God himself is happy then. And we are happy in Him.

- Thoughts by Laura

***

No wonder Paul wrote that women are “to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2. I think this is revolutionary.

***

Check out a related post: A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Posted in All Posts, BEST OF, Healthy Living, Marriage, Motherhood | 7 Comments

The Everlasting Father

On December 21st, I shared the message,

And His Name Shall Be Called: Everlasting Father“.

This is my Christmas gift to you!

(Click on the above title; when the new page loads, look for Laura B. – “Everlasting Father”.)

***

After you’ve listened, I hope you’ll sing this beloved carol with invigorated understanding:

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The Button Jar

Q: What else can you do with that button jar??

A: Here are some ideas to get you started:

* just look at it (seriously, some kids will be thoroughly engaged just looking at it)

* pull out last week’s empty egg carton and sort those buttons ’til you’re all sorted out (size, shape, color, number of holes, lights/darks, favorites, etc.)

* play “Button Store” (When you are the customer, order progressively more complex combinations. Begin with, “I’ll take two blue buttons and three red ones, please.” Work towards, “I’ll take five white buttons. Actually, one less than that, please.” or “May I please have two buttons with four holes and four buttons with two holes?” Throw in a little brown bag for “the purchases” along with some “please’s,” “thank you’s”, and “come back again’s”.)

* Make gifts! For example, last Christmas, Vivienne’s gifts to family members and friends were collections of button magnets. We glued varieties of buttons onto small round magnets and boxed them up with some green crinkle-paper. (Wish I had some pictures for ya… They really were precious. Side note: For Vivienne’s grandparents, we purchased inexpensive miniature nativity ornaments and made magnetic nativity sets.)

* Match ‘em. For example, using different colored crayons, mark small dots on a piece of paper. Ask your preschooler to glue a matching-colored button on top of each dot.

* Count them.

* Name them. Feed them. Wash them. Put them to bed. (You think I’m joking??)

* String them along on a piece of wire to make a button-bracelet.

* Make your own Button Family Photo. Together, choose one button that most closely represents each person in your family. (For example, if Dad has a large purple head, the large purple button would be the perfect choice! Seriously though, you’ll crack up at your preschooler’s reasoning.) Glue it to a piece of paper. Ask your preschooler to draw the rest of the body under the button-head.

* Measure them with Tablespoons, teaspoons, and cups.

* Pour them, mix them, and put them away.

Incidentally, if you happen not to share my sincere affection for buttons, I’d be happy to take yours off your hands (or jackets, sweaters, shirt-cuffs, etc.) Also, if you happen to spot the mother-load at a garage sale, scoop ‘em up: I’ll pay you back! Just send ‘em our way.

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On Loooong Days…

…crash the neighbors’ (anyone and everyone); invite a friend over; put huge pieces of paper on the kitchen floor, give the kids cheap shaving cream or cool whip and walk away; play outside no matter what the weather is like; let ‘em wash the dishes for as long as they want; stick them in the bathtub with measuring cups and a turkey baster until they are positively prunes; watch videos like the Signing Time series (don’t know about Signing Time?!); read, read, and then read some more until they are positively prunes (increase your child’s stamina by reading to them during breakfast, lunch or snack time); play, “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” over and over again (nap time will arrive early that day); have a tea party; bake cookies; give ‘em a ball of yarn and kid-scissors; do puzzles; watch your child turn into a genius/ zombie as they play Sesame Street games on the computer (don’t know about Sesame Street games? Check out the playlists, especially.); let ‘em call your husband, your mother, your father, your sisters, your brothers,and  your estranged cousins; do the laundry (mere babes will sort darks and lights, put wet clothes in the dryer, AND sort underwear and socks if they know a marshmallow is coming); give older toddlers a couple of cotton balls, a wash rag and a small bowl of water to wash a plastic baby doll; smash towers of blocks with a remote control car (a recent discovery in our house – thanks SIL!); hand out scissors and an old magazine or coupon flier; take pictures of things that begin with different letters of the alphabet; watch every single Hallmark ecard before sending one to your hubby/ daddy; watch every single Hallmark ecard again before sending one to your mom, dad, sisters, brothers, etc.; finally, and most importantly, on days when you feel you have very little to offer, tip-toe around any and every already-occupied child and do not disturb them at any cost until they are positively prunes. And that will pretty much get you to lunch time.

Posted in All Posts, BEST OF | 6 Comments