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From the moment we knew we were expecting our daughters, they were loved. Without knowing who they were or who they would be, an indescribable bond formed. It's incredible to me that God says He's loved us and consecrated us for a special plan since before even an ultrasound could reveal us.
One of my favorite verses on this subject is Jeremiah 1:5, in which God tells Jeremiah that He knew him before he was formed in the womb, and that before Jeremiah was even born, God set him apart to be a prophet.
Jeremiah tells God I'm too young, I don't have the words, I'm scared.... Help!
And God tells Jeremiah he's not too young, and that not only will He go with Jeremiah and give him the words to speak, He will calm Jeremiah's fear. "They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you" (1:19).
Jeremiah was not the only one God called. Do you know you are called to be His? Do you know you are remarkable? Do you know that out of all the inhabitants of the world, out of billions of people, you are seen and known by God, down to the number of hairs on your head and the number of days your life will span?
You are consecrated. You have been set apart for God's service, declared sacred, dedicated for a purpose. Overwhelming? Sometimes. Terrifying? Sometimes. Equipped by God? Always.
I see his coffee cup, left empty by the sink, and I long for a time when we will have more hours together; when we won't live so separate.
And I wonder if this is how God feels about us -- about me. That this is not how it was designed; that we were meant to be together.
Separation is not in the blueprints for sacred life.
Death, disillusionment, divorce: all impostors. None created by the One who only desires the very best for us.
The sacred moments of true togetherness -- when we are not only together in physical proximity, but also in spirit, offers glimpses of Heaven, His design. No competition, no conniving, no critical words slipping out unfiltered.
This is the heart of God: community, togetherness, grace. This is what we were made for.
So until I see him again, this man I vowed to walk through life with, I wash the cup and launder his clothes, and think about how to better show how I feel -- this love. And until I see Him, this God I vowed to serve, I wash out my heart and launder my judgment, and think about how to better show how He feels -- this perfect love.
It's time for a new journal.
So yesterday I got out some supplies, and designed a couple new journal covers.
The background of this one, the blue, is my favorite color, and I love butterflies. I love reading to my daughters, and although we only have about another month of spring, it doesn't feel like it's arrived yet in my neck of the woods. My youngest daughter adores bunnies, and we homeschool, so are together constantly. These patterned papers with the bunnies charmed the socks off me.
I love them both. The problem is I can't decide which one to use.
Which cover do you like best? The Pearl Brad/Bunny cover or the Butterfly/Collage cover?
The thoughts in my mind today are like bumper cars. Just as I focus on one, another comes from behind to jar it out of the way, leaving a bit of whiplash. Knowing where to begin to process and learn is like searching for the end of the spaghetti noodle in a twirly heap of saucy mess. Here is my attempt at separating out some spaghetti and making the bumper cars stand still for just a moment.
Never underestimate the value of parents.
Never underestimate the value of the family we choose.
Never underestimate the power of words ... how they can inspire, lift up, tear down, and create that "aha" moment that helps us understand ourselves and our tragedies and victories.
Learn to apologize when necessary and forgive when necessary and let it all go, knowing that the good always outweighs the bad, and life is always worth living.
Appreciate the balance of good and bad, effortless and difficult. For it's when the hard comes that we more fully appreciate the easy.
Always value life. Know that every year will bring new goodness and new heartbreaks and it will all offer lessons.
Search out and celebrate the small things, like a steaming cup of tea, or the daily requests of a sweet 4 year-old for morning pots of healthy oatmeal, dotted with fruit and cream. The heaping baskets of warm clean clothes, the perfect shade of lipstick, the lingering hug and the laughter that slips out unbidden.
Life is a grand gift, and the hard times help us learn, help us grow, help us become.
So write your story. Sing your song. Make your mark. There is only one you. And remember too, that you influence those around you, so guard your words and your actions and focus on the building up, which is always its own reward.
Never take for granted the people and the abilities of today. It is all a gift.
"God has not only read your story, He wrote it."
Over a year ago, God planted the seed of an idea in my heart. The idea to homeschool my daughters. While I've always known that I desired to be a mother, and that motherhood was, in fact, my greatest dream in life, I never thought I would homeschool.
When the idea began to take root and grow, I searched and searched for the origin. Where did it come from? I spoke with trusted people in my life, journaled and journaled and journaled about it, made lists of pros and cons, researched alternatives, researched curricula, and read books on homeschooling. I couldn't shake the idea that this was what I should do.
After months of grappling, I finally made the decision to homeschool. This decision brought indescribable peace.
Shortly afterward, I was hit with my first major, unrelenting flare. I have not felt well for over a year now. Last summer was spent at multiple doctors' offices, having lab work done, waiting for results, waiting for consults. And shortly after we began our homeschool year, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease that attacks the spine and joints, often causing pain, fatigue, difficulty with mobility, and worse.
Homeschool has been different than I envisioned. It's difficult to be chronically ill with children, let alone be responsible for their education and attend to all of my other responsibilities. But the things I wanted -- reading together, encouraging a love of reading and creativity, prolonging childhood, having more quality time together -- are happening.
I believe God nudged me into homeschooling; that it was His will for our family. He knows the end from the beginning, so of course He knew when He began to nudge that I would get sick and that chronic illness would be a factor in this plan.
So I conclude that if He nudged and it was His plan and He knew I would develop Ankylosing Spondylitis, He also planned to provide what it required.
I don't write this to compare homeschooling with traditional schooling. The point is the reminder I've experienced: learn to listen. Looking back, I see that the best aspects of my life began with just a nudge.
"Is your back hurting you, Mama?" a cool little hand slides up my shirt and rubs my back.
Most mornings, my room is her first stop after waking. She slips in quietly, reheats my heating pad, and returns to tuck it over a nagging shoulder, a back that feels broken, or a throbbing hip.
Heat quiets the pain and promises soothe my fear.
His promise to love in sickness or in health.
His promise never to leave or forsake me.
Chronic illness crept in and changed our lives. It doesn't affect just me. It changes our marriage, our family; the rhythms of everyday life.
Today I sit in pain, as if a cloak of discomfort has been settled over my shoulders and wraps around my entire body. I feel like a turtle that just can't get up to speed. But I sit assured by the love my family has for me, something chronic illness hasn't changed. I'm still his wife, still that girl he fell in love with over a decade ago. I'm still their mama, and despite the limping and fatigue and feeling decades older than I am, I'm still the one who bakes cookies, reads stories, and braids wet hair.
I'm still me, and I'm still loved. Chronic illness doesn't change that.