Sunday, July 24, 2011


As our three youngest babes prayed with me yesterday, I saw laced fingers and tightly shut eyes and heard a resounding finish of, "Amen" to the God they know is listening. Just days before, Gabriel had written in a letter, " I received my dog tags - it is moving and stirring to see them hanging around my neck as I lean over the bathroom stall...I know it is a morbid thought, but if something ever happened to me, I would like Elias to have them." The reading of Gabe's words felt like a foreshadowing of Friday when one of Gabriel's classmates died in an field training exercise. It was the same day that almost 100 Norwegian youth were murdered. I felt the weight of so much sorrow, and ached for the grieving families of each of those precious teenagers.

In the garden, a picture of hope came to my mind. There is a stunningly beautiful clematis climbing the lamppost. It surprises me each Spring when the courageous vine seeks to survive in a treacherous part of the yard, where little good can be found. Ages ago, when I planted the shoot, I'd hoped for instant beauty. Until last week the scraggly remnant yearly had produced only leaves on a thirsty stem. When the buds finally appeared I did not expect huge, exquisite, deep purple flowers from a living thing that had known such struggle. I looked at those flowers today with new eyes. God kindly has been teaching me to be thankful for the privilege of difficulty and sorrow, and to trust His promise in the end; that He will wipe away every tear, that joy comes in the morning and that good can come from evil. His book of Truth is the Living Water for our thirsty souls.

Gabriel also wrote these thoughts this week, "God is indeed good. He is terribly good...terrible in His goodness, meaning that the force and power behind his shaping would overwhelm us, were we not able to behold the mercy and love that guides those hammer blows, the heat of the forge and the freezing waters. For they fashion me into the weapon, yet give me with that the strength, the wisdom to allow myself to be wielded."

To yield to The Maker and thus, in surrender, be wielded by Him, is to face a world wrought with tragedy as a ready soldier. A soldier of the highest King armed with weapons not of this world, no, the only ones which can defeat evil; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Dog tags are for flesh, but the flesh is merely stem bound to earth. We are created for eternity and it is there we will fully bloom. Hope springs eternal, and to this we can say, "Amen!"

Thursday, July 14, 2011

All Aboard!

It is early and a pile of little ones chatter away, as I cling to my few remaining inches of bed. If Ezra joins us I will surely be the first to drop to the floor. It is a peaceful invasion...well, relatively so, but like everything in parenting, complete surrender of all lesser things is the only way.

And so with morning hopes of quiet time to think and write given over to motherhood, I must find a way to celebrate my task. A toast perhaps? Yes, toast in bed and "Bob the Builder: Construction Site" on the small white computer, then I will steal a moment to breathe and speak with my pen.

As I wait for their simple breakfast to warm and crisp, Pax, our chocolate lab, needs a bit of company. So out beyond the herb garden I stand. It is raining again, but the yellow rose beside me doesn't mind, she blooms. This has been a month of tears. How desperately I desire to look to heaven and receive my heartache with thankfulness. To bloom in the rain of my life is what I want, but it is hard.

Our oldest children are walking the steep path to adulthood. Gabriel began the brutal phase of Cadet Basic Training two and a half weeks ago. Elias will soon enter his senior year of high school and anxiously anticipates life beyond. Magdalene's 9 years of home schooling has come to a close as she will begin high school with her brother in the fall. They are seeking their way in a world less kind than the one I might imagine through my rose colored glasses, you know, the ones so easily misplaced. This coaching phase of parenting is perhaps the most difficult. To watch the refining process is to sometimes feel imprisoned by the finality of a job well done...well, at least done, yet covered on all sides by God's grace and filtered through his hands.

Last night Malachi called to his younger siblings, "All Aboard!" He and Salome' arranged the seven stools on their sides, on the floor, as train compartments. The unruly bunch came to order quickly when they realized the conductor was doling out his first round of snacks. Their game reminded me of a quote from Corrie Ten Boom which I have taped to the inside of my pantry, "When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer."

My white-knuckled fists would hold tightly to our first three children if I did not trust The Conductor. Each of their unique adventures must be laced with struggle, sorrow and suffering. Why this is, I will never know on this side of heaven. Yet it is true, the soul who suffers and refuses to swallow bitterness, will taste the sweet fruit of thankfulness and humility, necessary traits for a spiritually healthy life. Love and truth invested in children in the daily white-flag surrender of parenting will also equip our next generation. We must trust our children to wield the tools we give them well.

As I weep and pray I settle my spirit in these words, "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Psalm 126:5. In this I fix my mind and ask my heart to bloom in the rain as I sit tight on this train..."Snacks please!"