Summer & Small Struggles

When I was a kid, I spent the entire summer—which was actually three full months off of school, rather than the two plus one week-ish they have now—roaming the neighborhood with two of my friends. Summers seemed endless. Now it feels like the summer is almost gone, even though it’s only mid-July. Maybe that’s because for me May and June are over, and I’ll have to think about class planning in a couple of weeks, but I also think it has to do with how busy my kids have been.

Last week both kids went to “camps” at their school. I have no idea why these things came to be called camps, because they have nothing to do with camping—which I love and never get to do because my husband is not a nature guy. My daughter went to Craft & Sports camp in the mornings, and my son, not old enough for that camp, had two play dates with friends from school. In the afternoons, they both went to Creation Science camp. I love that my kids get to learn about the science side of creation, both from school and camps like this—I went to a public school for elementary and learned evolution as “fact,” not the theory that it is, and have always had to try to reconcile creation with science on my own. It’s so much better to learn, as my kids are learning, what other theories there are about the origins of the universe, of animals, of plants, and of people and what the Bible says and the scientific facts that support it.

Pre-teen girls in a craft cabin

This week is the last of the camp weeks—my son is at a day camp at our church, put on by the same organization that my daughter went away to camp for earlier in the summer. He sometimes gets nervous with new situations, and was nervous yesterday before I dropped him off. When I picked him up and asked him how it was, he went from “I didn’t really like it and don’t want to come back tomorrow,” to “I liked it, but I didn’t love it,” to “I loved it! I want to go to overnight camp next year!” (he’ll be old enough, but I’m not sure he’ll be ready for that quite yet). He was excited to be dropped off this morning, so we’ll see by the end of the week.

As for me? In some aspects, I seem to have stalled for the summer but I’m refusing to stop plodding along. Last week I posted about the little things that kept happening, and those little things tend to add up and seem big sometimes—things like it taking much longer to get tasks done than it should, which takes away time from things I would much rather be doing—the work I believe God has given me to do (see the three big things here, if you don’t remember or don’t know about those)—like working on my book project. My duties as a mom and wife take away from the other work sometimes, but I need to remember that those duties are also a huge part of the work I’m meant to do, and am just praying (and praying, and praying) that God will help me to recognize and follow his lead when he leads me, and to trust in his timing for the rest. I refuse to give up faith in his plan for me—and I know he has one:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10, NIV)

To be honest, even writing this blog lately has been a struggle, both time-wise and style-wise. If you’re a regular reader forgive me—I know the format/style these past couple of posts has been different from what you’ve been used to reading. I hope you’ll allow me some freedom in this! But this blog is about writing life, about being transparent when it comes to my life—full of failures, which we don’t normally see in others (especially on social media!)—and my faith, and of God’s amazing grace in dealing with me (us) on a daily basis. So while I often write in a devotional style, this post and the last has been almost pure “life lived.” And maybe, when it comes to me personally, a plea for your prayers: prayers to “continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18, NIV)—and to just continue.

With that, I can’t resist this: To be continued…

Life, Miracles, & God’s Faithfulness

Three weeks since I’ve blogged—wait, what? Three weeks? But as I look back on them, it’s understandable. A lot has happened in three weeks.

A little over three weeks ago, my son graduated from kindergarten and my daughter finished fourth grade. Both were given awards for their artistic and creative abilities—something so precious to this mama’s heart! I am a creative at heart, and love seeing creativity shine through my children.A teacher and kindergarten graduate in a kindergarten classroomAnother teacher and kindergarten graduate in a kindergarten classroomA fourth-turning-fifth grader and her teacher outside the school on the last day of fourth grade
The following week, VBS happened—Vacation Bible School—and during that week we also

    *had an attempted sleepover with one of my daughter’s friends (she went home, and I later discovered she has never spent the night anywhere before—still it broke my daughter’s heart because she thought there was something wrong with her that made her friend leave)
    *went to the sprinkler park with some cousins
    *made my son’s second batch of cupcakes for the summer (he’s working through a magazine of 100 different cupcakes, and wanted to make all of them this summer! I told him it would take a bit longer than that)
    *had an actual sleepover with another cousin to make up for the attempted one.

I also got some adult time in with two of my oldest, dearest friends—we haven’t been able to get together for 2.5 years!

Six year old boy and ten year old girl making goofy faces at a park

Life only got busier, faster, and slower all at once after that. This has been a season of graduations, with two in my family, and between VBS and my daughter’s sleep-away camp (coming up next) we attended the second of the graduation parties for my cousins’ children. We weren’t even there ten minutes when near-tragedy hit. One of my aunts, now in her seventies (but I have no idea how—my aunts and uncles are not that old! They can’t be!) but still full of life, somehow tripped coming down the stairs and hit her head on the wall opposite. Then she stopped breathing and responding to anything until her sister gave her CPR. Away in an ambulance to a nearby hospital she went, with her sister and her daughter’s family, who had arrived right after the ambulance did.

The next several hours were full of conflicting reports from the various doctors running the tests and coming in to observe her. Scans revealed she had broken her C1 vertebra, and one report said she would need surgery or could face paralysis. Just then, back home and having just splashed boiling water on my stomach when the macaroni for my son’s dinner stuck in the bottom of the pan while I was stirring it, I broke down in tears and begged God for a miracle. I confessed my mustard-seed sized faith in the modern medical miracle—I know God can perform miracles of healing, but I often doubt that he will, telling myself that he has allowed the condition for some reason—and asked for one, also confessing that my motive was completely selfish. I am not ready to lose my mom’s siblings; I lost her early enough. And I asked for my aunt to have the peace that passes understanding as she went through this. I knew she was conscious, and I couldn’t imagine what she was going through.

The following morning, having not heard many more specifics other than that things might have been better than expected with my aunt, I took my daughter to a Christian camp for the third year in a row (six days, five nights). My son and I headed to another aunt’s house for a few days, where I discovered I had no cell service (seems crippling after having grown familiar with it these past twenty years or so). My daughter made friends, had fun, and grew closer to God—and was once again recognized for her creativity—and my son and I relaxed into life at a different pace for a few days.

10 year old girl in life jacket on a dock at a lake at campSix year old boy eating lunch, playing on a tablet, and making a goofy face sitting at a kitchen island

While my aunt, son, and I relaxed, my injured aunt came home. When I was able to talk with her I made an amazing discovery—God had granted my miracle. The neurosurgeon, the “final authority” as he told my relatives, started the consultation before he sent her home with the bad news: “You broke your neck.” Then he continued with the amazing, miraculous news: “You have to wear a brace for two weeks, and then you should be good as new.” He explained that she probably didn’t even need the brace and it was just a precaution. And my aunt, speaking to me, told me she was peaceful and calm in the hospital.

Thank God for miracles, great and small.

Finally, this past week, spent at home, has been a never-ending battle to catch up and deal with one small mishap at another. Without having to run here and there and play the chauffeur, I thought it might be one of the more relaxing weeks of the summer. Instead, it’s been the week of small attacks I think were meant to bring me down—the low after the high of witnessing a miracle. The housecleaning that usually takes me five hours on a Monday never got completely done, probably because I kept adding things to my agenda like trying to get the second of my two vegetable gardens cleared of the pineapple sage that has overtaken it (probably no veggies in that one this year—we’ll see. That garden is still a work in progress). I also decided to begin shampooing our carpets, and did my bedroom and the hallway (pictured in my Instagram feed on the left). That night, my senior dog peed in her sleep for the first time in months—on the bedroom carpet—and the following night she threw up on it. The next day our kitten decided to knock over a bowl that had the remnants of chocolate ice cream in it (yes, on the carpet). And this morning I broke a coffee pot full of water while trying to make my coffee (so thankful for the spare coffee pot!).

Garden overrun by pineapple sageProgress made clearing the pineapple sage from the gardenTomato garden planted

I can’t help but think that all of the little mishaps are small efforts to attack my faith. It’s not just those small things; I’ve also learned that two friends who previously beat cancer have had (or may have had, for one) it return in different forms. At a time in my life when I’m trying to lean on God, follow his direction, and hoping he’ll let me and lead me into an entirely new adventure, I am being hit with things large and small to take me down in the day-to-day. At those times, though, I just need to sit and remember and see how faithful God is in the day-to-day. To see the things listed in this post, how much I have to be thankful for in just the past three weeks. And I know that God will remain faithful, will remain performing miracles—large and small—in the day to day of my life.

I am thankful. Grateful. Blessed.

To Dad, On Father’s Day

Memories of my childhood are so precious to me. In so many of those my dad is the star.

I remember…

Walking on your feet, you carrying my weight
Running the halls of an empty church while you cleaned, counted money, and poured grape juice into communion cups
Sunday morning breakfasts of biscuits and biscuit dough
Learning to cook alongside you
Laughing and laughing while others rolled their eyes
Family devotions around the table in a bright yellow kitchen
Wondering if a stranger covered in snow came home early from a hunting trip instead of my dad
My sister taking a spill as a passenger on the back of your bicycle
Camping trips in a canvas tent (it always rained)
The only time I heard you swear (you were trying to fix something)
The sacrifices you made to send us to school
Going to the dairy with you (it was wet that day)
Counting washers, bolts, hosing by the inch (and getting donuts and money for it)
Sweating in Renaissance costumes (and loving it)
You shivering and waiting patiently for the birth of my firstborn
So. Much. More.

Countless memories, countless laughs, countless smiles.
(And yes, a few tears too.)

Thank you for all of the good memories. Looking forward to many more in the years to come. I love you.