Have you ever noticed?

John and I have committed to once every other month making a large batch of soup for a ministry that serves the homeless in downtown Portland.

It’s not much.

The need is so great.

But, it’s something that we can do – and do joyfully.

Honestly – it’s kind of fun – I get to experiment with all kinds of fun soups that the boys would NEVER in a million years eat – and are all sorts of fabulous – and someone will actually enjoy and appreciate them. I love that.

Today it’s white chili.

I’ve never made it before. What with being allergic to chicken and the boys being opposed to any form of bean – yeah, not high on the menu planning priority list. It smells great, and was – frankly – really easy to throw together. Now it will just simmer while we wait for the very nice lady from church to come pick it up and deliver it to where it needs to go.

John and I have mentioned to one another countless times how ironic it is that whenever it is our turn to make soup for this ministry some event or the other – or just the fact that I’ve worked less than 40 hours since the last of September – these are the times when we find ourselves in our most dire financial need.

Isn’t it funny how that happens?

And it’s not like it’s once or twice it’s happened.

It happens every single time we’re scheduled to make soup.

Yes, the rent is paid. Some of the bills will have to wait. There’s not much gas in the cars. No, there’s no money for groceries.

We’re not likely to starve to death any time soon – ha! If things got really scary, the boys may well break down and actually want to eat beans! I’ve been canning – and beans we have!

It used to really stress us out – “Ugh! Time to make soup! What are we going to do?” And we’d go through the pantry looking for things that could be pulled together to make a nutritious and delicious soup.

Nowadays – we just kind of smile and look at each other and say, “Time to make soup.” It’s almost a challenge to see who can spot what God has or will provide (just in the nick of time, of course) to make that big old pot of soup possible.

Have you noticed that in your own life?

That God asks you to trust – even when it doesn’t seem like the practical thing to do?

There are things we could do.

We could back out – not follow through with the commitment. But then we’d miss out on getting to see the amazing things that we get to see God do each time.

We could freak out. Been there, done that – doesn’t accomplish much.

Lots of options of responses.

But there’s one thing we choose to do…

Only You
by David Crowder Band

Take my heart, I Lay it down
At the feet of you whose crowned
Take my life, I’m letting go
I lift it up to You who’s throned

And I will worship You, Lord
Only You, Lord
And I will bow down before You
Only You Lord

Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything

And It’s just you and me here now
Only you and me here now

You should see the view
When it’s only You
© 2003 Six Step Records

Ever notice how much better it is when you choose to stop – acknowledge that God is HERE – right now… No matter what the circumstances are? In the midst of it all – whatever it all is. No matter how afraid you could or should be? No matter how great the need or perceived need?

…that He does what only He can do…

He shows up.

Without fail.

To envelop with His incredible peace.

His unmatched love.

His beautiful mercy.

His matchless grace.

Ready to do just what needs done.

Ever notice what a delight it is to just step out and obey?

…feeling pretty honored to be a child of the King this afternoon.

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Refuge

Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

Ps 61:1-4

I’m not one much for resolutions.

Pretty much, I tend to fail at them somewhat spectacularly.

Nothing like substantial failure to really boost your self esteem, you know?

I’ve found the most effective changes have been just to choose to do something – and then :gasp: – do it.

I know – wild, right?

For years I tried to give up Coke. Tried and tried and tried – failed and failed and failed. One day – May 29, 2007 to be exact – I did. Without much fanfare or fancy footwork – just being prepared – having a plan, and saying out loud that I was gonna do it – well – it worked. I haven’t had a single Coke since – or any other soda. Not saying I don’t want one now and then – but not going there.

Literal MONTHS ago I starting to have this nagging persistent longing to do something that I began doing as a teenager – and a new creation. A very wise, very loving, truly incredible woman (Roberta Wollen) dared me to commit to memorizing scripture. You know – the Bible. You know what? I actually did it. Lots and lots of it.

Without fail – not one second of the time, effort, or resources required to do so has ever been anything but an investment that has returned about a bazillion fold blessing in my life.

One summer, when I was on staff at Sambica, a friend decided to use the Topical Memory System and invited me to join in. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Super – phenomenally – amazing.

Then, when I was in Bible School, one of our professors required us to memorize whole chapters – each week! – for his class. My first thought was IMPOSSIBLE! I was carrying 18 credit hours, working nearly full-time, was volunteering at church, and taking care of my Dad who was terminally ill. Funny thing how that impossible requirement was not only possible – but clearly remembered – all of these years later. Can you recite Psalm 103 from memory. I can – and only thanks to that professor!

So… I’d been thinking thoughts like, “I really ought to start memorizing again.” and “It would be so good for me to memorize more!” and “If I had an ounce of discipline in my body, you’d think I could devote it to at least memorizing some scripture!”

In short – feeling pretty much like it was unattainable – and maybe – well – okay, I’ll say it out loud – like all of the physical crap I’d been through since my stupid ibuprofen fiasco may well have affected my ability to memorize. And so much easier to just assume that – than to actually break down and do it.

Lazy, lazy girl.

So – one day at the library I came across a book – and much contrary to the method I normally employ (research online, decide if I will commit the time to read it, if I’ll like it, know something about the author) to choose books to read – just grabbed it off the shelf.

God’s kinda sneaky sometimes.

Sometimes he takes away your carefully constructed methodology to give you a chance to look up long enough to meet His loving eyes and remind you of His love…

and Faithfulness.

And why He calls you me to do stuff to start with.

I should maybe interject here I didn’t get into this book to start with. But I trudged through a couple more chapters and then – whammo – yeah – got sucked in. Enough so that I promptly got online and ordered the two follow up books in the series through the library!

Long story short – the theme of this book was God’s way of reminding me that His Word is nothing short of living breath in a life that so has no strength to draw breath on it’s own – and so desperately needs His.

So – I’m gonna do it.

I’m gonna start memorizing again.

And I’m gonna start with the verses up there at the top in Psalm 61. I was reminded of them in an old recording (How the West was One double album) and it really spoke to my soul. So I’m starting there.

I wish I had a more organized plan – but I’ll be honest – I don’t.

I’m typing up the verses, printing them out on a 3 x 5 index card, putting them on the window sill above the kitchen sink, and until I’ve got them down word for word, there the card will stay.

That I can – and will do.

So – not a New Year’s resolution – as a return to a healthy practice of my youth – that I should never have stopped with!

Join me, if you’d like.

Important bottom line….

Today – much like last week – Carl (our pastor) did an amazing thing.

He worked through half of a whole chapter!!!! (You have to have some history at CMBC to understand how monumental this is. I mean – it took the guy something like 4 years to make it through Ephesians!)

But I gotta tell you – even though it was at a pretty brisk pace – it was a sweet thing to get this portion of scripture all together in a bigger chunk. Context is SO important here.

I guess one thing that has been coming to me – over and over and over again – in recent weeks is a vitally important bottom line truth:

God is God and I am not.

What a sweet, beautiful, profound, and blessed thing!

I find myself taking a deep breath, and thinking, “Phew! What a relief!”

‘Cause – honestly – too much pressure for it to be any other way, right?

I don’t want that kind of responsibility!

I guess that’s why this just resonated so incredibly with me this morning:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
      How unsearchable his judgments,
      and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
      Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
      that God should repay him?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
      To him be the glory forever! Amen.

(Romans 11:33-36)

All in all – an amazing morning of worship. It was a wonderful call to worship this morning with Dave Lubben leading. One song in particular spoke to my heart – hope you are blessed, as I was!

Duh!

This morning in church a candidate for worship pastor led worship. He taught a couple of new songs, and we sang several that are pretty standard for us to sing. Isn’t it funny how a song you sing pretty regularly catches you by surprise?

Know this song?

Mighty to Save by Hillsong Australia

Everyone needs compassion,
Love that’s never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations.

Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.

Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

So take me as You find me,
All my fears and failures,
Fill my life again.

I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in,
Now I surrender.

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.

Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

Shine your light and let the whole world see,
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King…Jesus (x2)

My Saviour, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave,
Jesus conquered the grave.

My Saviour, you can move the mountains,
You are mighty to save,
You are mighty to save.
Forever, Author of Salvation,
You rose and conquered the grave,
Yes you conquered the grave

I’ve been singing that song for years now.

Isn’t great, isn’t it?

Basic.

Truth.

We sing stuff like this all the time, right?

We should know this stuff – deep down.

How is it then, that this one line nearly took my breath away this morning?

“Jesus conquered the grave.”

Duh.

I know that.

Basic and foundational to the very core of me.

Know what occurred to me afresh this morning?

I can acknowledge day-in and day-out that Jesus conquered the grave – so much so that I’ve somehow lost sight of the fact that it doesn’t start and stop there.

HE is Conqueror.

Of my fear.

Of my hurt.

Of my sadness.

Of my weariness.

Of my lack of joy.

None of it is beyond His notice.

None of it is beyond His reach.

None of it is too trivial or unimportant to Him.

There is nothing that I can’t entrust to Him as Victor!

Why didn’t I remember that?

Amazing to me how – in my weariness – I’ve become such an easy target for the enemy.

Frightening how long it takes me to acknowledge truths that are every bit a part of the fiber of my being as the blood that flows through my veins.

God – keep me close to You!

Be my Sovereign this day and everyday forward.

I pledge you all that I am – even though that amounts to essentially nothing.

Thank you – Maker of the Universe – for choosing to love even me.

Too Much for Words

Rom 8:26-27

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.

(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

This morning our pastor continued his series on Romans. We’re in chapter 8 – you can listen here, if you’d like. I don’t know if you’ve read Romans much in your lifetime- but it’s deep! It’s got stuff in it that you need to think on. Seriously. Today’s verses (above – and no, Carl doesn’t move very quckly! J) have been a comfort to my heart for many years.

Do you ever have periods of time – or events – in your life – where the emotion is just too… profound?… for words? Those are the times that I think of in relation to these verses.

Times like…

Saying goodbye to my Dad – a month after marrying John – knowing that this would be the last time I’d ever see him – as we embarked on the trip to my new home in Kentucky.

Holding my first born – born prematurely at 23 weeks gestation, as she breathed for her 4 minutes of earthly life before she was ushered into Glory – and her first deep breath of REAL air – in the presence of the Savior!

Holding my Grammy, caring for her – everything – after she’d had a series of strokes – she’d chosen to die at home, and she’d asked me to take care of her until she did.  Knowing that even though she was blind, paralyzed, and struggling for every breath – that she oozed with the presence of the Holy One.  When I’d lay next to her and hold her hand and whisper hymns, or read her Bible to her – there would be the smallest hint of a smile – and my heart would SING – because I knew she would soon be at the feet of Jesus – and so did she!

Understanding for the first time – as fully as I was able to at that point – that my loved one was accused of horrific evil. Realizing that our lives would never be the same because of it.  Feeling so – I don’t know if that emotion has a name – deeply – Horror? Overwhelming sadness? – that the strength to draw the next breath LITERALLY escaped me.

Being knee deep in my Mom’s dementia – only not knowing what it was yet – and feeling angry, confused, sorrowful, fearful – trying to figure out what it was that I was supposed to do, how we would get through it, how I could keep her safe, how I could stay sane.

Feeling indescribable joy the morning of my birthday – walking into my Mom’s room at the assisted living memory care facility – and she knew me!  She knew it was my birthday!  She told me she loved me!  She gave me a quick hug – before she went away again.  Or the three or four other snippets of moments when she came out of the fog of her dementia – was fully herself again for mere SECONDS – and I was privileged enough to BE THERE!

Being in so much physical pain that it was literally impossible to utter noise, move, anything.

There have been moments of great emotion – so deep that I – to this day – have no way to adequately voice.  There are times when the only prayer I can utter is, “Father…  please!”  Or “Jesus!  Help me!”  I’ve prayed these prayers so many times I don’t think it’s possible to recount how many times.

NEVER have I found myself alone.

ALWAYS He has been there.

This is when these verses have been so near – so very real – and I really can’t explain it well other than to say I’d be undone without this amazing, loving, unsearchable gift of God!

“It’s not really Narnia, you know…”

Lucy began, somewhat tearfully, in response to the news from Aslan that she and Edmund would not be returning to Narnia, “…it’s YOU! We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one.” Aslan responds.

“Are you there, in our world, too?” Edmund asks, with a tinge of joy in his voice.

“I AM! But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia. That by knowing me here a little, you may know me better there!”

I’ve been listening to “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” again this week.

Do you ever have seasons of your life where you feel like you just need to be reminded of the fact that HE is here – in our world? I needed that this week.

What great lengths He’s gone to – to romance me.

To embrace me.

To forgive me – even though there’s simply no good reason to.

To redeem me.

To hide me in the shadow of His wing.

To hide little reminders of His nearness – everywhere I turn – if only I will stop half a second to recognize them.

Just moments before Lucy’s exclamation, this is the exchange had taken place:

“What? Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world, too?”

“There is a way into my country from all worlds!” He exclaims as he reveals Himself – changing from the beautiful spotless Lamb that had served them the best breakfast they’d ever eaten, into the Lion they’ve known and loved.

“Aslan, will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”

“I shall be telling you all the time! But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be, only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the Great Bridge Builder!”

Do you just love that? I do!

While I love Narnia – and have undoubtedly spent far too much time thinking about how amazing it would have been to be one of those lucky Pevensie children in my youth! – I’m so thankful that Narnia is just a shadow of Heaven. That Aslan is just a representation of The Way, The Truth, and the Life. And that I don’t have to rely on magic to pull me into a magical land to know The Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

I love that as Aslan sends them back into their own world, at the end of this book, there’s the Lion’s roar, a flurry and brush of the Lion’s golden mane, a mixture of scenes – the land they’re being sent from, into the world they belong in – and the Lion’s kiss on their foreheads. What sweeter benediction could there be?

Remember how – after death works backward in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and Susan and Lucy were in the courtyard of the White Witch’s castle – and Aslan was breathing upon those creatures she’d turned to stone? Do you remember how as they’re reanimated? By the breath of the Lion?

Oh – Breathe on me, Lamb of God! Please! Breathe on me! Keep my heart turned to you!

I guess that’s why I keep listening to The Chronicles of Narnia. How can I not?

What about suffering?

Our pastor asked a question last week. It was something along the lines of asking us how we handle suffering and whether or not we’d consider writing or emailing to him to give some input on the topic.

It’s sometimes dangerous to ask people those kinds of questions – but, characteristic of the folks that fellowship together at our church – the report this morning was that the responses were a blessing.

In fact, rather than preaching in the traditional manner, our pastor asked a couple to come forward and read some of the responses that were shared. You can listen to the service online, if you’d like – and even get the note sheet! Here’s the link.

It wasn’t a totally random question, by the way. We’ve been doing a series on Romans, and we’ve been in Chapter 8 forever since March.

I should stop right here and preface all of this with a little editorial on the preaching at our church – which I refer to most of the time as CMBC. See, I’ve been going to this church since I was 4 years old. The pastor who was there when I was just a little tyke – up until I was college aged – was the Reverend Albert J. Wollen – wow! What a man of God! His wife, Roberta, had perhaps the most profound impact on me as a young believer of anyone I’ve ever met. I could go on and on about her – and undoubtedly will at some future point in time! But what I want to say right now is this: our pastor, Carl Palmer, has a gift. He – much like Al – has a passion and a deep love for the Word of God. Know what I love? I love it when the pastor up front says, “Let’s turn to Romans chapter 8, and verse 17.” And you hear the wind of 1,000 Bibles being turned to that reference. THAT, my friend, is a holy thing. Anyway, Carl has this gift – and his gift, IMHO, is to teach clearly, concisely, carefully through scripture. And THAT, my friend, is a GIFT from God – for those of us who sit in the pews.

So anyway…. Ever have one of those moments when God’s giving you a little nudge? You know, the one gently in the ribs where you know He’s saying, “…ahem… yeah, that’s you. You need to do that.” Well, yeah, I got THE NUDGE last week when Carl asked. Life got busy at our house this week. I had my niece and nephew here for the week. We had lunch guests several days of the week. Jessica was home from camp for the week. William came down with THE WORST ear infection in the world – and is still suffering horribly with it. I had physical therapy. I had William in the doctor’s office twice. I was doing dishes, laundry, chasing chickens, running errands, cooking meals…

OKAY LORD, I’ll do it.

Funny how sweet peace is when you obey.

So this is what I wrote…..

The thing is – I don’t know that I can give a whole lot of insight into what could be called “answers” about suffering.

I’m not sure what I’ve been through is even classified suffering.

What I do know is that I do ponder the heartaches, the pain, the dismay, the fact that some of what I’ve been through is NOTHING compared to what others have.

I think about the constancy of God.

I think about the fact that without Him I certainly could not have the strength to draw the next breath when the horrible to contemplate sometimes is overwhelming.

What I do know for sure is that I wouldn’t willingly choose a heck of a lot of the stuff that has the potential to be called suffering.

But God…

…is trustworthy

…never far

…the only one who knows exactly all of the details and doesn’t need me to explain it all – but is willing to listen anyway

…brings encouragement in the funniest, most obscure, but sometimes blaringly obvious ways.

I know I feel honored to be counted worthy to suffer – *anything* – for the name of He who knit me together, holds it all together, sees the outcome – and with whom I will spend my eternity – worshipping at His feet.

My question to you, dear reader is this: What about suffering? How do you handle it? Is God friend or foe in the midst of your suffering? Is there a Bible verse that anchors you?

The messy details…

It’s pretty important to me to be known by name. Yeah, sure, there are times when you just want to blend into the crowd and NOT be noticed. Heck – that was my whole goal for entire decades of my life. Try being super, super morbidly obese – my dream was just to blend in. Yes, there’s some solace there. But when it comes right down to it – when we’re – well, at least I – am really honest with myself – I want to be known. Not falteringly recognized. More like enthusiastically greeted – arms opened wide, warm – not creepy – welcoming hug, genuine gratitude for the opportunity to meet again. Is there anything that compares to that? I don’t want global fame. I don’t want paparazzi tailing me. Heck, I don’t even want the local news media camping out at the end of my driveway. I’ve got way more important things to do with my time! (Like play with the baby chicks!) What I do want is connection that is meaningful, transparent, REAL.

There are people that I know fairly well – some of them for years and years even – that I would consider warm, genuine, kind, loving. Just generally the kind of people you wanna know and hang out with.

There are other people that I know – again, fairly well – that I would consider the kind of people that I know slightly less well – not meaning I wouldn’t want to know them better or hang out with them. It’s just opportunity hasn’t presented itself for more connection to happen.

I was talking to a friend about this one day. We talked about how she and I have more things in common than can be just a coincidence. Things that should not unite us into sisterhood – which we ordinarily would never wish for, but we can rejoice now for that camaraderie. She is heading into another dark season of life – after a long, seemingly never-ending haul that seemed just about as dark as one would ever face – and she is showing her characteristic grace. She is a woman marked by grace. …and tenacity… and great love. I’m so glad she’s my friend! But anyway, we were talking one day and she said, “But – do you ever feel like you can’t take those friendships or acquaintances to the next level because of the messy details?”

I knew exactly what messy details she was talking about. Not just one set of them. There are many of them in her life. As there are and have been in mine.

I knew exactly what she was expressing – her reluctance to reveal to other people the difficult things she has faced, or is facing, or will face – because the messy details would be too awkward, too depressing, too – well, messy.

She was saying – what we didn’t need to say out loud to one another – was that in the future, every interaction with that person who is now aware of the messy details might be marked with an inability to regress to the hilarious, the frivolous, the routine, or just real life – just for the sake of sanity. That we might forever be greeted by the wrinkled concerned brow, or the voice taken down a notch to convey solemnity, or the fear that to laugh in our presence might be misconstrued.

I think that’s the primary reason that I’m so thankful to God – well, just for His being there – even though sometimes I’m a mess! I love that He has a sense of humor! I love that I can express my sorrow or fear or concern to Him! I love that I don’t have to hold anything back from Him – that He can take it. I love that His Word is so chock full of gems of wisdom and balm to my sometimes weary soul. I’m so appreciative for the opportunity to sing songs to Him who knows me better than any other – because sometimes it’s the only way I can begin to know to communicate the stuff that’s overflowing in my heart.

I’m also so incredibly humbled and thankful for the wealth of friends in my life who DO know the messy details – and yet extend grace to me with their continued friendship, their honoring ability to just be real with me, the precious gift of their prayers, and the beautiful music of their laughter.

We concluded our conversation, my friend and I, feeling very thankful for the fact that the messy details didn’t – and still don’t – have to dictate our lives. I know its cliché – but there is great truth in the fact that life does go on. Dishes still need washed. Laundry still needs done. Gardens still need weeded. Kids still need just chunks of time. That’s where the beauty is – isn’t it? When life goes on? But only, of course, when HE is there in the midst of it all.

BiL

We have this kind of wacky story of how we ended up with kids…

When I met John he was a widower with a baby girl – his first wife, Joyce, was killed in a truly tragic car accident.  Jessica, the beautiful baby girl was 6 months old when her Mom died, and – well, I was in love with her from the moment I met her some time later.  Here we are so many years later – heck, she’s turning 17 this summer! – and I honestly forget that she’s not the child of my womb.

What is it about that?  The whole child of your womb thing?  What thing is it that God knits into our hearts that makes us women have this incredible need to produce a child?  That’s a topic for another day – but suffice it to say I experienced it.  You see, John and I got married a month before I turned 30.  The biological clock was definitely ticking.

So, some months after we married we found I was pregnant.  We rejoiced – however, that very pregnancy shortly ended in miscarriage.  My Mom had gone through multiple miscarriages, so I’d assumed I’d be a candidate for miscarriage as well.  Several months later we learned once again that I was pregnant.  This time I carried the baby – a girl that we named Elizabeth – for 23 weeks, at which time she would be born grossly prematurely, and would live for only 4 minutes.  She’d be 15 come this October if she’d lived.  Hard to imagine our lives with another teenager in the house – but oh, she’d fit right in, I know that for sure.

Jessica holding baby BiL
Time went by and we experienced five more miscarriages.  After some time I just didn’t get pregnant any longer – and after over a year of concerted effort – I underwent a procedure to determine if there were scar tissue or blockage.  They did find some blockage – the procedure broke it out.  That was on June 5th.  On June 9th I was pregnant.  At 18 weeks gestation – with what we were CONVINCED was a girl – I went into pre-term labor once again.  My perinatologist put me on bedrest and appropriate medications, and to bed I went.  Jessica was 4 at that point in time…  she was so adorable.  She’d climb up onto the bed next to me and “read” to the baby, sing to the baby, and try to feel the baby kick.  At 36 weeks gestation I went into full blown labor – and hours later, by emergency c-section – 9 pound 9 ounce, 21 inch long William James McBride was born.

Jessica was actually the first one to hold him.  See?  Aren’t they adorable?!

William was a determined little guy – even with some compromises due to his rough start at birth – he was so laid back and happy.  What a blessing!  At 10 months he took his first steps.  It wasn’t long before he was running.  He was known for his love to laugh and adorable smile.

William also had the most interesting trait – a steadfast and deep rooted dislike for God, Jesus, church, and the like.  When Jessica was a toddler you could hear her singing, “Trust and Obey” sweetly as she awakened from her nap.  If you tried to get William to sing “Jesus loves me” with you – he’d get a very determined look on his face and soundly refuse.  I won’t lie to you – it scared the living crap out of me!  I’d prayed from the first nanosecond that I knew I was pregnant with that kid that he would grow up to be a Godly man, with a heart that loved to worship God!

Ain't no way!

When he was 4 years old William came into my room, climbed onto my lap as I sat in the wing chair, with wide eyes and a very solemn spirit he said quietly.  “Mom.  I need to ask Jesus to forgive me.  I want to love Him.  I want Him to come into my heart.”  And so, that night – he did just that.  I know – he was only 4.  Gosh, I was 15 when I became a believer.  I thought, “Is this real?”  But let me tell you something – from that day forward something significant in William changed.  His heart.  There was a softness and sweetness of spirit that hadn’t been there before.  As great and laid back a kid he’d alwasy been before – from that day forward that onery determination against the things of God was gone.  All of a sudden he loved the things of God!  He loved church!  He loved choosing to obey God.

 
I am completely and 100% serious when I tell you that I wept tears of joy over that!

 
William - about age 4

William - about age 4

So, the kid’s been doing some growing up. He’s nearing that amazing age – he’ll be 12 1/2 in August. He’s so

….hilarious

…balanced

…thoughtful

…kind

…honoring

……self-directed, self-disciplined, longsuffering, an amazing friend, a delightful son. I am so proud to call him my child. His life is marked by the things that I hope to attain at some point in time!

But there are some things about William – er… BiL, I should explain.All the time he was growing up, when you asked him what his name was, he would say “William.” He didn’t want to be Will, Bill, Willy, Billy, or any derivitive thereof. We figured – whatever! We liked the name, if he wants to use it – fine!

 This year William moved to Middle School. Yep, he’s a 6th grader now – and juggles multiple classes, lockers (you know, the main one, the PE one), peer pressure, stress, etc – all pretty off-handedly. He’s got it covered. Somewhere fairly early on in the school year in one of his classes, a girl asked him what his name was. He said, “William.” To which she responded, “Oh, BiL.” And it stuck.

You should know you can only call William “BiL” if you spell it right. I.e., don’t call him Bill. Call him BiL. Got it? Apparently even his teachers get it!

Another thing you should know about William is that he wants to be his own person. He wants to be unique and individual. And he’s not afraid to try some different stuff toward that end.

Mohawk BiL

Mohawk BiL

Like – it wouldn’t be all that out of the ordinary for him to get a mohawk.

Or dye his hair blue…

or green…

or silver…

or yellow…

or…..  you get the idea.

This year he shaved his head – like yeah – with a shaver.  The case of razor burn he got was pretty profound.  I felt so bad for him!

And this year – just a couple of weeks ago, he decided to do this:
BiL's first piercing
BiL’s first piercing

…get his ear pierced!

Okay – so there’s something you need to know about me.  I’m into piercings.  At one point in my life – oh, gol, nearly 30 years ago – I had 7 earrings on each ear.  Three at the cartlidge at the top and four on the lobe on the left ear, and four at the cartlidge at the top, and three on the lobe on the right ear.  When I was 20 I had my nose pierced.  When I had babies – who thought it was great fun to pull on Mommy’s earrings I let them all close up.  It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I started getting them back.

So – I know – some of the Moms out there aren’t gonna get this – but I gotta say:  I’m just so happy for him!  He was so BRAVE!  We go to The Black Hole for this sort of thing – and this ain’t no mall type piercing place.  They are as clean and sterile and manual as it gets – no ear piercing gun – they use a big old honking needle and pierce you.  (Seriously, the best piercings I’ve ever had!)  Not only did he want to get pierced, but he was serious enough about it to save up his own money for it and get it done.

I’m so proud!

Just so you know – I’d much rather my kids be pierced and tatooed and wholehearted followers of Jesus than not and out smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and being sexually promiscuous.  That’s just me!  I’m a little wierd, I admit it!

So back to BiL (who, by the way, goes by William at home – well, unless you’re talking about BiL’s Farm Fresh Eggs – his egg business).

This kid is SO BRAVE on so many fronts.

When we were in Denver in April for his evaluation and treatment at National Jewish Health – on the first whole day we were there, he turns to me and says, “We gotta find a church for Sunday.  I want to go to youth group.”

Okay – I don’t know about you – but when *I* was his age there was NO WAY I was gonna go waltzing into some foreign youth group – all alone – and make myself at home.  But that’s just what the kid did.  He’s so stinking brave!  Did I mention determined yet?

And – then – about a week and a half ago at youth group here at home an announcement was made that they’d be having a robot dress up contest for the following Wednesday night youth group meeting.  In the ensuing week William thought through, designed, and then built this:
Jonathan and BiL

Jonathan and BiL

An honest to goodness head to toe (Jonathan duct taped an old pair of tennis shoes for him) robot costume.

And yes, he wore it to youth group last Wednesday.

And yes, he won.

This kid has SPIRIT!

He’s been through so much.  He’s got health concerns that are big and daunting and have every right to be depressing.  But he chooses not to be.  He’s so positive and so proactive and so responsible.

I only dreamed of being half as responsible as he is at that age!

So…  I guess this is a brag on William post.  I can’t help it.  I just gotta.

Just in case you wondered, BiL has determined that he’s going to grow up and be a doctor.  I’d kinda hoped he’d grow up and be a farmer.  Honestly, he has all of the markings of a good engineer, too.  But being a kid whose been through surgeries and myriad doctor’s appointments – and experiencing REALLY great doctors – and some who were really not so much – he thinks he has something to offer to the medical field.  He told me last week that he may join the Navy to go to medical school.  I said, “Sure, okay.  Whatever.”  I didn’t tell him they’d make him take his earring out, though.

I once fell in love…

I was age 16 – away working at a camp for the summer in the Seattle area – far from home – and had a weekend stretching in front of me with lots of free time – and not much to do. I was a little bummed. A friend said, “Well, you could read the Chronicles of Narnia again…”

“The Chronicles of what?” I asked.

“You know, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” is the first one…” she prompted.

I looked at her blankly.

Her mouth dropped open and she held her hand out and said, “WAIT RIGHT HERE!” She dropped everything (literally) and went running full speed ahead toward her cabin. She came back at same break-neck speed with a cube-like thing clutched to her breast, and completely out of breath. “Here!” She panted, shoving said cube my direction. I grabbed it, looked at it, and realized it was a set of books. Seven books, to be exact.

Little did I know that day all those years ago that my life would be inalertably changed because of my friend’s generosity.

I spent the day sprawled out on a blanket – part of the day on the floating dock at the beach, the other part in the shade of a tree not far from my own cabin – plowing through the first few books. (Have I ever mentioned I’m a voracious reader?) By the time the weekend was over I’d read all seven books – and fallen completely head over heels in love…

with Aslan… of course!

with Narnia… duh!

with the beauty, the poetry, the symbolism, the justice, the symmetry.

So much to love.

Do you know – that here, nearly 30 years later (it’s true, I’m turning 46 this year!) I still re-read the Chronicles? I’ll be honest, I’m a little ADD, and at one point in time I came across an amazing thing – audiobooks! – and found a lovely set by Radio Family Theatre of the Chronicles – not just narrated – but acted out – and purchased it. (Here’s a link – if you have children – buy it! If you love beauty – buy it! If you have any kind of road trip in your future – buy it!) And, of course, I’ve seen the recently produced movies of “The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” – which honestly, are good – but in my opinion, stray a little too much from the original.

Last weekend I attended the Beth Moore Conference here in Portland with two very dear friends. It wasn’t easy for me to go – me in a cast, needing to use a walker and a scooter to get around and through the crowd of 7300 women there, and needing to keep my foot elevated. I was a little tempted to bail. I’m so glad I didn’t.

The past nearly 8 weeks – following the surgery on my ankle, and my time needing to allow my body to heal and graft the donor materials into my body – I’ve felt a little… I don’t know. isolated? Well, it hasn’t just been just since then. Do you ever feel like your heart is getting tired? weary? hard? isolated? And worse – that you don’t mind?

I think that conference last weekend (my first exposure to Beth Moore – shhh… I’m a Precepts girl! I know, Kay and Beth are BFF!) was the beginning of the thaw.

Spring has been helping with the thaw, too, I think.

This afternoon as I was sitting on my comfy bed knitting away, the movie of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” came on TV. (Have I mentioned yet that I’ve seen more TV in the last 8 weeks than I have in the entirety of my lifetime combined prior to this surgery?!) I thought, “Ah… Narnia.”

Aren’t visual reminders a sweet thing?

I was reminded a new of some important life lessons…

I don’t ever want to be a land or country that falls under the alluring spell of a temptress that turns me to stone cold.

I want to be like the trees – once awakened – who exude beauty, grace, and peace!

I want to be breathed on by Aslan – daily – just in case my heart is hardening.

I want to remember when I see Spring coming to life around me – here in my beautiful corner of the world – that I want my heart to be growing and maturing and bearing fruit.

I want to have an open invitation to bury my hands into the golden mane of the Great Lion – knowing that there is nothing to fear because I have been rescued.

I want to never lose my fear of Aslan – that tinge of it at least – because, you know, He’s not a tame lion.

I want to live my life expectantly – knowing that the Son of the High King is working things together – and will one day arrive.

I know – totally off topic. Not chicken or garden related (much). But it is real life related – for me, anyway. Sorry to be so random. But I’m feeling pretty darn thankful for Spring right now!