…That Both You and Your Descendants May Live!

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; ~ Deuteronomy 30:19

I have a new grand-daughter! Her name is Melody Adeline! She is beautiful, head to toe!  I do not just say that because she is my grand-daughter but she is a wonderful creation. Black hair and dark eyes.  Her name means music, song and it rolls off your tongue like a song. Her middle name, Adeline, means noble. In German it means of nobility and pleasant. How sweet!  She is our ‘noble song’.  She is the smallest of all babies born into our family, 6 lbs. 9 oz. Look at her sleeping like she is praying!  I love this picture!

Melody Adeline

Melody Adeline

Holding her yesterday she was so content, curled up in a little lump laying on Grammy’s chest.  I could have held her all night long. Her big sister Daniela Jade, our little “jewel,” came and went visiting with me.  It wasn’t but three and half years before I was holding her the same way. She is a big girl now with her funny way of talking to all of us. She is precocious at times but she is an innocent little girl with eyes wide to the world around her. She mimics the adults around her and wants to be seen.  There are moments I see her vulnerability to the harshness of the world. As we all are vulnerable. But she has a sweet heart. I pray God protects that! I pray for both of them the way a Grandmother’s heart does. First to see God in all things and know Him in their lives.  Melody is my 4th grandchild and just like the ones before her I have sung Psalm 103 over her so she could hear the words and they would cover her heart and soul.

 

Psalm 103:1-5
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I heard a message on this passage the other day.  And I loved how the preacher listed the benefits when we honor God.  I had read them, sang them and prayed them but I am not sure I really stopped to list them on paper as they applied to my life.

1) He forgives my sins (when I ask & repent)

2) He heals my diseases (mental as well as physical)

3) He redeems my life from destruction (many times over)

4) He crowns my life with love, kindness and tender mercies (His daily grace)

5) He satisfies me when I am hungry for something to fill my soul which in turn renews my strength & ability to serve Him (if and when I go to Him only for satisfaction)

All these benefits are mine daily if I do something first. Bless Him with my life. Honor Him. Walk in His ways. Give Him praise & worship.

And sometimes I am overwhelmed by these truths and the simple fact that God loves each and everyone of His creations in this way. So this is the prayer for each one of my grandchildren.  Brodie, Ann Marie, Daniela and Melody, that they would bless the Lord with their lives and would partake in the benefits He gives, so that they may LIVE well!

 

“It’s Uphill With a 75 lb Rucksack From Here” (dedicated to Esteban, my 1st born 3rd child) :)

This is it!

This is it!

Yesterday was the last day of my vacation and it is back to work on Monday. I am really wore out from all the planning, anticipation and the emotion of watching another child achieve a milestone, graduation. On reflection of this week the only thing that comes to mind is “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me!  Bless His Holy name!”

How do you thank God for the overwhelming goodness He shows us in our lives?  There are times in my walk with God where I have felt so very inadequate when saying thank you to Him.  This is one of those times.  Years ago, as a single mom, I did not know how I was going to take care of my kids, let alone get them through high school in tact. 🙂  I did not know how I was going to teach them everything they needed to know before going out on their own.  My head would spin having four of them to corral let alone imparting pearls of wisdom on each one.  I have found myself telling Esteban random things while driving him to school or taking him to the gym.  How to buy car insurance or making sure he understands how debit cards work.  LOL

But as each one has taken the step from being a student to adulthood it has reminded me of how much more God has had to do with it than I did.  I can say yes, I did not give up on them.  I can say yes, I faced each challenge that came with their transition while believing God would prevail in their lives.  But I could still see there were so many gaps. And I want to scream, “WAIT, I still have more to tell you!!”  And folks, that is where my belief kicks in.  God fills in the gaps or he leaves them to learn those things on their own. OH MY!

February 1995

February 1995

While two of my kids are grown, with kids of their own, Esteban is my third child and I have on occasion said that of all my children he is the ‘high maintenance’ one. I do not even have the words to describe what that entails just suffice to say, he has literally worn me out as a mom! I admit I have actually told him I could not wait till he was grown and on his own.  Yes, I have said that. And then immediately following I think I do not want those to be my last words.  So I would say, “I still love you!”  There is one exception, the day he was born.   He came out in distress and was not breathing.  It took them a minute or two but then I heard this little squeak. Air finally. I had a peace during those moments because I had felt him moving within me just before his birth.  I knew he was in God’s hands.  He certainly found his lungs by the third day.  After that he had a determination to do things his own way in his own time.

As mothers sometimes we have a tendency to overlook our children’s bad qualities.  I have often felt that I tend to focus too much on them.  I have prayed for the Lord to help me find the balance in observing the good and letting them know that I see it. I suppose I have focused on the bad instead of the good because of the many disappointments I have experienced throughout the years of being a single mother. Guilt is a huge hindrance in a single mother’s life.  And if one is not careful it can practically incapacitate you to the point of being too permissive or overindulgent.  I have to admit to being both at one time or another.  But thankfully God would snap me out of it quick enough.  Especially when they got into trouble.  OH MY!

The Graduate ~ 2013

The Graduate ~ 2013

I was reminded in watching Esteban march into the stadium last night that it wasn’t just Jesus and I raising him.  It was all the people who invested in him these past years of his life.  Friends from church, his family, the teachers and coaches.  Even when I was making the invitation list I was remembering those folks who had spent hours pouring into his life prayer, guidance, teaching or just loving on him.  Cheering him on. Showing up to his baseball or football games. Those who corrected him or praised him. Those who came into his life at an early age and those who just recently added to his quality of life.  Those who committed to support him.  There were even complete strangers, who at a very financially difficult time in our lives, invested into his life.

Marching in

Marching in

He marched along with his fellow students, smiling.  Smiling because he looked up to the right and saw his family sitting in the seats above.  All waving to him and yelling his name. He was genuinely happy.  And that made me well up with love.  He will be leaving in three months to go into the Army.  He wants to be an Airborne Ranger.  And I have no doubt he will do what he sets his mind to do and I truly believe God has saved him for something awesome!  Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men. Proverbs 22:29  When he leaves I will be going through waves of emotion again. Saying goodbye, sending him off to serve our country knowing that life as we knew it all these years will be forever changed.  He will in every sense of the word, become a man!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.  Praise Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. Amen!

PS. If you are curious about the title, it includes several remarks made to him about graduation! I added the 75 lb rucksack because his father was an Airborne Ranger and I would watch him pack his rucksack and could not believe the amount of stuff he would put in there and still have to carry his weapon and other gear.  So basically, yeah that is what he is looking forward to in the Army! 🙂

“Faith, don’t fail me now!”

50th Birthday

50th Birthday

Have I mentioned that I turned 50 several months ago.  November actually.  It really isn’t a huge event when compared to the events of the world.  It was in my life.  I am sure each one of us who mark this passing of time either celebrates it or mourns it.  I made a good effort to celebrate it.  It brought with it much reflection as to what my life has culminated into.  I have written before about being defined by various things in my life.   When I was 19 I wrote that I wanted to find a purpose for my life.  I wanted to be loved and I wanted to love.  I could not see what lay ahead nor could I see that those very things I wanted drove me to make decisions that would turn my world upside down again and again.

What do I know now that I did not know then?

  • Purpose is not something that I have to seek.  It was given to me by God.  He created me for a purpose.  To follow and glorify Him.

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.  Isaiah 43:7

  • Whether any person loves me or not I am loved by God.  Who created me, redeemed me and justifies me.  

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. Isaiah 43:1

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee. Jeremiah 31:3

  • To love others I must first love God.  He then fills me with His Holy Spirit which in turn spills out onto others.

35 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  1 John 5:2

 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?  37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  38 This is the first and great commandment.  39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   Matthew 22

Somewhere around age 32 I discovered that my thinking was wrong.  I had not met God on His terms. I knew of God and cried out to Him but did not KNOW Him.  When I came to that realization a light bulb came on. I could see the sin in my heart and I surrendered to Him.  Did all my thoughts, decisions and direction completely change?  No, not immediately. Over time He changed me from the inside out.  The most immediate and  important change was realizing that I could not continue to live life my way.  At this point I set about learning all I could about following God.  It took some 7 or 8 years after receiving Christ as my Savior to know what it meant to truly walk in liberty in Christ.  I was delivered from some generational strongholds in my life that took me to a whole new level in my relationship with God.  Shortly after that period of my life I went through what is known as the refiner’s fire.

The fire, I believe, was to test me on what I had learned. Would I apply it and walk in truth?  Would I choose to continue to follow God, whom I could not physically see over the circumstances that surrounded me?  Would I trust His path and stay focused on Him or would I look down and sink into the raging waves around me, as Peter did when he stepped out of the boat onto the water after seeing Jesus, himself, walking on the water?  Was my faith forged in steel or plastic?  Even while in the fire I had lessons to learn.  I learned what it meant to cling to God’s hand.  To trust Christ no matter what.   In past entries I have discussed some of these trials and the other lessons learned. (see archives 2006-2009)  I can not say I came out of the fire completely untouched by the flames.  I did come out of the fire with less of me and more of Him within my heart and mind.

Here and now, I am going through a different kind of trial.  A personal one. One that is not so much about the goings on around me but the struggle within me.  I believe the enemy is trying to reassert his way back into my thought life.  He has, from the beginning of my walk with Jesus, tried to take back the ground that God has gained over time.  Yes, I have on occasion given up tiny bits of  ground at times by not being on guard to my own weaknesses.  Where am I the most vulnerable to the enemy of my soul?  My children.  Always have been and perhaps always will be. Because they have been my life.  For 25 years I have been a mother, at least 16 years to four children.  And Satan knows where they are concerned I take everything personal.  Everything they do and say.  Every milestone. Every hurt or failure.  Every disappointment.  Every victory.

I have not yet learned to separate their adult lives from my own personal identification as their mama.  I see everything that happens as a reflection on me.  More bad than the good, I am afraid to admit.  I am seeking God about this but I am unsure what He is trying to show me.  I have tried to lead them by example and give them direction, always steering them toward Jesus.  And there have been moments when even I have failed in that.  My oldest son said to me, just last night something to the effect of,  “Mama, if you of all people, who have walked with God all these years, can not find peace in all of our (my children)  lives then what hope is there for me to find it?”  What does that say about my faith at this point in my life?  My husband has said I have been making everything that happens to them about me.  Again I ask what does that say about my faith?  Am I still trying to carry their burdens because that is what I did for years as a single mother.  Am I taking responsibility for their actions because I felt guilty for the life they had to live?  It was hard to be mom and dad.  It was hard watching them struggle with our broken home.  It was hard being accountable for 4 little lives + mine.  It was hard being alone and struggling with my own hurts and brokenness.  I look back and it amazes me that we survived.  God remained faithful even when I was not and it is to Him I owe much.

So this season I am currently in has perplexed me some.  I am questioning a lot of things over the years. Not God, mind you but my own beliefs.  I am having to go back and sort through some events and reviewing the timeline of my life to get at the root of  those issues that are stealing bits and pieces of my faith.  It is a well-known fact the enemy is an expert at finding old things to bring out of the dark to use against us.  I know that this is his way of warfare.  I know what he wants.  And I am desperate to stand my ground and not let him have one more inch.

Though how do you fight an enemy that goes around you and heads straight for your children?  Knowing where your children are vulnerable and not being able to protect them because now they are adults and it has become their fight.  Prayer is the only thing I know.  I know my Lord hears the prayer of a mother, a mother who seeks Him daily.   I have to pray ‘your will be done in their lives, Lord.’   Praying, knowing that God will hear and His answer may not be pretty or easy.  It still may bring more pain.  And that, my friends is where I am.  Praying for my grown children. Having to step back and keep hands off.  One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.

Maybe I am looking at the water again. I surely hope not. I most assuredly hope that I have learned that my God is able.  He is able to do more than my mind could ever imagine and then some.  I have seen it over and over in my life.  So now I must trust Him to do the same in my children’s lives. I must be patient and hopeful. Always keeping my eyes on Him only!

Just maybe God is allowing this season of uncertainty to refine me further.  Perhaps He knows the things in this mother’s heart that still need to come out.   He knows that in order to heal completely there must be a cleaning out of old things infecting my thoughts. He has taught me without this there will never be peace and surrender.  And I know too there must be a pouring out, an emptiness that needs to occur before a filling can be completed.   A filling of joy and freedom.

And with that comes peace to a mother’s heart!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

God’s Hands Fashion Our Lives!

 
There are times in our lives when we are transported to a place beyond what our minds can imagine.  So much of our imagination has been taken from us by the electronic devices of our times.  We can pretty much see everything on television if we look for it, so in essence nothing is left to the imagination, right??  In an instant we can find out information from our cell phones or laptops.  We don’t have to wait till we get home to find out the score of the latest football game if we are out and about and forgot to dvr it. Of course, that is, if your not a man, he would not be out and about during a football game, Wink.  But with all the means of communication and virtual experience of thrills and spills there is still no substitution for being there, live and in person. 
 
I have given birth four times since the age of 25 and through all those events it never crossed my mind that I would be witnessing the birth of my grandchild.  I remember when Benjamin called me on February 16, 2007 to tell me I was a grandmother for the first time.  I cried immediately even though I had not even laid eyes on the little guy yet. It must have been something in my sons voice that told me he was overwhelmed at seeing his sons birth.   Weeks later they had finished a video montage and sent it to me and smack dab in the middle was a video clip of him being born.  I was not expecting that video clip so when I saw it my heart leaped and I cried again.  It was sooooo very precious to me.  It was a month later that I got to fly to North Carolina and actually meet him for the first time….and hold him.  I literally was on cloud 9.  It was a feeling I will never forget, much like the very first time they placed my own babies in my arm.
 
But I have to tell you being present at the birth is a whole other feeling.  There is nothing to prepare you for all the emotions that are coursing through your mind and heart.  It is surreal to be sure.  My daughter, whom I worried would lose control, did the complete opposite.  She was focused and determined. She was ready to meet her daughter.  It was amazing to watch her and the daddy interact….it was the sweetest thing. 
 

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Both Grandma’s were present and we both enjoyed sharing the memory of our own childbirth stories.  The anticipation was mounting as we waited for the progression of the event.  When the time came it was unbelievably dramatic.  Your mind is trying to grasp the details of how God created everything to happen in the order He planned.  How He gave us one of the greatest miracles, life in a tiny human form coming forth with all the emotion, pain, excitement and love.  We were all gathered to welcome this little girl into the world.  My heart pounded the moment I saw her slip out and then I let out a gasp. I could hear my daughter crying and laughing to see her baby girl.  I could see the tears and awe in the daddy’s face.  He cut the cord.  And she was born!  4:59 PM, 7 lbs 11 oz, 19.5 inches long and bundle of sweetness! 

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From the moment we set eyes on her, you could not tear your eyes away.  She was perfect in every way….long fingers and toes, dimples and round cheeks, a sweet little button nose.  I just kept saying "Hello sweetie, hello Dani!"  They named her Daniela after my sister Danielle.  We call her Dani just as we called my sister when she was growing up.  And it fits her, Daniela Jade, she is so beautiful! Daniela in Hebrew is "God is my judge!" and Jade a green gemstone.  Reminding me of a Proverbs 31 woman, beautiful from the inside out.  I am praying she will serve God as I have prayed for all my children and grandchildren to do so. 

 

 1Bless the LORD, O my soul:

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name. Psalm 103

 All the Grandparents are praising God!!!   What a heritage!!!

          Photobucket  Grandpa Russell    

Photobucket  Grandpa Pete via MSN Messenger                

 Photobucket  Granny Susan                                            

 Photobucket  Grammy Shell      

You know in the days since her birth I have had a lot of time to reflect on the blessings God brings into our lives.  We don’t always stop to praise God or memorialize these moments and days as they pass.  God told His children to do so after He did something big in their lives so they would remember it was God that did it.  Like when He parted the Jordan for Joshua and His children to enter into the promised land.  He told Joshua to have 12 men, one from each tribe, to pick up a stone on their way across the dry ground of the Jordan.  When they reached the other side He had them build a memorial to remember "That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. "

Do you notice it says that "All the people of the earth…" not just His children but "all the people of the earth" He does great things everyday and how often do we stop to give Him the glory?  When I first got to hold her in my arms, I began reciting Psalm 103 to her little face.  Her eyes were open and she was looking up at me.  As I was speaking the words out loud the doctor who had delivered her began singing the verse….so instead of speaking I joined in singing it and my heart soared.  It was God who formed her, kept her and brought her forth!  It was His day.  I imagine God looking down and seeing the tear on my daughters eyes and smiling.  Smiling because He brought joy to the heart of His children in a hospital room in Houston, Texas in the form of a little girl. 

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. . .and a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6

 

There are no more words….

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except, Amen!

grace to you

shell

A hole I can not fill….

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I will tell you these past few weeks have been more than a challenge to my heart and mind, to my motherhood.  I hesitate to write these words but feel that if I don’t put something down I can’t sort it all out.  The enemy is hard at work trying to confuse the issues and scramble the picture.  I know this, which is a good thing, I am one step ahead toward victory.  I have spent so much time on my knees, in tears, begging God for several things.  I try to stay on point with Him.  I try to pray in His will, for His will and His glory.  Through me!  I trust Him so much that I keep going to Him with the same prayers.  Just as the woman did in Matthew 15:22.  (My pastor preached on this verse on Mother’s Day, confirming my faith in being persistence with the Lord concerning my children) 

What is different about these prayers is that when I pray, I pray with urgency, desperation for God to move on the behalf of my children.  I am convicted with the words that come from the depths of my soul.  Convicted to confess my helplessness, my inability to handle what may be simple to some.  I know the verse “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it.”  What happens in between?  Between childhood and old?  The many things in the world vying for attention in their lives, the holes in their lives left by others, even perhaps me.  The woman in Matthew did not quit, she did not back down.  I am at that point in my prayers.  I can not back down.  I am wondering how long it was until she went to Jesus.  How long had she gone through the worst of it?  What did she do on the days that she was overwhelmed and weak with despair of the circumstances?  What hope did she have before she heard of the miracle worker, the Jesus that saves?  Was the rumor of what He could do the very answer to her prayers?

I remember the very first time I prayed for my children after getting saved.  I prayed that each one would come to know Christ as their personal savior, I prayed that they would grow up and serve Him.  I dedicated each one to the Lord.  I have to admit when I prayed those prayers and gave them to God I had no idea what lay ahead. Even if I did I would have done the same. I had no doubt that what I prayed would somehow be manifested.  I look back over these years with my kids and can only see how even my best efforts were not often good enough.  I see now that the work being done in their hearts was that of the Holy Spirit not mine. And sometimes out of ignorance, I hindered that work.  For instance, I seem to be able only to see faults, mine and theirs.  I do see the good things, the gifts that God has given to them, to all of us, and I truly am grateful for them…but I keep going back to the faults.  I admit that as a single mother it is hard, so very hard to be objective.  Maybe it is because I am a woman…too emotional, too sensitive and too soft.  I believe that is why God meant for a man and a woman to raise children together.  To bring balance to parenting.

How do I bring balance to my home?  I don’t know the answer to that one. How do I fill the place of the man in my home?  I don’t know the answer to that one either.  So many good opportunities for my kids have slipped away through time.  For them to know what a father would and could bring to their lives.  I know that God says in His word that He will be a father to the fatherless.  But I have to be honest here, this is one place I do not see that in their lives.  And I am losing this battle.  Trying to fill a hole I can not fill.  Not one of my children, all four, do not know their fathers well enough to know what that relationship with God should be like.  What do I do about that?  I pray, I cry and I beg God for that answer!

This is not a lack of faith asking these questions.  It is real life battle that I and probably thousands of other single parents are facing everyday.  I know He is sovereign.  I know God works all things together for good.  I know He loves my children more than I could ever possibly hope to. I can tell you that I knowGod is working.  What exactly He is doing, I can not tell you.  My heart hurts, I can not lie, but there is a piece of it that hopes!  

And thou shalt be secure, because there is hope; yea, thou shalt dig about thee, and thou shalt take thy rest in safety. Job 11:18

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Bragging on Brodie & his peeps

 

I have been sorting pictures and making a scrapbook album called “Grandmother’s Album”  kind of like I did for the album I made with all my children in it…called it “Mother’s Album”.  I am so excited to put all the pictures of Brodie’s two and half years.  He is precious.  There are pics in this slide show of all his grandparents and some of his aunts and uncles.  I could only put so many in the slide…but it is worth looking at…He is just too cute!!!  I love being a grandmother…..Red heart

Goodnight Sweetheart

Book - Love you forever

Love You Forever

 

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Theresa R  reminded me of something in her post today…it touched my heart.  The little conversations we have with our children as they grow up.  I remember  consciously wanting my children to know that I liked them as much as I loved them.  They were born during a time when the psychology of the day was “I’m Ok, Your OK”.  Self Esteem issues came on the scene in the guise of us ‘making friends with ourselves.’  My generation ( I think) started this “we have to like ourselves” thing.  It was during this time that I came to know Christ (late 80’s early 90’s).  So I was beginning to discover that it was not all about me but about Him.  The thing was, as a young Christian, I was filtering much of what I learned through the things I had experienced growing up (60’s early 70’s) and the world’s way of looking at things.  You know love yourself…. Eye-rolling

I am grateful that God’s grace is sufficient for young, new Christians learning to walk in His principles and truths.  I found a book that was published in 1986 but did not discover it until my first child was a toddler.  It was called “LOVE YOU FOREVER.”  It was a children’s book, it had a profound effect on me as a mother of a son.  It made me kind of sad to realize my children would be growing up and leaving me.  Even then I was thinking way too far ahead.Crying  Another thing that the book did was cause me to consider the type of mother I would be.  How was I going to show my children I loved them on a daily basis, how was I going to teach them this consistently?  

As a young woman and mother, I was still dealing with all the “self esteem” issues of my childhood.  My parents loved me, I knew that, but their divorce tore a hole in my heart and life that would come to effect everything in my future.  I am certain many who come from broken homes can attest to this. It is one of the truths that many of the world refuses to accept, the consequenses of divorce.  Of all the issues that plagued me, the one that deeply affected me was one particular question:  Was I loved or liked, for that matter?  It would take many paragraphs to go into the reasons why that question was behind every action and motive I had in my young adulthood but that is for another time….  So here I was a single divorced mother myself who had taken another blow to my ego when my first husband left me for another woman. Broken heart  My son was 2 yrs old and my daughter was 2 mos from being born when he left. 

So it was in reading this book that I had determined, as a single mother, that the few things I could give me children was

  1. a certainty in they would know they were indeed loved and liked, not only by God but by me
  2. and that no matter what happened in their life that God and I would be there for them

I was determined to fill the hole in their lives (even though they were yet aware)  and the book inspired me to pass this on to them as well as the new things the Heavenly Father was teaching me.  Forgiveness, patience and hope for our futures.  I wish I could tell you that all of that made up for the loss they would later understand but as with all disappointments in our life God has to be the one to do the healing and restoring. And once again His grace is sufficient. Rainbow 

This memory took me back to the day I had read the book for the first time to little Ben (Benji, when he was little).  I wanted him to remember what I read to him so I  made up a tune to go along with the words in the book.  After reading the story I would then sing the song while kissing him goodnight and turning out the lights. 

I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. Note

Of course then I had to make up another song to say goodnight.

Goodnight sweetheart, goodnight sweetheart, good night to you, goodnight, sweet dreams, I love you.  Good night sweet baby.Note

Then I would close the door to a crack.  Later I would sing it to my daughter and then all my children as I put each one to bed. 

I don’t remember when I stopped singing it but I do remember singing it to my grandson once when visiting him last year about this time.  It struck me as funny, I still remembered the tune… 

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Brodie – my grandson Easter 2009 in California

I know my children know I love them, I know they know I like them and I do believe they are learning that God loves them more than I.  Two of my children are adults now and two are teenagers, but as the years go by I keep looking back on the days when I held them and sang to them…just as the mother does in the book.  It makes me cry some times knowing that I will be alone soon for these years go by so very fast.  Even now the emotion of letting go is overwhelming.

I won’t spoil the end of the book for those of you who have not read it but I will tell you this…I pray that I loved and liked my children enough that one day when I am old and can not get around that they will be the ones singing to me, kissing me goodnight and hearing them say, “Goodnight sweetheart!”
Sleeping half-moon

 

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. Luke 7:47

Grace to you all,
Red heart

shell

 

 

 

She is her mother’s daughter….

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Today was soooo surreal.  My daughter graduated high school.  To be standing there at her graduation took me back to the day I stood with my parents, in my cap and gown, taking photos.  I, of course, was bawling.  I cry at every momentous occasion.  I can’t help it.  The emotion of it overwhelms me.  In this particular event it was extrememly overwhelming on many levels. 

I remember the day she was born…she came so easily, not so quickly, but easily.  I remember the few hours after she was born…we were in our room resting.    There was a tape playing in the stereo, one I had made of George Winston’s Winter.  The only song I   remember completely was Carol of the Bells being played on the piano.   She was in her basinet under the warming lamps and I was dozing in and out.

I kept waking up and looking over at her…she was perfect.  She was  a good baby.  Slept through the night fairly soon after birth.  Her brother was two and he wasn’t quite sure of her those first few weeks.  He would give me this look when I was holding her, “are you gonna hold me too?”  It was just us three then….us three against the world so to speak. 

Those were painful times in my life personally but she and my son brought me soooo much joy and comfort.  They gave me purpose to not quit, to not give up.  They were also the reason that I wanted to learn to live outside myself.  To learn to forgive and love again.  I wanted to be an example to them.  Especailly my daughter.

Seeing her walk across the stage to get her diploma brought all those years back.  The years that I didn’t quit and kept on going even when things got rough.  She faced so many obstacles in her life as well.  And she, like me, did not quit or give up.  She kept herself focused and set her goals.  She seems to have a drive and determination that I am not so sure I had at her age. 

The one thing that is stuck in my head right now as I write this is that since the day I found out I was carrying her, all the things I had dreamed for my daughter had not necassarily turned out the way I had hoped.  To be raised in a family with a mother and a father, to protect her from the cruelty of others and to give her safety and security.  I could not completely give those things to her.  But in spite of this, she is strong, courageous and determined. 

She has her future planned to some extent and I think she is excited about it.  Nervous, but excited.  I admire her strength, her fairness and her vision.  I envy her potential.  I love her for the gift that she is to me.  The gift from a loving, gracious God!!!! I will be forever grateful to Him who chose me to be her mother!

Congratulations to my daughter!!!! 

 

 

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From Left Field…

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Sunday afternoon I had decided that my boys and I needed a change from our usual lunch fair.  We usually go out for Chinese or Fried Chicken after church.  Not every Sunday but at least once a month.  I thought it would be fun to go to Pizza Hut.  They had renovated the one by our church so I thought P-I-Z-Z-A spells fun, right? 


Well if you have ever gone out with two boys ages 10 & 12 you can imagine that their idea of fun and mine are not even in the same ballpark.  Between getting 7 calls from my daughter,
who wanted me to drive 30 miles to pick her up, giving me directions, a time and a meeting place, and two little boys spitting wadded up straw paper through their straws at each other, I was wondering what side of the brain that registered “Pizza = fun.”


After I got them to stop spitting and we figured out what on the menu they would not eat, it became clear to me that having quality time with my boys would take some work.  I got to thinking about how I could start a conversation with my two little princes that would be both meaningful and enlightening.  The results being that I find out something endearing about each of them.


I seem to remember saying something to the effect

“Ok, boys we need to talk about making some positive changes around the house this year.  What do you think?”

I think this is where the conversation went left –asking questions before laying out the plan.

So this is how it went.

E=my 12 yr old

S=my 10 yr old

M= me

____________________________________________

E “Well you need to do more stuff with us.”

S= “Yeah, fun stuff, stop kicking me E.”

M=”Well how about Tennis, we could all play tennis.”

E= “That would not be fun, let me have one of those S.” (one of the Star Wars action figures S carries around everywhere we go in a large ziploc bag)

S= “I will play with you, mama, no you won’t give it back.”

M= “Good, thank you, that will be fun.”

E= “Well you don’t take us places like Papa did, come on S, I will give it back.”

M=”Well when do I have time to take you places like he did, we don’t always have time or money left over at the end of the month for extra stuff and you don’t like going places I like to go.”

E= “You could find some left over.”

Time or money was the question in my head, both would be difficult, so I started with the answer to the money issue…
M= “Here take my phone and get the calculator up, now add these numbers…..”

E= (looking at me dumbfounded but taking the phone) “Oops messed up, give me those numbers again”

He tries 3 more times before handing me the phone back.

M=”Well anyway let me add it up for you……”

E= “S let me just have one for a minute, I promise I’ll give it back!” 

I attempt to add it two more times before giving up.  Why are cell phone calculators so hard to use anyway?

M= “Anyway, so this is what I make every two weeks and this is what I pay out, it doesn’t go very far does it?”

E=(looking at me with blank look then changing subjects) “You know before Papa left I didn’t even really know you were there, you were always doing something around the house.”

M=”Yeah, like laundry, housecleaning, cooking dinner, taking you to school and picking you up”

E= “Yeah I guess that’s it, it is almost like you didn’t exist, ok, I don’t mean that in a mean way, cuz your the mama but what I remember is that I always knew Papa’s faces.  Like his angry face (he shows me what it looked like and it was right on) and you have many angry faces.  Like I don’t even know which one it is really…(he proceeds to show me a few)  well it is just hard to tell with you.”

I am sitting and staring at E not sure if I want to laugh out loud cuz he is serious.  The contortions he was making with his face did not resemble anything that looked like one of my feelings. Now, one would think I would be offended that after all the years I spent caring for and nurturing for my two little boys came down to this one moment: I didn’t even exist until “the papa” was gone.

But being the forgiving mama that I am and trying to see the glass half full my mind went immediately to the thought “How enlightening his little statement was.”  That my son was entering into the world of female communication and he isn’t even aware of it yet.  He has no clue that from that day forward every female he meets will cause him the same quizzical look on his face.  And I know the thoughts that follow that look

“What on earth are you talking about and why can’t I understand you?”

This new knowledge about my soon to be teenage son was definitely out of left field!

S=”Mama, can I have just cheese on my pizza?”

He is ten.
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What You Can Take To Heaven!

To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  Genesis 3:16

My 4 children, daughter-in-law, grandson and I went to have our portrait taken before my son left this weekend for Air Force basic training.  I thought it would be a good thing to do not knowing when we will all be together again.  It wasn’t until after I saw the final portrait that I could see the full impact of the blessings God had truly given to me.  How God had woven, in front of my very eyes, a family!

Seeing my little grandson sitting on my lap with his little hair sticking out just like his daddys’, my first born, the memories of their births just flooded into my mind. I can recall the sensations, the sounds, the pain, the tears and joy I experienced the day they were born and the ups and downs of motherhood, through out these past 19 years. I even remember the day my grandson was born…I was on cloud 9 as a new grandmother.  And now added to the heart of my memories was the wonderful blessing of spending these past three months with my daughter-in-law , in that I got to see how God blessed my son with a wonderful sweet spirited woman, wife and mother.

So many times, we who have gone through painful divorces, often see ourselves as lonely souls without someone to share our lives with!  The loneliness of not having a special person to share joys, victories, disappointments and just the daily stride of life with. While I understand that God put the desire in our hearts for a helpmate, it is the failure of a committment looming over us that makes it sometimes hard to see what we have around us.  The thought of our children growing up and leaving us is sometimes harder to bare as a single parent than those with lifelong partners.  While our children can not possibly take the place of a partner, they can and do share our lives.  And in the simplicity of parenthood, it boils down to the fact that we were only given our children for a season.

“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.

I Samuel 24:27-28

My first child did not want to come out on his own…23 hours and then they had to go in and get him. He was going to be the first grandchild on my side of the family and the 6th grandchild on his dad’s side. One of my dreams was coming true…a baby!  In the months leading up to his birth were exciting ones for my new husband and I.  We shopped for baby things and talked about names and all the things brand new parents do.  His daddy would talk to him while he was still in my tummy.   It was just too cute!  We went to all the Lamaze classes paying attention to all the details, but in the end he was deliverd by cesarean. I was so out of it, all I remember was the nurse telling me “you had a  boy, mommy” and then I passed out from exhaustion…  When I finally laid eyes on him, I fell absolutely in love.  My heart melted into a puddle never to be gathered up whole again.

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Your hands have made me, and fashioned me, give  me understanding that I may learn your commandments.   Psalm 119:73 

 

My second, a daughter, came at a time in my life when my world was turned upside down.  Being pregnant with my daughter and my 2 yr old son were my saving grace, so to speak.  I was facing childbirth without a husband so I asked my best friend to be my coach.  I had a perfect pregnancy, gained little weight and went to full term, again God’s grace.  Even her birth was a classic birth.  She came so quickly that there was no time for any medication…so I had her natural.  She came right out into the world with no complications.  She was a beautiful little girl.  I remember the music tape that my friend and I made for the coaching part of the birth…the song I wanted to use was “Carol of the Bells” from the George Winston’s Winter CD.  Several hours after she was born we lay in our room together, I in my bed and she under the warming lamp next to me. I would doze in and out to the sound of that song and when I opened my eyes I would look at her and smile. She was a doll, a muneca (Spanish for doll) as her nanita called her.  And she was mine!

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Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4

In 1995, Honolulu, Hawaii my 3rd child came along.  It had been 5 years since giving birth to my little girl so it was just a little bit scary to be going through this again.  My second husband had two little girls so I was praying for a son.  And God answered that prayer and He gave me peace through out the entire process!  Even when something went wrong during labor. The doctor had told me to walk around for a while to get my contractions moving, that it would be hours before we would have the baby. Just 15 minutes later I went into full blown labor.  It all happened so fast that everyone was stunned and my husband was pale.  Besides the labor pains, I was very calm about the whole thing…he was coming, that is all I kept thinking.  It was not until later that they realized I had a placenta abruption which meant the baby was with out blood and oxygen for a very short period of time and was not breathing when he was delivered.  I had felt him moving before he came out but I had a peace in my heart that he would be ok.  Within in minutes of his birth I heard a little squeaky cry. He was my miracle baby!  It was a whole day before I could hold him because he had to stay in NICU for 5 days but he responded so well to the antibiotics they decided we could go home by the 3rd day. So I took my “miracle” son home to join our family.

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  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6

I remember feeling somewhat fearful when I found out I was pregnant for the 4th time.  I kept thinking silently “how could I possibly have 4 healthy children?”  Would something go wrong since my last birth was so difficult?  They did tell me that I might have complications carrying a baby to full term.  So needless to say I had some trepidations about everything…I really had to learn to trust God during this time. 

Another thought I kept having was how would I be able to love all of my kids at one time?  I was overwhelmed with the fact that I would be responsible for 4 human beings.  I wondered why I did not have these thoughts before. I just couldn’t fathom how a mother could split her love between a husband and 4 children. 

The day he arrived, we had a long wait.  I remember thinking during labor that none of the other births hurt this much or took this long.  About an hour after it was all over I told my husband my chest felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. It hurt to breath. Every muscle, even ones I didn’t know I had, was screaming in sore pain.

But in the very moment they brought my little baby into my room and laid him in my arms it all faded away.  I looked into his little eyes and every fear and question that crossed my mind disappeared.  My heart was so overwhelmed with the goodness of the Lord.  Without even hesitating I began to sing “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me. Bless His Holy name. He hath done great things, He hath done great things, Bless His Holy Name” (Psalm 103) With every word that came out there were 10 tears falling down my face.  God’s love washed over me and the idea came to me in that instant that if a mother can love more than one child in such a way so much the more can God’s love wash over the world.  This child, my 4th child was perfect as perfect a baby could be.

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But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31

Our lives are bittersweet and in the end I believe the sweetness overcomes the bitter when we can look back at all God did in our lives.   God has taught me many lessons in all of these events and it sort of all came together when I laid eyes on the portrait.  All the events of our lives, good or bad, pale in comparison to what we will experience in Heaven and what we can take to Heaven.  His blessings are not in the material we gain here on earth but are eternal…it will not be the works I have done here on earth it will be my children I can take to Heaven and their childrens children.  I believe there is no greater blessing on earth, than to share Jesus in Heaven with my family!

September 2007 taken by Portrait Innovations

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Psalm 103: 1-2