Child-like Faith

Faith, such a hard word to grasp, wrap my mind around. What is faith? The Word of God defines it as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

To me, this means believing with no evidence.

What am I really saying to my Creator when I have lost faith? Lost hope? I am making Him non-existent. I am displaying no evidence of Him in my life when I am without faith. He is non-existent in my life and to others around me–only because I have fallen away, not because He has gone anywhere. They can’t see Him if I don’t have faith–they lose their way, and we are all following one another down a wrong path–the blind leading the blind.

Though I would never breathe the words, I say God doesn’t exist, when I shout and scream anger and bitterness at the world, and in a moment of frustration and hurt pouring out, I throw my hands toward Heaven and with much ungratefulness and unbelief say “Thanks a lot for all this”.

So how do I show faith? How do I make this untangible thing tangible? How do I grasp it, this imaginative, mysterious thing that is so curious that it seems unreal?

It is continuing and persevering in spite of circumstances that say “just give up–it’s hopeless”, persevering not only for myself, but for others.

It means staying with my spouse and lovingly building a marriage and life together that reflects Christ even when all seems broken and the pieces are scattered, and I don’t know how to pick them up.

When my flesh fails, and everything in the world says “give up on this relationship”, I persevere and the spirit of God in me rises up in faith…bonding me back to God and His goodness…always hoping, always believing the best.

I continue to pick up the pieces of relationships with my spouse, my children, and loved ones, even when damage seems irreparable, and in hoping for something greater in the Spirit, I flesh out His promise by holding hands and sacrificing my flesh until there is no more me and only Him.

Faith is a thing of the heart–not a thing of the mind. It’s something I feel, not something I know, and yet something that I continue to hang onto in my mind when my emotions are not feeling it. God plants a tiny seed in my heart, and then my mind begins to accept like a child, and then moves on to figuring out, testing out, and the more I know, the more I find out that I don’t know anything, and that I have to trust with my heart.

It’s funny, the believing, the faith of a child…how I naively told friends and strangers, that the reason I knew God exists is because I could feel Him in my heart and mind–I feel Him with me, in me, and working through me. I knew, there was a part of me that that knew, that I was small, ignorant, and insignificant, needing to learn more of the knowledge and wisdom of life–the experience of life. The sheer shortness of my years made me not a scholar.

Who was I to answer the biggest question all men have ever asked as long as man has existed?

Who was I to say that I knew the answer to knowing how God existed?

And yet, now as an adult, I realize that that this answer was not so bad at all, and I knew more of the important stuff then than I do now. Now it is easier to doubt God, now that I am “wise” and experienced in the world.

And I believe that is why Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say unto you, whomever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Luke 18:17 (KJV) The NIV says: “Unless you come with the faith of a child, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven.”. This is convicting to me, straight down to the core of me. I swallow the scriptures down, and they splay me out, uncovered and naked, they reveal my true heart before Him, and I am undone.

I know that I can only come this way–like a child–unaware and unashamed of my nakedness, of my vulnerable heart–that is the only way that I can see and be able to follow Him, to please Him.

But what happens when those closest to us–family, our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ–hurt us and cause us to lose trust and faith?

What happens when we lose loved ones, lose our own flesh inside of us–our hope of new life? What happens when death comes knocking? Or chronic illness rears it’s ugly monstrous head and threatens to tear us and our home apart?

What happens when the church does not look like or behave like the scriptural body, the God-breathed sacred body of Christ?

What happens when we lose child-like faith because of the depravity, sin, starvation, dying, and injustices of the world while Christians sit back and throw wounding darts at one another?

What then?

Well, for me, God has to bring me to this place of breaking over and over. This place where He breaks down the calloused walls of my heart–callouses put there from the inflicted wounds of the labor, fighting and toiling that I must do while I’m in this world.

He rubs his oil in and dissolves the scabs and built up layers, and He cleans out my heart, restores my child-like faith.

The most amazing thing is that I don’t have to do it–His grace covers me, and it restores and redeems and reconciles me back to Him. I don’t have to do the work–I just have to allow the work to be done by Him, in me–like child, eyes round and wet-rimmed, looking upward, countenace shining trust, looking to Father to take care of everything. Maybe this is faith…the faith of a child.

A song for you…Don’t we all, in our severe, lack-of-child-faith depravity, need some soul-nourishing words? If you don’t mind, closing out the player’s music at the bottom and playing the video? And just ignore the blue dress traipsing around πŸ˜‰ or close your eyes and listen to the words. If you can’t play the video, you can go here to watch.

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God’s Paintbrush

“The only memories our children will have are the ones we live, not the ones we hope for”–Mr. Simmons

As the children and I are chit-chitty-bang-banging along down the highway, the sky demands my attention–a beautiful sunset of fuschia and pink like the color of tangy, bursting grapefruit; coral like the flaming underwater ocean-lined dance; true orange, like the grainy flesh of that round, florida-sweet orb, and purple like dark violets, all royalty, like Jesus coming swift on horse out of the heavens, lightening in His wake. And it is something I can’t describe, the way the colors are masterfully painted and displayed, the way they sway in and out like waves, are vast and high like mountains, low and earthy, lying in the very depths of the ocean and me all at once. And it leaves me joyously breathless.

I say to the girls, above the roar of the enormous trucks passing us up, ” Girls, do you know that God is the real, true artist, and us humans on earth are just imitators of His art?”

Lorna speaks up from the back and says, “Do you mean that God painted that? And what does ‘imitators’ mean?

Ivy says, “He used his paintbrushes to paint it like Daddy does and like we do when we paint?

I say, “Well, I guess you could say that He uses paintbrushes, but not the same way that we do, and what I mean about humans being imitators is that God was the first artist–He is the best and we can try to make our art like His–but we can never create it the way he does.”

Lorna helps, “Yeah, because He uses the whole sky as His canvas and we could never be big enough to paint the sky.”

“Exactly,” I smile-speak it, content in His truth and my children’s growing knowledge of Him.

A week later, Ivy and I are on the way to the store together, a rare moment alone for us, her sitting in the back, the distance seeming like the grand canyon because I yearn to make this moment stick but don’t know how, lost in the depravity of myself, of the draining of daily human needs, desires, and clashing and thrashing of a family like the waves upon a mountanious, sure rock, the waves losing the battle. And somewhere in between all of my grappling for the loving intimacy of this moment with my daughter, she interrupts my thoughts from her spot in the back, “Mama! Look at the sunrise that God painted in the sky!”

“You mean the sunset, Ivy?”

She says, “Yes, (giggle) the sunset…God painted a beautiful one for us today, all just for us, didn’t He?”

I laugh softly yes, and we putter happily to the store.

And God is the sure rock that we crash against, and I’m so glad He wins.

My gratitude:

#203 jumbo cartons of fresh strawberries and blueberries

#204 Bella’s blueberries lined up on the counter following “Mama Strawberry”

#205 family that doesn’t give up on me and loves me unconditionally

#206 Husband that, through all the heartache, pain, and this long road of chronic illness, loves me with such passion

#207 Husband’s note–“We will make it through this–never give up on us”

#208 Husband, though he is a man of very few words, shows quiet admiration when the girls show him work they have been doing at home with Mama

#209 When Ivy says, “We’ve been writing about why we like homeschooling today” and husband’s face beams when he looks into my eyes and i can hardly take it in

#210 how my babies smell of cocoa butter and pure heaven after bath time

#211 the contentment in the way our evenings unfurl in babies wet, grinning, and wrapped up in towels, supper at the table, a story, and Bella’s reminder: “i gotta brush teeth!”

#212 When i walk in the door, Lilly running excitedly to me, her little legs unsteady and rigid, but amazingly swift, arms wide, embracing and throwing her face into my legs

#213 new hammock that came in the mail–a dream made reality

#214 watching my children puddle jump in our front yard

#215 Husband that works hard putting hammock up to make his wife happy

#216 how he keeps his promise to complete the project, even after working long hours

#217 how when Bella chopped her hair off clear up to her hairline, and after i cried in horror and anguish, we were able to salvage her beautiful wheat-blonde locks and her new hair, befitting of an angel, made her fresh-faced and made her rosy, dimpled cheeks shine.

#218 how Bella looks at me, blue eyes looming sadness when i tell her that i was disappointed and sad that she cut her hair, and she says, “You cried?”

#219 communication and understanding between me and my four yr old

#220 white blooms waving in blue sky

#221 gentle breeze, bringing in fall

#222 bright green leaves, fluttering, hanging stubbornly onto branches

#223 me and mountain of children, bundled up in hammock, giggles and laughter spilling out the sides

#224 Husband rubbing my face, his caressing confession, and his desire for me

#225 how we can hurt each other so much with our arguing, but one look of love in eyes and we know why, after all this time, we are still doing this thing called marriage

#226 how God’s grace wraps us up in a soothing blanket of repentance, forgiveness, love and peace.

#227 blueberry and dark choc chip pancakes made by my girls–seeing them lovingly give of themselves and serve

#228 a trip to town with all my girls alone, going by to see our Granny, and finally accomplishing my goal of obtaining some essential oils from the health store–a big day of victory for me!

#229 my clunker of a van that won’t reverse

#230 Husband’s loving offer to grill out and his surprise for me when he returns from the store–a pack of salmon just for me (the non-beef eater)–such a gesture of love

#231 me cleaning silks off corn, washing asparagus stalks and taking them out proudly to Husband, all rubbed down and seasoned for him to place on the grill, and i can do this–though i wasn’t taught–i can be a loving, serving wife

#232 lying all peacefully tangled up with Mr. Simmons on our new hammock

#233 his admission–“This IS nice”, and a cute, boyish grin

#234 figuring intimacy out and having patience with one another

#235 and my favorite this week…1,000 gifts on audio and Mike Mason’s The Mystery of Marriage arriving at my door, sent by a friend made on the web in this grace-filled community! Thanking God for this precious friend!

Forgiveness at the bloody tree

It is hard to write about forgiveness, isn’t it? Well, it was for me. I couldn’t think of what to write, but it came to me in a whisper…”You can’t write about forgiveness, because you are locked up inside…you are afraid…YOU have glacier-sized, Titanic-sinking unforgiveness and bitterness and your heart is like an open grave.”

WHO can understand how to forgive? I think I have forgiven, and it all comes rushing back, needles threading my senses, wound open and seeping.

All these failings, all these tears, all this anger at myself, at people and loved ones who hurt me, these thoughts and fears that tear me up inside…make my world collide, a kaleidescope of pain.

How did I get here? Is He really mighty to save? When it is 1 am and I am all alone with the sin (failings, gracelessness, hurt, destruction) of the day, and I feel the damage deep–stirring deep within–when I have walked this desert ’round and ’round for all these years–have cried all these tears, banged fist on table and on His chest–the very chest of God–and pointed my finger at Heaven, said “WHY?”–is He the Comforter then?

When I’ve flung so many words, took it out on those who don’t deserve, innocent little lives are hurt and those who are the cause go unscathed–is He the God of vengeance and justice then?

Why does it always seem that way? Like David, when he asked God why his enemies flourish while he suffers? I think David had a sensitive heart, and he held it inside–maybe he found it impossible to be tougher in that pit-place.

He went down there and he ached and wallowed in his misery. I wonder how long it took him to see that he had to forgive himself, and the enemies who had caused him pain?

****My dad after triple bypass open heart surgery–I’m so glad

that he is still with us, that I forgave, and that he asked

I need someone to tell me–HOW do I forgive when the pain swims around in my head, it pounds with the echos of the years…and the older I get…the louder the voices pierce and torment.

As I find myself lost and discover that it is these voices of pain that are causing me to lose my way, these voices that live with me every day…when friends, family, everyone I trust disappoints, when I am told that I’m not good enough, and I hear it over and over–from the most precious ones of Christ who are supposed to help support, uphold, and advocate–how do I let go? When the answer to every prayer seems to be “No”?

When in my grief, sorrow, and pit-dwelling, I blaze a path of destruction through my home, and my tongue lashes out bitterness and not grace and not once, but habitually and it is in this place that I can’t seem to get hold of myself–is He near then?

And this tugs at me from deep within…from where the throbbing pain lives…from within the walls of the throes of childbirth–an agony carried with me–my burden–the pricking thing that I can’t let go–won’t drop. It smarts and shoots and my stitches come undone, and I’m a mess all over again, and the cataclysmal blame massacre ensues.

When will I be free? Why did God allow this hurt? Why does He let it continue and why does He not stop them? Will He let it break me? I think I’m too easily broken–and I see the pity and disgust, maybe disdain in eyes. Is that the result He wants–for me to be completely broken and despised like His Son?

Maybe, maybe, that is His purpose.

“God does all these things to a man, twice, even three times, to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him.” (ref: book of Job)

“It will be (God’s) personal agenda to make sure you are miserable enough in that…pit to where you are ready to say ‘I’m ready to do anything to get out!'”

“I beg you to see that your enemy has a tremendous investment, not only in digging and camoflouging a pit in your pathway, but also you should tumble down, and in convincing you to stay there after you fall in. (Satan) knows in this pit you will feel powerless to stand up against him. There you are vulnerable to him and out of the way.”

“I felt like there have been times He (God) said of my own life, ‘How much fire do you want me to turn up in this place? How hot do you want this to get?'”

–Beth Moore, on Life Today talking about her book, Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk about God’s Deliverance

So strange that I already KNEW this…I mean, I have the theology…I understand in my head that all things come from God–the good, the bad, the in-between, the desert times, the trials and hardships–I understand it in my head, but will someone please explain it to my heart?

Maybe, just maybe, the only way that I can have it be understood in my heart, let go, quiet the echos of pain that follow me, and forgive–really be free of this thing–is to lay it at the foot of the cross. And maybe God is saying to me–“How much fire do you want me to turn up in this place?”

Maybe He is turning up the fire so that I will claw and dig from my pit toward the foot of that sacred tree.

That sacred tree…Oh how precious, oh how I cherish that bloody tree, where the One Man hung for all the world to despise…all for me, for me…all so I can find forgiveness.

Not only that, but He did more for me–in the cross, I find all of my answers–He IS Comforter, He IS a God of vengeance and justice. He IS mighty to save, and He is near. And I must leave it all, right here at His feet.

I pray that I can grasp this concept and live it well that my children will live it even better, offering forgiveness to one another easily….

And maybe a little forgiveness for me as well:

******Lilly at 7 mo.

Below is a video of Darlene Zschech singing “At The Cross”–if you would like to watch–it is beautiful–captures this idea in song… Listen to the words and just let them wash over you…

Another video Here with good truth in it…I needed the truth found here this week–just soaked it in, and I encourage you to as well, especially if you are struggling with forgiveness…

You can go over to Ann V’s site to see more stories like this, or share your own…

Little Women

In the winter of 2010, with Husband working a lot, we Simmons girls huddled together on the couch, the old crochet blanket our assuagement, the red-eyed heater our sun and glowing warmth, and our favorite old movie our cheer.

Lorna, always the original mind, having grown listless, said, “I am so bo-o-ored with just sitting in the house all the time.” She dreamt up a theatrical for her sisters to perform while she directed. These little women of mine did a good job of making fun and persuading their parents to join in. They were so merry, their wild imaginations soaring and landing who knows where. There were all sorts of new worlds to see and characters to play. Of course, Ivy complained, as usual, “I’m tired of playing the boy…Why can’t I be the lost girl?” She entreated for her part and her sisters were won over, as the velvet dress was placed in her hands. Bella, being the smallest and youngest of the three, and most in need of exerting her will, frowned at being told how to act out her scene and made it an arduous effort for her director-sister.

In the late evenings when we heard Mr. Simmons come to the door, all joyously met him with a chorus-cry of “Daddy!” There would be much jumping on the leg and clutching of his arm, all gathering around and cloaking him in affection and devotion. Lilly’s sunny little face, smile spread wide, would run in unsteady haste to him, and attack him with her tiny, chubby baby hands. “Hey little Lilly!” he exclaimed. “Hey babe”, with a kiss to the lips. We all would follow him to his throne where he would be entertained with our histrionics and melodramatic tellings of the happenings of our day.

Lorna- “Daddy, Mama made us do chores ALL DAY, and I have made up a play for everyone and I want you and Mama to come to see our play after supper, okay?”

Ivy- ” Daddy, today-at school- I did not have to move my clip ALL day, and Mrs. Pat says that I am her baby because I am the littlest in the class!”

Isabella- dimpled cheeks glowing radiant–“Dadddy, I catch a frog today–look! He isn’t moving!”

Lillian- “Da-nay”-her special way of saying Daddy


#179 that with the regrets of sinful behavior, when we fail one another–there is also this–a tight-knit family–all six of us–loving one another, making home and shelter in the grace of God

#180 a humble pink flower delivered to my desk by tiny hands, tucked and pressed into a small envelope and the contents, “i love you”

#181 a day full of trudging for our whole family

#182 i know that this trudging is God’s way of growing us and who knows who we will be when we emerge?

#183 these–Ann Voskamp’s words contained in this book –a light to me in my darkest night–“It is in the dark that God is passing by. God in in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us, I-beam supporting in earthquake.” Thank you, for these words, Ann!

#184 a special, comforting hug from a daughter who is too “big” to need Mama’s lovin’

#185 Lorna’s mumbling protest when i leave the kitchen, “I’m not going to play this game if i can’t play it my way.” and her response to her Daddy when asked what she means–“don’t you understand teenager talk, Daddy?” oh my.

#186 continuing my gratitude list when the days have been HARD and i don’t feel like it

#187 carrot polish on tiny fingernails and piggie style braids by big sister

#188 brown hen’s eggs sitting next to one another, waiting to be cracked

#189 baby spinach summer salad and Lorna’s “I made it with Daddy’s special dressing”

#190 delving out wholesome food to my children and watching them take in life

#191 following Husband when he says there isn’t enough and we have to be patient and the security of being provided for and protected from the dark pit of greed

#192 a fridge full of food

#193 air conditioning–even if it is only one unit for this large house–what a luxury

#194 the simple delight of beautiful, second-hand free clothes from a neighbor, and Lorna’s excitement, ” i love all of my new clothes!”

#195 Lorna’s prayer, “God, help our family, especially Mama.”

#196 that we have started praying together at bedtime again after a dry season

#197 girls organizing and cleaning laundry, bins, and piles of bed linens to make Mama happy, and a teary thank you–if the laundry room is a castle, then i am a queen!

#198 that God has “people” who take care of His daughters!

#199 dear new friends that God sent to encourage, and one with a very special gift sent to my door–strangers made friends across the web and i am in awe

#200 trying to hold onto slippery grace

#201 my sweet girls making my bed–i feel i am somehow being rewarded for years of taking care of their every need

#202 a week-long illness, a relapse, this dark place that won’t lift, that God still has me and He is nearest.

#203 this song and this song here is a different version with the musician’s heart and prayer behind the song, with live piano…these songs encompass my prayer for this week if you would like to listen– i know of no other music that is more gospel-centered or musicians with purer hearts


It is evening and we’ve had an argument…I have been crying on his chest…showing the weakness that I hate to show, but it is the weakness that, in spite of me, softens him. I am weary from life, and all that seeks to destroy me, wear me down, and take me under. We are moving around, speaking to one another, trudging forward through the thick mud around our feet, desperately needing a change, but knowing that this is what change feels like–it is the uncomfortableness of moving forward when it is really hard. Then he comes and tells me while I’m in the shower, that my eldest daughter has asked that I wear my black special occasion dress, and that she is preparing something for us. I ask, “Why?” He says, “I’m not sure what is going on, but she says she is doing something for us, and she wants us to get dressed.”

This takes me out of my comfort zone–I don’t feel like getting dressed up in my fancy black dress–I feel like resting–it’s been a rough day. I want to hide, because it is hard to feel that I belong. But I summon the courage to get dressed up and go to the dining room.

She tells her Daddy, β€œDon’t forget what you are supposed to do, Daddy.” He pulls out the chair for me, and I sit down. I feel like I am in an alternate universe, not really sure what is happening.

I hear Nora Jones’ soft, bluesy voice wafting in from the kitchen. I smile, knowing what she is up to, but there is no way that I could be prepared for what is to come.

They come in, bringing our dinner plates, and serving us–she has even dressed her sisters up for the occasion. I am in awe. And when she sets down the very humble little meal she has prepared in front of me, I do my best to let her see that I appreciate it. My children are daily teaching me lessons that no sermon could ever teach.

And then the dessert–such a wild, imaginative thing that only a child could dream up. I know that she has been watching some cooking shows, and trying her hand with creativity, and I am amazed that she soaks everthing around her up like a sponge. Noone has told her yet that she “can’t”. As she sets the plate in front of me, I know that it is just the plastic plate belonging to her little sister–not normally a plate fit for a dining table, but it doesn’t matter. I try to stay in the moment and feel this queenliness that she wants to make me feel.

But I am so humbled, and it is though at the moment my paradigm is shifting, and everything seems to be sliding. And I know that I am having to try too hard…what a wretch I am, that I can’t feel the happiness in this moment. And then she says, “Okay, are you finished with your plates?” and clears them away. “Now”, she says, “it is time for the dance”, eyeing her Father. So he takes my hand and leads me to the kitchen.

My head is spinning–I am not sure what to think. It has been years since this…dancing, closeness, this intimacy, and it is hard…I feel the air closing in around me. I feel the bittersweetness and insecurity of a new pattern that is not normal to our relationship. And I know he feels it too. I hear him say, “Been a long time since we’ve done this, huh? I can hardly find my voice, but when I do, I think I sound like a croaky, silly adolescent, unsure of myself and not wanting to let myself fully into the desire of the thing. I answer and stumble around, “Yes, it’s years.” I think about Lorna, and why she is doing this for us. Does she feel the tension, the stress?

As he holds me close, I begin to melt and everything all wound up tight begins to unravel, in a very, very good way–the way that only he can make things unravel for me. This is where my peace is–I have had to be away from him before, and I know that there is no peace in that. This is where I belong. And should I apologize for saying this and not giving God credit for my peace? I don’t think so–I believe that He ordained that I would feel only truly whole when I give myself over to another–completely giving and allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to feel complete in another’s arms. Here is where and how I come to God.

The more we dance, the looser and freer we are. The more free we are, the more the joy deep inside wells up. I stop worrying about Lorna. One day she will have to know about the stresses and arguments, down days and sadness of life. All I can do, being human, is to show her how to deal with those things when they come. Maybe if I’m looking at Him, whom i belong to, while she is looking at me, then everything will be alright.

And then my little girl takes me back twenty-something years ago to when I was a little girl, dancing on Daddy’s feet. And it makes me smile pure joy.

My gratitude:

#157 a day of swimming 1/2 mile in the lake–getting stronger

#158 fighting fears

#159 girls swinging on ropes–advice from a friend to let go more often

#160 my three littlest girls learning to swim

#161 Bella, apprehensive to get in the water, jumping in and swimming like a fish after a few minutes

#162 Bella’s 4th birthday party–while feeling the sadness of her daddy being at work, knowing that he and I are united for our daughter’s day

#163 This hardship has taught us to be a team–and the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of the labor of all of these years

#164 another woman’s wisdom and encouragement and I can listen because I know she has walked this road too

#165 friends that keep calling and writing

#166 that only my husband can love me the way he does

#167 a movie with just me and my girls, some popcorn and coke, and a screen bigger than life

#168 Bella, as I was trying to leave her with her Granny, when asked if she was sure she could stay awake for the entire movie, replying (with her cute lisp and nodding enthusiastically) “yesth.”

#169 Lilly running unsteadily and determinedly up to her sisters, grabbing them, folding into them in a hug

#170 eldest daughter, growing up so fast, so aware of the way things are in the world, creating a romantic moment for her stressed, burned out parents

#171 the grace to accept in humility this moment that my daughter gives, even though I feel undeserving, and what I really want to do is hide

#172 that God’s love brings me out into the open–all of my fears, failures, and insecurities want to retreat into isolation and darkness, but His love brings all things into the light and He refines me with fire.

#173 He uses my children to teach me

#174 because of this, I see a path by which i can learn to truly love, cherish, and respect them for the individuals they are

#175 husband’s texts and messages–checking on me, his love always there to catch me on a bad day

#176 having an upset stomach after an argument and a night stayed away from home and husband because it was too late to drive, and then the feeling of urgency to get home to his arms

#177 knowing that this is where i belong

#178 when i don’t understand the body of Christ, when my perspective is jaded, when people hurt and disappoint me, my husband that God gave to me is always there as the head, receiving direct shepharding for me from the Shephard and i can’t stray too far away from truth–and this truth amazes me.

A Million Tiny Barbie Dolls

“This is my favorite verse in the whole bible”, she reads aloud, “‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.'”

I say, “Wow, that’s one of my favorites too!”

“It just runs in my head all the time, but I had to look it up because all I could remember was Romans 8:16.” And she keeps going. “We read that in Sunday School Church one day. She read the story and that was the verse at the end.”

“Oh really? Why do you like it so much?”

“I just like it. I mean, I like to talk about it.”

Then I hear her reciting to herself…”The spirit himself…” and her soft voice drones on and I assume she is reading.

“Oh man, I got it without looking!” And she laughs giddy. I am happy and proud to hear this.

She continues…”Romans 14:8…’Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.’ That’s funny–Whether we live or die, we belong to God–like He has us in His hands like a million barbie dolls!”

And they are some very big hands, and they do hold everything. All of us, and our sin, our relationship problems, our anxiety, fears, desires and needs.

There is nothing He doesn’t hold–out of the mouth of babes.

#133 a day at the lake with family and friends

#134 Ivy’s big proud grin–and her catch

#135 that He is holding me and everything that I worry about

#136 that He uses my children to speak to me–the assurance that in the midst of mistakes and struggles, I must be doing something of worth as a parent

#137 the grace to realize that though there are so many moments full of regret, there are double the moments of blessings if i only really see

#138 Bella sitting on her little bench, pigtails and dimples, “Nope…don’t got him yet”…and how she waits until the fish bites really hard and then pulls him up!

#139 a moment for me and Husband to laugh about–our little Bella–oh how they bond us.

#140 Husband being attacked by Lilly’s baby hands and the way he plays with her–it’s these moments I love him most it seems

#141 a friend that invited us to the lakehouse–such a cheerful lady to be around, and laughter doeth good like a medicine

#142 able arms and legs to work in the yard and hold my baby with

#143 small baby with t-shirt too big for her and huge wet smile

#144 my health–though i have some issues yet to be healed of, i haven’t had one infection or virus the last year

#145 a strong body to run the trails with

#146 a curious baby that keeps sneaking off toward the lake, helping mama learn the meaning of diligence.

#147 these moments of mistakes that allow opportunity for repentance and for me to model that for my children

#148 how that when i feel i fail my children and husband terribly and i loathe myself–there it is–the reason Christ died…and He gives silver linings in every cloud

#149 reasons to talk to my children about the gospel

#150 hearing my daughter recite scripture and the growing love of God’s word

#151 eldest daughter cooking breakfast for everyone and lifting my spirit

#152 four-wheeler rides in the pouring rain and four little children soaking wet and grinning

#153 Husband’s voicemail encouraging me

#154 a Sunday afternoon date with Husband, swinging together, head on shoulder, looking at the water

#155 a fall on the trail and a bruised and bloody knee while trying to encourage my father to keep up–a little humility

#156 the best part of it all–when i say “girls, you see how Mommy messes up?…do you know this is why…” and one or both interrupts me and says “why Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Mama?” and something inside me smiles and is satisfied.