A good place

I don’t have a lot of profound things to say right now. I am feeling really grateful for where my life is. God has recently given me a sense of focus, peace, and assurance that I have been missing. I am feeling secure in my current ‘role’ in life. I am grateful for my family and friends. I am excited about our future.
That said, this past Saturday night was a culmination of many of those things. Last week, sitting on our bus with my mom, I asked her if she ever thought in a million years she’d be riding on her son-in-law’s bus with her daughter and two baby granddaughters. Of course, she said no. Life in the Chicago south suburbs, and life for me in general, never really pointed in this direction. It just happened. And what happened on Saturday night was a celebration of Rod’s new CD (I am so proud of and in love with it), and our baby girl Kaity, who was dedicated to the Lord.

We had a lot of family and friends there with us for the concert/dedication/party. And especially of note, we had the Jay Stone Singers there. We just met them in February of 2007 when Rod was singing at the Northmen’s homecoming. And it was just one of those things… we clicked with Bobby and Sharona Carter and have become like family. Our kids, who are different ages and have led pretty different lives, act like siblings (though I’ve told Stone he has to pick one of our three daughters to marry…). Though they live in North Carolina, we have been with them five times already this year and will see them again before it’s over. On top of this, their music has blessed us.

So it was quite a pleasure to have them with us, and it was so much fun to hear Bobby and Sharona sing live with Rod, as they did most of the background vocals on the new CD. They are also Kaity’s godparents, and together with Rod, they sang “Eagle Song” for her. It was beautiful.

It was also fun to introduce Sharona’s parents, Mr. Jay & Mrs. Mary Stone, to downtown Chicago. Of the many memories of that day, this picture is one of my favorites:

~.~

Now for something totally different, something I can’t shake: Did you see any of the interviews that the Steven Curtis Chapman family has given in the last week? They appeared on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and in People magazine to talk about the accidental death of their baby girl Maria… and the amazing healing of the Lord in their lives. I have hesitated to write too much about it here. I don’t want to seem like I am exploiting their pain. But, I have been so incredibly moved and touched and affected by this, partly because of the generous, respectful sharing of the man who runs this blog. I am not sure why… all I know is that I continue to cry for them and pray for them… and I also believe that God is going to do incomprehensible, amazing things through a truly awful situation. If you don’t believe me, Christians in particular, check out this video. Imagine a world in which an icon like Larry King is changed by the testimony of others. I am imagining it, praying for it, and liking that possibility. Let’s challenge ourselves to show the kind of faith that moves everyone around us.

What we need

Miranda in the hospital

There are reasons I haven’t posted in several weeks. They include:

– Miranda being hospitalized overnight for dehydration. Talk about a perspective check! Even though I knew she was going to be fine, spending a night with my baby crying for a drink and not being able to give one to her… it makes me see a lot of things a lot more clearly.

– Seeing clearly is a good thing, because last week my family suffered a blow that I’m not sure I can blog about publicly yet. I will say that someone we loved has passed away, and we were not reconciled with this person, and essentially, the passing has brought about opportunity for others involved to remind us just how “un-reconciled” we are. Yeah… Even so, I have had such amazing peace in the last seven days that once again, my faith in the Lord’s goodness and grace has been completely strengthened. He has brought to my heart and to the forefront of my mind (which has been quite the battleground since this happened) one simple and amazing truth: He does not always give us what we want, but He always, always gives us what we need.

– During the week in between Miranda’s hospital stay and the death in the family, Rod and I were terribly sick. Turned out I had a sinus and throat infection and bronchitis, and he had a sinus, throat, and ear infection. Because we both waited far too long to go to the doctor, we spent several restless nights and challenging days because, as you know, we can’t always just stop the world and crawl into bed when we feel bad. Miranda was still quite ill and not herself and therefore in need of “MAMA!,” and her little sister Kaity, who thankfully did not get sick, is still only 5 months old and kind of needs me, too. All of this was an exercise in patience and humility. Sometimes, we make bad decisions, and sometimes, we need help.

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Lessons learned (well, reviewed) whilst bringing back the bus

We pulled in from our trip around 9pm this past Sunday night.

We cautiously unloaded the bus and checked out the house (Josh had stayed behind and been warned about the Neatness Factor).

Between the home on wheels and home “sweet” Homewood, there were no floods, giant spills, puke-related incidents, fires, needs for towing service, or, ahem, forgotten clothes. We cautiously asked ourselves and each other, “Did that just happen?”

I don’t know if that means we are getting the hang of things or if it was just our turn to have an incident-free road trip. I wouldn’t mind the latter, but I hope (and trust) it’s a bit of the former.

So instead of insight into a mishap, or collection of them on the road, I bring you this weekend’s poignant, though slightly less dramatic, Lessons Learned.

I told it first to Rod last night. One of my favorite – and simultaneously least favorite – aspects of our trips is Bringing Back The Bus. See, we have to park it in a lot about 25 minutes away. So after a Sunday of set-up, ministry, take-down, driving, and unloading, we get Miranda to bed (provided Josh or Paige are home), either load up Kaity or leave her with the older kids (last night, she stayed home), and we make the drive. During this time, we talk about the weekend’s events and try to decompress and plan for the coming week.

This weekend was easier than usual. It was a short trip, it was in familiar surroundings, and again, Murphy’s law seemed not to be in effect. There were, however, some new things happening. (more…)

what I do at night

I have a longer post coming, really, but for now I am feeling a little victorious about my latest creation:

It has been a marathon few days, and unfortunately, the heat seems to bring out the worst in my babies, namely in the form of vomit. Anyway, my to-do list has gotten a bit ridiculously long (which is a good thing, right?), and the best part of that is that Rod and I cleaned our office space last night, so at least I can feel organized and not claustrophobic while I chip away at night, with coffee and tunes, after the little divas are sawing logs.

Now, though, I think maybe I need to stop, drop, and roll into bed…

You’ll Make It Through

Though I don’t always admit it to him when he is leaving dirty diapers on our dresser or giving Miranda a time out (I know she needs them, but they break my heart a little), my husband is a wise man. And one of the wisest things he said to me is something he taught me long ago: We all adjust to our own realities.

I believe at the time our conversation was a debate about paying $10 versus $40 for a haircut (you’ll NEVER know!). However, those words have followed me through the last several years as my life has changed at a seemingly breakneck pace. Fortunately for me, most of my changes have been wonderful (addition of husband, stepkids, college degree, miracle babies, …) and some perplexing (loss of friendships, career changes), but there have been tragedies around me… some happening to people I know, some to people I have only “met” online. The thing about tragedy that always strikes me, though, is how it unites us.

Example: I just get my e-newsletter from a family I will probably never meet who happens to have their own series on TLC. They recently suffered the loss of a very close family friend, and something in this letter brought tears to my eyes. Why is it we are able to feel the pain of others? I believe it is simply one of the unique characteristics that makes us human.

Getting back to that wise nugget on reality… I often wonder how it is that people suffer through their tragedies. I used to think the worst thing that could happen to me was not getting married. Then I got married and decided it would be losing my husband… until I gave birth. Now I wonder how anyone could possibly live through the loss of a child. I know that faith in the Lord carries us through… and I personally know people who have been in these awful, wrenching circumstances and lived to tell. And through them, I have watched how reality shifts might be devastating, but God makes them as a natural part of our lives, and He equips us to adjust.

When Rod was picking songs for the new CD (coming ANY day now!), there was one that I listened to over and over again. It’s called “You’ll Make It Through,” and its message is so simple, yet striking in its power. I know if someone just listened casually to this song, she might not feel as touched by it as I did. However, when I was listening to it on ‘repeat,’ two sets of circumstances were occurring around me. One: a relative was diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis seemed very grave. Two: a couple with whom Rod and I are close was inevitably divorcing, the decision was not mutual, and hope seemed lost. (We won’t talk about the third circumstance, which was me being nine months pregnant and a wee bit emotional).

As I thought of these loved ones, the song became a prayer for me. Its words, penned by Tim Chandler and Lana Chandler, spoke directly to those situations and my own sense of helplessness: “Hold on my weary brother, the morning’s coming on…. His joy will give you strength to make it through.” I admit, I am not exactly a prayer warrior and sometimes I need and do use music to get me in the presence of God, to get me to a place where I can openly and passionately bring my cares and sorrows to that wonderful throne of grace. And when I listened to this song, wow, did I ever pray for those two situations.

Flash forward five months. Situation one: that same relative has responded wonderfully to some experimental treatments, and tomorrow he will undergo surgery that is much less invasive than the option he was initially given. And the couple inevitably breaking up after over 25 years of marriage? They are together, and the last time I saw them, they looked happier and more comfortable together than I’ve ever seen them.

That doesn’t mean the in-between of January and now was all roses, nor that the road ahead will be covered in Hawaiian white sand and flanked with free burrito stands (I think those types of wonders are reserved for Heaven only!). However, the reminder to me in this song, in these situations, is that God always, always has a plan we can’t see. When tragedy strikes, be it to us, to a friend, or on the news to someone in a distant land, we often ask “How can God let this happen?” And I admit: when I see thousands killed by a weather anomaly, when I hear someone lost her baby in a freak accident, when I see the awful stories on the news about murders and abuses, I ask God the same question. The answer is surely too complicated for our earthly minds, but I know that I know that I know that one outcome of these kinds of “reality shifts” is surely part of that answer: God wants us to lean on Him in all things, He wants us to grow in Him, and He wants those who don’t know Him to see His comfort, love, and kindness even in the storms, so that they, too, might receive it.

Indeed, He wants us to know that we will make it through.