Sunday, December 30, 2012

Remembering 2012: My Scattering of Stones

Many times this year I have wanted to shut down the ol' blog.  It takes a lot of time to maintain and quite frankly, time gets more and more scarce.  But, as I was reviewing some posts from the past year, I realized that this simple blog is how God reminds me of what He has done in my life.  My brain cells seem to be deteriorating and my memory isn't what it used to be.  For me to look back and remember God's faithfulness is healthy for this soul of mine.

In a way, this blog is my altar of remembrance.  In Genesis, those who were seeking after God might lay down stones in a certain area to remember how God had revealed Himself at that place and time.  Some of my posts are simply stones and when I walk by them again, I am reminded of Who He is.

I write so I can remember.

The soul always needs to be reminded lest it get stale.

So, with that, I thought I would leave you my scattering of stones...ways God has revealed Himself to me this year or ways I have found Him faithful. 

1.  Coming Home {Mercy lets the boy-man come home}

2.  Death Precedes Growth {Emptiness is OK in God's eyes}

3.  Cherish the Fetus {Seeing God's glory in a fresh way}

4.  His Display of Affection {God often reveals Himself to me in themes}

5.  The Accuser {How to recognize the true enemy}

6.  The Steer and the Transition {Being Set Free to Make Decisions}

7.  Cycles {How to react when God is silent}

8.  At the King's Gate {Being content with where God has you}

9.  He Goes Before and He Stays Behind {God has us hemmed in}

10.  The Double Camp {The God of Jacob is also my God}

11.  Two Cans of Vienna Sausages {Why it is important to stop for just one}

12.  The Banqueting Table {Ungratefulness keeps us blinded from what God has provided}

13.  Digging Ditches {Perhaps my favorite passage of the Word this year...I don't have to produce rain!}

14.  A Face and a Name {God's mercy and fulfillment in being my Master Gardener...He is about grace and restoration if we simply have eyes to see.}

I reread the above posts and marveled at who our God is...I hope you will be encouraged like I have been!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012: The Year of Fruit

For a few years now, I have asked the Lord for a word or verse to carry me through the upcoming is a way that I know He will reveal Himself no matter what is thrown my way.

During Thanksgiving of 2011, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper "Fruit" and I knew that was to be my word for the upcoming 2012.  We quickly found out we were pregnant.  I figured the theme of fruit would fit well into having a new baby that year.  When we lost the baby, I wondered why on earth fruit had been whispered at all.

God has been good this year to show me how 2012 has been the year of fruit.  As he slowly healed me from the miscarriage, he allowed me to stumble upon a sermon by Spurgeon called "Supposing Him to be the Gardener."  In the sermon, God showed me that He alone is the one who plants things.  He determines what they are to be and where they are to be planted.  He even has the right to uproot things, in order to create a more beautiful landscape. 

To break it down quickly here is how fruit was produced this year: God healed me, allowed me to know Him as Master Gardener, called Sam to salvation, called me to lead a bible study, brought new couples to our community group, brought an unexpected tax return, gave me a blessed amount of photography clients, allowed me to see Him in fresh ways, and planted Asher Tate right into my womb.  Eric saw fruit in his own life that included freedom and clarity in many situations.

At the beginning of the year, I researched every verse I could find that covered the concept of fruit.  God was clear then...if there was to be any fruit in our lives it would come straight from Him.  Our only role would be to abide.  He would do the rest because He wanted the glory.

I laugh at 2012 because for the first few months, due to grief, I felt like I was a seed dead in the ground, awaiting some kind of light and life.  I am not sure I had anything to offer.  Instead, I kept seeking God's face and waiting.  Abiding was all I could do.

The last few months of the year were consumed with pregnancy nausea and exhaustion.  If I wasn't hugging the toilet or sucking on lemon drops, then I was asleep, just begging God for this phase to pass.  I am pretty sure I had nothing to offer during these months.  But, I kept abiding and waiting.

I think God wanted to show me personally that producing fruit truly is His work.  He is the Gardener, not us.  He simply needs us to be willing.

How has God revealed Himself during 2012 for you?  I've been praying for a new word over 2013 and I think He is answering!  It always does my heart good to remember how He has been faithful and ever present in our lives.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas and the SNOW!

Here's a picture post for you!  Christmas rounds 1 and 2 and the Winter Wonderland!!!

Round 1:

 Round 2:  {Santa left some mighty big gifts this year!}


Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry CHRISTmas!
May you know Him more deeply and love Him more truly.
He is our only a baby in a manger and as coming King.
Eric, Becke', Cade, Eli, Sam, and Asher

Every year, I ask Jesus to reveal Himself fresh during the Christmas season.  It isn't that a virgin birth, wise men, and a stable birth get old every year, but sometimes I want to see something new.  This year, the theme was that of waiting.

It is easy to forget (or not fully comprehend) how those before Christ were longing for a Savior.  Since we are on the other side of the Sacrifice and Resurrection, we sometimes refuse to think about what it must have been like for those who were daily begging and praying for the Messiah to step down into their ache and time.

It was the first Advent (coming), that Jesus was born in that small and dirty manger.  He came as one of us, to be among us, to rescue us.  He came humbly and as a suffering servant, ready to take on your sin and mine.

We have a taste of that longing that those before Christ had.  We need it fulfilled in our Savior coming as visible King.  We have these aches and sufferings and we look at the world and know in our hearts that all will be set right once He simply comes during the second Advent (coming.)  Our hearts believe and know He will one day do this, but we live amidst a spiritual battlefield that leaves us bloody and worn. 

We are waiting for a merciful and visible King that somehow embodies complete grace and complete justice all at the same time. Our hearts are practically begging.

Those before the cross were waiting.  Those of us after the cross are still waiting.

I don't know what promises have been made by our involved and relational Redeemer, but hold fast.

The waiting won't be forever.

Merry Christmas...blessings abundant on your family!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Face and a Name

I woke up this morning, the morning of December 19th, remembering last year on this date very vividly.  We were expecting a sweet baby and were counting down the days until Christmas so we could share with the boys about the best gift ever.  But, our sweet baby was swept up into the presence of her creator on December 19th.  We hadn't known about her for long, but we loved her completely.  We grieved for all the days we wouldn't have with her.  We celebrated for all the days we will get with her one day.   We call her a girl simply because in our hearts, we know she is.
While taking a shower, I realized once again how precise and compassionate and involved our sweet Jesus is.  He knew the ache in our hearts for the daughter we won't see on this earth.  He stepped down and arranged it so that on this day one year later, we would be seeing the face of another gift, our fourth son, Asher Tate Stuart.
I can't tell you how I have wept and rejoiced over God's grace in allowing this to occur exactly one year after such heartache.  This day is bittersweet.  God gives and he takes away.  While on this earth, our lives are an odd yet beautiful dance between grief and joy.  It becomes beautiful when we choose to see God in it all. In an all encompassing swoop, my heart is crying out over what was lost one year ago and rejoicing over what God has created now.  Such a sacred and beautiful dance.  He alone is holy.

We can't tell you how excited we are about this little boy's name!  In the past, we have always had a girl name and a boy name ready to go when we found out.  It seemed like such an easy transition, knowing them and naming who they were to be.

This time around was completely different.  We just didn't not have a boy name, we didn't even have boy names we liked!  So, we had to start praying and digging deep and listening to what God might want this child to be named.

After we narrowed it down a little, we starting researching the names and their meanings.  Asher means "blessed or happy."  He is one of Jacob's twelve sons in Genesis, also being one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  There are not a whole lot of passages regarding this son, but we really liked what we could find. Here is just one...

"And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.  Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be." Deut. 33:24

You know I had to research that a little further and here is what I came up with:

*"acceptable" in Hebrew is "ratson" which means to be pleased with or delighted.  Asher in the Bible was in perfect unity and harmony with the other tribes.

*the reference to dipping his foot in oil means that the land his tribe dwelled on was very fertile and abundant (he had a literal abundance of oil)

*the reference to shoes of iron and brass means that he is strong and if built of iron and brass...his life is one of security and rest

*he was known for his renowned wisdom

*he was an example of a virtuous man who strived for the general good

After discovering all this, Asher just seemed to fit. 

A middle name was even harder.  We considered a few things and finally settled on Tate.  It means "cheerful."  We are basically naming this boy "Happy Cheerful."  A double portion of joy for sure.  Eli smiled all over himself when we told him that Asher means blessed or happy.  He grinned so big I couldn't find his eyes and then he said, "I am so happy we are naming him happy!"

One year ago presented sorrow.  Today I present you a double portion of joy...Asher Tate.  His name is Asher and we want him to know he carries God's blessing in his very name.

God brings grace and restoration to all things.  Lord, continue to give us eyes to see!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Dreaming

I have always had vivid dreams while being pregnant.  But this fourth time around is offering something entirely different.

And I don't like it.

Nightmares of sorts.  There is always a theme...something terrible is about to happen to myself or someone I love and then I wake up...practically bolt straight up as much as my belly will allow...thinking it was just as real as anything could be.  Then I spend the next little bit telling myself it was just a dream as I try to fall back asleep.

It is almost comical.  But not really.

One night in dreamland, Eric was forced to get married again due to the culture we lived in.  He didn't want to marry someone else, but he had no choice.  He married a young blond cute lil' thing and we all had to get along.  Riiiight.  I felt like Leah in the Bible.  The ugly and old one...but the one that could give him boys, ha!  I woke up right as they were about to go initiate that dual marriage thing.  eek.  the horror.

Another night, I dreamed I was in Fayetteville with the boys.  We were going down a street I wasn't as familiar with.  The street veered to the left and since there were no guardrails, we veered straight off a cliff of sorts.  I woke up in a panic, mid air and desperate for our lives.

Yet another night, I dreamed Eric and I were walking through this field of tall grass at night in the pitch black. We had a flashlight, but it wasn't on.  I told him to turn it on and as he did, we were only a couple of inches away from a whole host of snakes.  They were biting each other and about to have us for dinner, as well.  Snake dreams and I really don't get along.

Last night I dreamed Eric and I were in some neighborhood we weren't familiar with.  I was in the van while he sat on a park bench nearby.  All the sudden these bears were upon him.  He tried to scale a huge wooden fence, but one pawed him to the ground and started swiping at him.  I was in the backseat of the van and opened the door to try to get them to come towards me.  Oh, they came....but I was a little late in getting the door to shut.  I woke up as the bears were trying to paw at me through the open door.

And those are just a few.  It seems like every night I repeat the same pattern...vivid nightmare and then wake up just before the horrible thing occurs.

Goodness, I am so over this!

Pray over me as I sleep at night, would ya? 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Learning to Read

At the beginning of the school year,  I didn't know if Sam would ever get this reading thing down.  He struggled immensely with long versus short vowels.  It seemed like no matter how many ways we tried to teach him, things just wouldn't click.

Eric worked with him a ton.  I worked with him a ton.  His teacher worked with him a ton.  We prayed a ton.

And, then, one day, things were just easier for him.  It was as if a light bulb came on and things just clicked all the sudden.

He could read!

We took Communion tonight as a family at church, each taking turns reading certain passages of Scripture.  Imagine my delight when Sam volunteered to read the last passage.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  (Rom. 5:6 & 8.)

Sam read every single word by himself correctly minus the three bigger words.

My eyes swam in tears.

The ability to read is imperative in order for your child to function in this world.

But, hearing your child read the Word of God makes your soul swim in delight.

Thank you for hearing our prayers, Lord.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Bit of Paradise

It looks like moving is in our near future.  With our new baby coming, we just don't know how to make our home work anymore.  We've been here for almost 10 years.  A whole lot of memories have been made.  One kid has been here 10 of his 12 years, another all of his life minus 5 weeks, and another his entire life.  Depending on the timing, we don't even know if the next child will be brought to this home or another.  Bittersweet for sure.  Doesn't help that I am emotional from pregnancy on top of it all!  Ha!
These pictures are a few of the sites that I will sorely miss.  Eric's grandparents owned the home before us and his grandad did an amazing job of making the place a tiny paradise.  It took me years to figure it out, but there is something almost always in bloom around here.  Even in the snow!
The beautiful site has been a gift for sure, since I don't have a green thumb.  In fact, I am so bad at landscaping that I am pretty sure my thumbs are colorless!  When something always comes back in full color and bloom, I just thank God cause it is a gift totally undeserved!
We'll probably put the sweet home on the market after Christmas.  If you know anyone in need of a centrally located home with a great price and huge backyard, send them our way!
I am going to go find some tissues now.  sniff.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just one way...

This is just one way to give during the Christmas season.  Christ came to give all and it humbles me so much that he allows us to give to others.  This is one of our favorite things to do as a family...sit down and read the catalog out loud.  We love to let the need of others soak up into our boys' ears and hearts.  We need them to know how blessed they are.  We need them to feel compassion and be moved to action.  This catalog provides an easy way to do that for them. You can view it online or request a copy to be mailed to your home. And for the record, I can't get through the catalog every year without bawling my eyes out.

It is the Samaritan's purse catalog.  Each boy gets to pick out something they want to give towards.  It always delights my heart to see them do this, because it always lines up with who God has created them to be.  {Don't you know our animal lover had to give a goat...}

I know your heart is overflowing with gratitude this season like mine.  Pray and let the overflow spill into whatever God leads you to!