Mr. and Mrs.

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The new Mr. and Mrs.

I still get teary-eyed looking at this picture.

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The family Scrabble board is complete.

Her name fits just right.

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These guys.

All five grands dressed up fancy for Uncle Jake’s wedding.

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Three weddings and five grand babies in three years.

Holy moly.

This Nonnie is plumb tuckered out, but with a full heart.

10 Lessons in 2013

LessonsI hope you noticed that the title of this post is not “Lessons Learned in 2013″.  Although I’ve made a few strides this year, I seem to be on a perpetual track of learning and re-learning and re-re-learning.  Here are a few things I have gleaned from the fields of 2013.  No doubt, there were more than ten lessons, but I guess I’ve already forgotten them.

1.  Assume the best.  This has been my default mantra this year.  Saying this little three word phrase has kept me from being easily offended, has given my heart a tenderness for people, and has helped me maintain a more positive attitude.

2.  Gifts are hidden in every day.  Writing these down on a daily basis has made me sit up and take notice.  Counting 1,000 gifts has increased my capacity for gratitude.

3.  A new baby is magical.  Four new babies in one year is magic multiplied exponentially.  (NOTE: Twins are hard work for the first six months.  Then they start giggling at each other and life is good again.)

4.  Letting go of grown children is easier if you know they are firmly held in the Father’s hands, but it still causes an ache.

5.  Adult children coming home gets better and better because they bring spouses and children with them.  Embrace the chaos while it lasts.

6.  The death of saints only makes heaven sweeter.  Loved ones who leave this world and enter the next with grace and without regret inspire me to live out my days the same way.

7.  When faced with the choice of either cleaning the garage or going fishing, always go fishing.

8.  An hour spent on Pinterest doesn’t hold a candle to an hour reading a good book.

9.  It’s possible to memorize large portions of scripture.  It’s impossible to not be impacted by it.

10.  I never have to sit through boring church services or listen to dry sermons.  I need to appreciate that.

Care to share a lesson from your 2013?

Inconceivable

Privates shouldn’t question a general’s command.

Errand boys shouldn’t challenge a CEO’s decision.

And evidently, humans shouldn’t doubt an angel’s words.

After appearing to Zechariah in the temple, the angel Gabriel delivered a lengthy message to the elderly priest.  The detailed description of what was about to happen even included the name heaven picked out for the coming baby — John.  A plain name for an extraordinary infant.  According to the angel, the baby would be

great in the sight of the Lord“,

filled with the Holy Spirit“,

and “in the spirit and power of Elijah“.

This child would do great things.

He will go before the Lord“,

turn the hearts of the fathers to their children“,

and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord“.

Since Malachi prophesied the final words of the Old Testament, there had been silence from God for 400 years.  No “thus sayeth the Lord“, no angel visitations, no visions.  Gabe’s big moment had finally arrived and it was met by questioning unbelief.  In Zech’s mind, this idea (and baby) was inconceivable.

“How will I know this is going to happen?”  CEV

“By what shall I know and be sure of this?”  AMP

“How can I know that what you say is true?” Exp

“How shall I know if this is so?”  GN

“Do you expect me to believe this?” Message

Unfortunately, Zechariah didn’t stop there, but felt he needed to explain to the heavenly being the facts of the situation.  “I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”  What did he expect the angel to say?  “Oh, I didn’t know all that.  Well then, never mind”?  Actually, Gabriel got a little irritated with the human being and put him on mute for the next nine months.  Very effective.  “Zechariah paid a price for his unbelief. His unbelief did not make God take his promise back; it just kept Zechariah from enjoying it.  When we do not believe God’s promise for our lives, we do not necessarily destroy the promise; but we do destroy our ability to enjoy the promise. What made this such a severe punishment was that Zechariah had such great news to tell.”  David Guzik

Mary also got a visit from Gabriel with equally startling news.  Mary also asked a “how” question — “How will this be?”  But she received a straight-forward answer and no reprimand because her question was not laced with doubt.  “Mary’s question is logical. She asks basically the same question Zechariah asked but his question was asked in skeptical unbelief, her question was asked in wonder-filled faith.”  David Guzik

Lord, may my questions be free from skeptical unbelief

and filled with awe-inspired faith.

And go ahead and shut me up when You need to.

Milk and Honey

He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Deuteronomy 26:9

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Over twenty times, the land promised to the Israelites was referred to as “a land flowing with milk and honey”.  Now I know why.  They were a new-born nation — babies in their relationship with God.  They needed milk, with a little honey added in for sweetness.

Back in the desert days, the people yearned for their old Egyptian fare.  In a classic case of selective memory they wailed, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost.”  (Sure, food was free — but they weren’t.)  “Also, the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.” (I can understand them missing the taste of fresh melons, but leeks and onions?)

God didn’t entice His new nation to Canaan with the promise of pickles and garlic.  Oh, no.  Milk and honey was on the menu because God knew that’s what they needed.  It wasn’t a land flowing with steak and potatoes, burgers and fries, or beer and brats.  Wholesome milk with a touch of honey — perfect for a young community.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Psalm 34:8

Milk

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow up in your salvation.”  1 Peter 2:2

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Newborn babies have one thing on their minds — milk.

They crave it, they cry for it, they live for the next feeding.

When they are hungry, their miniature mouths open wide as they frantically search for the source, then land it and guzzle like there’s no tomorrow.

They suck with all their might, jaw muscles pulling, drawing, tight and strong.

Milk is what they desire — milk is what they need.

Without it they would die.

So they cry out every few hours for more and more and more.

Elijah and Eleanor inspire me.

I watch their single-minded intensity and I am envious.

To want something so desperately and to be so completely satisfied by the nourishment it gives —

they are teaching me how to love God’s Word.

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They also are reminding me that newborns require regular feedings and must be treated with gentleness and patience.

Neediness, dependence and messiness is to be expected.

Developing into a grown-up takes time.

May we give those newly born into faith the same kind of nurturing care.

Holy Week

There I was, thinking about how it’s already Holy Week…..

and I hadn’t even given it much thought.

I hadn’t contemplated the bread and the wine….

I hadn’t kept watch in the garden….

I hadn’t walked the Via Dolorosa.

There I was, thinking that Easter was creeping up on me

and that I might miss it this year.

I was wrong.

I have been experiencing Easter Life to the full.

Here I am, witness to life bursting forth from the dark womb.

Here I am, staying awake into the night to watch and pray.

Here I am, washing the feet of my daughter, serving her needs.

Here I am, holding in my very hands life — downy soft, sweet smelling life.

Indeed, this has been the holiest of Holy Weeks.

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Welcome Home

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Eli and Ella weren’t impressed with their welcome home sign.

In fact, they didn’t even blink an eye.

Tucked inside their cozy car seats, they slept through the whole thing.

But coming home for the first time is a big event and needs to be celebrated.

So while the babies slept, Mommy and Daddy and Nonnie rejoiced…….

…..and took a nap.

Best party ever.