I am thankful:
~ for one if my favorite Christmas traditions: our trip to Children’s Hospital on Christmas Eve. We load our bus with the most delicious home-cooked spread of food and drive to Dallas, to give smiles and thanks to the dedicated nurses caring for the kids who are too sick to be home for Christmas. Even though it’s been years now, we have promised to never forget those frightening days. Josh at home with 7 kids missing their mama. And 12 month old Sawyer and I in the hospital. We had known we would be in the hospital that Christmas. He was in a particularly harsh phase of his leukemia treatment, and needed close monitoring. But Christmas Eve he had taken a turn for the worse, spiking a high fever, and his nurses watched him like a hawk. I’ll never forget the way they tended to him, and to me all through the night. I remember watching the clock turn midnight, and crying in the dark room lit by a blinking IV pole as I wished my sick baby Merry Christmas. BUT GOD. I couldn’t have done it without those nurses, those angels on this earth. They lay their lives down and are gone from their own families to take care of hurting children, and they do their very best to bring joy into a scary and sad place. I love going back (for a quick trip and not to stay) to tell them Sawyer’s story, and give them a fresh breath of Christ-ordained, thriving, 6 year old, curly-headed HOPE.
~ for a quick, fun visit with Aunt Dinah. Sawyer picked Slims Chicken for lunch, and then she and I visited while I tackled my holiday baking and trashed my kitchen from one end to the other.
~ for beautiful weather to deliver baked goodies to our wonderful neighbors. We are so blessed!
~ for a wonderful, messy, overstimulating, joyful, chaotic, noisy Christmas. For too much delicious food: spicy, cheesy jalapeño crawfish chowder, tart/sweet cherry pie, caramely sweet monkey bread, and chocolate-coffee-salted-caramel birthday cake for Jesus. For Andes mints that make me think of Grandma Grace. And Great Grandma Nelson’s peanut clusters that are now my kids’ favorite. For tums and stretchy pants. For new Christmas jammies for everyone and a new ornament each. For the sweetness of each of us reading Luke 2 verse by verse…and how the powerfully tender words feel more tender and more powerful on Christmas morning. For a second round of too-much-everything and 14 cousins to play with. It was an extra noisy Christmas with robots and transformers and Elsa microphones and walkie talkies and laser tag. I’m also thankful that batteries do not live forever.
~ for the fullness in my heart at having all my children together. I learned when Sawyer got sick that I couldn’t take it for granted. But life moved on, the crisis passed, and I realized that I still did sometimes. But now comes another paradigm shift: they really are growing up. Colton’s living on his own, Carson Grace is 18 and in college. Soon enough they will start having their own families and may not always be around. How I treasure these fleeting moments with all these faces around my table and piled up on my couch.
~ for my husband’s dedication and work ethic. Even after working 65+ hours a week at his “real job,” then building signs and caring for our home in his “spare time,” AND being Dad to 9 kids….he is grinding out his real estate courses, one after another, even amidst the chaos of our home environment. So proud of him. Even squeezed in a much needed date with him this week!
~for the signature throaty growl of my daughter’s hauntingly beautiful voice and her guitar coming from her bedroom. Oh, how I’ve missed her and that sound.
~ for 4 little and not-so-little girls that still let me dress them alike. Aren’t they beautiful?
~ for the fresh grace to keep going even when it’s hard. Tatum K, while just as cute as she can be, continues to challenge us daily with her fiery temperament. Her latest challenge is NOT SLEEPING. She is taking hours to settle down to sleep, most of that spent screaming violently at the top of her lungs, anything from “I want my MAAAAAMAAAAA!” to “I want PIZZZZZZAAAAAAA!” to “Tickle my BAAAAACKKKKK!!!!” And then sometimes she is waking up and doing it all again for hours in the middle of the night. Makes for a tired mama, especially after days on end.
~ for days when I wake up to sweet artwork left beside my bed. Parenting this many children usually feels a lot like whack-a-mole, and there is many a night that I go to bed feeling like a very defeated worst-and-meanest-mama-in-the-whole-wide-world. But by some stretch of miracle, my kids don’t seem to think so! Thank You Father for the NEW MERCIES EVERY MORNING!
It’s that groggy limbo week between Christmas and New Years. Everyone I talk to seems drained and wiped out and nobody is sure what day it is. I find myself with a little bit of the blues…flattened by the steamroller of the packed schedule over the past few weeks. And emotionally flattened as well. Just a lot going on in my heart these days. Anybody else feel flattened? (FLATTENED, not FATTENED. Although that certainly feels applicable as well…)
My weary heart dragged me to the church this morning. Physically and spiritually drained and exhausted, I couldn’t even make my voice form the words of the songs. So I just sank to my knees and let the worship and the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit wash over me.
“Worthy of every song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe
We live for you. We live for you…”
The words and the percussion pounded into my chest, beating the melody into my heart as I sang and prayed and worshipped and wept.
“I will build my life upon Your Love
It is a firm foundation.
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken.”
Lord, I’ve seen You do miracles with my own eyes. I KNOW and I BELIEVE that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU. Help me to trust in You: that You are WORKING, that You are PRESENT, and that You are SOVEREIGN. Remind me that You care about the needs I bring to you. Line up my desires with Yours so that I want what You want for me instead of what I want for me. Help me to remember TRUTH when my circumstances try to trip me up. Help me unclench my fists and my feeble attempts to take control. Renew in me a deep love for Your WORD. Fill me with Your LOVE so I can pour it out.
Give me endurance for the race You have set before me. It is the race You made me for.
Don’t lose heart. He is FOR YOU. Let’s love one another well this week.
Thanks for giving thanks with me.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 42:1-5)
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:37-38)