Raise a Hallelujah

~ for Happy Mail. So fun to open up your very own mail. Especially when it’s full of STICKERS!!! Thank you Miss Linda!

~ for Colton treating me to my very first Freddy’s burger. I’m a fan!

~ for the next step in our ongoing kitchen remodel project. Our tile arrived Wednesday around lunch, Josh got home about 7, and we got right to work! I love knocking projects out with my Love, and we both love putting the sweat equity into our home. Later in the week, our replacement window was installed. Goodbye to the smeary windows that never came clean because of the broken seal between the panes. The new window is bright and giant and so clear it looks like there’s no glass in it! I am absolutely certain that it will never be this clean again, but I will enjoy it while it lasts!

~ for a special day with a really special girl. Kora, Gavin, and Zoe’s biological big sister Grace had her birthday this weekend, and what she wanted most was to see her little siblings. Is that not the sweetest thing? Grace and her family moved several years ago, so visits are few and far between. But what a joy to spend the day with her. We ate lunch, swam, painted rocks together, and baked cookies. It meant the world to all 4 of them. A one day visit is never long enough, so there were lots of tears at “goodbye,” but still, it blesses me to see the genuine love and bond they share. Adoption is so beautiful. But it is inextricably tied up with loss and pain. My babies had a life before me. My motherly instinct is to protect them from the painful parts of their story, and shield them from the hurt. But it’s all part of their story. And by erasing or hiding what I would selfishly and short-sightedly deem the “messy” parts, would also steal from them their own miraculous redemption story and the awesome story of their first big sister that shares their blood. Lord, give me the courage to trust what You are doing and not get in Your way. Pry off my anxiously controlling hands and write their story Your way. BUT GOD!

~ thankfully, our kids didn’t have time to be sad for long, because as soon as Grace drove away with her mom, we had another knock at the door: Uncle Mike and Cousin Kenedy! We enjoyed having them for the weekend!

~ for new goggles. Does anything make kids happier than new goggles?

~ for homemade ice cream. Is there anything better than homemade ice cream???

~ for Cooper’s favorite week of the year: Pine Cove! He loves his time at camp more than anything, and we dropped him off today. Can’t wait to hear about all the fun he has and all that the Lord will do in his heart this week!

~ for a great time celebrating Josh for Father’s Day. We had all his favorites: juicy grilled burgers with sharp cheddar and blue cheese, jalepeno chips, sweet tea, and homemade chocolate ice cream. I love this man so much, and the way he faithfully lives his faith in front of his kids and models to them how to love lavishly. I love how hard he works even when he’s dog tired and always hurting. We don’t call him “Giddyup” for nothing. I love that his favorite part of every project is watching my face when I admire it, because he says his favorite thing to do is make me happy. I will never understand why God has blessed me with a love this big, and I will never stop thanking Him that He did.

Today during worship at church (via the Rucker satellite campus) one of the songs was a favorite of our whole family, “Raise a Hallelujah.” There’s something so soul-stirring about hearing my children’s little voices lifted, singing at the top of their lungs to their Lord, “I’m gonna sing in the middle of the storm. Louder and louder you’re gonna hear my praises roar.”

In that moment, it became my prayer. My prayer over EVERYTHING. Over the divisions about how to handle Covid 19. Over all the injustices and the big and the small polarizing issues people are all raging about. Over all the voices screaming at once about every hot topic. Over my own anxiety. Over my children.

“Sing a little louder, in the presence of my enemies…

Sing a little louder, louder than the unbelief…

Sing a little louder, my weapon is a melody

Sing a little louder, heaven comes to fight for me…”

It sounds silly, but what if we really did that? What if we all raised a hallelujah in the middle of our storms, a hallelujah that became louder than the noise? What if we really believed that praising God is a weapon that will defeat the darkness? What if we really loved others openhandedly, with no agenda, no catch, with the love of Christ? I’m not trying to sound like a Hallmark card, not am I trying to act like I’m doing it right myself. I just believe that it really does make a difference when we make simple but genuine changes in the way we respond to our circumstances. And when it all boils down, the ONLY cause I want to champion is the cause of Christ. Lord, let it be so. Stay my eyes on You, Lord.

Speaking of which, it is Clinic Week for Sawyer. It’s his first time back to the hospital since all the virus outbreaks and sheltering in place, so I won’t pretend it doesn’t cause my heart to pound a little faster. Hospital restrictions will only allow one adult to accompany a patient, so for the first time in as long as I can remember, it will be just Sawyer and I. His appointment is Wednesday, and I will post an update that evening. We are grateful for your prayers that our Warrior Boy remains cancer free.

Will you raise a hallelujah with me this week?

Thanks for giving thanks with me.

“The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about. His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.” (Psalms 97:1-6)

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.” (Revelation 19:6)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)

Encouraging Words

I am thankful 

~ for breathtaking technicolor sunsets.

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~for the freedom of summer.  It’s still daunting to balance structure and flexibility in our days, but we really are having a great time.

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~for a fun week of Vacation Bible School!  The Littles had a blast with their crews and Cooper was on the Recreation Team.  The GSM staff at Grace Community Church always puts on top notch events, and this year did not disappoint.  As Sawyer has not yet completed Kindergarten, he wasn’t able to participate, so he and Tatum K had a little extra “Mama time” each night.  We went on walks in our neighborhood with his patrol car, snacked on Frosty’s, and went to the Sonic playground.  VBS always means a stretched schedule, hyper kiddos, and LAAAATE NIGHTS, but I love that they are all enjoying themselves with their friends and learning more about Jesus along the way. 

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~ for VBS “Family Night.  The kids dined on hotdogs and snocones, and went crazy on waterslides.  I’ve never let Sawyer participate on inflatables in a crowd before. Honestly, it was unspeakably hard for me.  My anxiety attacks hit hard as I surveyed the masses of overstimulated children racing from one attraction to the next.  My heart tightens again now as I write.  No one ever seems to notice when I am freaking out, but Cooper was so kind.  He reached over and squeezed my hand, “it’s gonna be ok Mom.  Sawyer will be ok.”  I’m not going to lie and pretend it was my favorite.  But he had the time of his life.  Big sister Samantha was his running buddy, and they and the others all jumped and climbed and raced and slid nonstop until they were soaked to the skin. 

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IMG_2070~ oh how a hungry heart yearns for encouragement.  A kind VBS volunteer took the time to speak some thoughtful and edifying words about one of my children.  It MAY HAVE BEEN the same child who had a rough week last week.  And it MAY BE a child who doesn’t always inspire edifying words from their leaders.  This gal spoke kindly and genuinely about my child, and her words were truly life-giving, as cool water on parched ground.  It wasn’t a big deal to her…she was merely making an observation, a casual compliment.  But to this weary mama, it was EVERYTHING.  

~ for kind words from a kind stranger.  A woman approached me out of the clamoring herd of sugar-and-waterslide-amped crazies at Family Night, introduced herself, saying, “You don’t know me, but I read your blog.”  She spoke kindly about following along with our family, that she prays for us, thanked me for writing, and encouraged me to “keep it up.”  I won’t forget that moment.  Heather, I hope you’re reading this week.  You blessed me so much!  You didn’t have to speak up, take the time in a crowd, put yourself out there.  But you did.  You’ll never know how many times I wonder WHY on earth I’m writing these journals, wondering who in the world would care to read.  And that day, at that very moment…I really needed that encouragement.  You never know how your words may impact someone. We truly have been given the power of life and death in our tongues.  

~ that I have found it extremely therapeutic to sit on the trampoline with a two-year-old. Hard to stay upset.

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~ for a simultaneously harrowing and HILARIOUS adventure with the Tribe.  We took an evening walk down our street, which has been under construction for several months as an extension is being added and new neighborhoods are being plotted out.  The former cul de sac is barricaded off, and during the weekdays there is lots of tractor activity going on.  But on this particular weekend evening, we decided to venture down the newly graveled road to check out the progress.  It was a perfect evening, moderate temperatures, light breeze, right before sunset.  The kids skipped along, and we all marveled at this new stretch of pavement that we had never seen before.  Suddenly, Gavin squealed, “Ow!  Something bit me!”  I saw a giant horsefly buzzing behind him.  I swatted at it, and it furiously continued to pursue Gavin, who took off at a run.  Another swat, and I killed it.  We have been bitten by these predatory bugs before, and their bites are super painful, and now everyone is terrified of them.  About the same time as I swatted Gavin’s assailant, I saw Josh and Cooper running. “Horseflies!” they yelled.  So we all started running back toward home.  Off and on, each one of us were targeted: relentless angry buzzing around the back of our legs and necks.  All the kids were screaming and twirling, trying to lose the flies.  In between the screams, the rest of us were absolutely hysterically laughing at the absurdity of the situation.   I’ve never seen my kids sprint so fast.  I doubt we will venture down that path on our walks for a while!

~ for a loud and rowdy Cousin Crew for our kids to grow up with – and T shirts to prove it!

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~ for the incredible growth I have witnessed in the young people in our church. This morning I could scarcely believe it…MORE THAN HALF of the worship team were teenagers!  Carson Grace has been serving on the worship team for years, but now several others have stepped up, including Cooper running the soundboard, and one of his best friends had his first Sunday on the drums.  I remember teaching all these kids when they were little, either in children’s church or Sunday school.  And now they are grown, serving the Lord with their gifts.  My heart is so full. 

~ for a really special Father’s Day evening.  We were all really bummed to find out that Josh had to work on Father’s Day, but planned to make the best of it and get together in the evening for burgers.  Colton came over once he got off work, and it’s always such a blessing to have all our kids home.  Dad’s menu: grilled burgers, Doritos, and yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing.  After dinner, the kids one by one presented Dad with all his favorites: Martha White blueberry muffins, new outfit, pistachios, Oh’s cereal, beef jerky, cinnamon Trident, sunflower seeds, chocolate chip cookies, and a Whataburger gift card.  They were each so tickled to bless him, and he was tickled and surprised at how well they know him.  I love watching him be a dad.  He loves us all so well.  After all the Littles had shuffled off to bed, we had some time with the Bigs.  And it got real.  Really real.  They opened up about some things, and we were able to listen and able to speak into their lives.  Josh had a Word from the Lord that He put in his heart earlier in the day that was clearly prepared for THIS MOMENT.  There were tears, and hugs, and it was proven that big kids are never ever too big for Mama’s lap.  These are the moments that put gas in your tank when it’s empty, at least enough to get you over the next hill.   

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If you have an encouragement for someone…share it!  Put some gas in their tank.  

Thanks for giving thanks with me. 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  Proverbs 18:21

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

“They’ve made me feel like a prisoner / They’ve made me feel set free

They’ve made me feel like a criminal / Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart / To places I’d never been

And they’ve dragged me down /Back to where I began

Words can build you up / Words can break you down

Start a fire in your heart or / Put it out

Let my words be life / Let my words be truth

I don’t wanna say a word / Unless it points the world back to You.”

(“Words” by Hawk Nelson)