For Mother's Day S. and the kids hopped on the riding lawnmower and trekked through the neighborhood to find a rototiller. About 10 conversations, 3 petted dogs, and countless stops later they found one. They all proudly participated in getting my garden ready for seeds. (Complete with scarecrow. Darla and Hudson were determined to make a scarecrow the topper.)That was a few weeks ago and weeds have already started to pop up. Everything in me wants to be frustrated that I haven't put those seeds in yet. It's a reminder that I have been forced this year to let go of all sorts of expectations (insert deep, calming breath here).
This past fall when I began the study of the book of John, I in no way anticipated what a tumultuous year it would be. Amidst the chaos I pushed to go weekly to Bible Study Fellowship and been thankful that it has been a constant when every week has felt up in the air. (an aside: if you have an opportunity to study Scripture through the BSF organization- do it! It has taught me much about what I thought I knew and challenges my kids every week, too. They have the classes everywhere.)
The last week of the study is reflection; what I learned this year and how my life was transformed. I sat down to 'reflect' and found myself laughing somewhat cynically. "Lord, this has been a year lacking clarity. What I'm learning is just as cloudy as the rest of my life. What have you taught me?"
Immediately I imagined what the disciples must have felt toward the end of Jesus' earthly ministry. They probably thought they had a lot figured out; "Jesus is the Son of God, He is teaching about love, bringing to light the Old Testament Scriptures, fulfilling prophecy, healing people. Certainly the next step is to demonstrate His power politically. Certainly we're about to become some sort of royalty by association. Bring out the big guns!"
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations." Isaiah 61:1-4
When S. first found this passage he thought, "This is what I want to do! This is God's passage to me!" Then later the Lord showed Him that this is what JESUS does. Because S. has Jesus in him, Jesus can accomplish these things through him but it is not S. himself accomplishing it.
I would venture to say that in this past year Jesus has done these thingsFOR S. S. has been the poor, he has been the brokenhearted. He spent the first half of 31 "bound". His salvation was never in question, but the war going on in his soul was not making him feel free or healed. Thankfully, Jesus continues the good work He begins in us. This year Christ has given liberty to my husband, He has comforted S. in his mourning, given him beauty within ashes, and has sent roots deep. Jesus is rebuilding old ruins.
I'm confident that God will still use Jesus in S. to accomplish these things in the lives of others. This year I'm simply thankful that Jesus is doing it in the life of the one I love. I'm thankful for a husband receptive to the Lord. S. has modeled humility, determination, and a willingness to receive whatever the Lord purposes.
"I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its bud, as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." Isaiah 61:10-11
Happy birthday, Love- I'm looking forward to 32 with you!
The morning of Everett's second birthday was pandemonium as a gigantic garage sale was going on in our front yard. I got him dressed but apparently I didn't do a good enough job. He rummaged through his things until he found his favorite yellow hat and some beat up boots he calls "dire boots" (fire boots). I tried to switch for a more subtle baseball hat and weather appropriate sandals. I should know better. Everett is determined with strong opinions about everything from food (he has yet to eat an egg and I serve them nearly every morning), to apparel (see above pictures), to which toys he is entitled to (the neighbors can hear the screams if another child innocently picks up his lawnmower).
I desperately wish I was allowed to post the picture of my new nephews, but until my sister and brother-in-law have legally adopted them we can't post their pictures online. Let me assure you that they are handsome little Ethiopian boys.
Gage Moses Tafesse Ellis is 4 and named after a dear friend Logan Gage who is a thinker, a pursuer of Truth, a man of integrity. He is named Moses after the Israelite man adopted by Egyptians- to later return and free his people. It was the study of the life of Moses that brought Jasmine to a place to consider adopting. He will keep his Ethiopian name, Tafesse because it is who he is and where he comes from.Jude Harrison Abush Ellis is 2 and even smaller than our little Everett. The name Jude is biblical and Harrison is the name of my brother- not only does he share with Jude in being adopted into our family but also has overcome a past to passionately pursue Christ. Abush is Jude's Ethiopian name.
We are hoping and praying that Gage and Jude will get to come home within the next 3 months. (It better be soon because their bed is all made up and their new siblings are ecstatic! (Pearl-5, Eve-4, and James 2)
Popcorn and movie night. Yes, Everett picked to wear this hat for the event. And yes, he chose to wear it all the way through the grocery store yesterday.
"Really we'll sleep like this, Mom. We won't talk or bother each other at all. Please?"
Tuck-ins are a treasured time in our house. I now know why my mom still tucked us in until we moved out. It's the best time to review the day, get the giggles, pray, and unwind together.
Last night Darla was struggling; she has had some skin problems causing her pain and then she bloodied her tooth after knocking heads with Everett. I asked Hudson if he would pray for his sister.
"Dear Jesus, help Darla. Help her have a good day. Help her have a good day when it's Everett's birthday soon. Help her get her tooth out so it doesn't hurt. Jesus, you forgive Darla. Take punishment out of her heart. Amen."
Not to be outdone, Darla prayed for Hudson, "Jesus, help Hudson to sleep good. Help him to not have any bad dreams, any silly dreams, or any scary dreams that just big kids think are funny. Help Hudson to not pee in the bed. Thank you for Hudson. Amen."
They gave huge hugs to each other that lasted for a few minutes. Hudson was laying down so Darla put her head on his chest. He played with her hair and they giggled. It was a sacred moment that I was blessed to observe.
I was never a fan of the "Footprints in the Sand" poem. It's one of those framed things in everyone's bathroom. I thought its purpose was to give you something to read while you are sitting on the toilet. Even the phrase sounded cliche to me.
A few weeks ago as I was feeling discouraged and starting to wonder if my prayers were coming back void, I made a request. I (humbly) asked the Lord to give me some "footprints in the sand" moments.
I know He is faithful. I know His plans for me don't hinge on other people. I know He doesn't hang me out to dry. Unfortunately in these past months, my feelings often won't line up with what I know to be True. I was exhausted from preaching to my unpredictable emotions. "Lord, I believe you are who you say you are. I believe your promises for me. I know you will use my current situations to bring yourself glory. Please be gracious with me as I struggle to line up the way I feel with your truth. Please give me some footprints in the sand moments. I want to look and say "A-HA! You ARE carrying me!"
Yes, my faithless eyes beg for the tangible. (Dear Israelites; I have deep empathy and am not self righteous enough to think I would have made less whiny decisions in the desert for 40 years.)
Just throwing myself out there a bit...