Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Dear baby boy,

You're about to turn a year old.  One year.  Good lord, how much can happen in a year?!  I'm writing this now because this weekend will be CRAZY, and I don't want it to be late.  More than anything else, love, I want you to know that you are by far the best thing to ever happen to your Daddy and me.  You have made this year hard - there's no question.  Your bouts with teething, your curiosity (read: your desire to get into EVERYTHING), your transitions between being needy and independent, and your ardent refusal to stay in one place for an elongated amount of time have all been trying for Daddy and me, to say the least. 


Your inexpressible joy, amidst ear/sinus infections, stomach troubles, and trying for FOREVER to cut teeth, is contagious.  Infectious, even.  Your presence affects people around you - no one can come into our apartment, see you smile at them and continue to be sad or stressed out.  I'm not just saying that as a biased mom, either - people have told us that you bring joy into their joyless days.  You are your namesake - you are God's gift of joy to everyone around you.  You are also very smart.  I don't know what will happen in the future, and as I fight the worry that longs to sink me, I know God has given you an appetite for the creative...music, reading, detailed learning, etc.  You can find and pick up the smallest, tiniest piece of whatever off the floor (and subsequently attempt to eat it, even when you look at us first and we're looking back at your disapprovingly. Ahem.)  You love to 'play' with books, turning the pages, throwing them, laughing at them - my hope is that this morphs into a love of reading eventually.  If it doesn't, your daddy and I will be very sad, but it will be okay.  Most of all, you adore anything musical - your face lights up when there's music on the TV, whether it's in a commercial, a music video, or a cartoon.  You can already sense changes in the mood of a show by the changes in the music.  We bought you a Baby Einstein music player toy, and you were overjoyed.  You love to bang on things, and have played drums on your toy box, the table, the chairs, the walls, your crib, etc.  You've started dancing, which consists of bending down and coming back up, tapping your foot, and bopping to the beat.  You love to clap and make fun noises, which, unfortunately for our ears, includes a LOT of screaming at very high pitches.  Your mommy hopes this will develop into an awesome singing range at some point...I want to sing with you, to you and for you.

At this stage in life, you are ALMOST walking - you're so close, it's scary.  My heart soars and breaks every time you take a step by yourself, but you are very determined (in everything) to do it at your pace and in your time.  You are teaching your parents so much in that.  So often, we want to rush through things because they need to get done, essentially valuing the urgent over the important, but we're trying to learn otherwise.  Your joy in the smallest things added to your very serious work ethic (i.e. play) is teaching us to slow down and be present.  I'm dumbfounded at the amount you're teaching us, baby.  I pray it continues to be that way - that we can learn from each other for the rest of our life together.

You are definitely an independent first born - I already miss cuddles and sleeping with you, but I'm thoroughly enjoying each new stage.  You definitely have your parents' stubborn streaks.  (Yes, your daddy has one, even if he won't admit it.  To anyone.)  I can already foresee struggles in this area, so we're starting to pray about it now.  We also want to cultivate your sweet heart, and by the grace of God, keep you as innocent as we can in this strange world we live in.  Part of me wants to apologize for bringing you up in such crazy times, but I'm reminded that I'm a control freak, and can do nothing about these crazy times.  All I can do as your mom is to trust that God has you in his hands, he has an awesome plan for you, and I am privileged to be a part of it all.  Your daddy and I have been through some really hard times in this first year of life for you, but if you remember anything, I hope and pray you remember the good times, the humility we're both trying to use with each other, and that no matter what, you are loved and we love each other.

I don't feel like this letter can be long enough, so I'll stop it here.  I'm so thankful to God for giving you to us - you make this life worth it, Isaac.  Happy birthday.


Thursday, March 1, 2012


One of the hindrances of being involved in ministry of any kind is the consistent struggle with wanting what we once had.  This struggle has reared its ugly head in my heart and mind on a daily basis over the last few months.  That's another way to label what and how I've been feeling.  I've spent a good amount of time in the hopeless feelings of the Divide (between spirit and flesh), but the Divide has a friend - his name is Egypt. 

The Israelites, God's chosen people, were delivered from Egypt - the place where they were made to be slaves.  God, through Moses, brought them out, but because of sin, they were placed in the desert for 40 years.  Throughout the whole time we read about the Israelites, they are found complaining, grumbling, and wanting to go back.  To go back to slavery.  To go back to the place God took them out of.  Sounds stupid, right?  Oh how much I am like the Israelites!  Egypt wants to steal away any good thing we may have going on in our lives currently; to force us to peek back at our past in hopes that we might be able to regain who we were, where we were, etc.  This is fruitless, and, I believe, a tool of the enemy.  I mean, he's not called "the enemy" for no reason - he has weapons.  I know "no weapon formed against us will prosper", but sometimes we allow them to, whether out of self-pity, or pride, or simply because we're tired and don't want to fight anymore.  I'm dealing with all three.

My eyes have been fleeting as of late...they've been wandering...I've desired to catch a glimpse of my Egypt.  I think back to the ministry we have been involved in - how good it felt to see people being reached for Christ.  How fulfilling it was to be involved in true discipleship, to see fellow believers grow in their faith and wisdom.  To have other people pouring into us.  And although those were good things, that's not where God kept us.  That's not where He has us now.  And that makes me mad, frustrated and leaves me wanting.  We are in what seems like the hardest season of our lives thus far...like the Sahara of deserts.  We don't have any direction, God is seemingly silent, our marriage is parched, and my heart looks like the plants I've attempted to keep alive (let's put it this way - no plant I have ever owned has made it).  I struggle with blaming others, beating myself up, and bluffing in my faith.  I have days where things look up - I feel a bit of strength in my heart, and although I'm not ready to push myself, I have a sliver of hope.  Then there are days where I have NONE of that.  Egypt is calling my name, you guys.

I do claim some comfort from reading the story of the Israelites - if God's chosen people, who saw miracles, pillars of fire and clouds of smoke can be dumb, I guess my struggles aren't totally asinine.  In listening to and soaking in Sara Groves today, I heard this song, and it sums up my heart right now:

Painting Pictures of Egypt

I don't want to leave here
I don't want to stay
It feels like pinching to me
Either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I've been
They are calling out to me
Like a long lost friend

It's not about losing faith
It's not about trust
It's all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn't perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn't milk or honey
But then neither is this

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
I've been leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy
To discard
I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the Promise
And the things I know

I've been painting pictures of Egypt,
I've been leaving out what it lacks
The future feels so hard,
And I wanna go back!
But the places that used to fit me,
Cannot hold the things I've learned
Those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned!

If it comes to quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all
this time and sand?
And if it comes to quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all
this time and sand?   

Whether in my silence or my abundance of meaningless words, O God, please stop me long enough to hear your still, small voice.  You're the only hope we have.