The Warrior is a Child

I’m not one for pretense.  I feel no need to present a strong, faith-filled, invincible version of me to anybody.  I see so many in that are in ministry, always posting deep, spiritually strong statements on facebook and twitter, that it would seem that they have never had a weak day in their lives.  I don’t know, but I am more apt to trust someone if they walk with a limp, and don’t mind letting people see it.  Aren’t most people looking for realness? So they don’t feel alone in this life of ups and downs?  I think so.  And frankly, I find that living in a place of realness, is liberating. And it brings more glory to God.  And that’s the whole point anyway.

The Lord has been so kind to me, and has been broadening my understanding of the sin nature.  He does not rank and file sins, nor does He keep a tally of sins committed.  His eyes cut right through the outer expression of our lives, and see into the innately sinful nature that lies inside every one of us ( Jeremiah 17:9).  And that nature is the same for every man.  Lost without a compass…it rejects God 10 out of 10 times.  Hence our need for our Savior, Jesus.  How often, though, do we rank and file sins, and see one with many outward sins as more sinful than the one with the “cleaner” lifestyle?  At times we applaud those who are self righteous, who think they are good people without the help of God, while throwing a thief and murderer under the bus…all the while God sees the same fallen nature within each of them, as they stand side by side on the playing field of life.  You see, I was the self righteous one, thinking somehow that I was just wired to make better decisions than “those people” with the obvious sins.  Living there was difficult, for if someone wronged me, forgiveness flowed slowly, because “I wouldn’t do that to someone I love”. Now, though, I am beginning to really understand my helplessness without Him, and there is more grace to forgive, knowing that we are all the same in this fight, prone to sin.

Some would say, don’t put yourself down!  Your a saint, not a sinner!  Yes, I am a saint.  But if I don’t understand who I am without Christ and His work in my heart, I can’t truly understand the gift the Gospel is.  Understanding sin causes the Cross to be more glorious.  And if I’m being honest, true worship only began to flow out of me when I began to understand how wretched I was, and that the sin of self righteousness was just as disgusting to God as adultery, murder, or idolatry.  To see that He reached down, chose me, helped me believe,  rescued me from the nature within, and gave me a new nature(2 Peter 1:4) through faith in the work of the Cross, causes me to sing.  For real.  Not just cuz that’s what Christians are supposed to do.

So here I am today, feeling weak, overwhelmed, and scared.  My soul is struggling, my emotions raw.  I remember that song written by Twila Paris many moons ago, The Warrior is a Child.  Because of the public element that our ministry life has had, some may think me a warrior.  Truth is, I’m a child, needing my Father to hold me, comfort me, and tell me its going to be ok.  And I’m glad I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not.  For me to pretend, is to suggest that I’m somehow more able to handle life than the next guy.  And that would bring glory to me.  God is my only hope,  my salvation, the One who sustains me, even on days like this.  And this blog is not a cry for encouragement, and plea for sympathy or attention…it is this:

“And He has said to me, ” My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10

My First Half Marathon


Well, Derek is on the road again, so hence the blog.  It is 84 degrees in the upstairs of my house presently, so this might be a short one.

I haven’t thought this through whatsoever, but I decided I better start typing.

On New Year’s Day this year, I was chewing on the fact that this is the year that I will be turning 40.  9/11 is the day, which inherently exudes gloom now anyway.  So, I decided, on that January 1st, that I was going to greet 40 with a punch in the face, and begin training for a half marathon.  I found a 12 week training program online, and the Flower City Half on April 29th here in Rochester, and registered within the week.  And for those of you who know my Dad, and what it means to be a Reynolds, that was 50 bucks that was not going to go to waste.

I knew this would mean that I was going to have to run faithfully throughout the winter months…we don’t own a treadmill, and the Reynolds in me once again prevented me from paying for a gym membership when the road is free.  So rain, snow, sleet, or shine, I ran.  It was a rather mild winter, thankfully, and rarely got below 0 degrees.  For this, I was grateful.  On one of the coldest days, I called my neighbor, Amber Basesner, and asked if I could come over and use her treadmill.  As we chatted it came to light that this was her 40th year as well, and she too had a boat load of children.  So, I said, hey, we’re the same person…if I can do this ( which remained to be seen, but was of good use in the argument), so can you!  She hemmed and hawed a bit,  but I told her that I would email her my training schedule and she could decide then if it looked doable.  I was delighted to get a facebook message that simply said, ” I’m in” a few days later.

I would feel deceptive if I didn’t tell you that  a month has past since  I started writing this…that crazy thunder and lightning storm knocked the power out, so I quit that night.  Derek’s gone again, so I’m back.

Soooo, I ran and I ran and I ran.  ( Occasionally meeting Amber on the road and high- fiving.) It was the first time that I had run on consecutive days, and I was encouraged that these old bones could do it.   It was a bit of blind faith, really,  to trust in a random training program to work it’s magic and cause me, in the end, to be able to run 13.1 miles without perishing in the way.  But as the long runs got longer, I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel.  I was set back a bit midway through, with pulling my right hip flexer, but decided to just keep on keepin’ on.  To this day, it hasn’t healed completely, though it seems to be improving some,  with my scaled back post race running.

One very memorable moment during my training was the day Amber, her husband Bill, and I ran a 10k together in February.  It was the last race in the Freezeroo Series (which should have been our first clue) and it was in Scottsville.  We figured, hey, we are supposed to run that far on the schedule anyway, why not do the race?  Well, the day came, and it was snowing some here on Dutch Hollow Rd.  We thought, hey, this shouldn’t be too bad.  By the time we got to the race site, it was a total white out.  We ran that 6.2 miles in crazy blowing snow, and I didn’t have those Yak Track things for my shoes, so I was slippin and sliding the whole way.  It was RIDICULOUS.  And to add insult to injury, the course was not a loop, but a “run half way and turn around” type thing.  SO, me being the slowpoke that I am,  was challenged to keep my chin up as I started meeting runner after runner.  And some of them looked, hmmmm, how shall I say this, like I should not be that far behind them!  I couldn’t believe I was doing that poorly time-wise.   I kept going though, and finished dead last, behind a 63 year old fast walker dude.  Amber finished 10 minutes before me, of course.  Only when I had returned to the lodge and saw the posted results, did I realize that there had been an early start time for slower runners…(I still only beat a handful of people!)

So April 29th came, and Derek and I, joined by Bryan and Shelby Jones, headed up to Rochester bright and early in the morning.  It was a chilly 35 degrees, but sunny, so we bundled up a bit.   We parked in a parking garage, had to walk a 1/4 of a mile or more, but found the start line, and more importantly, the bathrooms.   There were pacers from 1 and a half hours to 3 hours mixed in among the crowd, so Derek, Bryan, and I found our places among the masses.  Bryan slipped in near the 1 and a half hour pacer (crazy man), Derek the 2 hour, and me, the 2 and 1/2 hour.  And thus it began.

I settled in to my easy 11 and 1/2 min mile pace and was ready for the long haul.  Bryan, on the other hand, did his first mile in 6+ minutes…and then proceeded to hurl in the grass at mile 5. LOL

One of the hardest things for this Reynolds girl was this:  due to the chilly weather, many runners started out wearing gloves and headbands, but shed them along the way.  It was all I could do not to stop and pick up all this awesome gear!  If only I had brought a Walmart bag and attached it to my water belt…

The Flower City was a great race…with many distractions along the way.  Percussion ensembles, big bands, and oh so many family members and friends holding up signs of encouragement.  Me being me, I also made many friends along the way.  Conversation, though accompanied by belabored breathing at times, does help the miles go by.  And then there was the guy right in front of me that just stopped and took a leak…

My three calculated 2-3 minute walk breaks did wonders for my stamina.  Made me almost think I could run a full marathon…almost.  Running through Mt. Hope cemetery was beautiful, though having that many hills on miles 7-9 was a bit rough. Many times,  I would focus on the lyrics coming from my Ipod, and ask the Lord for strength to finish.

On the home stretch, somewhere in mile 11, I got a text from Derek that he had finished, and that Bryan had yacked.  That made me smile gave me a good chuckle.  Another chuckle came from the guys from some yacht club,  offering the runners passing by, cups of beer instead of water or gatorade.

Just a half mile from the end, it started to hit me…the four months of training were coming to an end.   This goal of a half marathon, that I had had in my mind for years, was about to be reached.  Just then,  I ran past this guy, sitting in the bed of his pickup.  He looked me straight in the eyes, with a huge smile, and said, “  Great job, ma’am.  What a great pace you have there!”, and it was all I could do to not to cry like a baby!  Being the competitive person that I am, it has been tough at times, being one of the slowest people at races. (See previous blog, The Empty Finish Line).  I’m not good at running, bottom line.  I just finish.  So to hear him encourage me about my pace was just the right words for this tired soul.

As I neared the finish line, the street was lined with cheering people, and I caught eyes with my favorite person, snapping shots of me with our video camera.  He had run all the way back to our car and back to get it, having just run 13.1 miles himself.  Knowing I was being filmed, I did my best to appear like I wasn’t in pain,  though everything below my waist was hating me, especially the arch in my right foot.  I crossed the line, pumping my fists, and they put the medal around my neck.   2:39:11.  I did it!

As I think about all this, I always end up in the same place:  thanking God for the work of grace He has done in me.  Understanding that I am His cherished daughter,  and that nothing that I have done or haven’t done has produced my right standing before Him, but only trusting in the work of the Cross, has transformed me.  I used to be completely unmotivated, and could NEVER stick to an exercise plan that wasn’t fun.  But my new confidence, that comes from living in the gaze of my loving Father in heaven,  spurred me on when it was hard.  The Gospel really does change people.  I am living proof.  So this blog is not to show off, or lift myself up…it is my way of glorifying my Biggest Fan.  He is my strength, and my song. (in the Psalms somewhere)  All the glory goes to God.

So put on those running shoes, people!   And run,  to the glory of the One who made you!

The Empty Finish Line

me-and-hill-10-milerSo, most of you know that I run.  It has been a wonderful addition to my life for the last 5 years, and will continue to be a part of my life, as long as this body doesn’t completely fall apart.  Two years ago, I decided to train for my first half marathon.  Training was going well…was up to 9 miles, and I became pregnant with baby #6.  His due date was the very weekend of the race, so I deducted that that half was not to be.  ( That lady who ran the Chicago marathon at 38 weeks would call me a wuss.)  So I ran throughout that pregnancy, which was a first, including 3 5ks, the last one being at 29 weeks.

If you have never run in an actual race before, you are missing out.  The atmosphere is so full of energy…everyone is in a good mood…you all have a common love of running, so even though you haven’t met before, you feel like family.  When you run the race, the street is lined with encouragers, smiling, clapping, shouting “You got this!” or ” Way to go!”  And the finish line brings such a feeling of accomplishment, as the applause fills your ears and you catch eyes with strangers who are truly proud of you.  And don’t forget the free food at the end, and the awards.  I am hooked on the race scene.

Since having Jack a year ago, it’s been a challenging road to recovery with running.  Lots of aches and pelvis yelling at me on every run.  After each run, I would know how much of a victory it was to have completed it,  and often would wish others could understand how hard it was for me.  Nevertheless,  I’ve kept going, hoping it would improve with time. On October 15th, I endeavored to run the longest race of my career thus far, the 10 mile Run For Hospice road race in Greece, NY.  The marathon relay back in September had inspired me to push my limits a bit, so I registered for this 10 miler.  When race day came, it was cold and rainy, and I left while it was still dark,  with my friend Hillary Brower, to attempt my biggest feat yet.  Derek couldn’t come because he was home with the little kids, as big girls Grace and Joye each were gone to their own sports events.  So I was on my own.

As Hillary and I stood at the start line stretching, I scanned the other racers running this 10 miles, and had a scary realization…they all looked like hard core runners. ” Oh no”, I thought, “I might actually come in last.”   When running 5k’s (3.1 miles) the crowd is filled with all kinds…some winners, and some beginners, but this 10 mile crowd was lacking the usual ” I can probably beat that lady” type people.  I am not a fast runner, never actually contending for any awards.  I’m a finisher.  But I am competitive, and getting last would not be good. I started wondering how this one was going to go for me…

Bang!  The gun went off, and off I went. And that was the last I saw of Hillary, who is one of those hard core types.  Soon we were met by the huge 5k crowd, who would start 10 minutes after us, lining the streets, shouting the usual encouragements.  And it filled my tank…only 9 1/2 miles to go.  I can do this!

The first 5 miles were fine…I ran almost all of it with a kind, 68 yr old man named Bob.  I was able to keep my normal 11 minute mile pace with no problem and easy breathing.  It was windy and rainy, and by mile 7, I had lost Bob, and started to hit a wall.  People passed me as I struggled to keep going, one foot in front of the other.  By mile 8, it was mind over matter.  There was no one running near me..just me and my Lord. And then God sent Dave.  He was a 57 yr old man, who had been behind me the whole time.  He came up along side of me and we looked at each other, seeing a common struggle…and I said, ” Hey, how about we finish this race together?”  He said, ” Sounds good to me!”  So we leaned in, and just kept going. Mile 9…had been running for almost 2 hours…almost there, and we rounded the the final corner for the last quarter mile.

I was longing for that finish line, for that feeling of accomplishment and sense of common pride amidst my running family.  And then I saw it.  The last stretch and the finish line were empty.  Not a soul was there.  No clapping.  No shouting.  No proud eyes.  Only the one guy who had to beep my race number to log my time.  And he looked annoyed.

Dave let me finish in front of him, a true gentleman, thus letting me finish third to last (one lady had hurt her knee while running).  And when I realized that it was just he and I, standing in the mud underneath the finish banner with the clock reading 2:01:52, I turned, and hugged him, thanking him for staying with me til the end.  I had just accomplished the hardest feat of my racing career, and no one saw it.  I wanted to burst into tears.  I sort of held it together, and began limping the quarter mile back to the food and awards tent (where after-10-mileseveryone else was).  I had taken so long to finish my 10 miles, that the awards for the 5k were already going on, and to top it all off, most of the hot food was gone.

As I have thought about this whole experience, I have realized that I was focused on the wrong audience that day.  My Father in heaven was there at that finish…SO proud of his daughter.  He knew how hard I had trained, and how difficult the race had been for me, and He was beaming with pride and full of encouragement.  How often, especially as moms at home with little ones, do we do incredibly difficult things, with no applause or acknowledgment.  We live unseen lives, and need to remember that our God sees, and is a rewarder of those of us who seek Him with our lives.  And He doesn’t leave us alone…He sends Dave, aka the Holy Spirit, to walk (run) with us as we persevere.

Our finish lines are never empty.  We live not for the praises of man, but for the glory of God above, who is our Biggest Fan.  Let’s run our races with our heads held high.  And remember to listen for the One who says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Blog For the Goodie Two Shoes

morris-weddingI am one of God’s kids.  And God sees fit, just like the state of NY, that I stay in school.   There is a graduation from this school…a day when all of this learning will end.  But I will be far from Avon on that day, and will be wearing the whitest robe on the block.  So here I am again,  learning.  Listening to my Teacher, taking notes, and doing my best to apply the new material to my life.  This latest lesson dug pretty deep.

So, I guess you could say that I was a Goodie Two Shoes growing up.  I had a great family…Mom and Dad loved each other, never fought,  my siblings and I never even bickered much.  I never swore,  drank, always did my homework, went to church, was never even tempted by the party scene when a teenager, though most of my church friends dabbled in it.  I wanted to please my parents.  Never dated (until Derek) and was a virgin when I got married.  Never got in any fights in school…was always the one stopping them.  I think you get the picture.  When it came to all the “outward behavioral sins”, I just didn’t do them.  And you know how you can only know your own experience…only fully understand what you went through and how you think…I didn’t understand others who were drawn to those kinds of sins.  All I knew was,  I wasn’t.  I was proud of the fact that I was a good choice maker…that I walked the straight and narrow, and did what pleased the Lord.  And I thought the Lord was proud of me too.

This mindset began to give me problems, however.  When others would fall into sin, or worse yet, if they did something that hurt me, I would struggle with thinking I was better than they were (even though I knew I shouldn’t), because “I wouldn’t do that”.  And honestly, I WOULDN’T!  So it left me confused at times, knowing that the Scriptures say that ” all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that “our hearts are desperately wicked”…we are all supposed to be on the same playing field, desperately needing God.  But I would always come back to the thought, ” But I wouldn’t do that.”  ” I love that person,” I would think, “so therefore I would never hurt them like they hurt me…why did they do that to me then?  Do they not love me like I love them?”  It made forgiveness an elusive concept.  I would say I forgive them, and wait for the hurt to go away, but it wouldn’t.  I just couldn’t seem to get over the hurt.  No matter how many times I prayed and asked the Lord to help me forgive, I kept hurting.

Until God brought me into His classroom.

One day, I was crying my eyes out, extremely frustrated about some of this pain that wouldn’t leave after being wronged.  And like a light bulb, He gently revealed to me this stronghold in my mind, and began to peel back layer after layer…I had thought, that if I did everything right, that life should just work, and that I wouldn’t be treated poorly or be severely wronged.  He began to show me that that way of thinking did not glorify Him and His work in my heart, but glorified me and my amazing choices.  Like I was responsible for all the good in my life.  Then the Scripture rang in my head..” Every good gift, and every perfect gift comes from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17)  All the good in my life was from Him.  For whatever reason, HE kept me from a life of sin.  HE blessed me with the ability to obey.  HE was responsible for every good thing I could think of, and therefore, He gets the glory.  I had unknowingly been committing the sin of the Pharisees…self-righteousness.  And it was all because I hadn’t fully understood my depravity without Christ.  The story of Simon and the prostitute in Luke 7 always bothered me… “He who has been forgiven much loves much, but he who has been forgiven little, loves little, ” said Jesus to the good guy.  Now I see that that  Scripture means that those who are saved out of a life of sin find it easy to love Him and are so thankful for His mercy toward them.  But the Goodie Two Shoes may have a harder time loving the Lord, because they think THEY have something to do with their goodness.  Now that I see that I have had NOTHING to do with my goodness, but it all has come down from HIM, forgiveness flows.  I am finally free from that pain.  I am not afraid of someone hurting me anymore.  Do your worst, world!  My God has redeemed my sick heart.  I will no longer be like the dude in that parable in Matthew 28 that had been forgiven a huge debt  and was choking the other dude for a buck .

I am so thankful for my Teacher, and for this lesson, though painful and humiliating.  There is much freedom for me, and true worship for Him, when I embrace the fact that goodness is a fruit of His Spirit ( Galatians 5:22,23), not mine.

(School bell rings)

Time for my next class.

Who Am I?

mamaIs it just me, or is it quite challenging in this day and age, as a Christian woman, to land in a place of health when it comes to self image and roles?  I’m not sure how to organize this blog, as I usually have so many thoughts swirling around at once.  Let’s see what happens if I just start writing.

Self Image:

Our society is so screwed up.  The female images we see all around us are seldom real…if the picture hasn’t been airbrushed or altered by a computer, the woman has usually nipped and tucked and added a cup size or three.  These images are EVERYWHERE.  If I get groceries, I am greeted by Jennifer Aniston, Angelina, and the new faces I haven’t learned yet.  If I want to watch Transformers, I am asked to share my evening with Megan Fox wearing daisy dukes.  The mall?  Victoria’s Secret.  Internet?  Pop up porn stars on the right hand column.  Video games?  If a woman was actually built like that, she would break in half at the waist from the sheer weight of her chest.  You get my point.  I know often people talk about how hard it is for men to live with all this, but I think it is hard on us women as well.  I made a joke the other day about being tired of looking like Greek art…you know, the round, white statues of women with baby bellies and sagging breasts.  But honestly, I think the Greeks were onto something.  They understood that life’s natural seasons bring changes to our female bodies, and that our version of beauty should change along with it.  As much as I know having my six babies has been God’s plan for me, when constantly bombarded with “the standard” (that’s what I call the “perfect” female body type), there are days that I struggle.  I truly believe that there is beauty in committing to motherhood, nursing little ones, and not always having time to wax my eyebrows and straighten my hair…inner strength and servant-heartedness are gorgeous.   But my frail humanness shows from time to time when I hear of another guy leaving his wife for a younger, less worn out model…one who’s breasts have never nursed a child nor who’s belly has ever stretched to house one.  The liar whispers..”You never hear of a man falling for a pudgy mother of six, do you?  You aren’t what is beautiful…”  This is when I need to close my eyes, and ask my heavenly Father to remind me of what matters, and how He views me.  I love the line in the Delirious song Our God Reigns that says, “God didn’t screw up when He made you…He’s a Father Who loves to parade you.”

Now,   I have seen this go the other way, and have seen women take no care of their bodies, and give no thought to how they look, and expect their husbands to be ok with that.  I don’t think this attitude pleases the Lord either.  I started running a few years years ago because I wanted to do my best, to be, and look my best in this season of my life.  I’m not in denial of my age (38), but I am not going to use it as an excuse to be unhealthy or unnecessarily unattractive.  I love my husband, and it honors and blesses him when I do my best.


This is a hot topic.  I blogged years ago about jumpers and suits, and that God ultimately looks on our hearts.  There are so many ideas within Christendom, as to who women are supposed to be.  Many have viewed me, with my six kids, homeschooling, and strong husband, as a weak-willed, subservient, bare footed and pregnant woman who doesn’t think for myself or have any desire to do anything outside the home.  The truth is, I am doing what my Father has asked me to do, and it might not be glamorous, but it is obedience.  He has called me to focus on my family, and to do my best to raise up godly children who will kick some butt in this world.  As my children grow, and I see my Gracie turning into a beautiful, confident, young woman who loves her Lord and can’t wait to challenge the godless attitudes  of the age,  God reminds me that the fruit of the womb is a REWARD.  Seeds turn into fruit.  Hard work ( and often unseen work) pays off.  I’m glad I haven’t felt the need to validate myself and my spirituality by chasing this ministry or that position, and in turn haven’t neglected what God asked me to major on.  I will let people think what they want.  My husband is a servant leader in this home, who cares for me and listens to what I have to say.   And I love serving him and my children, because my obedience in the end will glorify my Lord much more than if I toured with Point of Grace or ran my own ministry.  Oops, I said it.

Understanding the grace of God, and living in view of the God side of the gospel, has brought a level of spiritual confidence into my life that alluded me for years.  As you can see, it’s not that I don’t struggle at times.  But I know who I am.  I will not be moved.  My Father calls me beautiful, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  I will remain in a place of listening to His voice, and obeying it…seeking Him.  I choose to believe this Truth, and to do my best by His strength to live in this society as a woman with her head held high ( even though other things  might sag. )

The Process

Romans 5:3-5

“…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

I’ve been chewing on some different facets of God over the last few months…having been schooled in the ‘Father’ aspect for a good while, I realized that I couldn’t camp there.  There’s the fearsome side of Him that Ananias and Sapphira learned of a day late, that I needed to take a look at.  I was reading Romans 9, and it hit me…we Americans are a very fair people.  And I had equated what I deemed as fair, with the right thing.  Not so in God’s realm, if you read Romans 9.  The theological debate over the evil in this world…it has raged for years and years.  I have struggled with many “Why God?” situations throughout my life.  But I found a new peace when I read vs 20…” Who are you, oh man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?”  It was a side of God that makes many uncomfortable…the side that hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and favored Jacob over Esau.  But if that side of God exists, it does answer a lot of questions.  And frankly, I found it comforting to just be the lump of clay and let the Potter be the Potter.

The process, written of in the Scripture at the top of this page…so often I have jumped ship before it was  complete.  I have blogged in the past about my hoper being broken…I just hadn’t reached the end of the process.  And what I am realizing is, I had omitted the uglier parts of God, and therefore found myself angry with Him when it didn’t seem fair, when He was favoring Jacob or hardening Pharaoh.  Recently, two families with 8 children in my area have lost their fathers…one to cancer and the other to a traffic accident. That is just plain hard to swallow.  I heard yesterday that a local woman lost her dad on Friday and her brother on Monday.  How could God do this?!?, right? My heart breaks for those left behind.  But let’s be careful to not be so focused on His favor for us (which I needed to learn), that we leave out the God Who might “demonstrate His wrath to make His power known (Rom. 9:22).  Without that side of God being part of our picture, we are left hopeless in trial.  We doubt His love for us, or His Goodness. But this amazing God, Whom I should fear, loves me.  And that is why hoping in Him…the total Him… does not disappoint.  Because nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:35).  I am beginning to have that overarching understanding.  He loves me, no matter what He chooses.  No matter where I might fit in His tapestry of life, He has a plan to make His glory known in this world.

Well, there you have it.  Deep thoughts from a mom who lives mostly on the plain of trying to decide which detergent to buy.  May the Lord continue to teach us who He is, whether we like it or not.

Post-baby Blog

8-week-delightWell,  to say the least, it’s been a while since I’ve darkened the door of this hallowed hall.  I suppose the fact that it has taken me four months to blog is an unwritten blog in itself.  There’s the busyness, but there’s also the fact that I just haven’t made a habit of it yet.  My husband is so good to post one every Wednesday…maybe some day the habit will sneak up on me.  Yeah right.

So I have this sweet little boy named Jackson Whitefield that I spend most of my time with these days.  He was born on Sept. 10th, at 2:04 am, after 10 hours of normal Heidi-ish labor, the day before my 38th birthday.  He has medium brown hair ( to say he has hair is a stretch ), and dark blue eyes that will most likely turn brown, just like all my other kids.  Man, I was really pulling for one Frank Sinatra in this bunch, but it’s looking like I’m 0 for 6.  Oh well.  No biggie…he is perfect as perfect can be, and that is yet another reason to praise my God.  6 healthy kids.  I am one rich woman.

They say the first three months are the toughest when you have a baby…survival mode, hang on for dear life.  I’m almost outta the woods, as he will be 3 months on Dec. 10th, and I’m currently still alive.  I think the hardest thing for me is the messy house, and the constant wrestling within me about when and when not to ask for help.  The kids have such full schedules with homeschooling, gymnastics, chores, instrument practice, play times with siblings, etc, that I don’t want to bother them during their (what should be) focused time.  And then if they actually worked hard and got it all done, do I want to hand them a baby the second they put down the pencil?  Yeah, see?  Not the easiest answer. So anyway, Jack and I, we hang out a lot, and frankly, I can almost feel his security growing…his confidence that Mama will always hear his cry.  Maybe I’m delusional, but some have commented on how confident our older girls are, and something inside of me wonders if it all started when they couldn’t understand.  I’ve never been one to hurry up and make them sleep through the night, so I more often than not, go nurse them when they cry.  When I do let my babies cry out of necessity (dinner does have to be made), I’m more comfortable doing it with them near to me, so they can still see that I am there.   I’ve been called a softy, and other things, but I don’t care.  I’m just doing the best I can to raise my kids to be secure people.  And who knows, maybe I’m onto something.  If not,  and they are playing me like fiddles, then oh well.  I got to spend lots of time with my babies.

I jogged throughout most of my pregnancy, and started up again as soon as I could after Jack was born.  I had grand delusions that it would be easier physically to get back into it due to the pregnancy running, but alas, it’s been a hard road.  I continue to press on a couple miles at a time, even though my pelvis complains.  The baby weight hasn’t really budged either, which is a first for me.  It usually whittles away little by little due to nursing, but not this time.  But that’s ok.  I am determined to jog it off eventually, even if it takes longer in my old age.  Wish me luck this Saturday…I foolishly signed up for the Jingle Bell 5k Run for the Arthritis Foundation in Brighton.  Races do get me out there when the weather or my laziness would keep me inside.  It should be fun, in a twisted sort of way.  My goal?  Keep going until it’s over.  I’m not sure if I will even look at the time sheet for my time.

My hubby just appeared from his office…time to eat ice cream and connect for a bit.  (Ahh you say, now I see why the baby weight isn’t going anywhere…)  Chao, amigos.

Oh How Children Make You Laugh

easter-2010Hmmm.  Don’t really know what to write about…it’s just a good time to blog, so here I am, blogging.

How ’bout a few fun quotes and moments from the kids.  We’ll start with that.

Reese (4) and I were having a discussion about what it will be like for him to be a big brother to a little brother.  His eyes lit up and he said,”  I’ll have to teach him how not to miss when he goes pee!”  Funny, I thought.  Reese doesn’t have that down yet.

Audrey( not quite 2) is sleeping in a big girl bed now, and we are still adjusting to it’s newly-found freedoms.  Last night, I put her to bed around 8:30, and went to my usual spot down the hall in the living room…the computer.  At 9:14, I heard footsteps and some banging.  So I peeked around the corner, only to see that she had retrieved the bench from the bathroom, brought it over to the light switch in the hall, got up and turned off the hall light, got down, returned the bench and got back in bed.  Apparently, that hall light was not to her liking.

Reese and Audrey are obsessed with catching moths right now.  Many get in the house due to our A/C units, and they wouldn’t want it any other way.  All too often, though, I hear squeals of delight, followed by Reese crying.  Interpretation:  They found one, Audrey “caught” it, and proceeded to mash it between her fingers, and Reese mourns.

Cool testimony:  I recently had a discussion with our family doctor about Esther’s struggles with some elements of speech.  She is 7 now, and was still unable to say the ” r ” sound.  He told me that I really needed to contact my school district and look into some kind of speech therapy for her.  I had gotten as far as getting the info packet from them last year, but never followed through, hoping that it would work itself out.  Anyway, after this conversation with Dr. Picca, I prayed and asked the Lord to do a quick miracle for my Esther, so she wouldn’t have to go to therapy and risk getting labeled this or that.  Just days later, Esther was telling me all about a cartoon she had watched in which there was a boy named Thor.  She kept talking, but my ears stopped hearing what she was saying because I realized she had just said Thor…properly!  I stopped her mid-story and exclaimed, ” You just said the ” r ” sound right!  You said Thor!  That is the sound that you haven’t been able to figure out.  Now just move it into all the other ” r ” spots in words and you’ve got it!”  And that’s exactly what she has done.  She almost looks for words to say with r’s in them, just to hear herself say it right.  Thank You Lord.  That is just plain an answer to my prayer.  Now we have to work on Reeth. :)

It’s been fun as a Mom lately, with my older two girls, Grace ( 12 ) and Joye (10).  We have an understanding, that whenever they think a guy is cute, they have to tell me.  It is my way of staying intimately involved in the workings of their hearts, and therefore helping them maneuver through these crushes that will come and go.  Far too many young teens and preteens find themselves worshiping romance and boys in our culture, and I’m not gonna stand around and let it happen under my nose.  Anyway, I always know what’s coming when they come giggling up the stairs, often one prodding the other to spill it.  I won’t embarrass them and tell you all who the recent flames are, but I am always encouraged when they come to me.  I will be the watchman on my wall.

Audrey is convinced that my pregnancy-produced outy belly button, is indeed, part of the baby.

A few nights ago,  Esther, who sleeps on the top bunk above Audrey, told me that her little sister scared the daylights out of her.  Esther was just falling asleep when Audrey scaled the end of the bunk, and popped her head directly over Esther’s face and said, ” You seepin?”  Esther had to help the mischief  queen down and put her back into bed.

During this past winter, we had a bird seed bell hanging just outside our kitchen window, so we could all enjoy seeing birds of many kinds.  One day, Esther said, ” Look Mamma, it’s a trashy!”  She meant a junco.

Kids are the best entertainment this world has to offer.   I really am grateful that I am able to stay at home with my children and be a first-hand witness to their development.  Yes, some days it’s hard.  Like tonight for example…I made blueberry muffins with some of our freshly picked blueberries, and while I was on the phone, Audrey grabbed the Ziplock bagful, and put it on the kitchen floor.  Then proceeded to mash some of them with her toes.  Esther and Reese just watched the show.  *Sigh*  But is it all worth it?  Have I ever regretted having my 5 kids?  No.  Never.   Each one is a unique blessing.  It’s hard work, growing kids, just like my vegetable garden is out in my yard.  But the fruit of my labors is matchless.  It was just today that Audrey said, ” I wuv you, Mamma,” unprovoked, for the first time, randomly, as she was walking down the stairs.  And that, my friends, goes a long ways.

I hope these stories make someone chuckle. But most of all, I hope they inspire you all, that children truly are a gift from the Father.

I am Big, and He is Bigger

ghs-reunion-20101So, you see, I’m 7 1/2 months pregnant with my sixth child.  The baby is a boy, and we can’t wait to meet him.  I’m pushing hard on 38 ( we could share a birthday!) and I’m feeling 83.  Kidding, but this growing babies business sure takes a lot out of a woman.  I have been very busy for the past few months, and I believe I have hit a wall of sorts.  A wall that says in big, bold Times Roman letters, ” Slow down and act pregnant.”

I have officially stopped jogging…did my last mile last Saturday and my last 5k the Saturday before that.   That is a sad thing for me.  Running has been great physical exercise, but even more than that, it has been my “me time”.  Just me and my Ipod.  Frankly, I’ve had more intimate times with God wearing spandex than wearing church clothes at times.  Quiet times are practically impossible to come by in my present season.  Wow…just as I was about to type the words…my life is one of constant interruptions, my almost 2 year old comes strolling out of her room saying, ” Mamma, my go potty.”  It’s 9:49 pm.  I put her to bed 45 minutes ago.  Well, there you have it.  Exhibit A.  A mother’s life is not her own.  And frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I love my children so much, and I know that some day the silence will make me cry.

I’ve gained more weight this round so far than any other pregnancy…go figure.  This is the only time I have  jogged through it.  Makes total sense to me.  I know what some of you are thinking.  “Does she weigh more than Derek, you think?”  Honey, that ship has sailed.  I passed him months ago.  I’m only 6 lbs from my record baby weight (with Grace) and I have almost two months to go.  Wow.  This could be one large number.  Honestly though, I’m not too worried about losing it after he’s born, and I can thank my beloved running for that peace of mind.  I will enjoy running it off.  But looking at numbers that large can, at times, mess with your mind.  Especially when hormones can bring those days of smallness…that’s what I call it.  When self confidence is running low, and all the blemishes look big.  Come on ladies, you’ve been small before, right?  ( What a paradox…me feeling small!) Anyway, it’s days like this that make me so thankful that I have a God that understands.  He made me this way.  He created the hormones ( question # 2 on my ‘What to ask God when I get to Heaven’ list…Why were hormones a good idea?!?) , He knew my belly button would never recover after baby number two, He planned for women to gain weight while carrying babies to sustain both of us, and created us to nurse our babies and therefore knew our breasts would no longer look like magazine covers…He designed this whole ride, so I believe it is good.  He created mankind and said, “It is good.”    This is what my spirit knows, and this is why I am bruised but not crushed.  I have down (small) days, but I ultimately trust that it is good.   Not to put Derek down in any way, but I know that men can never really understand this process…sometimes I wish they could.  But God understands.  And I can lean on His embrace and His love, and know that He is proud of me as I lumber around, housing His choice servant for a while.

One other element I’ve had to battle this round is the fact that people have issues with large families.  I noticed it a lot  while on vacation…being in hotels and restaurants with our five kids and a protruding midsection…dude, we were a freak show!  Comment after comment, stare after stare.  I swear, if I hear ” You got your hands full!” one more time…It saddens me that our culture has such little value of children.  I think there are many reasons for this switch.  Accepting abortion in one’s mind can’t deepen one’s value of a child…all the “don’t spank or even correct your kids or you’ll crush who they are!” teaching has caused many a poor child to be what one would call…um… brats.  And why would anyone want too many of those?  They drive us crazy!  And gosh, how can women have successful careers if they have more than one or two kids?  That brief hiatus alone might cause her to miss a rung or two on the corporate ladder.  Oops, wait a minute.  I’m losing my balance trying to step down off my soap box.  All this to say, I have needed to burrow into the chest of my Heavenly Father a lot this round, due to all the negative stuff that has been flung at me.  Once again, children were His idea.  The fruit of the womb is a reward.  That’s what He says.  So that’s what I believe.  And frankly, I have 5 amazing children that are no less than rewards, running around my house.  The proof is in the pudding. (Oooo, pudding sounds good right now.)

So, I suppose I’ll leave it at that.  When I’m this big, I get small.  And then I remember that He is big, and to Him, all of this is small.  So as I grow this small man, whom He has big plans for, I can rest in His big arms, and know that it’s all not that big of a deal.  I will keep praying that the pain will be small, the hours of labor will be small, my endurance will be big, and that he is not so big.  :)

He Has Led me Here

So here I am.  Can’t even remember the last time I did this.  My buddy Dave Shacket made this great website for me last year, and alas,  I didn’t learn how to use it til now.  Sorry Dave.  That’s kind of like someone slaving over an old ‘57 Mustang, restoring it to mint condition, giving it as a gift, and the new owner never opening the garage door.   Again, sorry  Dave.  I really like it.  Really.

Life is busy here in my world.  I am desperately trying to finish up school with the kids, tend to my gardens (flower and vegetable), keep up with the house, we’ve been traveling a lot which means doing lots of laundry, moving bedrooms around to prepare for Baby boy, painting bedrooms, feeding humans 3 times daily, getting kids to gymnastics and piano lessons, jogging, potty training a 22 month old, trying to stay on top of the character development of 5 little ( some not so little anymore!) people…oh yeah, seeking the Lord about His new venture for us: starting a church…all while growing a human inside of me.  Sometimes, it just makes me shut down to a degree.  I often have people wonder why I don’t like them, cuz we never seem to find a time to get together.  I guess those who still call me friend are those that have learned that I’m not usually trying to find things to do in my spare time.  I would love to go to Tim Horton’s and talk over a hot drink and a fruit explosion muffin.  But at the moment, I’m just not organized enough to make it happen.  Life happens without me planning it, and I do my best to keep up.  I had a friend suggest recently that I should get a “life notebook” in which I write down everything important, so that it’s all in one place.  I think I just might try it.  The Good Lord knows I need help!  And I believe that He is working self discipline in me…it’s a fruit of the Spirit.  That is the only reason I don’t collapse under condemnation and defeat.  I believe that He will finish the work He has begun in me.  My only hope is that I have a friend or two left by the end of the work! :)

With this new idea of planting a church on the forefront of our minds, Derek and I have been doing lots of soul searching and clarifying of what our beliefs are.  At times, I almost laugh at how interested I am about theology now.  The old Heidi, back before the Lord graciously opened my eyes to His wonderful grace and sovereignty, didn’t have a clue and was truly happy about that.  The basics were enough for me!  But now, I LOVE talking about truth and the gospel and the righteousness I have in Christ…the place the Lord has brought me to is such a peaceful one.  Even amidst the chaos of my life, there is a rest that sustains me.  And that, my friends, is the proof in the pudding.  If the gospel doesn’t work in every day life, then it’s not the gospel at all.

We’ve been talking a lot about women’s roles and the different views present in the church today.   I have had some express concern that I am not involved enough in ministry and have somehow ended up in a life that confines and supresses me.  Well, all I can say is, “the Lord is my Shepherd,  I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul…He guides my path in righteousness for His name’s sake.”  He has led me here, and what joy there is to walk in the path that brings glory to His name.  I am so thankful that He constantly works in me a contentment for the call and role he has called me to as a woman.  I am not confined.  I am hemmed in by my loving Father.  I love my children, and love my husband, and love the life He has given me.  I walk through the doors of public ministry that He opens.  (Sometimes He has to push me through.)  But my main goal is to be faithful to nurture my 5, soon to be 6 disciples and to love and care for the wonderful man of God He has given me.  It’s simple.  And I like simple.

This renewed blogging venture will be fun, I think.  For me, anyway.  I’m getting more honest in my old age, so time will tell how fun it will be for anyone else.  Much grace to all who find time to read this.  His grace is sufficient, for when I am weak, I am strong.

Ummm…do I sign my name here?  I can’t remember.  dsc00108