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We were swimming in large pool. I thought I was going to be teaching Cohen to swim, but as it turned out, he was already a great swimmer. He dove to the bottom of the pool effortlessly and swam down on the floor like no one I had ever seen. He looks like a guppy, I thought to myself with a smile. I then noticed that the pool had no deep end- it was all deep. My feet couldn’t touch the bottom. Co was under water longer than I thought he could be, but again he labored without noticeable effort. Then I saw him struggling as he rocketed to the surface of the water. He didn’t realize he was out of air until the last second. I held him and then he dove back under, I did my best to stay above him as he swam deep to the bottom of the pool, knowing it was likely he’d again not recognize when it was time to come up for air. He zig zagged from here to there; I struggled to keep up. Then he swam right into a volleyball game happening on the other side of the enormous pool. I panicked. He bumped into legs and feet, but kept on going. I could barely make my way through the sea of bodies. The volleyball smacked down beside me.

Saturday morning I woke up to this dream. The images were as vivid as a movie, thanks to the pregnancy hormones which often make dreaming seem as real as being awake.

Some years ago I attended a Sara Groves concert with my sister and my parents. She had just released her album, The Other Side of Something. I listened as she talked about the inspiration for the songs coming almost entirely from a struggle she’d had with the Lord over her two sons. Though she was herself ready to take on whatever God asked of her, the thought that her children might suffer was unsteadying. She talked about searching the Scriptures for assurance that her children would be protected, but time after time only discovered that it was most likely that they would be hurt and maimed by life, the sin of others, their own sin and times, possibly even God. Those gut wrenching 11 songs were written as she fought these realities, finally making peace with the sovereignty and goodness of God.

Though I wasn’t a parent at the time – or even a married woman- her words resonated with me and some seven years later are still with me.

Cohen turned four last Friday… unbelievable. When you have a baby everyone tells you to enjoy it because it goes fast, but they tell you this when you’re in newborn land and days run into each other, filled with sleeplessness and feedings and dirty diapers. It is hard to believe them then, but one day you turn around a six months or a year has passed and all the little things you thought you’d never forget are starting to get fuzzy in the files of your memory.

When he woke up in our caboose cabin that morning (I will post photos at some point- so cute! an old caboose converted to a cabin in Hocking Hills) he hopped into bed with us. I had only moments earlier hopped into bed with David (the caboose only had single beds), not sure I’d even fit with my burgeoning belly. With Cohen added to the mix, we were very snug little bugs. In keeping with my mom’s tradition, I told him about the day he was born… about waking up early in the morning not feeling “right”, about how I mopped the floor and then drove myself to the hospital… about that terrifying and wonderful moment when the nurse checked me and said, “well we’re having a baby today!”… and about the moment when I heard his cry, saw his face and learned he was (as I had suspected) a boy. He ate it up. I felt like it was so near I could almost relive it for a moment myself.

The Spring does something to Cohen. This is the first year I have been able to them together enough to understand some of it. Change is a hallmark of Spring… new buds, new life, new length of days, new warmth in the air. For us, the last few Aprils have meant even more change than what naturally occurs. Three years ago, Cohen was turning one. We had his birthday on a tour bus. Though the events of how and why and what exactly have been stripped from my remembrance, there was a feeling that the marriage was salvageable and that we might be a family. A week later, the veneer on that hope cracked and began its slow 8 month crumble. His second birthday rounded out a month of changes: papers filed, a move from our own place to live with my parents, a full time job for me. Last year, he turned three weeks after the divorce was final (not that it meant any real changes to his everyday life) and we entered a new season that foreshadowed what would soon be our new reality.

There are a lot of things Cohen doesn’t know. But there are a lot of things he does know that I wish to God he didn’t. He often surprises me with his words and insight and understanding. This is a double edged sword. A friend recently encouraged me to ask Cohen about a particular circumstance to explore what he was aware of. So I did. I asked. I sat and listened as he explained a series of contexts and implications. I felt shock and sadness. Shocked at the sheer vastness of what he had gleaned from whispered conversations and words that had never been explained to him. Sad that the words had ever touched his ears, sadder still that the contexts even exist.

This year on his birthday, things are as settled as they have ever been for us. There is some unfinished business on the near horizon but by and large there is peace and calm. Some days I think Co can feel the loose ends as much as I can, though he knows little of the situation that lies ahead. We pushed it out of all our guts for a few days of birthday camping and hiking and togetherness. Cohen seemed light as a feather, giddy and full of life. David and I spoke briefly about times that this isn’t true. We sat by the smoldering campfire with cups of coffee while Co launched his hot wheels off the picnic table ramp into the woods.

I thank God for the changes that this year has brought our family… for stability and a home and expansion, for the new life inside of me, for David. I look forward with expectation to the changes that are still unfolding and are finally soon coming.

Being a parent is not for the faint of heart. Though Sara’s words in that concert struck a chord with me so long ago, I am only now intimately acquainted with the experiences of which she spoke. I know now what it is to struggle with God over your child’s well being. And, thank you Jesus, I know now what it is to find that your child is the hands of One who knows and sees and cares and is ABLE.

Sunday morning as I woke up, I remembered the dream from the morning before. David was still breathing evenly beside me. I had joked about Cohen being a guppy and the oddity of the dream the day before, but in the calm Sunday morning light, I started to see it for what it was… a tiny fear that I cannot protect him all the time had blossomed and bloomed into the silly images, as my subconscious tried to find a way to work it out. I laid there for awhile with that thought stirring until the Lord reminded me of the other side of the equation.

Two of the biggest blows in my life have come in August. August 2007 I uncovered something that turned my world upside down. And two summers later in August 2009 I learned that a horrible blow had come to my son’s life. That weeks that followed were a blur of tears and helplessness and fear. I was away overnight to do a training and I was woken early in the morning by a text from Pastor Ricks, encouraging me to read through a portion of the Psalms. I got up and did so. In those early morning hours the Lord broke my heart and allowed what had been pent up behind the flood gates to all come out. I repeated the words of Psalmist, capturing them as my own. At one point the Lord said to me that Cohen would grow strong even in his youth and then the Lord gave me the picture from Psalm 1 of the tree planted by the streams of water, whose leaf never withered and whose every endeavor prospered. I read it aloud again and again, placing my son’s name into the text, believing in my heart that it was all true of my then toddler and his future.

Though fear may want to grip my heart in these next couple of weeks, I have determined to believe God. I am determined to instead let my heart cling to His unfailing words. May God arise and His every enemy be beaten!

Even before I pregnant, David and I had felt strongly about a particular name for a son. The middle name has been a whole other story… the list of could-be middle names is still quite long and very undecided. I was going over them this morning, thinking about their meanings. The first name we’ve chosen means “eagle”. I felt like the Lord was reminding me of Isaiah 40 and naming our child with that picture of overcoming just seems right. When I named Cohen, I just liked the name. Cohen Reid. I fit; it sounded right. David loves the meaning of names and when we were first reconnecting he said something powerful about Cohen’s. Cohen is Hebrew for priest and while Reid actually means “red”, David said that Cohen was a “priest among the reeds”, referring to Moses.

Moses had some wounds, flaws, set backs. He hadn’t been unscathed by life, but he was called of God to be a deliverer to his people. This morning and in the weeks that lie ahead of us, I am nurturing these images of my son…not only is to be solid, unwavering, steady, well fed, prosperous.. but he is also purposed to be a leader and deliverer.

Whether or not my subconscious can work it all out, I know my God is more than able to accomplish all that He has begun.

So thank you God for this rainy Monday that You have breathed life into and for a season to hold fast and believe You. We covet your prayers for our family and our faith as we eagerly await the unfolding of what God has called into being. Thank you, friends

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I have been wondering why I have been consistently waking up at 3a for weeks now. Finally this morning (@3a, naturally) the reason came to me: Baby A wakes up at 3a. In the womb, babies have fairly established wake/sleep patterns that they tend to carry on after birth for several months. Seeing as Cohen wanted to sleep all day and be up all night, I don’t think I will complain about sleeping until 3a. I am telling myself this morning that I might even be able to get used to it. The house is pretty quiet at 3a and though it is pitch dark outside, it still smells like morning. [You can feel free to remind me of this when I am dying from a lack of sleep in a few months]

David has been away all weekend, at a conference for work. So I have been hearing every noise in the house, sleeping with a lamp on, and generally just feeling like incompleteness of our family is palatable without him here. He is coming home late this evening, just before Cohen’s bedtime. Of course, Cohen keeps running to the window, sure he’s heard the car pull up… I think it is fair to say we’ve missed him.

I cannot help but marvel a little that this time last year, David and I were just old friends exchanging catch up messages on facebook. What a difference a year can make, huh? We’ve been married now just over 6 months and more than half way to meeting our son who will be born this summer. It almost doesn’t seem possible for things to turn around so drastically in four short seasons (well, not that winter in Ohio is particularly short, but you know what I mean).

I found a stack of books in an unopened box a few weeks ago, none of them I had read and I barely recognized any of the titles. Then I saw the Big Lots $3 sticker on the bindings and had to smile at myself. I purchased a stack books that looked mildly interesting at least two years ago, mostly because they were $3. And here they were. I went through them again. Most of them I ended up donating to the Goodwill, but a few made it to the already overly crowded bookshelf in our sitting room.

Early this morning I fumbled around, looking for something to read and came upon a book I am surprised I would’ve bought two years again, all circumstances considered, titled “The Marriage Benefit”. The cover art is atrocious, but the writer seemed credible enough (Professor of Clinical Psychology who teaches at Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital). So I opened it up and read the forward and the first chapter. Tears ran down my face reading the stories of those who had made it and those who had not. I am sure I am more sentimental this weekend with David gone than I normally would be (oh yea- and I am an emotional preggo), but something really did strike a chord inside of me: I could identify with the writer on the important benefits of being married.

I could never have understood this book two years ago.

Two years ago, I was just embarking on a journey into the awful reality of divorce. Since that time, I have spoken to many women whose marriages have been marred by infidelity or abuse or have become unbearable due to godlessness or selfishness or mean-spiritedness… and in every case, I have warned them that they have to be 100% convinced God has directed them to file. Why? Well, not just because that’s right (though it is) but because it takes that kind of conviction to keep moving forward a process as daunting and horrifying as divorce. Had I not known deep in my heart what I had to do, I couldn’t have followed through on it. It was too painful; to uncertain.

Two years ago, I was just beginning to make peace with the fact that I was going to actually be a divorced woman; a single mom. I was just working through the disappointment and learning to battle the shame and just starting to know the gravity of all that had been the catalyst to get me where I then was. I was just beginning to understand the value of not explaining myself or defaming another. I was re-evaluating what it means to be a Christian and a divorcee. I was learning who God is like I never had before.

My reality was divorce and my thoughts were often there. I can remember then how just the thought of marriage turned my stomach; how I could never imagine myself opening up to another man…ever. It was the most foreign idea on the planet. The only thing I could visualize was Co and I, in our little house, figuring out how to make it work…

This same little house that now feels stale and empty without David.

This same house where now I am up long before the sun, reading about how long-term relationships make us better… how “finding freedom through our limitations” can literally be a salvation… how “the most direct path to freedom lies in remaining true to our commitments”… and here I am with a tear stained face because I now experientially know just how true and right that is.

When David and I reconnected last Spring, we wrote back and forth for almost two months before meeting up on May 23 for the first time in seven years. I was nervous and excited about seeing such a dear friend after such a sizable passage of time. He got up, got ready and made it to Bellefontaine before realizing he was an hour early for our already early morning meeting. I had this feeling the week that led up to that Sunday morning that I would know instantly whether or not there was anything more than friendship to be rekindled. We walked around my neighborhood while the sun rose, went to breakfast at Bob’s, and then to church. We ate lunch with my family, took all the kiddos to the park, and spent the day just visiting. When he left that evening long past dinner, I realized I didn’t want him to leave… ever. It might sound weird to say, but I really did know just as I had expected I might.

Only three months later we got engaged and 6 weeks after that we were married. It felt like a whirlwind in a lot of respects, but in more ways it just felt right. We had our share of arguments (and at least one really good knock-down-drag-out fight) while we worked tirelessly on the house and David drove back and forth and we planned and executed a wedding in the quickest fashion. I also got to really see David like I had never seen him before. I saw what he was like when he was stressed- that his even tempered, measured nature was not ruffled. I got to experience the steadfastness of his love for God. Everything he put his hand to was done the right way, even if that meant it was painstakingly slow and accurate. I saw his gentleness toward me, no matter my state of mind or how I was emoting. I saw his playfulness and patience with Cohen, who never tired of any game and rarely ran out of steam.

On that gorgeous Saturday in September I walked down the aisle without a single doubt in my mind. I had not one misgiving or question or even the tiniest bit of hesitation. I knew this man loved me and that I loved him and that our love for God was real. I knew that I didn’t want to spend one more day living apart from him.

Friends of mine who had remarried warned me that I should expect to feel a host of emotions after the wedding. One told me about how she woke up on her honeymoon next to her husband (who happens to be a wonderful man) and just wanted to RUN. She almost had a panic attack thinking about how she had married again after all she had been through in her marriage and divorce. I listened to her and took it to heart. I would remind myself of that when those feelings came on me.

But they didn’t… for nearly two months. When I was happy and good and getting along just fine right after the wedding and even transitioning back to real life of work and chores and parenting, I thought maybe I had side stepped any of those bad feelings. That’s probably why I was blindsided and almost taken out when the past hit me like a freight train in November.

I was out to coffee with a dear friend and we were talking about our husbands (which is what women do- right ladies?) Somewhere in the conversation, she mentioned how as soon as she met David she knew he was for me. But then she slipped in that until that point she was sure I was going to end up with this other guy. We kept drinking coffee late into the evening, chatting about lots of other things. The comment to her was nothing more than an innocent observation, inserting into the conversation without much meaning.

But it derailed me.

That evening I tossed and turned in my bed, next to my sleeping husband, while the Enemy taunted me with thoughts about whether or not I had made the right decision. Had been hasty? I started to wonder who else thought I was supposed to marry the other guy…I even wondered if Pastor thought I had made a mistake, though clearly he had been for David and I’s marriage and told me so on many occasions. I started sinfully to wonder if the other person had been better suited to me after all and the Enemy was eager to point out this or that to back up my fear. I was rocked.

Over the next few weeks, it started to hit me, like it hits all newly married persons at some point… this is forever. You know how pop songs love to throw that word around and it sounds so enchanting? Well, the sound of it when you’re grappling with the reality of a lifetime commitment is more like the locking of a sound proof steel door. I mourned in my heart the loss of my singleness. Here I had just gotten out of a bad marriage, fought for a year and spent all of my money to finalize the end of it, and now I was trapped again. I couldn’t shake that feeling… that somehow I was trapped. The world had been my oyster. My time had been my own. I could spend evenings at the church cafe, hanging out with the twenty-something crowd, doing what I wanted. And now I was a wife. I felt like I had lost something without even realizing it. How could I have been so eager to let it all go?

On the outside, I was just snappy and crabby and cold. I didn’t tell David what was going on… how I was trembling at the thought of being back where I had been five years before… There were times I wanted to tell him, but I was paralyzed in fear. I couldn’t speak. I could tell he knew something was going on, but he gave me the courtesy of not probing or exposing me. Instead he kissed me goodbye for work, held onto me whenever I would reluctantly let him, and he remained the same, totally unchanged and unfettered by my state of being. He was still even tempered and measured, steadfast in his love of God, full of integrity, gentle with me and patient with Cohen. I should have been moved by that alone, but instead all I could see what wasn’t.

Then in January one night I had a dream that was sad in a way that few things are to me. I woke up weeping and hurried to the bathroom, not wanting to share my grief. Honestly, not even knowing how. When I couldn’t pull it together, I resolved to going back to bed and crying as softly as I could. I was only in the room a moment before I realized David was awake; that he had been awake. I felt like someone had pulled back the covers on my most naked emotions. I wished for him to be asleep, to not care, to just leave me alone. Pride and fear pretending to be independence took up their usual residence as I tried not to let him in. But when he asked in his genuinely tender way, “Babe, are you crying? are you okay?” something in me couldn’t hold out one more second. I laid my head on his chest and sobbed. I didn’t tell him anything. The paralysis was still clamping my words shut, but I let him near.

It felt good; it felt awful. I was relieved; I was terrified. I felt safe; I felt embarrassed.

But when I woke up in the morning, eyes swollen (I am an ugly crier- I blame it on Mom) the power of what had been hanging over me had been broken. All that dark brooding and the lies and the regrets where diminished effortlessly in comparison to the oneness I had felt (uncomfortable as it was) with my husband the night before.

I eventually told him some version of most of that and as the weeks unfolded, I could see just how right it was for us to be together. In telling him, I found out what I never expected: he had battled some similar thoughts about the loss of his singleness too. Suddenly all the lies the Enemy had been telling me were now clearly paper thin— flimsy at best. That realization brought a solidness to my being that I had never known before. If you’ve ever read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, then you know what I mean by “solidness”. The dead (who don’t know their dead) on a journey are transparent and see-through and not real until truth begins to fill them like a child coloring in the black and white pages of a coloring book.

It happened again a few mornings ago after I had written this post. I had been writing into the wee hours of the morning, working out some sadness and anger. David woke up around 7am and while we were eating breakfast, I started to share with him. I wanted to share with him. (It is startling how quickly wounds can heal when mended correctly) I started to detail what I had read and how I felt, but ended up only choking out words between sobs. I could’ve told anyone else without shedding a tear or wanting to, but in front of my husband I found it impossible to be anything but emotionally exposed. For maybe one of the first times in my life (after all, not everything ugly originated with a bad marriage and divorce) I found myself weeping without even the desire to stop and pull it together. David got out of his chair and came and held me and I just got down to the dirty business of baring my soul without editing a word. I knew some of it was raw, a lot of what I was feeling was wrong, and that most of it was ugly. I also knew (and know) that he sees me and loves me, all my flaws and hurts and sensitivities included. There is a newly resurrected safety for me in his unwavering affection.

One of the passages in the book that gave words to what had been true of my life says this, “they had a highly creative means of avoiding both each other and their deepest fears.” I cannot tell you how that resonates with my memories; how that distance had fed in me a self protectiveness that went far beyond my natural inclinations. I can remember the only time I had ever really felt married before… pregnant and sitting in front of the television together watching the news and eating cereal. It sticks out in my mind the sorest of recollections because of its isolation. It wasn’t a particularly important moment, nothing was said, but I felt married. And that was it. The worst part is that in those days, it was some of the best of what I had known and I remember how happy it had made me feel. On this side of the equation, that is the saddest part.

Marriages don’t end because of irreconcilable differences. It just isn’t true that marriages end because people were a certain age when they married or because they grew apart or because they made mistakes. Everyone makes millions of mistake and no two persons are just alike or grow together without the conviction to do so.

And certainly marriages don’t end because you only felt married once while eating cereal. But in a odd way I think I am beginning to see that somehow contrarily marriages really are made by midnight sob sessions and the strength that comes to the soul when it is tangibly better to be naked and unashamed with each other rather than to maintain an ideal sense of self. It may not be perfect, but it is real.

I am learning that marriage isn’t all about romance and passion and ideals that media pushes on us. It is not even about happiness or having an increasingly better marriage as much as it is about the potential for real transformation in our own lives. Marriage can make us better as people, even when or maybe especially when it is hard and things don’t go as planned and it is not easy and the demands on us feel unfair. Maybe marriage is at it’s best when it restricts us, defines limitations, exposes our sin, and calls us to die to ourself in favor of becoming what God has already declared us to be: ONE.

My fears about being limited to one person forever were bound to the idea that it was an intrinsically miserable experience. They were tied to old feelings and experiences and wounds. Like the world all around me (just with a spiritual facade) I had felt crushed and trapped by the commitment I had made. And that’s because I failed to see something vital… that in the same way God calls me to a limited life by making a covenant with me and making me His and then expecting me to live like it, marriage has those same surprisingly freeing demands. It goes against human thinking to assume that living within limitations could bring freedom. But all you had to do is try it to know that things are not often as they seem to be.

I can remember a season when called me to give up some things that I hadn’t before considered bad or had any conviction about. The requests were not about whether or not I was saved or good, but just a simple matter of obedience. I only obeyed because I knew it was wrong not to. It was only months later that I realized all the newfound freedom I was walking in had everything to do with allowing the Lord to refine my boundaries and convictions. He had narrowed the scope of what was profitable to me to show me all that I had to gain by living a more single-minded lifestyle. Not that an occasional glass of wine or a drive with the radio on are sending anyone to hell, but for me letting those things go opened up time for worship and more reliance on God for my unwinding.

My marriage to God became sweeter with obedience and sacrifice and restrictions. Why not expect the same to be true in the natural realm of marriage?

“Marriage helps us find freedom in limitations. The most direct path to freedom lies in remaining true to our commitments.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Enjoy your Sunday, friends. You know I will.. church and sunshine and then my sweet husbands’ return to us this evening.

Be blessed.

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Time: According to Cohen

Cohen started coming into our bedroom in the wee hours of the morning (around 2a). By 5:30 it was clear that he was ready to wake up.

We weren’t.

He obliged and went back to bed for another 45 minutes.

At 6:15 he came back in and did the usual: curled up next to me, rubbed my ear, and with the sweetest smile said, “I love you so much, pretty mommy” (he’s a charmer, ladies- God help me when he’s a teenager! One day this week he asked his preschool teacher out on a date to the movies… yea…). I smiled and closed my eyes, the universal sign that though I appreciated the flattery, I still wasn’t ready to get up.

Apparently preschoolers are not familiar with universally known facial expressions.

So… then he tickled and “tooted” and moved to David’s side of the bed to do the same. Eventually so the cuteness of it had worn off under my need for 15 more minutes of shut eye, “Cohen go to your bedroom and play, please until we’re ready to get up.”

People, you would’ve thought I just told him he could never eat chocolate again or something. He was hysterical.

When hysteria was ignored, he turned to whining: He needed a drink. Then he was scared. The it was too dark. Then he missed the dogs and wanted to go downstairs. Then he was hungry. Then he was scared again.

When the whining did not make me jump out of the bed any sooner either, he finally asked how long until I was ready to go downstairs. “Ten minutes,” I replied, thinking that meant little to a kid who doesn’t know how to tell time.

“OH MOMMY,” he wailed, “ten minutes is a lot of numbers!”

Despite the fact that it was still not 6:30 and despite the fact there had been a lot of whining and crying, David and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Co stormed off to his room. About 30 seconds later he came back. “Mom, my clock says it’s time to get up now.”

[Side note: David put a digital alarm clock in his room, in an effort to tell him he had to wait to get up until it went off. Fail. Good idea, but total fail. The boy is such an early rise/light sleeper that I am sure he will never need an alarm- he could get the sun up if she needed help]

“Oh really, Bean? What does your clock say?” I wondered what number he would come up with. In Co’s world everything is always 8 o’clock or 11 o’clock.

“It said [think about this being said in a very high pitched, whispery voice of a child] “It’s time to wake up! It’s time to wake up! It’s time to wake up!”, he insisted. Apparently he took that whole what does it say thing literally (another reason to love the preschool age language development- it is so literal).

“Ooohhh… okay” I said, stifling a giggle.

He went back to his room for a second and then came back, “Now my clock is saying that its really time for OTHER people to get up. I am very serious, Mom.” His little face was as serious as stone.

“Any people in particular?” David asked, working to hold back his smile.

His face cracked and that big infamous Cohen grin appeared… “like YOU!”

So friends, this is a story about why no one is our house gets to sleep until their alarm goes off. Even on Saturdays.

God, can you please make this child in my womb have the sleeping capabilities of my husband? Please and thank you.

Happy Friday, friends! 🙂

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You know how it is when you are on the internet working on one thing and then you click on this link that leads to that link that leads you somewhere you probably should not be. Well I started to read something that simultaneously made my blood boil on my own behalf and crushed my heart for my son… and then I stopped reading; clicked it all off; closed the laptop.

I sat for awhile, creating in my mind thinly veiled tweet after thinly veiled tweet. How to say it without actually saying it in 140 characters or less.

Then somewhere in the midst of the angst I only feel when I disobey God’s command to keep my eyes on Him alone, the Spirit conquered over the whining and fist-raising nature of my flesh. I felt my weak inward groans gathering real strength from the Presence of my Salvation. Jesus, always save me from my desire to be my own defender!

If you’ve ever had to really crucify your flesh and die a deeper death than at times feels possible, then you know it requires more than spiritual awareness and wishful thinking. The only thing that works for me to stay free once Truth has made me free, is to entirely refocus my heart. If Jesus enables me to conquer the longing of my flesh and then I don’t quickly get myself in worship and thinking about all He is and all He has done, I will easily be taken back over.

David has been the last in our family to get the flu so he nibbled on dinner and then headed to bed early, stocking cap on so he can “cook out the germs”. Cohen and I cuddled the evening away. He’s been very emotional today. We sat across the kitchen table this evening having the kind of grown up discussion no parent should ever have to navigate with their 3 year old. His little chin never really stopped quivering and he needed a fairly permanent spot on my diminishing lap for the remainder of the evening. Now he’s fast asleep on the couch adjacent to me, covered with his favorite Superman sheet. (We’re sleeping downstairs, containing the nasty flu bug to the second floor-we don’t want to do more than one round of it!)

All of that to say, I am now awake and alone with my thoughts. Wouldn’t the Enemy just love to tempt me! Sometimes I more tangibly experience the war Paul described in Galatians 5:17 when he wrote, “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another”. This raw truth is foundational evidence for Paul’s plea one verse before, “But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).”

Oh how the Enemy would love for me strangle me with angry thoughts and drag me back to the kind of brooding that feasts on itself and is never satiated! How he would love plant words in my mind and get me to feel the defeat that is rightly only his! And if he couldn’t coerce me into outright rebellion, he’d settle for my unplugging and watching something mind numbing on Netflix…

So instead of giving him an inch to do his work of killing/stealing/destroying, I am going to rehearse the innate Goodness of the Lord and how His faithfulness has undergirded my life and made it overflow with His abundance.

Tonight I got to hold my precious son on my lap while he fell asleep (after claiming he’d forgotten how to 🙂 ) I rubbed his back and watched his almond shaped eyes slowly close, the smile on his face fade into ease of sleep, and his breathing become deep and even. The Lord continues to remind me of the promises He has undeniably spoken about Cohen’s providential life. He will be like a tree planted by streams of waterHe will be whole and solid and unwavering. Though many arrows have been aimed in his direction, I can see how the Lord is already making good on His promise to reroute any weapon intended for my his life. On paper, the account and happenings of his life shouldn’t add up to a well adjusted little boy, but it does. On paper, the account and happenings of his life shouldn’t add up to a little boy who effortlessly taps into the things of God, but he does.

Superbowl Sunday this year, Cohen and I were driving to our home from my parents’ at half time. “Mom, I wish God was real,” Cohen said with a sigh.

“Honey, He IS real,” I assured him, knowing that line between real and not real is blurry for children who want to believe in Santa and Spiderman.

“Then, why can’t He come out of the clouds so I can see Him?” he asked bluntly. We talked about how God is everywhere with us and not just in the clouds and how we can feel Him and talk to Him and hear Him even though we can’t see Him with our eyes or touch Him with our hands. I wasn’t sure if Co would be able to follow the conversation, but as usual, his childlike understanding of God humbled me.

“When I talk to God, why can’t I hear Him, Mom? How do I talk to Him and hear Him?” I did my best to explain how God can speak to our hearts and how we can know its Him.

“Mom, I want to talk to God in my heart. How does He get in there?” asked my wide-eyed preschooler. So we talked about that and I refocused the rear view mirror to look at him. He understood. I pulled over and prayed with Cohen as he told Jesus he wanted to talk to Him forever and that He could come in.

It was an indescribable moment. While I choked back tears, Cohen called Grandma and David to tell them about how Jesus was living in his heart. He got it.

Faithfulness, friends… that’s God working ALL things together for Good.

Last year at this time, I was one day past the final divorce decree. I was living with my parents, still unemployed after being laid off 5 months before, wondering how in the world I would get my house livable for Cohen and I. The Lord asked me to give Him a season of my time. I had no idea all that He was working out for me! Sometimes I feel like Job- getting back multiple times more what had been lost…

Tonight I am sitting in that very livable house that is getting an addition this spring and a porch and privacy fence for our comfort. In this space, I have everything I need and many things I have just wanted. I have a job that allows me to fulfill a lifetime longing to work with young moms. I am close to paying off all of the debt the divorce left me with. My refrigerator is full. We have two working cars parked in the driveway. When bills come, I open them without anxiety because I know I can pay them. The Lord has by His unmatched power delivered me from depression, anxiety and bitterness. In my womb, fluttering and flipping and kicking all day is my second son, who is big and healthy and strong. I once thought I might never have the pleasure of bringing another child into the world or giving Cohen a sibling, but not even a year later, that is happening.

Upstairs asleep is my husband, the kind of man I wish every woman could share their life with. David exemplifies to me in big and in small ways, what God meant when He drew the parallel of a bride and Bridegroom to help us understand His love. Every day I encounter David’s unbending kindness and his joyful pursuit of me and I learn. I learn more of who Jesus is and how He feels about me and just how much I really do love Him because He first loved me. I have now the marriage I could have only dreamt about. I have a husband who, without fanfare, loves Jesus and lives righteously.

Abundance. Overflow. Fullness.

And best of all? I hear the Lord speaking to and influencing my person in much the same simple way I explained it to Co in the car that day. He whispers and stills any fear of what will be. He reminds me of what He’s already said. He breaks my heart with worship while I am in the car or folding laundry. His correction reminds me that I am His. Like a daily baptism, He helps me to identify my own deaths to His sacrifice and the resurrection of my spirit man with His overcoming. He reminds me that to obey is sweeter than to sacrifice. He renews, revives, restores… He continues to breath new life into what was.

Jesus, You are Good and Your love endures FOREVER.

Tonight, may my thoughts meditations on You be unshakable…immovable…undistractable…

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Lift Up the Light


Beth gave Mom an early (a.k.a. “burned”) copy of the worship cd from she and Shane’s church. Mom raved about it for weeks, promising to make me a copy let me borrow it.

Mom tends to rave about anything her children are involved in making, so while I was sure it was good, I wasn’t sure it would be so good that I’d buy multiple copies and blog to convince you to do the same.

But here I am.

There is a lot of music labeled “Christian” for consumers to digest, but not all of it has a spirit about it that can bring you to your knees and usher your heart into the presence of Jesus. I am finding that the best music for my soul is the kind that comes from pure hearts who have sought to please God in worship and not the necessarily the stuff with all the bells and whistles and hooks and the right words. I can’t tell the difference from the cd cover or even from reading the lyrics, but when I am listening my spirit knows. I can feel it unfolding to feast on that which will nurture it.

I mean, have you ever listened to the kind of worship that has you choking back tears at stoplights? and only keeping one hand on the steering wheel because the other one just has to be lifted in praise (even if you live in a small town where you’ll likely be looked at oddly by at least 3 people you went to High School with)?

If you have, then you already know why you need to buy this cd.
If not, then let me be the first to tell you, you’ve been missing out…. but you don’t have to.

Lift Up the Light is a live night of worship at The Oaks church in Red Oak, Texas.
You can preview and purchase it online at iTunes by clicking here.

I love the whole album (I can actually listen all the way through without skipping- quite the feat!) but the song that has me undone is track 6 “Take Me In”. I want to leave you with some of the lyrics and a dare… try to listen and sing along the words and not fall into worship wherever you are…

Oh, the joy that floods my soul when I’m with you, Lord
when I’m with you, Lord
when I’m with you, Lord

By Your blood, I’m redeemed
By Your mercy, I am free
You’ve forgiven every sin
In Your love You take me in
to Your heart, to Your throne
that I may know You and be known
So I come in confidence
in Your love You take me in

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Odds and Ends

Well its Wednesday… March 30th… and its snowing! It doesn’t seem to be piling up much, but there is just something wrong about any kind of snow or flurries when April is only days away. [the something might- just might– have something to do with my garden which is still not ready to plant]

So, its snowing and I am home for a short break in the middle of this gray day to sanitize the floors and bathrooms and continue laundry because poor little Cohen has gotten sick. Last night he was in and out of our room every hour or so (even with melatonin). He was complaining about his “belly” and to be honest, David and I thought he was putting the whole thing on (like he does sometimes) so he can come into our room. But around 4a, he didn’t make it to the toilet and we quickly realized he really wasn’t well. By 8a, he was running a low grade fever. I couldn’t cancel all of my appointments, so David worked from home instead. I went out to stock up on gatorade, Sprite, and sherbert before heading out to do some work. That’s when I got David’s twitter:

5 words – “awesome three year old puke” – sick boy 😦 .. yeehaw!

I canceled my middle of the day appointments.
And brought home some movies. Currently we’re watching “Rescuers Down Under”.

I need to head back out for some more home visits here shortly but wanted to share some odds and ends with y’all:

— Dad got home from the hospital Monday afternoon, just 5 days after surgery, which is incredible. He is feeling okay, considering all he has been through in the last week. There is a lot of pain post-operation, but he’s being able to manage it. We got back all the test results and a little less than 20% of the nodes around the tumor have been affected by cancer. We’re really not sure what this means yet, but Dad will be seeing the oncologist soon to discuss treatment. Of course we wanted a completely clean bill of health, but the report is still good and we are still thanking God for the 80% which are clean and healthy.

— We had a pretty frustrating trip to the OB yesterday. I was debating about whether or not to blog about this, but really I am not a private person and have never been much one for secrets. Last Monday before getting my progesterone shots, the nurse who comes to my home to administer them, used the fetal monitor to listen for the baby’s heartbeat. She quickly got his usual 160+ heart rate. The she found my heart rate and the placental tones (both around 120). Then she heard something else.

The long and short of it is that she ended up listening for almost an hour and continued to a get a heart rate between 138-142 on my upper left side, under the placenta and the 158-160 heart rate on my lower right side. She went back and forth the whole time, constantly getting these same rates.

She faxed a report to her supervisor and advised me to call my doctor in the morning. She said it could be the obvious (fraternal twins, somehow not detected yet) or a tumor of some sort with its own blood source. Since I had severe fibroids while pregnant with Cohen this was all a concern.

So I called the doctor in the morning and they called back and asked me to come in within the hour. David and I both rearranged work schedules to be there and unfortunately I did not see my normal doctor or midwife. The one I did see was rude and arrogant and dismissive. He did not check me, but instead acted like I was silly and “paranoid” (he actually called me that) and assured me that no one in his practice missed a twin. He said things that were contrary to what other doctors, nurses, and my personal nurse had told me about the fluctuation of heart rates and the possibility that a much smaller twin could be hidden behind our very big baby boy.

Needless to say, we left the visit frustrated and with more questions than answers. We have decided to wait until my shots next Monday to see if the nurse picks up the same heart rates again. She’s not the only one who picked up the 140 on the left and the 160 on the right of my belly- it happened two weeks ago at the hospital in just the same way. So, if she does again find what appear to be two fetal heart tones, we will being going to the hospital, demanding two fetal monitors and a higher tech ultrasound. If not, then who knows? Maybe it was a fluke thing?

But- will you just be praying for us? Pray that some the extreme symptoms I am having will subside if there is no cause. Pray that if there is a tumor, it will shrink. And pray that if there is somehow another baby, that it is healthy and not too small.

We’ll keep you updated.

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I should’ve known by Monday that the week wasn’t going to go as planned. Sure, a moved hair appointment is a small thing, but I should’ve known.

I got the text in the afternoon: could I do Monday at 6:45 instead of Tuesday at 7? Sure, I sent back. After all, David would be home by then and the nurse who comes to administer my progesterone is long gone by 6:30, I surmised. David was home, but the nurse got detained at the local jail while giving a shot to an inmate (they didn’t want her bringing needles in- that makes the whole shot thing kinda difficult, eh?) so she was late and consequently, so was I. By 9p my husband was calling my phone, sure that I had plummeted my car into a ditch somewhere in the 10 blocks between our home and the salon. The truth was, I was still in foils (for all you male readers, this is what I am talking about)

It had been a long day by the time I went to sleep Monday night, beginning early with Cohen’s pre-kindergarten screening. He was so excited I was sure he’d eventually (literally) start bouncing off of the walls. When the woman who will be his teacher came to get him from the office, he smiled and took her hand and walked right out with her. All I could think was how my baby has gotten so big and grown… where has all the time gone? I didn’t have long to think about it before David and I were whisked into the principal’s office for our interview. We got asked about our jobs and the normal Christian questions we had expected, but then the principal asked what did we want for Cohen when he was 21? Twenty one!?!?! This is pre-kindergarten screening, right? I thought. Not exactly what every mother wants to think about at pre-kindergarten screening- her son being a legal adult, right ladies? Right? I was having a hard time with his not needing me to walk with him to the screening room, I wasn’t ready to muse about him driving and working and going to college and living on his own… whew! I somehow got an answer out without thinking about the someday-reality of it too much. A minute later we were rescued by the return of our son and his new teacher. He had candy in his hand and a toy figurine and a parachute. The teacher was giggling. “He is SO fun” she said at least twice. You have no idea, I thought to myself with a smile. He did well- of course he did not count to ten, but then again what was I expecting? He might’ve taken her hand and been a bucket of creativity and laughs, but he wasn’t going to count for her if he won’t count for me. He’s not all that grown yet. Thank God.

With Tuesday’s hair appointment moved to Monday, there wasn’t supposed to be anything going on Tuesday. But that was before we learned my dad has colon cancer. Sure I knew he was having a colonoscopy. Mom had pulled me aside Sunday and told me dad wasn’t feeling so well, but that he didn’t want anyone to know and I shouldn’t mention it to my siblings. It was probably nothing. By Tuesday morning all my siblings knew the nature of the “not well” dad was feeling and that he’d be having the routine procedure in the morning. (This is how all information- especially the information no one is supposed to know- is transferred in our family. Make a mental note: never tell an Adelsberger a secret about another Adelsberger. We don’t keep secrets from each other well)

I called Aaron around 10a. “You know dad went to the hospital this morning, right?”
“You mean the procedure none of us are suppose to know about? Yeah, I know,” he half joked.
I asked if he had heard anything; he hadn’t.
I asked him to call if he did; he said he would.
He told me to do the same.

I went on to my first and second appointments in the day, over in the Lakeview area. I kept checking my phone for a text from Mom. Nothing. For a family who communicates like we do, I knew that wasn’t a good sign. I had no more than left the little green house where I visit a newborn girl and her mom, when my phone rang. It was Mom… not that I could understand a word she said between her sobs. Not that I needed to, really. When someone calls sobbing to tell you about a colonoscopy, you know in your heart cancer has been found.

I offered to go straight to the hospital. She said Dad wasn’t awake yet and didn’t know and she didn’t want any of us kids there until he did. I got off the phone and called Aaron. We both cleared our schedules for the day and tried to decide whether or not we should go to the hospital anyway. Aaron said we should wait. When I am the bull in the china closet, he’s the one with some sense. I tried to go to my next appointment, but drove around instead… aimlessly for the most part. I thought about the few words I could make out that my mom said: “large mass” “been there 10 years” “very bad news for Dad”. My heart sunk as I thought about colon cancer- treatable if treated soon, right? Isn’t that what I had heard? And didn’t Katie Couric’s husband die very young of it?

My heading was swimming. I needed to keep busy.

I went home and cleaned every single food and cleaning product with preservatives and dyes and things I cannot pronounce out of the house. I had just finished reading a book over the weekend about how our hormones are affected by a number of these non-food chemicals in our “food” and how they cause disease. I had been meaning for a week to get rid of the stuff. And let me tell you, there’s no motivation like thinking someone you love is sick. Cancer runs in my dad’s family. All of his aunts and uncles and his mom and many of his cousins have died from one form or another. Without thinking too much about not wanting to die of cancer and not wanting my dad to die, I just took my nervous energy out on the fridge, pantry and laundry areas of the house.

I called Mom. Dad was coming home to sleep for a few hours before heading back to the doctor for his pre-surgery physical and blood work. They had done body scans and x-rays to look for cancer in other places.

He didn’t want anyone to come to the house.

So I went to the grocery, the health food store, and the Amish market, replacing our food and cleaners with all natural products. By four o’clock dinner was cooking in the oven for the whole family. Aaron and I finally insisted that we were all going to Mom and Dad’s that evening, whether or not he wanted to see anyone. Dad’s 3pm visit with the doctor had been scary. Surgery would be Thursday morning first thing. With the anesthesia wearing off, the reality was hitting home with Dad. He probably didn’t want to see anyone. But we are his kids. We were making dinner and coming over, regardless.

I loaded up the car with food and picked up Cohen from school, holding onto my emotions well enough to try to protect his little heart. On the way to my parents, Beth called. She and Shane and Lucy were coming in Wednesday afternoon and she needed to know if David could pick them up? We talked for awhile. I was careful to use words I thought Cohen wouldn’t understand.

Parking in the driveway, I prepped him… grandpa is sick, don’t jump on him, we aren’t going to be wild, etc. “Mommy, does Grandpa have cancer in his butt?” he innocently asked. I was floored. I had used “colon” and “stool”- how did he get that from what I said? I stared in the backseat at my blue eyed boy, face filled with concern. “Yes, baby. But please don’t say that, ok? It will make him sad.” He nodded his head. I knew what he was thinking. His buddy at school, the janitor, had died less than a month ago of cancer. Cohen had been praying and praying for Charlie and we had talked a lot about cancer. I have learned that with Co, you just have to tell him. If he asks, whatever it is, I just tell him the truth as simply and practically as I can. I had told him that cancer is something that grows in your body that shouldn’t and that sometimes it takes over. We had talked about dying- how everyone eventually will die and that its sad but not scary. He looked out the window while I unbuckled his seat. I knew he was thinking about that.

We all had dinner and Dad hid away in his office until I just went back there. I hugged his neck and I could feel the fear. I don’t think I had ever seen my dad scared before.

Wednesday morning David had his interview (don’t know yet about how it went- he had mixed thoughts about it- I think its up to the Lord ultimately, so we’re not sweating it). Dad was to go and meet the surgeon at 2:30 to discuss the results of the body scan and to go over the details of the surgery. Mom called hours earlier than that. Dad was meeting with Pastor. At Dad’s request.

I was shocked. Now, let me back up. I know that my Dad loves Jesus. No question about it. Even if he had never said that to me or indicated it, his life demonstrates it all the time. My dad is generous, selfless, kind, giving to those who will never be able to repay him… but my dad has also been hurt a lot, especially by other men; especially by spiritual leadership. That sad story too many have, my dad shares in. In particular, when I was very small, my dad had really dove into a church and had gotten involved, only to leave scathed and wounded by the man in charge. Things had never really been the same. Sure he had gone to church with us, but he was hesitant to lean into it and especially hesitant to trust anyone he perceived to be in leadership.

Now, I have made no bones about the fact that I love Pastor Ricks. And I do. He has taken more 2am calls from me than probably either of us would care to recount. He has counseled me right out of those rock and hard place kind of situations. He has been a shepherd and a friend and a father. One of the things our church gets most criticized for in our community is the fact that we love our pastor. Isn’t that sad??? Because his advice is taken and we love to mimmic the sayings he often repeats, we’ve been accused of being a cult. (Not even kidding). David and I laid awake in the bed a few nights ago talking about how sad that is! Shouldn’t loving and trusting your spiritual shepherd be the norm?!?! Why go to a church where you can’t take the advice of your pastor? And how come it is okay to mimmic the sayings of your favorite tv character or political pundit, but not a spiritual leader?

Still… my dad went to church every Sunday with us, but had some of the same distrustfulness of the community. Without ever saying so, we all knew he had his suspicions about pastors in general and Pastor in particular and- well, why can’t people just make their own decisions without asking for wisdom? My dad has always been his own man.

My self-made Dad was meeting with Pastor that I so love and trust. Hope flooded my soul.
I smiled and I could hear the smile in Mom’s voice.

Just before heading over to my parents’ Wednesday evening to meet up with David, the Barnard clan, and the rest of the family, Mom called. Dad’s scans and x-rays were clean. It wasn’t a 100% clean bill, they wouldn’t know for sure sure until the surgery, but it was a very good sign. We ate dinner together, oohed and ahhed over the babies and were just… together. We laid hands and prayed over Dad and he shared things with us that had everyone in tears. It was the sweetest time we’ve ever had as a family.

Earlier in the day Mom had told me that she wouldn’t have traded the last two days for anything in the world. I knew then exactly what she had meant.

Thursday morning we sat with him at the hospital until they took him back for anesthesia. He was nervous, but calm. I couldn’t help but think he looked lighter and clearer than ever before. I couldn’t help but think that maybe even as scary as the word “cancer” is, that maybe this was one of the best things that had ever happened to our family.

The surgery that should’ve lasted 3 hours, only lasted half that long. Dad did better than expected and no cancer was found anywhere else, even in the area directly around the tumor. The “large mass” turned about to be half the size expected and the cancer appears to be slow growing. Dad has a long recovery ahead of him. Major surgery and getting split open is nothing to underestimate, but he’s as good as he has ever been. Maybe better.

A long time ago Pastor preached something that has stuck with me. In talking about how God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, he said that we humans just cannot really know if something is good or bad. Sure, cancer sounds bad, but what if God works the circumstance together such that the person while suffering in their body (which, by the way isn’t eternal) gets all kinds of things resolved in their spirit (which, by the way is)? Then is it bad? Or is it a blessing? Or does it fall into the category of those things which were meant for evil, but used by God for good?

So this Sunday morning (with more updates to give you coming soon) I am thanking God that He knows how to love, protect, discipline and ultimately draw, heal and restore those that are His!

**Please be praying for our Dad as he recovers. It is very likely that he won’t have to endure chemotherapy, but physically coming back from the surgery is going to take awhile. He will be off work a minimum of 6 weeks and we’re asking God to give Dad a sweet time of rest and restoration**

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