March 29, 2014

Walking Forward

Last Saturday morning I woke up in Ravello, Italy, along with about 90 other women attending the spring PWOC retreat. Our theme was Walking Forward in Simplicity. This was my view at breakfast:

An hour later, we sat in the conference room, reeling from the shock of an announcement none of us could have possibly been prepared for: Chaplain John Keith had died during the night from complications in an unexpected surgery.

Chaplain Keith.

Passionate--so passionate about Jesus, about people. Passionate about worshiping our God. About teaching people God's truth. About reaching out to those who need Christ's love and compassion.

It's been a week since we lost our dear friend and pastor. I feel in many ways like I've lost a family member. Even though we only knew him a year and a half, there is just something about the bond we have as believers in Jesus. When we minister together in His name, when we pray and worship together, it's family. I grieve for our own family's loss, and I grieve because my heart hurts for Regina, who lost the love of her life, and for Josh and Jonathan, who lost their dad, their mentor. I grieve for what seems like unfinished work here in our community, even as I realize God is sovereign and makes no mistakes.

Yet we "do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). For we have Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). God's Word tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6), so we know that John is in heaven right now. And I have no doubt that he heard those words that disciples of Jesus yearn to hear: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Not because John Keith earned his way to heaven, but because he, in God's grace, accepted Jesus's death on the cross as atonement for his own sin, then walked in newness of life, a walk by faith, a walk that invited others along on the journey.

We are grateful for the time we did get to have with John, grateful for the vision he had for this community and for the way he invited all of us to play our own special parts in extending God's grace to others. And while the pain is very real and present, what grace there is in finding the strength to truly give thanks in ALL circumstances, to say the Lord gives and the Lord takes...blessed be the name of the Lord.

Reevaluating what is important in light of eternity, then walking forward in simplicity, focusing on Jesus our Savior--this is a gift given to us, wrapped in the distressing disguise of the death of a saint. May we be faithful to carry on with the calling we have received.

March 01, 2014


Nearly two weeks ago, this happened:

Yes. Those are two Pampered Chef stoneware loaf pans, totally broken on my kitchen floor. The cooling rack apparently shifted just enough after I put the second loaf pan on it, enough to send the whole thing cascading onto the floor just after I had turned to put my hot pads away. (Insert a few moments of longing for the days when I actually had counter space in my kitchen...)

Two broken loaf pans. Two ruined loaves of pumpkin bread, intended for sharing with the ladies at PWOC the next day. I won't lie: I shed some tears. But while part of me grieved, some part of my brain started singing a song from one of our children's CDs: "When I set my affections on heavenly things, I find myself soaring on eagles' wings 'cause I'm living above the world, yes, I'm living above the world."

I found myself remember the things we're reading about in my PWOC class, which is studying The Hole in Our Gospel. How blessed I am that I have two MORE loaf pans--not PC stoneware, to be sure, but still. I CAN still make bread. (How thankful I felt that I hadn't donated those extra two pans--I was tempted once I got my new ones!) How blessed I am that I have MORE ingredients in my pantry, so that I still had options for sharing food with the women at our Bible study. My family doesn't suffer any lack. And I am physically capable of cooking and caring for others in my life. So. Many. Blessings.

I did share the picture of the broken pans on Facebook, with a note that the incident made me sad. I knew my mom friends would cringe at seeing those broken loaf pans! I wasn't asking for sympathy or pity, just sharing a piece of my day. (I certainly hope it didn't come across as whiny or selfish!) Many friends groaned in sympathy with me. One, writing from Guam, said maybe my secret sister would see the picture and buy me a new pan. (PWOC has a secret sister program going on.)


Tuesday the table with secret sister gifts and cards had an envelope with my name on it, which someone handed to me right before class. It wasn't until after PWOC was over that I even had a chance to open it up, and this is what I found:

If it's hard to read in the picture, here is the text:

Dear Beverly,

In the prophetic words of Erena Henderson, "AWWW MAN!! Perhaps your secret sister will see this and buy you a new one?" Done, and done. :) Be expecting 2 new Pampered Chef loaf pans in the near future. I'm thankful for you, that like your pans, you are willing to be broken. The Lord performs miracles with ordinary things like loaves, fish, and loaf pans. To a woman who sharpens me like iron:

Love in Christ our Savior,
your secret sister

Wow. WOW! Just wow. I feel totally, completely undeserving of this! But I count it as a gift of grace from a loving, extravagant God. I can't wait to learn who my secret sister is to properly thank her! In the meantime, she has inspired me to look for ways to bless others in my life!

Little Moments with Little Boys

Lest I get too caught up in schedules, activities, and what we are or are not accomplishing each day...I pray I don't forget to take time to enjoy the small people in  my house! Some days it seems that they are too much of a distraction from what I "really" need to do (laundry, cooking, homeschooling the older kids) that it's easy to forget that there was a time in my life when I ONLY spent time with littles! It hit me the other day that I rarely spend as much time on the floor holding and playing with these little guys the way I used to with Charis, Tobin, and Arden when they were young.'s getting much harder to get OFF the floor nowadays, ha! But still...Lord Jesus, please help me to make the most of every opportunity to love these precious treasures you've given to us.

Our favorite time of the day: when Daddy comes home from work!

Know anyone with a great bed head?! How about a fantastic hand-knitted sweater??

Tummy time! This picture makes me giggle because Lucan is ALWAYS in motion (notice the blurry feet) and because Charis recently resuscitated  Doof Dog (by stuffing him and sewing on a bandana to cover the gaping hole). 

Guess who lost his first tooth?! Oh, the trauma! There were tears. (Many tears.) And blood. (Lots of blood.) And a total lack of excitement or concern about whether a tooth fairy would bring recompense.

You know what's great about being two? You can wake up and decide, "I want to be a pirate today!" And no one looks askance at you at all! 

The bib says it all! Numero Sette may have completely upended our lives, but we wouldn't trade him for the world!