Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living Water

They say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their calendar and their checkbook.

I've learned that is most certainly true.

You can learn a lot about me by going to my kitchen sink.

I spend just about half my life here.

Scrubbing dirty dishes.

Washing little hands.

Filling up multicolored plastic cups with water.

Watching the deer make their daily pilgrimage up through the woods at dusk, peacefully trudging their well-worn path.

Propped up against the plant in the window are words scrawled on an index card. Sometimes they're words about anger or jealousy. Sometimes they're reminders to be joyful, patient, or thankful; to not worry; to count my blessings. They are words that would give even a total stranger a glimpse into my soul that day. 

I distinctly remember the first time I stood at this kitchen sink. We had bought the house but had not yet moved in. Life had just been turned upside down with the blinking of two eight-week-old heartbeats on a sonogram screen. It was cold - early March - and I had crunched through three months of unshoveled snow to get to the front door and the waiting contractors eager to give their bids. To say the house needed work was a drastic understatement. Everything was dark - old oak cabinets, brown carpet, grimy linoleum kitchen floors.  As the contractors measured and figured and drew their dimensions, I walked through the cold, dark kitchen and stood at the sink. I looked through the window at the woods and imagined all that life would bring me in this home in the years to come. I was brimming with hope, and so happy; I'd been dreaming of a kitchen with a window over the sink.

The months that followed brought joy and hardship. I found myself stretched to the limit of what I thought I could do. I had three babies two and under, and was driven to my knees. I knew I needed to rely on God's promises and encouragement, but I barely had time to brush my teeth, much less settle in with a cup of tea and my Bible. Despair became my constant companion. I started writing verses that I could cling to on little index cards and propped them up against a plant behind my kitchen sink. Twenty or thirty times a day, it seemed, God's Word materialized in front of my eyes as I washed and dried and made it through another hour.

It was always encouraging.

 It was often convicting.

I was amazed at how often I had to stop, in mid-sentence or mid-thought, because I was going down the wrong road and was reminded of the kind of person I could be and should be in Christ.

I began to understand the meaning of the "living water" Jesus talked about with the sad, lost Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-40). These Words gave me life when not much else could. They were verbs, not nouns. They changed what I thought and said and did. Not always. I was, and am, so imperfect that I shudder sometimes when I come face to face with my true self. But as the hot water poured out of my faucet over maple syrup-soaked plates and milk-encrusted sippy cups, I read the Words and prayed the Words, and was able to become through Him the mother He said I was. The wife He said I was. The daughter and sister and friend He said I was.

No matter where I live, I will have my living water at my kitchen sink for the rest of my life. I've saved my index cards in my Bible, some dog-eared, some tear-stained, and the stack has gotten so big that I can barely get it closed. What a blessing that is. It makes me rejoice.

I get a lump in my throat when I reflect back on all that has happened since I stood at this sink six years ago. God has given me so many gifts: three more beautiful boys, the call to homeschool, deepened love and respect for my husband, and joyous, genuine friendships. But the greatest gift by far has been the understanding of my outright need and utter dependence on His living water.

 "Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water  I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of                 water welling up to eternal life.”
                                                                          John 4:4-14 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nine Months Old!

 Charlie, you are nine months old - what a riot!

Life is just a bowl of cherries for you, buddy.

You have learned to pull yourself up on everything - in your crib, on toys in the playroom...

...and if we turn our backs on you, this is where you like to venture:
Mischief in the making...

You're finally starting to get a little hair, and you're disarmingly handsome, if we do say so ourselves.

You look so much like Chloe that people often mistake her baby pictures for you. We can't wait for those blond curls to come in! After your bath you look like a little duckling with your crazy peach fuzz.

You're a master crawler and a human vacuum cleaner. Your favorite pastime is cruising around the kitchen island to the spot under the bar stools where your brothers always drop half their food as they wolf it down. You've had entire meals of things nine month olds are absolutely not supposed to eat... pizza, apple slices, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the occasional leaf or stick; gross, but a sad reality in our house of boys, and at least they're organic :-).

You have four little teeth, 

 bright blue eyes,

and a smile that lights up a room.
Happy nine months, Chilly Charlie. You bring us so much joy.

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him."
Luke 2:40

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Samuel the Lionheart

It was a lovely, unseasonably warm Friday afternoon, a day begging for bike riding, swingset playing, and impromptu games of backyard soccer.  Greg had just left for his annual March Madness highschool-buddy-bonding weekend, and Miss Chloe had decided that the time had come for her to master her two-wheeler. My next-door neighbor and I were taking turns racing down the concrete driveway behind her and her hot pink princess bike and I had a moment -just a moment - in which my weekend flashed before my eyes. She would crash on the driveway. Greg was out of town. She would break a bone or bust her head open. Greg was out of town. I would spend the night at Children's Hospital alone with my four children while my husband drank Yuengling and watched the Duke game in a cabin in east nowheresville, Kentucky. I was about to insist we relocate the bike lesson to our soggy grass when I was stopped in my tracks by an ear-piercing scream. Sam was crumpled in the corner of the driveway, holding his arm.

I walked over, refusing to acknowledge that God-given mother's sixth sense pushing relentlessly into my consciousness. With children, there are categories of screams. There is the I'm not actually hurt, I'm just mad scream, the I'm not actually hurt, I just want attention scream, the I sound like I'm dying but all I need is a band-aid scream, the It's pretty bad, forget about sleeping tonight scream, and the mack daddy of all screams, the ear-piercing, otherworldly My bone has just cracked in half scream. This last one was the scream I heard from the corner of the driveway.

I picked him up and it was obvious that his arm was broken - so obvious that it made me sort of sick to look at it. My neighbor, a nurse, saw it too, and sucked in her breath. I hugged him to me and mouthed over his shoulder "ER?" She nodded and whispered back "Go to Children's." A few phone calls later my mom, Sam, Charlie, and I were on our way to the hospital.

I'm grateful... Children's Hospital was awesome. They took us back immediately so that they could get Sam out of pain, despite a full waiting room. After three xrays and confirmation that he had broken his radius bone, he was finally given anesthesia around 9:30 pm and his bone was set. He chose a lovely bright purple for his cast - no neutral manly colors for him, that's for sure. I love my boy - never one to follow the crowd. He was a trooper, and I only broke down once - when the orthopedic told me it would be better for me to leave the room when they set his arm, because I wasn't going to want to watch what they had to do. I'm sure they were right. He had a few unfortunate moments barfing into a bucket when he woke up, but he was a complete trooper - even cracking my mom and I up several times with his perfectly pitched observations of hospital life from the eyes of a five-year-old.

My mom, Sam, Charlie, and I pulled into our driveway, exhausted, around 3:00 in the morning, and Sam was asleep in my bed mumbling about the pizza he never got to eat a few minutes later. Here he is the next morning before the obligatory broken-arm donut run:

The purple cast hasn't slowed him down one bit... yesterday he spent an hour jumping on the trampoline after working up a good sweat at Tai Kwon Do :-). My neighbor, a pediatrician, stopped over to chat as he was jumping away and looked at me like I was crazy, but trying to stop a five-year-old boy is like trying to stop a freight train. I'm just going to be spending a lot more time praying for those angels to surround my little ones, and grateful that, by God's mercy, the worst of it thus far has been a broken bone.

Just for kicks, here's a hilarious picture of Charlie taken that night around 2 am:

The child just about pulled an all-nighter. He slept until noon once I finally got him to bed :-).

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunshine Surprise


It's March 15th
in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
and it's 70 degrees
and sunny, people.

Did ya hear that?

70 degrees and sunny!

We cut school and went to the park.

Hope you're enjoying the sun as much as we are this week.

 See! The winter is past;
   the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth;
   the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves
   is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit;
   the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Song of Solomon 2:11-13