Tuesday, October 21, 2014

happy birthday, Jenny!

We met Jenny exactly 10 years ago at Taylor University's parents weekend. I eyed her carefully as we ordered ice cream at Ivanhoe's. My son Dan was smitten, but she'd momentarily broke his heart over the summer. Early in sophomore year, they seemed to be "an item." Jenny was smart, cute, forthright, light-hearted, but I was suspicious of her devotion to my son Dan. She was the first love interest of any of my boys, so I didn't really know much about the girl part of new love. But I was fiercely protective of my son's heart.

Within a month or so, Dan brought Jenny home for a weekend. She fit in comfortably right away, cooking with us and making bead bracelets with Katie, who thought the idea of a big sister was totally cool. And Jenny won me over, too, mostly because I saw her heart for God and for Dan.

So here we are, ten years later! Dan and Jenny married in 2007 and now have three wonderful children. Though young adulthood didn't play out as she planned, Jenny has grown into motherhood (and wifehood, is that a word?) beautifully. Her get-it-done personality is still evident, but so is a spirit of flexibility and acceptance that evolves in mothering three small children. Jenny is devoted to her family and her God and is passionate about educating the children creatively. Perhaps best of all, Jenny recognizes and appreciates that each child is different, created uniquely by God. Also, I don't know what Dan would do without her!

Today Jenny turns 30 so I'm wishing her a very happy birthday. Jenny, I hope you'll embrace this season of life. Oh, how I know its intensity, exhaustion, and frustrations: how overwhelmingly hard the days can be. I pray you realize that with each passing birthday, you've acquired experience and wisdom for the tasks before you. I admire you for mothering well with love and humor. I love you like a daughter and thank God for you. Happy birthday!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

the beauty in dying

Did you read the story of Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old with brain cancer in Oregon? She plans to legally end her life on November 1. When I read her story and watched her heart-rending video this week, I was saddened and horrified, especially by the support and encouragement she is receiving regarding her decision.

But then, I'm not dying of cancer. I didn't know how to express my sense of how Brittany's decision seems so wrong. I couldn't lend credibility until I read a post on Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience. Ann's friend Kara Tippetts, a 38-year-old mother of four, also has stage 4 cancer. Kara opens her heart to Brittany, imploring her in love to reconsider her decision that looms less than a month away. It is tender, affirming and loving in every way. Please read and decide for yourself:


"In our dying, He meets us with His beautiful grace," says Kara. How I came to know this truth on my four years of trips to Nashville to be with my dying father. I hated those trips. But I loved them, too. In that last year, as painful as it was to witness Dad's agonizing decline into dementia and death, I emerged on the other side realizing that beautiful grace.

God granted me the beauty of getting to know my father: a man who managed to hide his real self. God showed me how to stretch beyond my comfort and pain-free life to hold the hand and heart of my dying father. He comforted me on every drive home from Nashville as tears fell. God drew me ever closer through music and scripture, speaking to my heart that He had me, and He had my dad.

If this wasn't grace in dying, please tell me what is. Grace. It's a gift, an unmerited gift. My father's death was a gift of grace and powerful love for us both as we drew ever closer.

Had my father been able to take a pill to end his life, well, the gifts and grace and intense beauty would have been stolen. And his life would have ended before God had planned. God creates life and it is He who takes it away.

My times are in your hands ...
Psalm 31:15
As for God, his way is perfect ...
Psalm 18:30

Thursday, October 2, 2014

happy birthday, David!

I entered motherhood 31 years ago tonight when I gave birth to David William in West Palm Beach, Florida. Have to say he was probably the calmest baby to ever
enter the world. At Christmas we grabbed the camera to photograph him screaming his head off because we hadn't seen him cry so hard before.
And he's continued to be pleasant and easy-going ever since.
David's spending this week with us and we're loving it!
Lots of eating, visiting, laughing, walks and just hanging out.
It's rare and really special.
I love you David and am so thankful God gave you to me!