Let It Rain

It has been bone dry here this spring. We’ve had a few snowstorms and a few thundershowers, but we’ve been missing that long, soaking rain that brings health to gardens and hope to farmers.

But it has finally happened. Buckets and buckets of rain coming down, filling every crack in the dry ground, welling up into spontaneous rivers and pooling into surprise lakes.

Sheets of rain blown sideways by the fierce wind.

I’m thankful it’s not snow.

But the parched ground needed this rain. Those with crops and gardens to tend needed this rain. The rest of us – we needed this rain too. We needed the green hills and growth that comes after a rainstorm.

This real-life example of the blessing of rain couldn’t have come at a better time. Earlier this week I was reading Isaiah 40:17-20 and it pierced my heart —

“The poor and needy search for water,
 but there is none;
 their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the Lord will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
 and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
 and the parched ground into springs.

I will put in the desert
 the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
 the fir and the cypress together,

so that people may see and know,
 may consider and understand,
that the hand of the Lord has done this,
 that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Have you ever seen rain fall on dry land? The ground drinks the water up in an instant and within minutes it looks as if it the rain never fell in the first place. Imagine how much water it would take to make rivers flow on barren heights, springs grow in the valleys, pools of water fill the desert and turn the parched ground into springs? How much refreshing moisture it would take to make the wasteland teem with tall, strong, fragrant, wonderful life?

Only God can do this.

Only God can take our dry, brittle, dead hearts and flood them with the power of His Spirit, bringing new life where nothing else will grow.

Only God, the God who does not forsake, can answer the call of the spiritually thirsty, bringing refreshment that satisfies forever.

Someone needs to hear this today.

Someone needs to hear that God does not forsake us, even in the wasteland. He brings new life after the rain.

Only He can. Only He will.

raindrops on leaves

Raindrops on leaves

Who Needs Sleep?

I’ve been sleep deprived for at least 8 years.

It’s a bit of a problem, but thankfully it comes in waves. There are nights that I actually do get to sleep all the way through, and the next morning the world is in full colour! Many days, though, I’m dealing with the effects of being up in the night with at least one of our four kids.

Last summer, though, I had a moment of clarity and gratitude for it all.

I laid awake in the middle of the night with an arm around a little warm body.  Our 5 and a half year old had fled to our room after a bad dream.  I didn’t know she was there until she was climbing over me and snuggling in for refuge.  We talked about it a little bit, and after a few minutes, she was ready to go back to her own bed.

When I got up with her to help her find her way in the dark, 3 and a half year old awoke and began to cry loudly about the lullabies on the iPod.  They weren’t right.  They were too quiet.  The nightlight wasn’t in the right spot…  I took a deep breath to keep from losing it and reminded her to use a quiet voice so she didn’t wake the babe.  “I CAN’T!” she wailed.  That about did it.  I hissed a “be quiet or else” type of warning and tucked them in.

For the next hour I drifted in and out of sleep while more noise came from their room than is necessary or allowed at 3am.  At 4, one was up again trying to get to the potty on time, but oops.  I could hear the steady stream hitting the step stool in front of the sink from the warmth of my wonderful bed.  I bolted up and out of bed just in time to see a giant puddle and a worried little face.  I gently told her it was okay and that accidents happen.  She sat on the potty and waited while I wiped and washed it up, found fresh pajamas from the clean laundry baskets downstairs, and tucked her in again.  As I was going back to bed, I pretended not to hear a small squawk from Little One’s room.

My head hit the pillow with great desperation and I sighed, feeling crankier than ever.

My husband put his hand on my arm and said, “Thank you for doing all of that.”  He has often been the one to take care of the potty accidents while I calm a crying babe, so he knows all too well what it’s like to get up with the kids.

“I am sure there is a special place in heaven for mamas who get up a million times in the night.”  I said.

“What time is it?” he asked.

“4:15,” I said.  “I am so tired.”  He patted my arm again.  We laughed for a minute or two about how we know we are living in the good old days right now… at least that’s how we are going to remember nights like these.

The next morning at 6:30 (read:  2 hours and 15 minutes later), two out of three kids were awake and playing.  One woke up with a fit of tears at 7, complaining that she wasn’t done sleeping.  But pretending you’re a superhero is irresistable, and all was forgotten before breakfast.

Not every night is like this one, but we’ve had our share.  In the early days of sleepless nights, I’d spend the following day feeling bad for not having the energy to take the kids out to the park or run a bunch of errands or have craft time WITH painting (so much to clean up!) or make cookies and have a flour fight in the kitchen like they do on the commercials.  But I must be getting smarter or something because I am learning to take it easy on those days instead!  We all NEED it.

Come to think of it, I’m either getting much smarter or even more exhausted, because I am so done with trying to figure out how to do everything perfectly and keep up with that pesky Jones family on social media.

My word this summer is GRACE.  I mean, how many days have I spent my time and energy wondering if what I have done with my kids or in my house today meets an imaginary standard I’ve set for myself?  These good ol’ days have often been filled with angst as I “should” myself to death throughout the day.  “I should have taken them there.  I should have fed them this.  I should have done that thing…”.  But I saw something the other day that was EXACTLY what I needed.  Instead of asking, “what have I done today?”, ask “who have I been today?” (thanks Alicia Bruxvoort and Proverbs 31 Ministries).

My heart echoes a resounding “YES!!”.

As we tumble through this stage of our lives, in the thick of these good ol’ days, it’s the nights with no sleep and letting go of perfect that are helping me to bear the fruit that matters most:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22).

One sleepless night at a time.

sunflowers at sunrise

We grew sunflowers one year. They were so beautiful at sunrise.

Ordinary Glory

This summer I’m taking some time to recharge, so my posts will be a little shorter, but I’m still here!

I’ve been amazed by the sunsets this week. They are breathtaking and photos simply do not capture their full beauty. And yet, I’m always out there, trying to catch them with a lens!

The other day, this particular part of the sky was stunning! I couldn’t believe that a 10pm sky looked like this.

sky

Summer sunset

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

Amen.

The Gift of a Boring Summer

The long exhale of summer holidays has begun.

The backyard has simultaneously become an oasis of free play and a courtroom drama with both sides arguing their case to the judge. Sibling relationships are growing and strengthening with each passing moment and a baby brother who can crawl adds a new dynamic.

One year ago this weekend, I was quite ready for our son to join the family. The other three children had been a week and a half to two weeks early, so surely he would follow suit! Not so. This boy decided to arrive the day after his due date, two of the hottest weeks of the year later, with a long fanfare: five days of early labour to prepare us for his eventual welcome.

Boy, was I tired.

Fast forward to today. Still tired. A different kind of tired, but still… tired.

We all are. It has been an intense year!

Change may happen quickly, but adjusting to the new normal happens slowly. We’ve had a lot of change this year, and we’re all ready for a deep breath and some beautiful space in the schedule to enjoy life together.

This summer, we will not be rushing around from activity to activity. We will not be cramming the days with every possible summer bucket list item. We will not adopt the frantic pace that sometimes comes with a such a short season of warm weather.

I have something else in mind.

I’d like to give the kids the gift of the kind of summers we had growing up – a good, ol’ fashioned, boring summer. And with that boredom, I want to give them the freedom to be creative, the space to make a mess, and the life skills to clean up after themselves.

Honestly though, it’s the last part that just might do me in! That’s why I came up with the “Mama’s Summer Prayer” (adapted from the Prayer of Serenity):

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the messes they will make; the courage to make them clean up after themselves instead of just doing it myself; and the wisdom to know when they actually really do need my help! (haha!)

Here’s to a summer full of whatever it brings!

oobleck

The non-Newtonian fluid “Oobleck” – cornstarch and water – acts like a solid and a liquid. So cool!