Ephesians 1

i really love summer days. and, though I often grieve my kids not-being-so-little anymore,
I will say, ages 6 and 8 are good ages.
I can say stuff like "go get your swimsuits on", and, well, they DO. ;-)

 last week, during one of these fun summer days,
 a casual play-date turned not-so-casual.
and I learned my lesson:
never NOT wear my swimsuit to the pool with the kids.


I just started reading through and studying Ephesians with a friend,
and chapter 1 has my heart overflowing. 
the selection of the Father, the sacrifice of the son, the seal of the Holy Spirit...
just 14 verses hold such deep theological truth.
truth as in, 
we have been predestined.
Predestined = marked out before hand.
before the foundation of this world -
before the beginning, there was a beginning, and we were chosen. Chosen to be adopted as sons through Christ. nothing we have done, nothing we could ever do - 
just His supreme sovereignty chose us.

In that predestination, we have been redeemed and forgiven.
Redeemed has the language of slave trading - we have been traded from a life of sin, a life of slavery to the bonds of that sin, to sons and daughters of the Almighty King, with an eternal inheritance.

we have been redeemed.


Last week, at that playdate, our kids were happy and playing.
my sweet 6-year-old went to the shallow end, 
and that's where my mistake happened.
sure, sweetie, you can take your floaties off.

the floaties always stay on. 

she happily played in the shallow end.
then she and a friend decided to hang on to the edge of the pool and work themselves around the perimeter. the perimeter of the pool, including the deep end.
  about 20 feet away, I yelled to her -
you don't have your floaties on! hang on to the edge.

I turned my head and then a second later turned back to her,
and all-in-an-instant my 6-year-old is in the middle of the deep end,
arms swirling above her head, eyes wide.
I am instantly at the edge.
Grace! come to the edge! 
her eyes bigger, simultaneously gulping air and water, barely afloat,
she shakes her head at me. 
She can't get to the edge.

and with out a second thought,
without thinking about whether or not my phone is in my pocket or not,
or if I should take my fairly-new-probably-shouldn't get-chlorine-on-it white cardigan off or not,
I am in that pool.
I am in that pool fully clothed, 
not caring about anything except for the fact that my precious girl cannot get her head above water.
my arms circle around her, pulling her up.
she coughs and then cries.
she's scared.

so scared that she didn't get off my lap the rest of the time at the pool. she was the first to leave the pool, the first to get her swimsuit off, the first to sit on my lap during dinner.  She wanted her momma's reassurance.  
and her momma needed her precious girl close, too. 
took me a full evening to calm down from that close call!

and as I read Ephesians and read REDEEMED,
I imagine the God of the universe, standing by the edge of that pool for my own life,
and before I even realized I am drowning in my spiritual state,
He jumped in. He didn't even blink an eye, didn't check to see if there were any other better prospects to save...He jumped in my pool,
and rescued me from my spiritual drowning.

to the praise of His glorious grace.

and now, my heart begs me to ask,
am I living like this?
am I living like I have been redeemed?

Or am I inching my way back around the perimeter of that pool, seeing how close I can get to the deep end of sin  - without fully drowning...
not knowing that that deep end is  pull me under before I can do anything about it, and I will soon be gulping and gasping for air?

am I living like I have been redeemed? forgiven? bought with a price? Am I so sensitive to the Spirit's leading in my life? Am I so sensitive to sin that my be lurking?

am I living like the God of Angel Armies jumped in after me? 

Am I the first person to cling to my Abba Father, not wanting to leave His side, 
but feeling safety in His presence?
I hope so.
I hope you are, too.


if you'd like to follow along, grab your Bible and study Ephesians 1 this week! come back and comment...I'd love to read them and see what your thoughts are.


Happy 6th Birthday, Grant

this blog started, long ago, as just a simple way to keep my family (read: MOM) up-to-date with family stuff.

fun family stuff like birthday parties.

and, a couple of weeks ago, we had a very special birthday party for my favorite just-turned-6-year-old.  i may be a couple weeks behind, but never late than never, right?
so, let's play a little blog-world re-wind here.

6 years ago, 
i sat in a hospital bed,
not knowing how soon grant owen's arrival would become.

in a last-night-of-no-kids,
matt and i shared a dinner of all my favorite pregnancy foods-
mexican enchiladas, 
panera's cheese danishes, 
and coldstone creamery's cheesecake icecream.

we stayed up late in the hospital room talking.
overflowing with the excitement and feelings of having a baby soon.

and then,
in a whirlwind of emergency and emotion,
grant owen entered the world.

{to my son}

you are my favorite little boy.
if i could hit pause on this journey of life,
i would have you be 6 for a long while.

every day, you become more of your daddy
his logic,
his dependability,
his even-keeled temper.

you are your father's son.

last week,
when the fan in your room started making noise,
you decided to open the dresser drawers to change the air flow to see if that helped the fan.


you, my son,
discussed {air flow}.

those engineering genes of your dad's?
they run strong, apparently.

     every day,  you are your father.

i love it.
i love seeing your mind in work.
i just pray that as much as you inherit that engineering DNA,
you also have your father's love for our Abba Father.
your father's absolutely dedication to living a life worthy of the calling.

Happy birthday, Grant.
May you seek Him all the days of your life. 

Father's Day

Our 8-year-old has been taking karate lessons for the past several months.
one of my favorite lines that the instructor repeats often is this:
we only use these moves for self-defense. Never to fight, and never on siblings. ;-)

Grant's earned his way up 3 belts, and we've seen in build confidance, self-control, and coordiantion -
all good qualities for an 8-year-old-boy to improve upon. 

Last week I had a conference with one of the instructors during classtime to talk about how we've seen Grant improve, and to inform me of the future class options.  As we started the conference the Sensei asked me several questions about Grant, and then we got to this one:

What kind of man do you want Grant to grow into in the future,
 and how do you think martial arts could help that?

as I paused, I saw Grant out of the corner of my eye round-house-kicking and forward-lunging through the two-way-mirror, 
and I all-of-a-sudden bit back tears in that small, humid karate office.

for as my heart and mind flash-forwarded Grant to the man I'd like him to become,
I realized there's nothing I'd rather him be than a man like his Dad is.  

I envisioned Grant loving his wife and his family with an unswerving, unshakeable loyalty and love, just as Matt has done for us.  I envisioned Grant full of integrity...that that man that people will know the adult Grant to be will be the man that he is in private.  My heart envisioned Grant being rooted and built up in the Word of God, and fervently and steadfastly preaching and teaching that Word, proclaiming His glory for all to hear.  

I bit back my tears in that karate office, and told the Sensei I wanted Grant to love his God, his wife, and his family well, an answer I'm sure that instructor did not see coming.

But there's no other answer I'd rather have for the question of 
What kind of man do I want Grant to be?
than a man just like his daddy.

Happy Father's day to the man who points us all to Him.
we love you so much, Matt! Thanks for loving us so well.

January 10, 2007, the day that made Matt a dad.

Just Because He Lives

Writing is often my therapy.
and, okay, coffee, candy, and some shopping, too.;-)
I sit down at the keyboard, with a steaming cup of strong coffee,
and the words that are often so hard for me to verbalize come flowing out,
flowing from a deep, deep place in my heart that often begins in the dark, early morning hours with my coffee and my Bible.

I know I said here I'd be writing.
 I've wanted to,
but have hesitated.

I never ever want to sensationalize my health difficulties.  or write about them so many times that y'all are like, anna, get a new neurological disease to talk about. ;-) 
but, as Luke says, 
from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
and how does my heart overflow with what *He* has done for me!
i can't help but share.

Share how faithful our Sovereign Lord has been there to meet me in 
every.single.moment of fear, of questions, of uncertainty over the last three years.

some Easter decor on my mantle reads
{I know my Redeemer Lives}
and my heart skips a beat when I read it.

three years ago,
when the line of before-MS and after-MS had officially been crossed in my life,
and we had been catapulted into a whirwind of every-single-neurological test possible, all leading towards a diagnosis.
 we got closer and closer to Easter.
 and I got closer and closer and closer to the darkest fear of my heart being realized.

it was within these months of waiting that I would jump in the middle of the night,
instantly awake, heart racing.

all I would hear with every beat of my pounding heart was 
multiple sclerosis
thud thud thud thud
multiple sclerosis multiple sclerosis multiple sclerosis.

and my first thought of my racing brain would be
{it wasn't a dream}.

And then I would be up for the day, in the wee hours of the morning, while the rest of my house slept in seemingly blissful unawareness.  it was these months that my internet was permanently fixed to MS research - AND what-could-my-symptoms-be *besides* MS research, and while my Bible was permanently open to Job, the tear stained pages greeting me morning after morning after morning.

we had test after test after test,
all coming back within normal limits.
expect tests pointing towards the one thing my heart feared.

and we got closer and closer to Easter,
and my heart raced with fear.
 all-encompassing, all-consuming fear.

and then through a series of scriptures,
the Lord addressed every.single.one of my fears.
not giving me any answers,
but telling my heart to stop asking why and start asking Who.
Who is going to fight for me?
Who has done great things for me previously in my life?
Who has planned my days from the foundations of the earth?
Who has promised me to never, ever forsake me?
Who is going to walk with me, even if I am not walking?

And as the Lord addressed my fears, we got closer to Easter Sunday.
And my heart started singing the old song I always sang 
growing up in my Baptist church on Easter Sunday:
Because He Lives,
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives,
All fear is gone.
Because I know, who holds the future,
and life is worth the living, just because He lives.

And singing that song leading up to Easter Sunday brought me to my knees before a Holy God,
knowing that through His Son's Resurrection, Death was conquered.  And in conquering death, He brings abundant life, even in the face of neurological disease.

hallelujah, the stone was rolled away! hallelujah, the tomb was empty.

three years later,
my heart races with fear much less frequently.
relapses or symptoms getting worse may remind me of that fear,
but they remind me oh-so-much-more of How He has conquered death and fear,
and my life is worth the living, just because He lives.

i have hope for now, and so-much-more-hope for eternity, just because HE lives. 
even if my MS becomes debilitating in *this* life, how-much-more will my glorified, perfected body mean to me as I am finally able to walk upon streets of gold, face-to-face with my Savior, my body never again stained with the sin of this world?

hallelujah, the stone was rolled away! hallelujah, the tomb was empty.
And three years later I'm still singing 
- and even 30 years from now, if the Lord grants me that - 
may I still sing with the army of angels - 
Because HE lives,
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives,
all fear is gone.
Because He lives -
even with multiple sclerosis -
I can face tomorrow.

Just because He lives.


another of my favorite Easter songs.

Multiple Sclerosis

It's almost mind-bogling that it's been three years. 
3 years full of their own challenges, trials, and heartache.

Three very long and yet oh-so-fast years since the line of demarcation in my life.

the line that almost visibly marked itself
 - before multiple sclerosis, after multiple sclerosis.


I try hard not to talk about multiple sclerosis - 
*not* because I'm not okay with it, because only through the grace of God, 
I am very, very okay with MS.
 I can discuss symptoms, challenges, problems 
without any of the shock-and-awe I had three years ago.

however, I never want to be one of those people
 that goes on and on and on about health issues or my personal problems.  I know everyone has their own {hard} that's equally challenging and faith-building, and I never diminish that.
 MS is just my own personal journey. 

But Psalm 107 says 
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.

Oh, how the Lord has redeemed me! so much grace, so much mercy, so much redemption -
How can I NOT talk about it?

So, as I become so very, very close to the day that three years ago sent us into
 a whirlwind of medical tests, deep, deep emotions, 
and a season of our hearts crying out to Him more intensely than ever before,
I'm saying so.

Saying how He has been so very, very faithful.  
Through His sovereign plan,
He has allowed me to walk this journey of MS.
He met me so deeply, so personally amidst the pain,
that now, looking back on my diagnosis, it was one of the sweetest, richest times of my spiritual life than ever before.  I could almost feel the presence of the Lord in my life. so many mornings with coffee and tear-stained pages, verses like
{they loved not their lives, even unto death} 
touched my heart in such powerful ways, 
they kept me from racing ahead with the overwhelming fear and anxiety that a progressive neurological disease brought.

Over the next few days, I will continue to write.  Write about what He's taught me through MS, what He's done in my heart, and how every single day my tingling, numbness, weakness, only provides such a tangible reminder of His grace, and How I need Him desperately - as we all so do.

Lord, How we need you!

I write not for anything I've done -
ALL for what HE has done.
for our All-Sovereign, All-Powerful Lord has done so very, very much.

Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so.


When your child-bearing years end...

like grains of sand in the palm of my hand,
I can almost feel the time slipping through my fingers.

it's slipping so hard and so fast that the tighter I squeeze the faster it goes.
it goes and goes and goes, 
and my heart cries and tears come.

the time goes.
 the last few months of having my baby-girl be a semblance of {baby}.
she turns 6 in a few short months, and from our oldest son,
i know that 5-to-6, Kindergarten-to-first-grade
makes them grow up. a lot.  from little kid to {big kid}.

a sweet throwback to 3-year-old gracie, the age she is in my heart.

it's a heartache I know all parents know,
but my heart aches even more,
as I never knew she'd be our last one.

until last July 14, when the hard and fast adoption laws sealed our fate,
and ended my dreams of a larger family.

 it's a new reality,
and I'm trusting in the Lord's sovereignty more than ever before.

I'm trying to embrace the qualities of having slightly-older-kiddos.
qualities like sleep. a slightly more picked-up house. the ability to drink my coffee while it's {mostly} still warm.  seeing them develop a sibling relationship.
being able to do fun, fun kid activities and have them actually enjoy them and me not just be exhausted from the effort of *getting there*.

but my heart hurts for the days of littler kids, days that I didn't know would be our last until too late.
my heart aches for shopping in the toddler department, signing up for preschool classes, playing in sensory bins, and rocking sweet babies to sleep in fuzzy, footed jammies.

I'd like to think I would have cherished those days a bit more had I known they'd be our last.
in my heart of hearts, I thought Miles would be in our family.

but now that our decision of being a family of 4 has been made for us,
the Lord's soveriengty rules my heart more than ever before.

although I think my heart will always ache,
I trust in truth.

truth as in
...the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places...
...no good thing does He withold from those whose walk is blameless...
...all things work for good...

so, perhaps we'll be able to minister to families that also have their child-bearing years end on a "bad" note. perhaps someone, somewhere, will be encouraged to be radical with their faith and orphans, no matter what the journey will hold.  perhaps my MS will progress rapidly in the years to come, and it will be a blessing in disguise that we have {only} 2 children to care for.

There are reasons in the heartache, reasons we will never see.
as a dear mentor told me recently,
nothing happens for nothing.
so, I'm trusting that He, in a way that only our All-Sovereign, All-Mighty Savior can do,
will work my heartache for good.
and For His Glory.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday Favorites

This week has been a little out-of-the-ordinary with our 5-year-old's recovery from her tonsils/adenoids/throat surgery.

Some of my favorite bloggers do a Friday Favorites - linking up with them this week. 

My favorite things from this week?
 a husband that loves me enough to re-paint our bedroom.
totally love this paint color!
and my husband. ;-)

my 8-year-old's first devotional book.
We showed him how to use it, how to look up verses in his Bible and underline them as he likes them...and the very first morning he came downstairs and sat with me at the table to read while I finished up my Bible reading. 
I totally choked back tears! sweet boy.

Cheetah jammies on a 5-year-old.
{she asked if the doctors would recognize her, or if they'd just see a cheetah. and then said, 'oh, well, they'll see my face." like, for sure that's the only way they'd know she's not a cheetah. :-)}

a hopsital that's amazing with children!

great necklaces at good prices!

toy organization.
my 5-year-old gets her OCD honestly. ;-)

Happy Weekend!

Behind the Story

a few weeks ago,
i was searching for some random item.
searching all over the entire house,
 I finally decided to open the seldomly-used guest-bedroom-dresser.
what I found took my breath away.
I stared blankly at the drawer,
not processing the forgetten-about contents.
blinking my eyes and shaking my head with the dawning of reality,
i quickly shut it and left the room as my tears fell.
an entire drawer of sized 4T clothing.
brand new, tags still on.
neatly folded, waiting.
fuzzy-lined sweatshirts and cozy cords.
2-piece fitted reindeer jammies and soft red henleys.
waiting for our sweet Miles.
they remain in that drawer,
waiting for a son whom will never get to wear them.
I've been quiet about Miles. and all orphan care.
not because my heart has forgotten,
but because my heart overflows 
and it's almost impossible to articulate the depth of emotions 
we've felt the past 12 months of our lives.
one year ago today,
Matt and I were meeting Miles for the very first time together.
I was hugging him for the first time since I met him in January of 2011.
this is the photo I put on instagram almost exactly a year ago.
Miles' shirt and tie and sweet little blazer he'd wear to the Ugandan court.
the ugandan court that would then delay our process,
the delay that would be our first hint that this adoption journey 
would take a different path than we ever saw coming.
 My heart will never understand why the Lord had this path for us.
why we have an entire drawer full of clothes, 
an entire household of prepared hearts -
an entire community of friends and family -
that will never get to greet and meet and love the intended person.
I will never understand.
But though I have been quiet,
I am breaking the silence.
Breaking through our healing hearts to say that I don't want people to see THIS story.
the story of failed adoption. 

{I want you to see the GOD *behind* the story}.
the God who, when originally calling us to adopt,
provided two *thousand* dollars in TWO WEEKS for us to submit our first paperwork.
the God who opened door after door after door in Uganda for us, clearing the path for us to arrive.
the God who worked in our family's hearts, 
who made even grandparents love this sweet little boy they had never met.
the God who worked in our 7-year-old's heart so much 
that he STILL says our family is a family of five.  
our sweet Grant *counts* Miles in our family, from even around the ocean.
The God who has given me every single doctor I've needed at just the right time
 to treat a potentially very serious heart condition.
The God who met us in our pain. Whom loved us through our tears. 
the God who now has SEVEN Ugandan pastors sponsored monthly through our contacts.
that's SEVEN pastors preaching the Gospel to people who may never have heard.
that's the God of our story.
that's the GOD I want people to see.

The God whose ways, even though they are not our ways,
are infinitely higher than our own. 

the God who bears our pain and feels our grief.

The God who directs our paths, when even in our understanding, they make zero sense. 

The God who chooses to use broken, desperate people, to weave stories for His Glory.

That's the God we serve.
 See the God behind our story, not just our story itself.

"I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted".
job 42

sweet Miles, about a year ago.