Friday, July 25, 2014

Planted in Faith....

Never doubt in the DARK what God told you in the LIGHT.

V. Raymond Edman

    The last few days, I have been trying to quietly repeat this truth to myself.  Clearly, I need a bold, loud reminder, rather than a gentle, quiet one:

Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.

Elisabeth Elliot

Towards the beginning of this year, Ben and I were wrestling with the question of our family size. We felt God drawing us into unity, asking us to trust Him with this area of our life yet again. We heard Him, in His glorious light, ask us to trust Him in seeing if He might have another precious, eternal soul to entrust to our family.  In beautiful faith, God planted in our hearts the vision of enlarging our family.

Well. Fast forward awhile, and I'm on the couch, more sick than I have ever been during pregnancy. I watch as the chaos seems to take over, my poor husband runs almost ragged doing what I know is my job!  I watch, heart breaking, as war and chaos and screaming have seemed to break out in every corner, and I begin to let doubt creep in. I wonder if any character could possibly be growing in this mess.  I wonder if we were just wrong and irresponsible like people seem to think we are.  I can't see how this could possibly be what is good and best for our family....

But then. The roots of faith pull me back to what is true, and I remember. I remember what God taught me so faithfully the last two years,
"There's always more going on than what you can see."

I remember that my stuggle is not against a 5 year old who won't obey or a 3 year old who screams and kicks. No. My struggle is NOT against flesh and blood. There is a heavenly war raging in the realm that I can't always see. And even though I can't stand up on two feet and I can't move sometimes, and even though I never, ever wanted to be mothering from the couch!!!!!
They need me to PRAY.
No eloquent words needed. 
"Lord, have mercy on us!" is sufficient.

I may not have a clear thought in the day because the sickness brings such a fog. But I can utter the desperate cries of a momma who just needs more grace, more mercy from heaven, more Jesus....
I can still hold out God's Word before them as a beacon of light and truth.  It is not just the "standard" that we live is the bread that sustains us. It is the nourishment that keeps us living and breathing.

I may not FEEL like I have much to offer these precious ones in this season.  But, by God's grace, if I live with FAITH in what God planted, if I hold fast to what He told us in the LIGHT....then that gift is enough for today.
It may get more dark and difficult. It may get messy. It may even look like it's whithering in the heat. 
But by faith...we pray that what God brings up out of the soil, which He planted by faith, will surprise us all with its beauty.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Big accomplishment!

Look who read his first little Sing, Spell book!!!! Judah Sean, you are learning so much! :-)

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Birthday boy....

Happy birthday, Caleb Paul!!!  You are such a gift to our family. There are so many amazing and wonderful things I could say about you. But today, instead of thinking about all you do (which is a lot!), or even the truly remarkable character growing in you, I just want to say that I love you. I love being around you.  Our family just needed a Caleb Paul Hester. 
We were laughing tonight because I think you were my easiest pregnancy, and my easiest labor/delivery. 
I love how close you and Emma are. You two make a good team.  You are so wise beyond your years. Sometimes your prayers just floor me.  All your brothers look up to you so much. Which is also a gift!!!
I'm just sort of rambling, but it all means, "I love you." "I'm thankful for you."
Today, Emma was telling some friends of ours that you are the nicest person on the planet.  You frequently hear how amazing, smart, hard-working, etc, you are. 
So this year, my prayer for you is that you would know without a doubt, that God doesn't love you because you're intelligent, or because you don't show your frustration easily, or because you are so helpful and hard-working.  This year, my prayer is that you would know the love God has for you in Christ when you don't get it right.  When you do get frustrated.  I want you to know that you are loved because you belong to our family. Oh! Your hard work is a great gift and I believe it is all part of God's plans and purposes for you.  But it is not what makes you valuable.  You are priceless because you were bought at a great price.  Your love and value is made secure in Christ.  He loved you first...and that is why you can love at all.
So. My dear boy. I love you more than my words can express.  May your love for God's Word grow deeper and stronger, may His love and light become more satisfying than any other thing, and may you rest fully in the good news that you have been rescued.  May Jesus Christ forever be your King and Captain....
For the King! For the Kingdom!
P.S. I hope to post some pics of your special camping trip with dad soon. We are having technological difficulties. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Breakfast of champions...

The kids are sitting at the table playing a game where they analyze the nutritional content of their cereal. They get points for having the least amount of calories and sugar, and the most vitamins.
This is just plain awesome.
FYI. I did not teach them this game. But I have had to explain the occasional nutritional element or vitamin/mineral and what it does for the body. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

This year's Mommy Awards!

(My phone memory is full, so this the only recent-ish pic I have of all the kids)

One of the hard things about homeschooling is that we don't always do promotions and graduations. Many times, because you reach a finish line in March, or September, and then you keep going....
We have really tried to honor and acknowledge each accomplishment-each finish line that you reach. 

Emma Faith, you didn't have a graduation, where your friends and family sat through boring speeches waiting for you to receive your certificate.  And there were so many accomplishments worth acknowledging: finish sixth grade math, "finishing" your English for the year, beginning to learn violin, loving astronomy, knitting and crocheting....
But the things I most want to honor you for this year are things you don't often get certificates for. This year, you grew in faith, as you saw God answer a long-awaited prayer for a sister. This year, you grew in your ability to teach little ones, especially Judah. This year, you grew in perseverance, and you found your dramatic talent as you recited Patrick Henry's famous speech. This year, you grew in love and service toward our whole family, and especially to me. I cannot tell you what a gift it is to have a girl bring you breakfast in bed, with tea, and two chocolates....just because.
For these things, and many more unsung here, I honor you in the Lord. I am so proud of you Emma. And wow! You are now entering the "J-High" at church. This is a big deal!!! 

And Caleb Paul. I don't brag on you much, but tonight I will.  Actually, many times I hide or downplay some of the things you can do. Please forgive me for that. As we say in our home, you are the way that you are because it is exactly what God needed you to be in order to fulfill His Kingdom purposes for you.  So, I honor you now for completing sixth grade English. I honor you, for being more than half way through Algebra. But more than that...I honor the deep, flowing  lifeblood of service that pervades your being. It could only come from God. You put up with the most and complain the least. God created you to be incredibly intelligent, not to mention athletic....but on top of that, He saw fit to place you in this big family and gifted you with a servant's heart. You work so hard in our home-whether it is cleaning up messes you didn't make, putting things away that you didn't get out, or just by being willing to do whatever needs to be done (especially when it involves creeping and crawling things!)
You are brave and courageous far beyond your years. 

Noah Benjamin. You too, have persevered and grown! You completed your Working With Wisdom book and you have faithfully continued in your lessons. You surprised all of us with your amazing grammar knowledge by the end of the year! (You can catch those prepositional phrases pretty quickly!) You have really begun to enjoy reading, and I often have to *encourage* you to stop reading in order to finish up the other things asked of you.   But wow! This year, we discovered what an amazing and nurturing heart you have. You are such a big helper for Evelyn. I can trust you to feed her, and you even leave very little mess! We are so proud of you Noah!

Ezra, wow! You blew us away by both your math and reading skills. You're working somewhere around 2nd grade level or so in math, and somewhere around 3rd grade level in English. Your brain must go really fast, and boy, your body does too! I can barely keep up with you.  I'm so thankful to have this time at home with you--I'm afraid you would spend most of your time at school in trouble. ;-). But instead, I am honored to see how quickly your mind works and I am learning how to challenge you without frustrating you. You really are learning how to be, and growing into, a Mighty Warrior. That has been my favorite time with you this year, reading our special book together.

And Judah Sean! You also surprised me by zipping through your first Sing, Spell book ("All Aboard.") We also had lots of fun as we learned character and letters through My Father's World. The turtle reminds us "I don't quit! I persevere!"  You are learning to be a helper and to listen and obey mommy's voice. We are so proud of you Judah Sean!!

Last, but certainly not least, Evelyn Hope. You did a remarkable job bringing joy to all of us this year. You also learned to walk, and are working on talking too. 

To all six of you amazing and darling little people (and Ambree, our 3/4 ;-p). 
You are the coolest people.  I am so extremely grateful, thankful, and humbled to be called your mom. You teach me constantly and challenge me steadily. I  love being around you. This "homeschool" road has been such a privilege and an honor because I have gotten to learn SO many things alongside you. So. Congratulations to all my little learners this year. You have worked hard and I have great joy in seeing you grow and walk in the truth.

Our verse to guide our schooling this year:

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:2-4, 6, 7 NLT)

Friday, June 06, 2014

A celebration in heaven....

"How exciting!!!"
"How are you feeling? Do you need anything?"
These are the responses you often receive when you announce your first, or maybe even your second, pregnancy.

After that, they progress into much darker things like:
"Are they ALL yours?" 
"Better you than me!"
"You guys need to get TV!"
"You know what causes that, right?"
[TOTAL side note here....I know this sounds like it would be a funny thing to say. But to the receiver, you're really saying, "Are you SO dumb that you haven't figured out how to quit having children? Because only people THAT dumb would keep having them."
We don't happen to share that sentiment.]
Among looks of shock or even disgust, the (great) grand multipara (mother of many!) listens as before her ears, a celebration goes unheard on earth, and the temptation towards discouragement sets in.

So much so, that for baby number seven, you think....
Maybe we shouldn't tell our family just yet.
Maybe we shouldn't tell work....
Or even worse.
Maybe we shouldn't tell people at church.

I told Ben that it's so hard. When a person, or family recognizes God's call in their life to go to the mission field, they stand before the church and receive prayer. They are sent out and anointed for the task. They send out support letters and get people to pray for them and receive updates. And when they become discouraged, or sick, weary, or overwhelmed.... They can share that and receive prayer and encouragement!!!
But we, having received God's call on our life....we are sort of "on our own." And let's be honest-our "call" is much more vague.  Ben and I cannot yet say "We are going to have as many children as God gives us, and never prevent pregnancy in any way." I don't know if we can't say that because we dont have the faith, or because we are just in the thick of it, prayerfully asking God about one child at a time.
And when it becomes difficult, or we are weary, sick, or (heaven forbid!) overwhelmed!!! We are treated with little sympathy because after all, "we did this to ourselves." We were "irresponsible". 

This is so sad! For anyone who has children, they know that it is HARD work. I would be the first to say that. God's calling on my life has been harder than I ever imagined. But it has also been deeper, richer, and more fulfilling than I ever imagined. It is not a human thought to take that kind of hard work, and multiply it many times over. No, friends, it is a supernatural thought. It is a supernatural work, to give your life for these precious ones, whether there are two or twelve.  It is not irresponsibility that has brought us to this place, rather it is the on-my-knees submission to the calling that Ben and I have received from God, have been empowered by Him for, and with fear and trembling....we accept it with joy. (Most of the time!)

Because.... Here's the "real" part. I am human.  I am not divine, even though my calling is. I get it wrong. I feel like I will throw up if I even move or breathe sometimes when I am pregnant, and then I walk into a bathroom with poop smeared all over a toddler's back and shirt because he was wiping himself.
I get  tired. Bone tired. Fall on my bed, can't even change into pajamas tired. 
I get weary. I lose sight of discipleship and hearts and things get so blurry that all I can see is that little people are fighting and making messes.  
I waiver. In the midst of kids going crazy because mom is sick on the couch, I doubt everything. I wonder how in the world we could possibly add more? And I forget about the sovereignty of the very God who entrusted us with this precious, eternal person.

Anyway. You get the point. All this to say: we are missionaries. We didn't send out support letters, and we didn't ask for financial support. We didn't get on a plane and travel far to a village.
We are the village. But we do need your support. We need your kind and encouraging words. We need you to pray for us and send us out, because sometimes our village gets sick. Sometimes there is a spirit of dissension or, even worse at times, a spirit of sleeplessness. Sometimes we need to be reminded that this great calling is a heavenly one....that God has called us to make disciples in this village. 

And as my dear husband affirmed: we are to have faith in the calling we have received. We are to bear with grace, the comments and attitudes of those who do not support this calling.  And we are to be ever living for an Audience of One. Because even when the earthly celebration goes unheard....all heaven is rejoicing with us as we eagerly await baby number seven.

And personally, I want to thank and affirm those women, who have chosen to join me in seeing this as a heavenly calling. Those women who have prayed with me and cried with me and rejoiced with me. I don't care if you are a mom with one child or many. When we choose to support one another in our God-given callings rather than despise or reject another's calling, then we become that much closer to the beautiful picture God gives of being built up together into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

And just to lay the myth to rest, just because this is our family's calling, does not mean that I think it is yours as well. If you share a glass of water, or tea, or coffee with me, it does not mean that you will have a large family too. :-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Catch the moment....

I haven't had much time to update....and, it's a whole story about how my phone can't take any pictures and I can't download them to my computer because iPhoto quit working....

All that to say: Judah told me this morning, "Mom, I have a red buggy-bite on mines leg."

I thought it was the most adorable thing, and I wanted to catch the moment.

Here's to buggy bites and Dr. Seuss, which we will now go read....;-)