Sunday, March 23, 2014

In Between

 In between our oldest daughter, Caroline and our youngest son, Zeke is Ava Ruth.  She celebrated her 9th birthday on St. Patrick's Day.  I told her just today that her role as our middle child is a lot like the creme inside an Oreo cookie.  She is our sweet center and makes our family better.  She really liked that analogy.  She has the unique position of being buddies with both of her siblings while Zeke and Caroline aren't as close with each other.
This year she opted for an ice skating trip with me and two other little friends from school and their moms.  Plus she  is getting a trip to the American Girl Doll store sometime soon.

Her birthday sometimes gets caught up in the hustle and bustle of school and schedule conflicts.  But she is a sport and understands that life inevitably can't stop just because birthdays come around.  This year my dad was in the hospital due to a potential heart scare (thankfully he is all well and back home).  Ava hated that her Grand-daddy was in the hospital but she really hated that it was on her birthday.  I think it was a good opportunity for God to show her the importance of putting others first even when the day is about celebrating you!

Ava is such a bright spot in our lives.  It seems like I have only blinked and she has somehow landed in the 3rd grade.  She loves people.  She loves one on one time.  She is learning the art of dancing beautifully in ballet.  She loves to sing and participates in chorus at school.  She could eat her weight in ice cream and she loves to go without horrible influence.

But what first comes to mind about my "in between" girl is her mature sensitivity.  She notices things that a kid her age usually doesn't pick up on.  She sees injustice.  She feels when other people are hurt, left out, or mistreated.  I fear that sometimes she even tries to take it on herself.  She is a natural burden bearer.  I see the ways God is already using this in her little life.  Obviously having a sister that is severely disabled hasn't hurt in this area either.

This brings me to the two sweet moments from Ava's birthday weekend that I have hidden in the depths of my heart.

Moment one occurred on our ice skating trip.  It was close to the end of the evening and our time of ice skating was quickly drawing to a close.  She asked if she and I could hold hands and skate around the rink a few more times.  I reached for her little hand and we took off.  The lights had been turned down and only white twinkling lights danced above us.  I looked down and took her in with my eyes.  The look of littleness is leaving her but traces still remain...and I relish in moments like this.

I said, "Ava I love you.  Happy Birthday baby.  I am so proud to be your mom."

She said, " I love you mama.  This has been the best birthday ever.  This feels so magical."

And it really did.  We continued skating along just holding hands and then she
broke the silence with a brilliant statement that both broke my heart and blessed my soul.

She said, "Mom you know what I wish?"

I shook my head and said, "No honey.  What do you wish?"

"I wish Caroline were here with us."

I could almost cry again as I relive the moment in my mind.  But it was the most selfless beautiful sentiment.  Spoken from the sincere and sensitive heart of my nearly 9 year old.

Moment number two was on Ava's actual birthday.  I had run around like a crazy woman with my SuperMom cape flowing in the breeze.  My dad had a heart cath that morning in a different town but I was determined to be back at the school in time for Ava's lunch with cupcakes for the whole class.  Thankfully the morning clicked along perfectly including good news about my daddy.  So Shep and I both managed to get to the school on time and eat with Ava.  Nearing the end of her lunch break a friend in her class (with the teacher's permission) went and flicked the lights on and off in the lunchroom to get everyone's attention.  Then her friend announced that it was Ava's birthday and that they were gonna sing to her.  So the entire lunch room burst into the latest kid version of Happy Birthday complete with new lyrics added to the end. 

What I haven't told you is that Caroline's special education class eats in the lunchroom at the same time.  This particular day Caroline was seated in her wheelchair with a bib around her chest because her sweet teacher was feeding her some food.

During the Happy Birthday song with a crowded lunchroom peering on Ava stood beside Caroline and held her hand the entire time.   

A lot of kids are embarrassed by wheelchairs, drool, bibs and the like when they are nine years old.

But Ava showed no sign of embarrassment whatsoever.  Just love.

Her place in our family is strongly felt and equally needed.

She's a perfect fit in between.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Kept Woman

We sing a song at church that repeats the phrase, "Keep the Faith."

Other times people will use that phrase as some type of encouragement or knock-around filler when they don't know what to say.

I totally get the phrase.

I even get why people say it.

We are to keep believing.  Keep hoping.  Keep on walking the walk.  Yada yada.

But isn't this a little backwards?

God was the initiator of relationship with man from the very beginning.  Our very existence is because He thought of us first.  He formed man with His hands and made us into His image. We couldn't live unless He hadn't first gotten involved.

And faith is given by God.  I can't just get faith on my own.

Like the unbelieving father that cried out, "I do believe.  Help my unbelief" we are dependent upon His power in us to exert faith.

Growth and maturity in Jesus through reading God's Word and intimate prayer time broadens our capacity to believe God for even more. 

But, again, He pursues us.  Relationship with us was His idea.  (We just reap the benefits)

So even our growth and maturity is His idea.

Making the time and putting forth the effort may fall upon our human volition but the drawing of the Spirit upon our hearts is His invitation.

This absolutely blesses the heart of a weary follower of Christ.

I love Jesus so much.

My heart almost can't contain the love His has bestowed upon me.

But what ministers to me in a world of constant bombardment of do harder...strive that He keeps me.

I can only "keep the faith" because He keeps me.

I am a kept woman.

Great security flows from that little phrase.

These verses are rich and extravagant in meaning to me.  I Peter 1:3:5 state this truth so much better than I ever could.  We tend to veer away from the King James Version but this translation is ageless and beautiful.

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.