Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

My little brother celebrated another sweet year of life last week. How grateful I am for him, his family, and the friendship I have shared with him my entire life.  So happy to have time to celebrate Travis with sweet family! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Preserving Hope

We don't like Lent.

We don't like the giving up and the inevitable failure.  Or the giving up, keeping the rules and then the strange realization that it doesn't feel like celebration to get it back when Easter morning dawns.

We don't like how much we need grace.  We hate being reminded how how much we would never earn salvation, never grasp redemption without the life and death of Jesus.  I don't think we will every really understand how much grace we have to have as long as we walk every day in the blindness this world allows.

It makes us want to jump to Easter, past Lent, past Good Friday and certainly past Holy Saturday.  Who wants to mourn?  Who wants to sit and grieve?  Who wants to look at brokenness without turning their head?

I want to rush right into Easter celebration every year.  I want to celebrate redemption without remembering my sin without Jesus.  I want to put away the hurt that is the result of living in a broken world and think of the way He is healing.  I don't like living in the hurt of brokenness while waiting for a redemption when I have no idea how it will come.  I don't.

In one of my most recent favorite albums, Rend Collective has produced a song that captures how I feel on these waiting days.  The first time I heard it, I thought of Mrs. Karen.  How she has been given unbelievable strength to conquer the unconquerable battle in her life.  How she hasn't bowed to a burden that would have made most to lie down in despair but has fought with strength she could never have summoned on her own.  With Christ in her, nothing has been impossible, nothing unconquerable.  When I hugged her this week, the joy of Christ was almost a tangible thing you could see and feel in her as it always has been.

And yet.

And yet for her cancer is not a battle, but a war with more battles to face.  And how do you conquer something like that?

It stunned me to realize recently that Mrs. Karen's greatest victory in this war cancer has waged on her body is the conquest she has made over her heart.  In the deepest sadness, most difficult seasons, seemingly unredeemable situations, Christ has preserved hope in her heart.  Who can do that besides our Lord?  Who can face life-altering illness with hope in their heart?

"We will declare
Over despair
You are the HOPE"
-Rend Collective

Only one where Hope Himself dwells deep within.  In this, there is no battle on Earth that can claim victory.  Mrs. Karen, oh how I hope even I, can claim that "nothing is impossible, every chain is breakable...that God is greater than our hearts and the dark"...that we are more than conquerers over all the brokenness that surrounds our bodies and hearts because He preserves our hope.

He is our hope.

Our only hope.

"So we will not bow to sin or to shame, because He is the power in our veins."  We can sit in mourning today.  We can feel the weight of our burden because in feeling the depth of pain, the joy of the morning is that much brighter.

Mrs. Karen has said that she prefers to wear her scarves and hats or just go without than to wear a wig. In a way, it seems that to hide her head hides her battle and the great healing the Lord has brought in her body and heart. Because  diminishing the pain of the battle diminishes the joy and power of the victory. 

On our long Saturdays in life, waiting for redemption, our hope is always preserved because our hope is Christ and HE IS OUR CONQUERER.

So today, I gather with my entire family and the entire Neeley family for the culmination of a Spring Break trip that is the picture of hope and redemption after the year that has followed their last Spring Break.  I can't think of a better way to spend the Saturday before the greatest celebration of my year than with one of the greatest heroes of hope preservation I know.

Celebrating hope in the unknown and darkness of Saturday, knowing it will make the bright light of Easter morning that much more beautiful.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I'm so woefully behind on Wordless Wednesdays that it seems pretty reasonable for the first one back to be at least a day late.  I have blog posts written in my head lately that never make it to paper.  Memories that are only getting tucked into my heart instead of chronicled.  It's okay.  There are season with many words and season with few.  I am grateful for both.

Last Saturday they danced and danced and danced to the same song on repeat with Easter egg buckets in their hands while I slowly got them dressed for the day.  These are some of my favorites Steven caught:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

29 weeks

29 weeks
Carter at 29 weeks

Weight Gain: +16 pounds

Sleep: I still sleep pretty hard.  It's a lot easier to sleep this time around than it was when I was pregnant the first time because I am SO. MUCH. MORE. TIRED.  I can basically sleep on command these days.  Also?  No one is generally needing me, so I am relishing the uninterrupted sleep.   Unless someone needs to blow their nose.  Or wakes up really early and needs a hug.  Or blows out a diaper. Or throws up on their pillow.  Or needs some water at 3 am.  Or has a nightmare.  Or wants to know when we are going to the playground.  You know.  I sleep uninterrupted except when those things happen :)

Gender: Carter was right...we're having a girl!
Feeling: Hit or miss.  Some days are great.  I feel like I'm strong when I run, and I feel like I'm not constantly wadding/huffing and puffing/doing the oversized pregnant thing.  Other days, I feel like I'm going to pass out by 9 am.  I've had stomach issues that have ebbed and flowed since the first week of this pregnancy, so it basically depends on how my tummy is currently doing!  Also?  Holy heartburn Batman.  I was introduced to heartburn through pregnancy, and this one is no exception to what seems to be the rule.  If the old wives tale is true, Ella will have a ponytail when she is born.  It's serious.

Cravings: Nothing out of the ordinary.

Health:  I passed the gestational diabetes test.  Also I made that midwife visit with both boys and our sanity intact.  That really felt like the bigger win.  Everything else seems to be proceeding normally.

Movement: Still lots of movement, but I can tell that her space is tightening a little.  Her movements are getting smaller and more direct instead of the big, crazy stuff she was doing.

Next Appointment: Midwife: April 23rd.  Every 3 weeks now!  Follow-up ultrasound April 16th.