The Winter Solstice was earlier this week: the darkest night of the entire year. 

It feels significant, in this year of 2020, to acknowledge the dark, without comparison or minimizing.

List of things lost in 2020:

* Tony, Mary Jane, and Ms. Jean 

* Scott's grandma, Tom's mom, Greg's mom

* a little niece or nephew

* 7 scheduled Nicarauga trips 

* Income

* soccer seasons

* In person performance for Ella's acting class

* Seeing and giving smiles that can be seen in public

* Youth retreats

* Going to the movies

* The Homeplace Restaurant (and many others)

* Jennifer L and Jimmy C

* Hugs and handshakes and sending homemade meals

* The last and final whiffs of sweet boyhood from Eli and Ezra

* Seeing numerous friends from church...

* Birthday parties, holiday parties, graduation parties...

* Any perception of control

And yet, in darkness, good things are happening.

Like a seed planted, deep into the dark soil, growth...grows.

Our physical bodies, designed to spend hours each day asleep, in the dark, in order for restoration, healing, and growing to happen.

I'll acknowledge that growth...perhaps, tomorrow.

Today, I lament the loss. I bring all my grief and sadness and confusion to my Father, for he cares and sees and is so very with me. My lament is brought with belief, the truth that HE IS good and sovereign, the two guardrails that prevent my veering into whining. 

The surprising thing about practicing the spiritual discipline of lamenting is that it makes room and clears space for healing. It acknowledges, at its core, that God is the only one who brings true comfort and peace.

When I lament with belief, opening up myself to Him fully and honestly, I clear the way for praise. Not because my circumstances are changed, but because the conditions within my own heart are changed.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord's praise,

for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13

* In person co-op classes cancelled, but still working thru school (Zoom calls = ugh. Just ugh.)

* Zoe drawing animals all day long - piles of paper and eraser nubs everywhere

* Doing all the Christmas things // Moose on the Loose // Illuminights // baking // wrapping // visiting family // gingerbread houses

* Tommee Profitt's The Birth of a King album on repeat

* The constant thump of the basketball in the afternoons

* Slow, quiet, cozy mornings with the fire and coffee

* News filled with vaccine hopes

* Zoe watching // listening to Hamilton on repeat

* Ezra playing Java Minecraft on Dad's computer

* Dreaming about a finished basement

* Jeremiah researching/getting his mountain bike

* Ella reading in her room // going on walks with Natalea 

* Still wearing masks everywhere

* The boys negotiating for a later bedtime


Our God is still in the miracle business, as Ezra has made it to his teenage years.

(Side note: I officially am a mom to three teenagers. How?)

He entered this world tiny and rocking the hairy wizened old man look. 

I remember meeting his eyes the moment they placed him in my arms and being struck by how alert and aware he was. He was so wide eyed. And, oh, he has a dimple! I was so endeared by those wide blue eyes and dimple.

Little did I know how divinely placed that dimple was. 

He was the happiest baby ever. He never (outwardly) expressed any separation anxiety. He lived to smile and wrestle with his Daddy and eat all the fruit and make car noises and take delight in learning early how to push his big sisters buttons.

And now he's 13. 

He still loves to smile, but never for pictures without threatening from me. He still loves to wrestle with his Daddy, but actually gives him a run for his money. His sweet tooth remains strong. No more car noises, but he has strong car opinions. And he has developed mastery over learning how to push every siblings button. 

I've made no secret about how the Lord has used Ezra to sanctify me. Nothing has humbled me more than my parenting journey with this boy. He reveals to me daily how little control I have over anything outside of myself, my reactions, and my choices. 

And so, my endearment to him has moved beyond his dimple and wide blue eyes into a Holy acknowledgement of how needed he has been to my soul. The Holy Spirit has used him to reveal my pride and therefore allowed me the possibility to move to surrender...freedom. 

My dear Ezra,

You will already hate this letter because I called you dear. But, you are dear to me and you'll just have to get over me saying it. You are entering the teenage years and I am so stinkin excited for you. I catch glimpses of the incredible man that is coming...I saw it in the dedication and hard work you exerted this Summer as you mowed lawns with your brother. I see it in the passion and motivation you display when you fully immerse yourself into mountain biking or learning a new piano or violin composition. I see it in the serious way you have taken to your service on the Kidsrock team at church. You are funny - keep working on the timing thing. When you figure it out, and you will, it will serve you and those around you well. My prayer for you this year is for a soft and teachable heart. I love you and like you.


your Mom

p.s. Stop getting so huge.

* endless requests for icee pops

* school slowly winding up: math and reading

* making homemade salsa with too much cilantro

* helping Meme with house renovations

* reading stacks and stacks of books

* soccer starting, then stopping...

* wearing masks 

* the boys mowing

* becoming very familiar with the orthodontist parking lot (we've got 2 braced faced teens now)

* prepping for Women's bible study 

* playing jackbox games

* early mornings spent talking with Jeremiah on the back deck, joined by our resident feathered friends

* Zoe asking for things in a high to low order..."Can I have 7 or 6 _____?"

* cello practicing

* Stewartsville library afternoon runs

* Ezra's mountain biking obsession

* getting excited for vacay

* minecrafting with friends

* quiet early coffee morning routines

* LIFT 4 workouts

* making plans, but holding them oh so loosely

*feeling settled. but not satisfied

* swims at SML


She's nine today. 

I walked down photo memory lane of her last year, in hopes of choosing two or three good ones to share.

I narrowed it down to 23. 

She's still our animal fanatic. F.A.N.A.T.I.C. I'm pretty sure if there was a legitimate way to monetize her animal impersonations, her college fund would be set. 

Her moods are still as volatile as a southern summer afternoon. You will always know how she feels about you, how she feels about anything...which, is mostly an amazing trait. Unless she doesn't like you. Awkward.

Her days are spent reading, drawing, playing with her stuffed animals, surviving her older brothers, and playing with friends and cousins any chance she gets. 

Despite (or perhaps, because of) the age difference, she shares a special friendship with Ella. They just upgraded their room together with new loft beds and a new-to-us desk (which she promptly insisted on painting peacock blue). Fitting.

She's made incredible strides in all school subjects over the last year, but reading is her favorite.

She's my buddy on a lot of evenings when the big kids are gone and I love how she will ask me, "so, Mom, what should we do tonight?!" 

She's so stinking full of life, living up to her name every day.

Happy nine years Zoe Elizabeth, you're kinda a big deal to all of us.

Still crazy about animals.

These are unprecedented days, but I won't insult your intelligence by summarizing what we have all been living through for the last 4 months. You already know, you already get it.

Lately, the preeminent conversation amongst my circle of people is the one of school choice for the upcoming year. And wow, what a discussion. All the options and opinions floating out there will make your head spin.

Spoiler alert: I'm not going to add one more opinion to the mix. I don't know if you should choose option 1, 2, or 3, or if you should homeschool, or if you should send them to private school. (Nobody likes to be "should-ed" on anyways, am I right?!)

But I am going to encourage you to remember a few things as you consider your options and ultimately make the decision you feel the Lord is leading your family into:

1) This decision doesn't have to last forever. 

Seems obvious enough, but in the heat of decision making, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that you aren't chained to this decision for the rest of your life. If it's not working for you or your child, or new options open up for you down the road that will be better for everyone, you can change your mind. Don't overcomplicate. Make the best decision for the right now you find yourself in.

2) Don't give yourself too much credit.

In these pressure filled days, we can be led to make a decision with an impaired sense of perspective. Let me let you in on something: Whatever decision you make is not going to send your children down an unalterable trajectory. To think otherwise is to ultimately place yourself in the seat of sovereignty that only God occupies. You aren't in control. May you find some freedom in the truth of that.

3) Who you are as you make this decision is more important than the actual decision.

Your children are watching from the front row as you navigate these choices.  And while, yes, your decision is important, don't lost sight of what is most important. In a world where fear is predominant, you have been given an unprecedented opportunity to show your children what it actually looks like to trust God, to have peace that passes all understanding, and to relinquish your perceptions of control.  In the hearts of your children, this too shall last long after any pandemic has passed.


Bonus: Don't lose sight that the very fact that we have choices is an evidence of the privilege we live in. I've met momma's all over the world who are consumed with surviving. Food, clean water, and maintaining a roof over their heads occupy their days. This doesn't minimize your situation or decision, but hopefully re-orients your perspective to one of gratefulness and the inherent abundance we are living in, despite the weirdness of this season.

A Haitian private school, 2018