embrace the first

So, Em played drums for church on Sunday.  No biggie, really.   It seemed like cuts of video from her life passed in front of my eyes all day long.

It didn’t help that the day before when I registered everyone for school, the final document stated that I have two elementary students and one high school student.  Which, in my head I vaguely understood since she’s taking two classes for high school credit as an eighth grader, but still… high school.

And it got me to thinking about all of those well-intentioned, blog posts I’ve read on the internet about mama’s living in the moment and treasuring events of life because  you never know when it might be the last.

Frankly, that thought process is overwhelming and heartbreaking.  I just can’t dive in and live fully if I feel like it is an ending. The effort is almost suffocating for me.

I decided I’m not gonna do it.

That’s right you heard me.  Not. gonna.

With the beginning of school on our horizon and a whole year of adventure, I’ve realized – There is so much possibility, not because its the last, but because there are many firsts to enjoy!

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Mackenzie’s feet may be too big for the toddler sized shoe section now, but it sure was fun going shoe-shopping, letting her pick her own, and see her fabulous sense of style come out.

Isaac may be old enough to go to the barber with his grandaddy and get a “grown up” haircut, but it sure is a joy to see his big grin afterwards, and let him regale us with stories of the experience.

And Em may be ready to take a high school biology course, but oh how I know I’ll love watching her excel at something she loves so much!

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You know, when I think about my Heavenly Father, I’m reminded: He is a God who follows endings with beginnings.  It isn’t the other way around.  Jesus’ own death was followed by resurrection and LIFE.  Hasn’t he promised to make all things new?  He is not a God of living to die, but rather dying in order to begin living eternally!

I can live in the moment not because I’m dying or because everything is ending, but because there is the fullest of life to be lived!

It is understood that there are cycles of life, seasons that come and go – Some may be my favorite more than others. But, with every bend in the road, with every “last chance to…” there is a robust hope for more just around the corner.  The hope of His goodness and his plan for my family, is so much greater than whatever stage is coming to a close.

With the first day of school coming inching closer on our calendar, I have made this promise to myself – I will mourn less when observing the “lasts” and gladly embrace the “firsts.”

 

always the groupie…

Every year Michael travels to different places to play in a band at the National Conference for Thirty One Gifts.  And every year I tag along.

This year we were in Denver and Columbus.  And it was as much fun as ever.

I love watching my husband do what he loves, which he happens to be amazing at doing.   I’ll admit, I’m slightly the biased wife-groupie.  But that’s okay.  I wish you could’ve been there to hear it.  The band was amazing.  And there are roughly 15,000 women who would agree.

But, its not just the music.  We get to hang out with some really wonderful friends – who we laugh with.  a lot.  It is just a fantastic time all around.

And I have to say that I couldn’t have appreciated the conference theme more – “Love Your Journey” is exactly accurate for us – I’m so grateful that being a part of this adventure is one of the paths on our journey!

Since, I can’t post video of the band here, or any of our other shenanigans for that matter, I’ll just post a few of my favorite photos.

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the beautiful sunrise on the way to Denver.

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a little note making, just before the first performance.

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the room, lots of music and lots of laughter happened here.

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my fellow groupie, Jess.  she’s always making me laugh.

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the theme

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one of my favorite photos from worship, Sunday morning in Denver.

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from backstage, in Columbus.

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Michael wasn’t in the mood for a post-lunch photo (actually I don’t think he heard me, it was really loud in there)  – but, Jonathan cooperated.

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one of my favorite photos

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the best photo I could get of the guys, without the normal craziness.

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time flies when you’re having fun…

Last week was very busy – with Michael and I out of town – and it just dawned on me… We missed an important celebration.

One year ago, on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 we brought Tiger Lily Isabella Day home to be a part of our family.  It seems like yesterday.  Bringing Lily home has quickly transformed each family member in different ways.

Personally, because of this sweet girl-pup I’ve learned how to love better.   I’ve come to see how valuable it is to care for all of God’s creation, especially his creatures ; my heart is fuller and my  ability to love is deeper than I had ever known.  I used to think people were crazy for loving their dogs like family members- now, I understand.  I’m one of those crazy dog-loving people.

Here are a few photos from her first week or two with us… I just can’t believe its been a year already!

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Bringing Lily home for the first time.  She was very shy.

 

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after Lily’s first grooming appointment.

 

 

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Lily, so tiny. 

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She loves her Emily a lot.

Here’s Lily assisting me with laundry just last week – she’s such a good helper.

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A few weeks ago – Lily, out for a car ride.

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what a year its been!   My kids said just yesterday – they can’t remember what life was like without Lily!  and I can’t either! What a gift she is to us all! 

higher

While we were in Denver, we received word about tragedy.  Tragedy in a friend’s life.  Tragedy in our home town. Tragedy in a young couple’s marriage.  Tragedy about a young women’s health.  Tragedy of a death in the family.  Over the course of just a few days, life became heavy.  It was the kind of heavy that weighs a heart down to the pit – and even with our knowledge, it was hard to raise my eyes above those circumstances.

On a day trip with friends we took time to drive out to the “Garden of the gods” in Colorado Springs.  The experience could not have been more valuable.   As I walked the paths and took in the view – the expansive valleys and the mammoth rocks –  my gaze was moved.    I couldn’t help but look towards the God of the Heavens and earth.

I realized there’s a reason that He is referred to as “higher” in Scripture.  His ways are higher.  He is the Rock that is “higher than I.”  Look, I can show you the reality of Who He Is – and it is just a tiny example of His greatness…

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The very God who created this with His hands, is the one who orchestrates my life, my future, and every detail of His Great Story. These photos remind me that I can find refuge in His arms – that He reigns above all of the painful circumstances of this life.  Lifting my eyes, I find the calm and rest I crave.  And His magnificence makes my troubles seem small.

 

 

oh to be home…

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This morning I woke, with this beautiful mountain view.  And do you know what?  What I really want is to be near my home, and see my mountains and hug the necks of my people.  Because, in case you didn’t hear – a young man used bullets to tear apart homes and hearts – and tried to destroy our hope and our courage.

Here I sit staring at these mountains, in disbelief, and I realize – what I really need, is the God who made these, and the mountains just a few miles from my home;  He is the God who promises refuge in trouble, strength in trials, peace in the struggle.   He is mighty to save.

So, I’ve been reading Psalm 61 this morning, with a heart that desperately wants to believe and rest…

1Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!

So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.

I’ve been thinking… Maybe its more accurate to say,  I’m not just longing for Chattanooga, my home.  This tragedy brings a deeper longing in my heart for eternal things, for Heaven where we will be with Him forever.

Oh to be Home.

what matters

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I’ve been home the better part of a week, and I’m still thinking about it.  The moments of my trip home turn over and over, around and around; my time with family, my grandpa’s funeral, the laughter, the tears, the abiding hope amid deep heart ache – there is so much to examine.

My Grandpa was a simple man.  There were things that were important, and things that were not.  As we circled his grave, I realized something undeniable.  There we all stood, his offspring : a reflection of what mattered to him.  Looking on each face gathered, (we call ourselves the Tribe of Reuben) I knew that each one was a follower of Jesus.  All of Reuben and Ann’s children, and all of their grandchildren know Jesus – and now the great grandchildren, the fourth generation of Brubachers are being raised to know Him too.  I forget how unique that is these days.

(And, let me just say, what I’m about to tell you is not a set of rules for “successful family life” or “how to raise godly children.”  I’m well aware there are no absolutes and I’m not here to sell you any such moralistic type guarantees.)

It has made me ponder though:  What mattered to my Grandpa, Reuben Brubacher? and, what should matter more to me? He loved his wife and family and he loved God.  But there were a few ways that he worked out his faith.  He prayed. He read God’s Word and he talked about God.    And he did these things a lot.

He and my Grandma in their later years prayed for everyone in our family, every day.   Their 7 children and spouses, their 18 grandchildren and spouses, and their 34 great grand children (and counting) and that was just the top of the list. They read God’s Word each day, throughout the day, before meals and other times as well.  And, they talked about God to everyone.   Yes, I do mean everyone.

I remember a time when I was maybe 10, that Grandma and Grandpa had come to our house for a visit.  Grandpa came into my room, sat on my bed,  looked me in the eye and asked me if I knew Jesus and what did He mean to me.   point blank.   At 10, I didn’t realize what he was up to.  But, the thing is, I know he did that wherever he went.  In the hospital, as he was dying, he questioned nurses and doctors if they knew the Lord. He wanted everyone to know his Savior.

So.  What matters to me?  In my heart I know there is so much that concerns me that doesn’t matter.  Oh dear.  This list is long and a bit embarrassing: my wardrobe, my house, my work, my reputation, my social standing, my health and fitness, my kids’ education, the meals I cook  – and really I’m just getting started.  If I’m real with you, I’ll tell you that most of these things on any given day get more attention than my life in Christ.   But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There’s been an example set for me, and the rest of my family. Love God.  Talk to Him.  and talk to others about Him.

When I think of Grandpa B, I think of Deuteronomy 6: 1-9.  This is how he lived.  May God help me to do the same!

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

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Until then…

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My Grandpa Brubacher passed away this morning at 8:15.  His life knew many trials and heartaches.  But, he lived with a beautiful song in his heart, and a peace in his soul as one who knew his Savior  intimately.  and now, he’s home.

On Friday, I’ll play this hymn at his funeral.  I can say with confidence, he lived the words to this song. May we all live facing eternity with that same joyful confidence in our hearts..

Until Then…

My heart can sing when I pause to remember
heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a trail that’s winding always upward,
This troubled world is not my final home.
The things of earth will dim and lose their value
If we recall they’re borrowed for awhile;
And things of earth that cause the heart to tremble,
Remembered there will only bring a smile.

This weary world with all its toil and struggle
May take its toll of misery and strife;
The soul of man is like a waiting falcon;
When it’s released, it’s destined for the skies.

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But until then my heart will go on singing,
Until then with joy I’ll carry on,
Until the day my eyes behold the city,
Until the day God calls me home.