Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Morning


S Allums Photography

Soft mocha ringlets spiral down

Spilling onto my  pillow 

As you maneuver into my bed

Eyes still reflecting slumber

Bare feet wriggling against my own

Soft humming

Spinning my hair between teeny fingers

Peek-a-boo under the covers

Pointing to pictures scattering the room

You grin and say, 'I am the baby in our family'

Your bitty hands caressing mine

You nuzzle closer

As you remember another time

Giggling as you reminisce 

Our temples gently touching

As you chatter of fairy tales 

And most-loved characters

This is how my day begins 


S Allums Phtography

"the girls" ~m singleton





Monday, February 24, 2014

Deep Mystery

 
photo credit www.space.com


Deep mystery swirls in cosmic black

Hidden places bathed in Truth

Light radiates with a word

Golden rays kissing dark

Shapeless clay takes its form 
 

Mighty One, immeasurable wonder

Arranging orbs, counting stars

Snow and rain stored in perfect place

Buds unfold, colors burst

Creatures stir-- all sing praise




Spirit whispers in the softest breeze

Hovering over roaring seas

Hands cupping oceans, salty deep

Shorelines marked and laid with care

Mountains weighed upon a scale




Holy Creator reaches down

Forming dust into limited beings

Intimately woven, purposefully made

Every breath undeserved grace

Hairs counted, souls deeply known




All-powerful Father, unlimited strength

Fighting for the fatherless and distressed

Changing hearts of kings and slaves

Carrying near the lonely, bruised

Repairer of broken hearts and walls




Great Reconciler and Healer

Breathing life into dead and broken

Silver streams flow through parched lands

Transforming stony paths to smooth

Dry and rocky made all new




Great Redeemer stepped down to lowly life

Gentle Shepherd, unblemished Lamb

Suffering for us, what was not His

Gave Himself, so we could live

Removing scales, breaking chains




Mysterious Creator enthroned on high

Ancient covenant re-created

Extravagant holiness and grace 

Deserving nothing, you call me your own 

For I am nothing without the Son





Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Broken Beauty

 
photo from: Wikipedia Olive Tree


Just thinking about Romans 11:11-24 and the ingrafting of branches.  Gentiles represent the dead, broken sticks, which were grafted into the living olive tree.   We, as believing Gentiles, were ugly, discarded limbs.  Only by grace were we saved.  

By the way, olive trees are beautiful, huh?  All knotty and twisted.


Broken Beauty

Rugged worn
Jagged form
Brittle, alone
Tossed aside

Left out
Weathered
Broken
Shaken

Feeling forgotten
Lost
Shriveled
Numb

Light beckons
Voice calls
Kindness, hope
A Father's hand

Grafting to
Sprouting green
Knobby bark of
Holy tree

Chosen
Cleansed
Beloved daughter
Oh, so dear

Gentle, tender
Strong, unfailing
Ancient root
Sustaining grace

Faith of Patriarchs
Life of Son
One and Only
His perfect love


Monday, February 17, 2014

Armpits and Grace


Muffled words and heavy weight press into the folds of my side of the bed, as my oldest daughter rushes into our bedroom. 

The clock says it's too early-- 6-something.   

Through squinted eyelids and a half yawn, I hear her deafening screech, Mom the boys are attacking each other!

Before I can pull my eyelids apart, I hear feet pounding hardwood floors-- one boy plunges onto my feet, grasping his throat -- sucking in for air.  Tears spilling.

I barely hear his moan that he was attacked.


And I can't find my words or my own rhythmic breathing

Or my coffee

Seriously?  This is how the day begins before my eyes open and my feet hit the floor?

Inside my brain is a mama frantically ringing the bell for Anna or Mr. Hughes to take these misfits to their Nanny while I retire to await breakfast in bed (Downton Abbey peeps will get this).



I throw my feet to the floor, leaving behind the boy who's gasping for air.  I stumble and feel my way down the hallway to the schoolroom to find my firstborn doubled over, holding his belly. 

Wolverine-like claw marks down his chest and neck. 
Blood has been drawnSeriously?
 
When did I raise MMA fighters? 

What is a mama to do in the midst of such daily chaos?  Because I can't get it right.  
 
These are the same days when temps outside are ridiculously low and I have an amazing idea to burn energy-- so I challenge my children to beat me in push-up reps-- all 5 of us in plank position in the den floor. 

My great idea ends with one girl running from the room screaming I can't do it, I can't do it--  hovering by the kitchen window in the fetal position-- loud wails of defeat.

These are the days when one of the girls screams to the other You are NOT in charge of me!!!  Get out!  A bedroom door slams, rattling the foundation.  Tears and high-pitched wails.

These same days-- wedged between linking verbs and adverbs and congruent triangles, are the sounds of armpit flatulence, loud snorting, and hands rhythmically drumming the table. 

(By the way, on the armpit flatulence-- is this just hardwired into the heart of boys throughout the ages?) 

For. the. love.  
 
Their armpits are now starting to stink at my boys' ages.  

I feel like I'm in 2nd grade again sitting across from Joe Moore as he pulls my pigtails and makes disgusting noises.  What in the world is this archaic practice?
 
These are also the days when we read from Judges-- the account of Samson getting his eyes gouged out.  

And I wonder if gouging my ears out is an option.  Because I'm ready and willing. 

This mama has had her fill of noise and it's not even lunchtime.

I often find myself in despair at the Groundhog Day-like familiarity to my days and the sin patterns repeated over and over within our family.  (Romans 7)


 

Some days are just plain daunting.  I remember a sermon once that said we are living on enemy territory.  Every. single. day.  Until we reach heaven.  Every day is a battle.
 
In my flesh, with misfit boys drawing blood, girls having meltdowns, and a mama barely breathing, I claw to control behavior and disengage from the hearts of my children.  I can quickly wound little hearts with words that drip venom and power.

Yet the Spirit whispers...

 You are clean because of His blood poured out for you (Matthew 26:28)

My flesh wants peace and quiet.  I want to shame and punish misfit children.

And yet...

I hear the Spirit whisper...YOU are the misfit, saved by grace 

Hosea put it well: I'll call nobodies and make them somebodies; 
I'll call the unloved and make them beloved. (Romans 9:25~The Message)

This past December, God took my baby pinky toe.

I wish I could say I was doing some cool mama ninja moves when the break occurred.

But I was attacked by my coffee table-- toe bent sideways-- distended and blueish.

It felt more like a severing off.

Because this was a season where I was literally running to the Father- hitting trails and sprinting with praise music on my iPod-- hands raised high. 
 

I'm sure I looked ridiculous, but it was my therapy from long days adjusting with the sudden addition of a 4th child to our family.  A wonderful blessing, yet equally hard.

I wanted to run.  Fast.  Yet, I had to be still and rest. 

Every day, buddy taping my fractured baby toe next to the stronger one.  So it could heal. 

You struck down to bind me up

You say You do it all in love
[1]

I think of the irony here as I daily wrapped my toe.  Because, as believers, we are buddy taped to Christ-- the weak bound to the strong.  (2 Cor 12:9)

My daily legalism and power struggles echo hollow
in the light of the strength of my Rescuer.

If I am trying to get my act together and get straight A's in motherhood, and raise perfect children, I am missing the heart of the gospel.

He has already done it for me--lived the perfect life and credited it to me.  (Romans 10:4)

Divine power granted to me. (2 Peter 1:3).

Unmerited favor. (Rom 3:22-24)

Each and every breath an undeserved grace.

And I weep tears salty hot - for there's nothing I deserve 

I don't deserve your love

But you give it to me anyway

Can't get enough

You're everything I need

And when I walk away

You take off running and come right after me

It's what you do

And I don't deserve you [2]

And my Savior longs for me to come walk with Him-- to seek His face.  


Although I will likely never EVER be thankful for armpit flatulence and stink, He draws me to see some of my daily graces.   By His grace, I can't get it right.  By His grace, I have days that start (and often end) in bad ways ...to show me I desperately need the One and Only.  A perfect God, who came to earth to bear the weight for me.

So, here are some of my daily graces in the midst of MMA fighters and wailing children and a crazy mama...

Girls making play dough cut-out cookies on metal pans


The beauty of my oldest son's music
video

Little Bitty eating a bag of chips (her favorite treat)

A little girl who talked incessantly all week about her upcoming Father-Daughter dance.  Trying on dress after dress in the dressing room-- brilliant sparkly blues, velvet black, shimmery reds.  She twirled round and round, smiling at her reflection in the surround mirrors-- a Princess.

Little Bitty softly lying on my chest, twirling my hair in her little fingers, laughing as she whispers You are my Mommy.  Sweet girl also running throughout the house discovering new photos of our family photo shoot that include her.


Girls giggling in matching bathing suits
 

Little Bitty squealing over this one
 

Boys loving each other
 

Waking up to songs by Little Bitty
video


Waking up to a daughter who brought home something for me from the Father-Daughter dance

Joy in the moment



Girls dancing


Hot tea and a game with my oldest

A special and much-needed grace gift from my oldest


My man - the best


Star Wars homeschooling



Sun-bathing homeschooling in the dead of winter


Goofy fun



Plumb - I Don't Deserve You

[1] Shane & Shane, Though You Slay Me lyrics
[2] Plumb, I Don't Deserve You

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Little Child



*Sentimental post ALERT.  

I am that mom who is a nostalgic dreamer.  I wrote poems about my kids before they were born.  (I know, I know).

I bought a Halloween outfit for our firstborn when I was just a few months pregnant-- before I even knew the gender.  It was an awful duck costume.  I don't know what I was thinking.

I would sit in my children's nurseries before they were born and rock in their rockers and dream and pray.

I would lightly brush my fingers through all their new clothing, hanging neatly in their closets.  Adjust placements of their stuffed animals and blankets...and dream about the baby that was coming...you get the idea.  

My creative side wants to be a crafty girl, but my OCD perfectionist side takes over.  And I end up spending 5 million hours trying to cut out the perfect snowflakes to hang throughout the house like Buddy the Elf, while my children have lost interest.  

I don't do a whole lot of crafty Pinterest stuff.  But, I can hot glue. 

I just hot glued 3 dioramas last week for book reports.

I also hot glued Genesis through Numbers back into my man's bible, after one of our kids accidentally knocked it out of the SUV Sunday morning, pages splattering onto the asphalt. 

Sometimes I get a wild hair and paint canvases for a week or so and then I'm done.

I can look up party planning ideas or, better yet, Pinterest tattoo ideas.

I can follow directions (if I must) on recipes.  But, I really hate cooking. 

I love shopping and writing words.  So I have written a poem or two.

Details, smetails.  

Here's the deal, about 15 years ago- before having children-- I wrote a poem as I dreamed about what our children would be like.   I really liked the poem and other people {maybe just humoring me???} have said they liked the poem too.

For me, more than anything else, it represents a precious reminder that my God is sovereign.  Just like I can't count the hairs on my head, I couldn't pick my kids or their personalities or what they would look like.  But, He sweetly gave me some of the things I dreamed about.   

And you know what?  He gave me even more than I could dream or imagine.  
 
Although we were just a respite foster family for a little over a year, we still considered each and every child a part of our family for the short time they were in our home. 

Not only did he give us 12 more children than we could have imagined, but He also gave us more sweet gifts and mercies than we could have ever dreamed-- through our experiences with the Father as we loved these little ones.   

I'm a put-God-in-a-box kind of girl and He always blows me away, you know?

When dreaming about our future children, my brain was only thinking of children that I assumed would come from my womb.   

Yet, he has graciously given us 12 additional children to love and pray over-- although many we will never see again.

I would have never guessed we would have children of all different races and ethnic backgrounds become a part of our family.  

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father 
of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

  

Little Child

 

Will you have eyes of cornflower blue 

set wide apart above a button nose 

lightly sprinkled with cinnamon-colored freckles? 

Or will you have eyes of dark hershey 

almond-shaped and questioning 

above a slender nose 

and crescent shaped lips? 
 
Will you enjoy running barefoot 

through neighborhoods and deep dark woods 

climbing trees and catching frogs? 

Will you have a love for writing words 

and reading Huck Finn, Aslan and Puck? 

Will your laughter roll like waves 

across my soul 

and your smile stretch across my life 

capturing my heart forever? 

Whatever your face, whatever your name 

you already have my heart and soul 

wrapped around your little finger 

forever...little child.


Ironically, my 3 big kids climb a particular tree in our front yard (barefoot) on a regular basis.  My daughter has had an ER trip from falling from this same tree.  

Three of them love to create and write stories.   One, in particular, loves reading as much as I do.

One loves to sing.  You can hear her here (at the bottom of the post).

I love the creative, free spirits the Lord has given them, along with the eyes of cornflower blue, dark hershey, and cinnamon-sprinkled freckles.  And I adore that my Father has given me so many different personalities and faces to love.  He is indeed good!


Ok, so my kids don't dress like this normally--it was Pioneer Day at co-op.  Just thought it was a funny picture because of  the reference to Huck Finn in the poem. (normally they are shirtless and barefoot climbing trees!)



 My favorite part about this picture?  All the dirt on my Princess's face-- she's tough.  
She's got 2 big brothers.


 My blue-eyed monkeys




 Definitely dark hershey eyes and slender nose



Our new Little Bitty has dark brown eyes like me and my oldest


 Never could've dreamed of getting to fix all this curly hair.  It's gorgeous and takes some 
serious studying about hair products.  Chocolate Hair for Vanilla Care anyone?  Life. Saver.



 Dynamic Duo



 This is about the same time period when he was terrified of dogs, cats, squirrels, 
and all farm animals.  But worms were friendly.



Will you enjoy eating fresh basil that I attempt to grow?  Why, of course you will.



I'm noticing a recurring theme here-- my children's faces were always filthy.  I kept them alive, ok?


 
Yep, he's as tough as he looks.  No, I mean it-- really, he is.  But tender hearted.

.

A friendly embrace.  No fear or malice here.  Why was I taking pictures at this point?



3-mile hike we survived.
 

Love this one-- sister running to catch up with her brothers.  A moment captured.  
Told you I'm a sap.