I Want You With Me

I want you with me, my numb brain screamed at my shaking, exhausted body.

Sweating, gasping, panting.

Just a little bit longer I silently told the small life inside me, trying it’s best to break free.

We’re going to make it.  I want you with me.

This was by far harder than anything I had been told.  Any wife’s tale, any story I had been regaled with by any that had gone before me.

The searing, sharp, burning pain.  The white-hot heat that twisted and radiated up from me.

The tears I no longer felt sliding down my numb face.

I want you with me.

A swirl of medical personnel.  My husband’s slightly blurry, concerned face coming in and out of my view.  Instructions being called to me from what sounded like far away.

My rhythmic panting slowed.  My heart pounded loudly in my ears.  My vision narrowed until I saw almost nothing.

I want you with me.

What did that mean?  The words had lost the significance they started with.  Who was saying it?

I want you with me.

What had begun as a mental comforting mantra to my cherished unborn, was now being spoken over me, as well.

I want you with me.  Almost, little one.  Almost.

Finally, finally, where there was previously none, life broke forth.

My trembling arms reached out to hold him close.  I traced the outline of his face, his lips, his nose, his eyes; struggling to look into mine.

It hit me then.  How alike his journey that had just been, and ours was in this world.

Struggle, fight, pain, surrender.  Then; new love, new light, new life.

I wanted you with me.  You’re finally here.

As I gazed down and watched his lips part, I leaned in close.  When his small breath exhaled on my flushed cheek I felt the words deep in my heart.

I want you with me.

God’s presence melted me and at the same time gathered me up in His arms.

This is how He looks upon His children.  This is how He pursues and cheers them on.  From the depths of the dark caves we’re in, He sees fit to push and pull us out.

Into new love, new light, new life.

I want you with Me…

 

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Welcome to The Schwab’s

My laundry room always makes me think.  Let me explain a bit!  The house that my new husband and I are living in belonged to his Mom’s parents.  After they passed several years ago the house went to the siblings, (my husband’s Mom, her sisters and brothers.)

But tomorrow!  Tomorrow the house goes to us, as we’re buying it as first time home owners from my husband’s family.  It’s scary.  It’s exciting.  And it makes me think…

Written on one of the walls of the laundry room is a long list of dates.  A ton of them, actually.  I’m not even sure how far back they go, there’s so many of them.  I’m guessing someone was tracking the years they lived in the house.  I know my mother-in-law grew up in the house, and so the years that it belonged to the family are numerous.

Before I saw those dates I didn’t spend much time thinking about who came before me in this house.  Nor who would come after me.

I just lived here with my husband, for this time in our lives and I didn’t think much about it beyond that.

Until the day I was folding laundry in the far end of the laundry room and saw those dates.

And I thought to myself, what were the people like that came before me?  How’d they make this a home?  What type of presence was here?

Did they think that one day a young wife would be staring at those dates, overwhelmed at her pending homeownership, and questioning what her home would mean to the people that passed through the door?  What it would mean to her husband?  To their future children?

More then likely, no.  That’s not what they thought.  But it’s what I did.  And right then and there, I gave some serious thought as to what I wanted our new home to be, what I wanted it to stand for.

I want a home that people feel loved when they walk into.  Like the walls are gently sweeping them up, hugging them close.  Regardless of where they’re coming from, what they’ve done, or where they’re going.

A place where peace, safety and respectfulness rule, and most importantly where God reigns.

Lots of joy, lots of light.  This is what I want our home to be.

In the winter, come sit with us by the big bay window where we’ll put the twinkling Christmas tree.  We’ll drink hot chocolate with the big marshmallows, and watch as many Christmas movies as we can while we watch the snow fall.

In the summer, come out and find us in the backyard, where we’ll be catching fireflies that are lighting up the dusk with their sparks of light.  (And no, we don’t have kids quite yet, but as we are big kids ourselves this past time is completely appropriate!)

I want our home to be a refuge.  One that is filled with the Holy Spirit, where God Himself likes to come and spend time with us.  And us with Him.  I want people to see Christ’s love in us when they walk through the door, into our little world.

So come on in friends, we’ve been waiting for you.  Dinner’s almost ready, (it might be a little more well done then you’re used too, after all, I’m new at this still!)  Head on down to my husband’s “man cave.”  He decorated it himself, (mostly,) and is wildly excited about the results, he can’t wait for you to see it!

Stop and say a quick hi to our sweet Judah cat, who will undoubtedly charm you with his big eyes, and cute little antics…after he comes out from hiding under the bed of course!

Admire what I hope you’ll find as the cozy décor, and let me tell you the fun tales of finding it all at Goodwill, or even the side of the road!

But most of all friends, know this is a place you can rest.  You can be safe.  Joy, hope, truth, grace and God’s love abide here.  Sink into it.  Find your way back into His light.

We love you.  He loves you even more.

So enter in, my friend and welcome.

Welcome to the Schwab’s.

 

~You are loved, my friend.

 

Thwarted Plans

Thwarted plans.  If there’s anything more frustrating then this, I really don’t know what it might be.  Have you ever experienced it?  There’s something you feel you want, or have been called too.  So you run after it.  Just when it seems you might be approaching it, it quickly dissolves, or perhaps even blows up in your face!

Lately, this is where I feel I’ve been living.  Things just aren’t going the way I think they should be.

And if I’m really honest with myself, in my mind it begs the questions: Does God see what’s going on here?  Doesn’t He care?  Does He not want me to be attempting this?

All of these questions I have been thinking the last three weeks.  They hunted me many a time!  And, if we’re still being honest, they’re incredibly discouraging.  Hence, thwarted plans.

But the thing about thwarted plans?  God already knew it was going to turn out that way.  That isn’t to say that He won’t correct or fix in His way what you’ve previously deemed as ruined or thwarted.  But it all filtered through His fingers before He handed the results you’re now seeing, down to you.

And sometimes, I think that’s the only thing we can hang on too when we find ourselves in situations like this.

I wouldn’t give up, or at least try your hardest not too.  Keep going with whatever He has put on your heart, but this time just know that He’s the one thing you can be sure about.

Try to manage your expectations, because often times, no matter how we’ve set it up in our mind, or how sure we are that it’ll all work out a certain way, it doesn’t.  God may have put it on your heart, yes, but our outcome and His may be vastly different.

And when all is said and done, that’s okay.  It is frustrating.  It is sometimes disappointing too.  I know this well.

But it’s not without it’s fruit either.  It’s not without the ultimate goal that God had in mind when He placed it in your heart.  It just looks different my friend.

So keep running after whatever it is that’s in our heart, I’ll keep running too.  I hope to see you at the end, smiling because of what magnificent thing God did with your call, and mine.

 

~You are loved, my friend.

When The Stars Fall

One of my favorite verses in the Bible says, “and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.”  Revelation 6:13

This verse talks about the end times and the dreams and visions that were being had when that book of the Bible was being written.  I’ve always thought that verse was terribly romantic.  Imagine all the stars gracefully just falling to earth, showering the whole land with their shimmering, silver beauty.  In reality, I know it’d be more like fiery bombs exploding, but whatever!  I’m partial to my romantic take on it!

Anyway, I was thinking about this verse randomly the other day.  Sometimes I like to sit and think what it will be like the day Jesus comes back for us, His bride, and takes us home.

I look forward to it.  I wonder if He does.

I don’t think about it as often as I should.  In fact a lot of time can pass before I’ll sit and think on it again.

The cross, the blood, the sacrifice, the love, and the return.

The whole thing is so indescribably beautiful.

Jesus coming back for us.  His love stretching across the heavens.

I urge you to remember.  Think and pray.  Thank our sweet Jesus, and let Him know you’re looking forward to His coming.  To Him being reunited with His bride.

To finally seeing our Groom.  And the stars falling softly from the sky around us? What a beautiful night for a wedding.

 

~You are loved, my friend.

The Bath is My Happy Place

I do my best relaxing, and my best thinking- surprisingly enough- in a bathtub.  Why this magic can’t happen on my elliptical machine I’ll never know, but you can’t win them all so we’ll continue on…

Something about the hot water swishing around the tub floor, the dancing, iridescent bubbles that have risen to the highest maximum height of the tub’s edge that they can, without spilling over, that is, is somehow magical to me.  Puts me at once in a good and often times creative mood.

Usually, that is.

You see, just a few days ago I filled the tub, settled in and waited for the magic to happen.  It didn’t.

Instead, a cloud of doubt and frustration gathered above my head and hung there.  Heavily.

There’s a goal in my life that I want to reach, something I’m trying to accomplish.  What this is specifically isn’t important at the moment, but who among us hasn’t or doesn’t currently, have something that they feel God has called us too that we think we may very well be failing at?

Well that evening in my happy place; that’s what I was fighting.  Shaking my head in an effort to dispel my dismal and somewhat dark thoughts, I figured that not having dumped in enough bubble bath was the problem.  Turning the facet to force the flow of fresh hot water, I liberally poured more of my sweet scented bubble bath in.  Not a smart move; it showed itself to be.

To tell what happened next, I’ll save for another post, but let me just say it certainly did not improve my mood or bring the magic I was used too forth….

Sometimes we feel like we fail.  Sometimes we’re frustrated with the lack of movement in our lives regarding the things we think God has called us to do.  And what are we suppose to do when our baths, our happy places, don’t work to bring us the earthly peace that we so cherish to lift us back up?

Don’t put in more bubble bath, that’s for sure!  Maybe just cry out.  Ask God if we’re still on the right path.  Ask Him which way we should turn.  Ask Him before stepping out.

I sorely lacked the common sense to do that, that evening.  Sometimes I still do.  I forget to ask and go to Him for comfort.  For answers.

I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with the simple pleasures He’s given us in our lives.  The “happy places” that God has designed individually for each of us.  It’s just that when they fail to cheer us, maybe that’s one of the ways God is softly calling us back to Himself.

Perhaps even calling us back to encourage us in the one thing He is calling us to in the first place.

Listen.  I bet you’ll hear Him.

 

~You are loved, my friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Elizabeth Home

The summer I was 21 I spent volunteering with my Grandparents at a Children’s Home somewhere down in Georgia, under those famous pines.  I had recently been laid off at my job due to budget cuts and rather then have me mope around my apartment all summer, my parent’s graciously offered to help me fund a little mission trip.  I would start by meeting my Grandparents down in Florida.  After which, we would drive their RV over to Georgia to volunteer at this particular Children’s Home as they did every few years.

I agreed and before I knew it we were pulling into the huge acreage homestead that housed this special ministry.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, I loved missions but I had never really done this kind before.  You see, like I mentioned I was with my Grandparents so the kind of work we were going to do was fairly foreign to me.  I was used to manual labor when I participated in mission trips.  Painting, vigorous cleaning, building things, moving furniture, that type of thing.  My Grandparent’s were elderly even then, so we were set up to do things like, chat with the teenage girls there, serve meals, scrapbook, and sort baby clothes.

After about a week I was feeling pretty good.  I was getting the hang of it, I was comfortable.  Then, however, my Grandma had a great idea.  Knowing my love for all things beauty and feminine related, she suggested that I go around to each of the different houses that held the girls and give them homemade facials, maybe do their makeup if they wanted.  Something to make them feel special.

At this Children’s Home they had the boys and girls separated in different houses.  Each house held a different purpose and function for those that lived there.  All the houses had names according to what type of kids they housed and what type of behavior, or emotional needs these kids had.  See, the kids that lived in this place had either been removed from their home lives because it was such a bad situation, had been kicked out and forced to leave, or abandon and were now wards of the state.  They wouldn’t have had anywhere to go.  They were, essentially, homeless, unloved and unwanted.

No one had ever made them feel special.  No one had ever made them feel wanted.  As I started to learn this that week, I became all the more eager to get started.

The first house I started at was The Elizabeth Home.  My Grandma had drawn me a little map, most of the housing grounds were within walking distance, so armed with my map and my supplies I set out to make these girls feel special.

The Elizabeth Home, Grandma had told me, was for pregnant and unwed mothers.  Girls who had gotten themselves into a spot and were discarded once family and friends learned of it.

A little sad, I thought but still I was fairly confident it wouldn’t be anything too disturbing and I could brighten the day.

As I walked in, I remember for some reason feeling slightly intimidated.  Intimidated and isolated.  I was the only one in the whole house it seemed!  Until I noticed a friendly looking receptionist.  Breathing a sigh of relief I made my way over, announced who I was and why I was there.  She kindly informed me that the girl I would be visiting/making to feel special today was in a birthing class, (given freely by that particular Home to all the girls who desired it,) and would be out in just a few minutes.

After being invited to have a seat, I was looking out at those trees, (Wisconsin has some great ones, but Georgia does deserve those songs!)  Startled by some voices, I shifted towards the sound.  It was the teacher of the birthing class, and the girl I was to see that day, I presumed, as I heard medical terms being spoken.  Not wanting to eavesdrop but curious about the girl I was going to have to sit and make small talk with for over an hour, I wanted to hear what she might be like.

As their conversation continued, I remember starting to feel alarmed.  Something wasn’t right here.  The girl’s voice was asking too many questions that a pregnant woman, even a pregnant teenager, should know.  Questions that any girl who’s in the prime of her teenage hood and beyond would definitely know already about her own body and the little body growing inside her.

I heard the teacher patiently answer her questions, calmly with no hint of alarm.  Maybe they’re friends, maybe the girl’s just joking or something I thought to myself.  Wait and see.  Fidgeting, as I started to think that my coming here to do a little facial couldn’t come close to the seriousness and severity of what this house held, I waited for her class to conclude.

Within a minute or two, the teacher came out, followed by the girl and her sizeable baby bump and introduced me to her.  I smiled.  I shook her hand.  But I was no longer sure of this easy, breezy assignment I had been given.

We settled in and I started the facial by gently washing her face.  Mostly just to get all the makeup off.  Makeup that was worn heavy and thick, as if she was trying to create an armor of sorts.  She feels protected by all that makeup I thought.  What am I going to talk about, I wondered.  We chatted uneasily at first to say the least.

However by the end of the facial I thought it seemed to be going well.  We had hit on a few topics that we had in common even.  At that point I was cleaning up, and I offhandedly asked her what year she was.

I assumed she’d know what I was talking about.  I had never been very good at guessing age, but I figured she was maybe a junior, or senior in high school, a bit younger then me.  Around there anyway.

Right away I noticed something was wrong.  Her face kind of scrunched up and she didn’t answer me.  She seemed to be thinking hard, or was confused, I couldn’t tell which.  I quickly tried another form of the question, thinking maybe they phrased it differently down here in Georgia then in Wisconsin.  So I asked, what year in high school are you?

She blinked still innocent eyes at me, and said, “I just finished 5th grade.  I’m going into 6th this fall.”

This girl that I had chatted with for over an hour, talked about chick flicks and our favorite type of pizza, was no more then 12 years old.  I was stunned.  My brain felt numb, except for the part that screamed at me that it wasn’t even possible.  After a moment I realized it was, in fact, very possible.  But I just couldn’t grasp it.  She was such a little girl with a grown woman’s job to do.  All her questions that came floating down the hall to me earlier now made sense.

It was by the grace of God alone that my mouth didn’t fall open.  And it was by that same grace that hers did.

As if someone had sounded a bell that gave her freedom from any of her previous restraints, she started talking.  Talked about the boy who had said he loved her, but only wanted one thing and was gone before she could even be confused as to the foreign symptoms that were showing up in her body.  Talked about how her dad was abusive, how he had up and left, how her mom couldn’t stand the sight of her, pregnant or not.

Her words fell on my soft heart.  And to this day; they break it.

I wish I could say I gave her some encouraging words.  I wish I could say I held her as she teared up.  To be honest, I don’t even remember what I said in response.

I do remember her slight smile at me as I left though.

And I remember sobbing on the path I walked, back to the RV.

Sometimes we feel like God isn’t involved anymore.  I felt like that on that day.  I felt like He had left her, and maybe me as well, as we sat there across from each other.  One girl who had followed all the rules, felt all the love, who loved and knew a great God.  The other, who had felt all the opposite things her entire young life.

Why?  I don’t know.  But I do know, and it took me awhile to see this, that God was in that seemingly desolate girl’s life.  He was, and He still is.  There’s proof, I discovered.

The proof that she was even in The Elizabeth Home, that she had that great birthing teacher, that nice receptionist to see every day, those lovely trees that I’m jealous of, and even my awkward, yet at times, fun visit.  Even her sharing her story.  And while I don’t have the power to make it better as I so badly wanted to do as I sat there next to her, countless prayers have gone up from me for that girl and her baby whose names I no longer remember or even had the chance to know.

God is in our messes.  He is in yours and mine.  He is in hers.  And He was most definitely, I now know, in The Elizabeth Home that day.

~You are loved, my friend.

 

 

 

 

Spicy Lemonade (for the tired Mom)

My new husband and I don’t have kids yet. But from what I hear? They’re exhausting.
Like when you spend almost 10 minutes getting them in full snowsuit gear, only to have big eyes looking up at you, as soon as you’re done, informing you they have to pee. Not only do you spend almost the exact same amount of time striping them out of that gear, but more then likely? They’ve already done the deed inside the thick snow pants!

Or when your child takes sick and you think they may be faking a bit, but what the heck?! They can stay home from school and keep you company while you run errands. Only to find them bent over and throwing up all over the back seat of your mini-van as you exit the store with your groceries. (I was the little kid here in this scenario and let me assure you, the horror on my Mom’s face was only matched by my own! And perhaps by the slightly crusty, older man who unashamedly looked on…)

But don’t children bring us joy? And occasionally, (when they’re not peeing or throwing up,) lots of it? For example, no one in my family could suppress any type of a laugh when my small nephew announced that the “swamp donkey” he was eating was “tasty.” Which, we were informed rather quickly by my sister Beth; his Mom, is what he thinks that venison is called.

Or, at my recent wedding when he used his tiny body to block my way when I was coming off the dance floor. Looked me right in the eyes, raised his little fists triumphantly in the air and shouted excitedly with an extreme amount of joy, well above the music-which I still find impressive given he’s an occasionally shy 4 year old-“spicy lemonade!” Then just as quickly as he came, veered out of my path and went flying past me to his Auntie Brynn, my younger sister, who was holding out a glass of lemonade for him with wide eyes and an astonished look on her face.

Needless to say, the amount of times the loud words of “spicy lemonade” echoed throughout the halls of our honeymoon cabin that next week just to hear the other laugh were numerous!

Now, like I mentioned I don’t have kids yet. All the child rearing tips and knowledge that I have came from catching snippets of advice from my Mother, squirreling it away for future use, and from watching my older sister raise the cutest 4 year old on earth. (Sorry other 4 year olds!)

Even so, you may be thinking, “Well what does she really know? She’s hasn’t been there herself quite yet, all she can do is watch from afar.”

Exactly.

Which is precisely what I do. Which is how I’ve managed to catch something that I’d say most Mom’s miss, or seem too on their most frazzled days.

You’re a good Mom.

No matter how stressed you are, how frazzled, if it was a fun “spicy lemonade” day, or a less fun, “pee in all the wrong places” day you are still doing the task God has graciously placed in front of you.

And you’re doing it well I might add.

You’d have to be doing well for your child to exude so much uninhibited joy on occasions like the one I mentioned above. I see scenes like that all the time. And while I’m unashamedly in love with my sweet nephew, they don’t all include him!

We have some good Moms around here my friend.

So whether you’re a new Mom, a very young Mom, an experienced Mom, or even an empty nester who’s learning how to be empty nesting; we see you. God sees you. You have not failed your children, nor will you ever fail them. God would never allow it. And you can be sure He doesn’t fail us!

Sometimes He disciplines us. Just like the way we discipline our children.
We need it. And so do they.

Does that mean He loves us less? Not at all! Does that mean we love our children less when we have to discipline them? On the contrary, we do so out of love. He does likewise.

Tired Moms-we so appreciate you, we love you, we pray earnestly for you, and I, for one, hope you have many joyful “spicy lemonade” days in your near future!

And now, it’s time to say goodbye, or perhaps goodnight depending on how young your little ones are! It’s time for me to start dinner for my husband and I.
I’m making “swamp donkey.”

It’s far more time consuming then you’d think…

 

~You are loved, my friend.