To Read on the Journey

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Next to you, next to me

We left our wedding reception in my father-in-love's green 1953 Chevy truck.  As we drove away the song "Next To you, Next To Me" played...

Ridin' down the road in my pick-up truck
Ya better be ready cause I'm pickin' you up
With a full moon a shinin' and a little bit a' luck
We'll run out outta gas and maybe get stuck

We could get lost honey I don't care
I ain't worried as long as you're there
There ain't no place that I'd rather be
Next to you, sittin next to me

There ain't no place that I'd rather be
Next to you, next to me

Each year around our anniversary we hop in that wonderful old pick up truck and take a stroll down memory lane. We remember the 22 year olds who drove off into their future.  We look back, and drink in God's "grace upon grace" in our lives (this week I need it).  We hope forward, committed to remain in Christ, "Next to you, next to me."

Photo above taken with my cell phone

Update- I had the epidural/cortisone injection in my back last week. The procedure itself went well. As a result I have been uncomfortable for much of the week.  I am just beginning to feel some relief in my back. Physical therapy has also brought some relief.  Unfortunately not a moment after my back  pain began to subsided other pain occurred.  I have an abscessed tooth (ouch), and am scheduled for a root canal (and yes, I do brush, floss, and visit my dentist 2x a year).  

Needless to say I am worn down from pain.  An ugly version of myself  (boo).
Prayers for an extra dose of grace {towards myself} would be greatly appreciated for my family (especially my husband, who as I mentioned above is committed to be "next to me.").

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Alliteration

by Emilie Jones

What is your favorite thing about Autumn?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

15 days and 9.5 hrs... but who's counting?

Michael has been gone (this was our big news, there is a lot to share).
He has been in Ecuador.
Serving missionary friends.
He will be home around midnight tonight.  It's our 14th anniversary.
The kids will be in dreamland when he arrives, but he will know they are excited to have him where he belongs.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"just a mom" who moonlights as a beth moore promotor

most days i am "just a mom."

i wake up early,

i inhale coffee, as the bible is read at the breakfast table (which also serves as the classroom, cafeteria, craft room, and dinner table),

i french-braid hair,

manage chores,

demand that teeth get brushed,

drive taxi,

create lesson plans, teach, correct papers,

clean toilets (i'm very good at this),

speak truth over 3 young lives,

hang laundry,

pay bills,



and all day, i pray.

i know that what i do here as "just a mom" doesn't just impact the day to day but that it will have great impact on all our tomorrows, and not just on our tomorrows,  but on my children's children's tomorrows.

for that reason i take my "just a mom" job seriously.

however, yesterday in my "just a mom" world, i had a fun surprise-  i received an email from my former campus life leader.  he said he had seen me on a promo video!  wwwwhhhaaattt???
it appears that i have been moonlighting as a beth moore promotor! check out this video to see this "just a mom" at work!

Friday, September 17, 2010

i'll fly away

i didn't intend on blogging again this week.
i've poured so much of my heart out, and thought i was done... until i visited Deb from Talk At The Table.
Her post is titled, "prelude to my death." Like all her writing, it is beautiful and heart stirring.  Deb writes her thoughts on dying.

Death is a subject people often choose to ignore.

It is an inevitable reality we all will face.

My brother-in-law works for his county's morgue. i tell him that he as well as obgyn's have job security, as man-kind will always have a beginning and an end.

C.S. Lewis says, "i am a soul, i have a body."  Oh, how wonder-full God's mysterious ways!  i  marvel at the REALITY that when my body reaches it's finish line here, my soul will not.  My end will really be my beginning!

i look forward to the day, "i'll fly away."

Still,  i hope to live many, many, many more years here.  If it is God's will, i will glorify him here on earth till my hair is all gray, till my hands and face show the lines of a life lived in victory.  i long to live to see my children, grand-children, and all my great grandchildren,  for i want to  place my hands on them and speak blessing over their lives.

And when i finally make it Home there will be a celebration this side of Heaven...

Those in attendance will dress in birthday brights.

There will be a picture show celebrating moments that my life wrapped Love around them (oh God let there be many).

My children will say, "a good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children." they will delight in the Wealth of a mother who gave them God- living, breathing, moving, knowing, wonder-full, magnificent, GOD! ("riches i need not, nor man's empty praise thou mine inheritance now and always" from the hymn Be Thou My Vision).

Testimony will be shared of a life lived in Victory, and of Jesus WHO GAVE HIS LIFE for me. 

There will be balloons! Oh, yes, one for each guest to release into heaven, and as they release them, all the voices i loved here will sing, "i'll fly away."
just thinking about that glorious day i imagine myself joining with them in song while square dancing with my Maker! 
i will promenade with our Creator,  be lead into a right hand star with my Caleb, next i'll do-si-do with my beloved grandfather,  and then i will allamande left with my dear friend Nicole 

They will celebrate my BIRTHday with the all the saints who have gone before me, with the angels, with the Spirit, Son, and Father.

They will CELEBRATE that i now LIVE fully in God's tangible "love better than life." ( from Psalm 63:3-4. my favorite verses, and life mission statement).

And God will be glorified!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

As i type Emiie is playing "Amazing Grace" on the piano.

10 years ago today i was amazed by Grace. 

10 years (i feel my heart clench within me).

10 years that i have missed my Caleb.


BUT 10 years closer to the day i will hold him... 



i was 8 weeks pregnant in August when the bleeding began.  The doctor told me the sack had not attached completely to the uterus. He said there was a 50/50 chance baby would make it.  With a 2yr and 1yr old in tow i went on bed rest.

Every time there was excessive bleeding i was in a panic. 

But i believed anything was possible with God (my own mother was born, 53 years ago, weighing 1lb something ounces).

There were weekly visits to the obgyn to monitor baby. Hearing the heartbeat every week brought me great relief.

On Friday Sept. 15th i was 14.5 weeks pregnant.

Michael took Noah and Emilie to the grandparents house then went on to work.

i had a weekly obgyn appointment that morning that a girlfriend graciously transported me to.
i wore a lavender t-shirt, denim overalls, and birkenstocks.
i waited in the waiting room with other pregnant women and a woman with her newborn.  i hoped again to make it another week(and then another, and another, and...).

moments later i was lying down, my belly exposed, with dr. peters measuring, then searching for the heartbeat.  i waited....waited...waited...looked at him with a desperate "Please" in my eyes... waited..."barump, barump, barump, barump, barump."  Tears of relief and joy!

i scheduled an appointment for the next week, and was driven home.

Obedient to bed rest, i arrived home and laid down for the remainder of the day.
It was a cool September day.  i left the front door open, letting the breeze find it's way through the screened door, and drifted off to sleep on the couch.

At 4:30 there was a knock at the door.   My dear friend, Cari, showed up unexpectedly (and yet expected by God. Tears).   i stood up, took a step towards the door, and fluid ran down my legs.

My water broke.

In that moment emotions attempted to surface, i was heading towards reeling into complete panic, BUT GOD took His place in front of my fears and questions.  As i asked, "is this happening?"  The Comforter said, "I have not left you alone, I AM with you all the way."

Cari now in the house, phoned Michael, helped me into some fresh clothes, and held me up before the   Life-Sustainer in prayer.

Michael arrived, and we made the 1.25 hr trip to the hospital.

There isn't a book titled "What To Expect When Your Not Expecting." (Nobody would want to buy it).  I didn't know what to expect.  I only knew to EXPECT GOD to be with me all the way.  I prayed, "Father go before us.  Let everything happen as you have already orchestrated.  You ordain our days, You've ordained this one.  Let us live every detail you have already written."

After my water broke, contractions began.  They were minuets apart when we reached the hospital.

We were directed to go to the E.R. (this policy should be changed).  There i demanded to go directly to a room. My labor and tears eventually convinced the receptionist to comply.

Once we were in the E.R. room i ran for the toilet (it's not pretty. it is what it is). The labor increasing. The moment to deliver was here.

And it was finished.

Labor was over.

My womb was childless.

The arms that should have been holding a baby, were childless. 

I found my way to Michael.  Sat on the E.R. bed.  So, So sorry that i had no gift in my belly, or in my arms as an offering for him.


A few moments later our nurse, Sheila arrived.  Sheila was sent by the Alpha&Omega (Beginnng & the End).  She found us defeated, and then gave us Hope.

Sheila retrieved our 14.5 week old baby from the "throne." She cleaned baby off.  She wrapped him in cloths, and laid him in a small tray. Then Sheila spoke the most beautiful words,  which are forever etched on my heart, "it appears that you have a son, and he has his daddy's strong chin." 



Our Caleb.

Sheila excused herself from the room, and from the Sacred to be shared only between mommy, daddy, and child.

i asked Michael if i might have some time with Caleb alone first.  It wasn't out of selfishness.  i longed to share in the beauty of this gift, our son, together.  Honestly, i feared what my expression would be when my "eyes saw his unformed body."  i wanted Holy.   Just as that Mysterious Unity from which we were derived had fallen on us in the hospital rooms when Noah and Emilie (and later, Josie) were born, i desired It here.

With Michael out of the room, i prayed, "God please make me to see Caleb with your eyes.  i don't want to miss a thing."  i unwrapped him from the cloth, and increased in love as my eyes beheld  "fearfully and wonderfully made."  

 Caleb was just barely the length of my small hand.  He had Michael's strong chin. His long fingers so delicate on hands no bigger than my pinky nail.  His 10 tiny toes were beautifully ugly (they are just like his great grandmother's, his daddy's, his sisters. no one loves those ugly toes more than me).  Then God took me past Caleb's physical body, and showed me his character.  He showed me integrity, tenderness, and a boy who suited his name, Caleb Michael.  In Joshua, Caleb is said to have "followed the Lord wholeheartedly."  That is my greatest desire for my children.  Caleb's journey had sent him on a course from my womb directly Home.

i held Caleb in my hand and sang over him.  Worshiped our Creator with my son. Though Caleb was born into Heaven, i believed that as i worshiped we were before the throne of God together.
I sang "As i look back on this road i've traveled, i see so many times He's carried me through, and if there's one thing that i've learned in my life, my Redeemer is Faithful and True.  My Redeemer is Faithful and True, and everything He's said, He will do, and every morning His mercies are new. My Redeemer, is Faithful, and True."
And I sang and cried, "How Great Thou Art," the enormity of every word magnified by the child i held...thinking, "Your works ARE WONDER-FULL, i KNOW full well! 

and Glory filled that room, and my mommy heart. 

Michael returned He entered Holy.  He held his boy. He adored Caleb.  We prayed with Caleb  together, and pondered, "God's precious thoughts,"  and that He had so graciously given us our boy.

Hours later, we stole Caleb from the hospital (with Sheila's help).

We brought him home.

It was 3:00 a.m. when we wrapped his body in a piece  cut out of our wedding-gift-quilt that hung behind our bed. The name given to  the quilt is "Surrounded by His Love."
We laid his body in a cedar box that was a gift to me as a child.  It said, "Girl's Treasure" on top. i had finally found a treasure to place in it.  
We slept.
We cried.
We were enveloped in God's amazing grace upon grace.
We mourned.
We longed for Home.

The following day we took our Treasure to our family home to lay his body in the ground, and to release him to his Father. 

The moments of this day were also written by God. He went before us and lead us through every beautiful detail. 
 Flowers carefully picked by Caleb's Nana.  Slate lovingly made by his Gramps.

Today you will find us at Bass Lake. We'll be releasing balloons, watching them drift into the sky, hoping with a childlike faith that someday we'll arrive Home to find our son (and brother) in a room filled with our offerings (mine are the ones covered in lipstick kisses).  And as we release them we'll delight in Caleb, in God's mysterious ways. We will "look back, and hope forward" until that magnificent day when we finally make it home.

Photo taken September 15th 2007

May God be glorified.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burl's Prayer

The moment that store bought pregnancy test read positive i welcomed baby into our lives.  i was pregnant and expanding not only with a child, but with love, wonder, hope, and joy.

 "Burl" (a womb name for boy/girl that we gave this baby) became a resident of not just my body, but of my mommy heart. 
Burl made our family of 4 a family of 5, and was now invited to share in every moment of every day of our future.
 August 2000, pregnant with Caleb

Unlike our other pregnancies when we honestly didn't care if we had a boy or a girl, this time was different. Both Michael and i longed for a boy.  God had placed the name and the son, "Caleb Michael" on both our hearts.  We hoped for him, and never considered the possibility of another.

Still we referred to baby as "Burl."

Around the time i discovered we were pregnant i had just begun to pray scripture over each of our children every day.  To this day each of our kiddos has the same scripture designated as prayer, blessing, and hope over them.

This is the 3x5 card with "Burl's"  scripture on it.

Burl's Scripture
Psalm 139:14-17
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was woven together in the secret place in the depths of the earth Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. 
How precious to me are your thoughts O God!
How vast is the sum of them!"

i didn't grasp until weeks later that God had in his mercy ordained for me to pray these words.  

This scripture (tears) would become more than words of blessing... they would become real. 

Mystery embracing me.  Me embracing Mystery.

Monday, September 13, 2010

"if i had known then what i know now"

i did NOT want to have another baby.

i had a baby already.

i was 25, and while my friends enjoyed freedom and the single life, i  had spent the last 17 months sacrificing myself for another human being (9 prego, 8 caring for baby).

Prego days were spent draped over the porcelain throne.  The months after baby's  birth were spent in trauma!  Trauma over the tire-tread that now resided on my non-existent waistline, trauma over the reality that i had somehow gained employment as a dairy-cow (nursing 24/7), trama over sleep-deprivation and fear that i would be indefinitely nocturnal, colic trama, checkbook trama, and driving a station wagon trauma (which as you know is the stepping stone to driving a mini-van trauma).

i absolutely did not want to do any of it again for a looonnnnnnngggg time.

But God.

On January 3rd, 1999, despite being on the pill and nursing the pregnancy test read +.

"i can't do this. i'm not ready,"  i cried as i fell to the ground with uncontrollable tears.

i thought God was out of his mind.

Ready or not, here she comes.

Emilie was born 6 months later (at 32 weeks).

The following months as Mommy to Noah and Emilie were exhausting and WONDER-FULL.   God revealed to me that He had been generous in giving them to me.  My babies were both my joy and my loves. 
On January 3rd, 2000, you would have found me delighting in my sweet girl, eating cake, and celebrating our first annual, "Emilie Day."  You would have heard me saying, "if i had known then what i know now i would have celebrated!"

i promised God that i would CELEBRATE His generosity in choosing me to be a mommy in the future.   i promised myself that i would not rob myself of that joy again, but cherish every moment.

Just a few days before Emilie's 1st birthday, draped over the porcelain throne again, i waited for the results of a store bought pregnancy test...

and i  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Caleb's Story

i have 4 children.

When some one asks me how many children i have my words speak of 3, but my heart whispers 4.

3 are on generous loan to me from the Father.  Noah, Emilie, and Josie reside with Michael and i on this side of Heaven.  Together we are learning to live in "God's love better than life," and glorify Him.  And 1, our son, Caleb Michael (who at just the thought of his name my heart swells) was "born into Heaven,"  and resides with our good God.

Caleb's story began before he was born (like all stories do).  Before the foundations of the earth were laid God wrote Caleb (and you and me).  He wrote him into life here to bring glory to Himself.

Caleb's life did just that.

Over the next few days i will share with you all the God glorifying details of my sweet son's journey here, then home. You will see God. You will see how God so intimately knows us, and cares for each of us so uniquely.  You will see God in the details.  You will glimpse God's mystery.

God will be glorified. 

Friday, September 10, 2010


a cool breeze is flowing

a garden is producing

she is protecting

children are learning 

homemade bread is waiting

music is flowing

Vava is creating  

beauty is spreading
by His grace there is knowing

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Romans 12:1-2 The Message

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


this week my grandmother, josefina, is visiting.

i love my grandmother.

she is a worrying, set-in-her-portuguese-ways, passionate, quick to speak, very slow to listen, opinionated, and persistent 84 year old woman (sound like someone else you know). 

she also loves deeply and unconditionally, is generous with her life (she gave hers up to raise me), hard-working, and tells the tallest tales ever!

she has the softest hands, the sweetest smile, and the jolliest laugh.

i absolutely adore her!


Saturday, September 4, 2010

life is like a box of chocolates

my life is like a box of assorted chocolates right now.  some moments milk chocolate with gooey caramel (mmm), or toffee covered in chocolate. other moments dark chocolate with  coconut or cherry filling (ick), or my least favorite -chocolate ruined by NUTS!

the boy's first week of school has gone well.  the day before school something occurred to me that brought me tremendous peace; (is that good use of a semi-colon?  i never know)  i'm not worried about noah going to school because i KNOW God wants noah to go, and i KNOW God is going to be glorified through him.  the only reason i'm sad is because i am going to miss him.
when i have felt concern at all this week regarding school  i've just gone back to this God-assurance.

i picked noah up from school that first day, and as we walked back to the van i said, "you know i really want to hug you right now, but i'm being cool." he looked at me and smiled an appreciative smile.  then,  right there in the parking lot with his classmates nearby he moved towards me and hugged me!

as we were in the car on the way home, noah  shared that another letting-her-kids-go-to-traditional-school-for-the-first-time mom had stayed on campus all day.  i commented on my jealousy, and how i'd mentioned to his teachers that i'd like to be a jr. high room mother (i was encouraged to loosen the apron strings).  noah, whose not use to a class filled with jr. highers said to me, "NO, YOU DON'T! those kids would drive you NUTS! no, they would drive you banana bread with nuts!"  he's very witty, and probably right.   

in other non-noah related news (because my life is not just about noah) something HUGE (for us) is happening in our lives right now.  i really, REALLY, want to tell you about it because it is coolawesome, and God is making it happen, and it is another something that i would typically not be okay with, but i KNOW God wants it to happen so i have peace about it, and i have peace about all that it entails (and was that the longest run-on sentence ever?).  however, i have to wait to tell you. don't you hate it when somebody tells you they want to tell you something, but then they don't. 

and in even more news (because i'm just going to spew a lot of the happenings around here on you now) a few weeks ago i had an mri.   have you ever had an mri?  yikes!  the mri machine that i was in is transported by truck trailer back and forth across california.  weird.   if you haven't had an mri, and may need to in the future i feel compelled to give you a warning; it sounds/feels like you are lying flat on your back in an x-wing (think luke skywalker) shooting at the death star, while listening to the drummer from def leopard (who had one arm, and played amazingly) lay down a track.  it was FRREEEAAAKKKYYY!!   the reason i needed an mri  is that i hurt my back a year ago.  the mri showed that the discs (which i learned are jelly like) are worn, and are wearing on my nerves (and i thought it was just the kids getting on my nerves).  i've had numbness down my leg and left arm for some time now, as well as pain in my back.   i begin physical therapy next week.  i'm getting an epidural/cortisone injection  in my back in a few weeks. do you have any experience with this?  i have so many questions.

in funny news i used an anti-aging face-mask last week (from LUSH).  after i removed it i asked if i looked younger.  josie said i looked "20 minuets younger."  she is a funny girl.  just in case she was serious i put it on everyday last week.  now i look 2 hours younger.
 the tooth-fairy came to our house last week (i should write an entire post about the tooth-fairy happenings around here. she is a little odd).  noah had lost a tooth, but after he pulled the tooth, the tooth broke in half.   anyways, as usual he put the broke-in-half tooth under his pillow in hopes of a cash prize.  the tooth-fairy did not come the first night because it was a sunday (this has happened before).  she came monday night, left 50 cents (they usually get $1) and 1/2 a candy bar.  guess that is the going rate for two halves of a tooth (i'll tell you some other time what happens if you swallow your tooth. i'll give you a hint- extraction fee!).

after going camping i thought i was fat (this is how you feel if you eat two s'mores a day for 5 days. you also feel this way if you hurt your back and haven't been able to exercise for a year).  i came home and started counting calories using a weight watcher's points book i got from my sister.  i have lost 4lbs!  i'm now wondering how many points are in a s'more?

i'm considering buying a pair of skinny jeans (key word being"considering" ).  i'm wondering does one have to be skinny to wear skinny jeans?  if your not skinny are they still called skinny jeans?  i'm confused by skinny jeans.  maybe i shouldn't buy any.  i'm thinking the whole process could be equally as painful as going swimsuit shopping (last time i went swimsuit shopping i was on painkillers- for my back. if i wasn't a moral person i would sell vicodin to fellow moms who must endure the pain of swimsuit shopping).

finally (because your sick of hearing me ramble on about everything and nothing, and wondering why i posted about "life being like a box of chocolates," because at this point in my post it makes no sense, and all i did was make you want chocolate),  josie and i were playing a game called "table talk" today.  table talk is actually a set of cards that ask questions in order to spark conversation (i know what your thinking, i don't need help striking up a conversation. see this for example).  one question  i  was given to ask josie was, "what is your favorite family memory?" josie paused, thought, then gave her answer, "every day is my favorite."  :-)

and now you can see blog friend that this post has been "like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

before & after

i'm spinning in a million different directions this week (i might not be exaggerating this time).  so busy.

busy is good and keeps my mind off missing the boy.  i'm seeing this busyness as God's tender mercy for me this week (make it month!  the whole month is going to be KRAAAZZZYY).

so busy that i've little time to think of anything intelligent to post here in blogville.  so instead i'll leave you with pix of a room redo we just finished last weekend (it was my goal to get it done before school started.  yes, i procrastinated till the last summer-break-minuet).

 the girls' room before
time to say goodbye to the black & white polka dot trim. 
puppet theater, a christmas gift for the kids in 04, made by my husband. 
doll beds homemade chritmas gifts in 09.

why is it blurry? oh well, i'm leaving it. 

and tadaaa!!!!!

after adding the board & batten look the bunks needed a pop of color.  i whipped up these pillows (really! whipped'em up. they are that easy.  just don't look at the back of them where i came up a bit short on fabric. ooops).

one more project is under way for their walls.  hopefully that little (somehow turned big) project will wrap up by the end of this week.   i'll keep you posted! (haha, that is funny "posted" get it).

Did you have any summer projects you put off till the last minuet... or that you just put off?