Problems Everywhere and the Lodge Just Outside the Gate

The day had two beginnings.

The first was at 10:49 pm, after having only been in bed on my quasi memory foam African mattress for less than two hours.

I was on the bottom bunk, Mackenzie was on the top, and the door to our tiny bedroom was locked. Earlier in the week this room had been an escape for six of us out of a small opening in the window bars when the door to our side of the home was unexpectedly locked permanently. That was our first of many #problemseverywhere. We broke the lock, we broke the hot water heater button, we broke the toilet lid, we broke the button on the newly installed fan, we tore the floor covering when we moved the bunk bed to escape the room through the window, the oven broke just because we were around. Don’t invite Americans to your Kenyan home unless you want us to break everything. Read more

Granny Rosie



One year. 365 days to let it sink in that you live with Jesus now. It’s still very, very fresh.


8-8-16 and you were 88 years old. Numbers have meaning beyond a math problem.


Your life, even to the last breath you took, was all grace. It was a beautiful picture of the faithfulness of Jesus, His provision, and intimate relationship He has with his children.


There are things I knew I’d miss once you were gone. It’s a thought I’ve had since a little girl. I wondered who would supply my Reese’s addiction (that you started) and who would provide the Trident original during big church.  Still waiting on those Reese’s to rain down from Heaven, by the way. I knew I’d miss your laughter. Who doesn’t? I knew I’d miss your gallon of sugar with a little bit of tea. I knew I’d miss your counsel, your wisdom, and your crazy sense of humor. I knew I’d miss burgers and dancing to Dad’s piano playing on Saturday nights. I knew I’d miss beach trips. I knew I’d miss your love and devotion to your family and friends. What an example you were of how to serve a family with unending selfless love.


There’s so much about you to miss. I think about you often throughout my day. Maybe this is weird, but I hear you talking to me? I think because I’ve heard your voice so much that I just know exactly what you’d say to me in every situation. I still hear your laughter. I still post certain things on Facebook because I think you’ll enjoy seeing it, especially if it’s about the kids. I still think about going to visit you when we’re in town and going to pick you up for this or that. I still look for you at family events. I still listen to your voice on my voicemails that I can not and will not delete.


I just sometimes think you are still here. And when I remember you aren’t, it’s just as gut wrenching as it was on August 8, 2016 when Brent drove to school, met me on the playground, and told me you had passed away.


Many things I knew I’d miss. But one thing I did not see coming. One thing I did not really even know was a thing to be missed. I did not foresee how much I’d miss observing your relationship with the Lord, observing the tangible and real faithfulness of Jesus in a person.


I have always been profoundly impacted by your unshakeable faith in Jesus Christ after enduring the death of not only your only sibling and your parents, but also your child and your husband. I can hear you singing “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”  


It’s always been a mystery to me how you endured such suffering. Jesus, of course. But, get real–all that tragedy and you were still faithfully clinging to Him?


It was all a mystery until you died and it was as if I was invited to a front row seat of the relationship you have with your Father.


As a child, we spent the night with you often. You made the best pallets on the floor by your bed. You let us have the extra large king size pillows to sleep on. We’d get ready for bed and pile up on our pallets while you read to us from the Bible. It wasn’t an option. It was what Granny Rosie did before going to bed. And we looked forward to it.


You always had your Bible. You did not let a day go by that you didn’t read it. Even the night before you died, very frail and weak, you read your Bible. You prayed to God.


You let nothing get in the way of your time spent with God. Vacations, illnesses, hospital stays, late nights, grandkids spending the night, etc. Nothing at all prevailed as a reason to skip your nightly Bible reading and prayer time. There was nothing legalistic about it. You enjoyed it. You wanted it.  It was just as much a part of your life as eating. It was woven into your life in a completely natural way.   

After your death, you know we all tore up the house looking for things that would bring back wonderful memories. I found stacks of Bibles, covered up in notes. In every nook and cranny of your house I found pieces of paper with handwritten prayer requests on them. You wrote them down wherever you were when you heard of a need. There were reminders to pray for others all over your house. You define a prayer warrior. Not only did you write down the request, you wrote down the praise when a prayer had been answered. There was no room in your house that did not have written evidence of God’s work.  Your house was filled with reminders of God’s goodness.

I think back to that mystery, of how you endured such suffering, and I see clearly now what it was that carried you.


It’s one simple word.


Abide.


You abided in Christ every second of every day. You recognized and understood that He was your only hope. You depended on Him solely. He was your life line. Without Him you could do nothing. You could not carry about your day without His abiding presence.  You could not walk through life’s tragedies without His Spirit alive in you. He was it. He was enough. He was your all in all. He was truly your strongest and best confidant. He knew you fully, and I dare say you knew Him as fully as one possibly can on this side of Heaven.


Mystery solved. Christ abided in you. You abided in Him.  (Abided? Abode?)


I need a reminder to be that in love with Jesus, to be that dependent on Him for every need and every second of my day.  


After searching through your many Bibles on a mission to find “abide” written in your Bible…


I found this…
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And did this…

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Now Granny Rosie, before you get to thinking I’ve turned into a rebel since you left, talk to Jesus. He knows my heart. He knows Miss Goody Two Shoes over here prayed about this for two years, wanting to be sure she was not being dishonoring or disobedient.  This may be a stretch, Granny Rosie, but just as the Israelites wore God’s commands on their body (granted, bound to their arms with leather straps, not permanent ink), this is me binding His word to my arm so I can internalize His truth and be reminded of His abiding presence.

I settled on the word “abide” long before you died. I’ve since discovered that you are a wonderful reminder for me of what it means for Christ to abide in me, and for me to abide in Christ. It’s only fitting I would have the word in your handwriting from your Bible on my wrist.


You are loved and missed immensely, in ways I can’t express with words. Your life was an incredible testimony to God’s faithfulness to His children. He never let you go. He held you and He carried you all the days of your life, even to your last moment as He answered your greatest prayer in your later years…to not die alone and to continue to live in your house. God granted your request on 8-8-16, because He’s a great God with great love for His people. You were welcomed into His presence after taking your last breath in Dr. Weldon’s office with Dad by your side. The two people you probably trusted most on this earth were the two people God allowed you to see last as you slipped into eternity.


Amen and amen. God is good. And I can’t wait to see you again.

When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!  

Scott’s Third Birthday

Scott,
Happy birthday, buddy! If there is any single word I could use to describe your life it would be joy. Sure, you have some unpleasant toddler moments, some days more than others. That is to be expected and considered part of your development as a kid. Aside from normal toddler behaviors, you radiate so much joy. Your smile and laughter are contagious. It’s obvious you are being raised by two very sarcastic parents because you try so hard to get away with things by saying “I was just trying to be funny.” It works often, because you are very funny.

If there was an award for the best brother to be stuck between two sisters, you’d win hands down. You love your sisters with all the love you have to give, though sometimes that love is expressed through aggressive playfulness. You will make them tougher and they will make you softer. It’s a win win for everyone.

Your three years on this earth have been full of life. Can’t stop won’t stop should be your motto, because you are all in or all out and everyone is going to know. You love all modes of transportation: “tars”, trains, bikes, motorcycles, “ambulamps” (ambulances), “wees tars” (police cars), fire trucks, garbage trucks, “recycwing trucks” (recycling trucks), etc. You also love riding in your Power Wheels F-150. Your pick up truck is probably the best investment we’ve ever made in a toy for you. You throw things in the back, ride all over the yard, fix it when it’s “broking” (broken), and take your sisters for a ride. Every night you sleep with your doggy pillow, cars that you have to park just right on the bed first with one to hold in each hand also, and your Bible that you usually tuck under one arm. There are usually other various toys to be found in your bed each night. You are actually dependable (as dependable as a 3 year old can be) when I’m needing your help with Ruby. You are her little protector. You watch her every move and make sure nothing goes in her mouth that shouldn’t. Bottom line: I love being your mommy. It’s the best. You are the most fun 3 year old boy and we love watching you grow, learn new things, and laughing with you. You help keep things less serious around our house because with your happy go lucky personality it’s hard to stay mad or stressed for long. You are starting to understand the things of God and for that we are very grateful. When you choose to obey us, you get all excited and say “That makes Jesus happy!”

Here is your 3 year old interview that you weren’t really that in to. No surprise there. Your answers are first, Mommy’s answer in parentheses when necessary.

What is your name? Stotty
How old are you? fwree
What is your favorite thing to do? uhhh…I don’t know. (Play with your sisters, ride in your truck, jump on the trampoline, swing, play with your train table and cars)
What is your favorite food? eltmo (oatmeal, also chocolate chips)
What is your favorite drink? juice and milk
What is your favorite color? black
What is your favorite animal? I like to ride on trains (lions, bears, and dinosaurs)
What is your favorite show? Blaze and Paw Patrol
What is your favorite movie? The Incredibles (also Star Wars)
What is your favorite toy? Bigger truck (the car hauler you got with birthday money from Mom and Pop)
What is your favorite song? The ting one (Head Over Boots by Jon Pardi. Scott calls it “the king one” because of the line “if I was a king, you would be my queen”. He knows every line. He also likes 80s Mercedes by Maren Morris, which he calls “80s acedes”)
What is your favorite book? Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, Don’t Push the Button, your seek and find book
What is your favorite Bible story? My Bible story (David and Goliath)
Who is your best friend? Zoe, Macy (Zoe is a girl from your class last year and Macy is a dog. Mommy says Parker is your best friend because you tell me all the time that Parker is your buddy. You make friends and play with anyone.)
What makes you happy? a trains (also seeing your sisters in the morning when you wake up)
What do you want to be when you grow up? Two. I’m fwree. I mean I’m fwree. (This was his first answer.)
I know you are three, but what job do you want to have when you grow up? Oooo…a tuptake (cupcake)!

For your party, we invited friends and family to have pizza and cupcakes at the park. The theme was Paw Patrol because it’s your favorite!