Saturday, December 31, 2011

Miracle to Miracle

I accomplished--and learned--a lot in 2011. In the last 12 months, I:

--fulfilled a life dream and met Mary Poppins.

--sought and found help at M.D. Anderson.

--finished a year's worth of chemotherapy and Avastin treatments.

--moved into my perfect house. How I love it here!

--mourned the loss of two precious unborn babies.

--went to about a thousand little boy birthday parties.

--sweltered through the hottest summer EVER.

--continued to study, learn, and grow with my Tuesday Sisters.

--grew my hair back!

--made some new friends in our neighborhood and through the boys' school.

--realized that mothering is not for the faint of heart when Goliath went to camp for a week and later competed in a martial arts tournament.

--went hunting with my man. After 13 years of marriage, it's about time.

--tolerated and even learned to love Gus the Terrible.

--found my inner crafter and spent a lot of time and money at Hobby Lobby.

--discovered Pinterest.

--buried a deceased bunny rabbit and welcomed our guinea pigs' love child into our menagerie.

--went to Disney World, the circus, and a snake farm.

"To be alive, to be able to see, to's all a miracle. I have adopted the technique of living life from miracle to miracle." --Arthur Rubinstein

New Year's Eve is not really a big deal to us. We used to try to stay up late to watch the ball drop; now we're too old and have too many kids to care. When I wake up in the morning, 2012 will have begun. I won't eat black-eyed peas, I won't hum "Auld Lang Syne", and I won't make resolutions. Instead, I will begin tomorrow like I begin every morning: choosing to LIVE my life. Not too many people get the opportunity that I have had to examine life and re-discover what is truly important. Every single day that I wake up is a miracle. Every experience, every encounter, every minute...miracles. Instead of making temporary resolutions, I want to make one permanent promise to myself: I will recognize my life's miracles and soak them up. I will make the most of what I've been given to be the best me that I can be.

Here's to a 2012 full of grace and love...Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fancy Free

Last night I had the distinct privilege of stepping outside my usual circle to attend our church's annual high school girls' winter retreat. Mind you, I elected not to retreat overnight. I am far too old and grouchy to sleep on the floor in a room full of giggling girls. I chose instead to spend the evening with them and then retreated myself right into the comfort of my own bed. The story of how I came to attend the retreat is fun: my cousin, who is a fun-filled, Spirit-led, unique-in-all-ways Bible teacher, called me up last week and said, "Hey! I am teaching at this girls' retreat at a church that I think is pretty close to you. Could I spend the night at your house?" Turns out that it was MY church! We have both been surprised, I think, to discover how many mutual acquaintances we have--it's a small world, after all.

The theme of the retreat was "Fancy Free." The thought of trying to communicate what freedom in Christ truly looks like to a room filled with 9th-12th grade girls is SO intimidating to me, but Christina and the other leaders made it look easy. It is good that I recognize that my God-given talents lie in the 4-year-old realm and not with 14-year-olds. I really enjoyed being able to sit back and participate in meaningful worship and absorb some sound Bible teaching. The theme Scripture is in Matthew 6: 25-34. Here it is from The Message translation:

"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion--do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers--most of which are never even seen--don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

So here's what I learned. Or more accurately, here's what I was gently reminded of:

1--I was created purposefully, lovingly, and carefully by THE God of the universe. He crafted me for his pleasure. He delights in me. He cares for me. Tiny sparrows and unseen wildflowers have everything they need. If the Creator cares enough about those little flowers to give them lovely colors and perfect designs, why in the world do I insult him by not believing that his design for me is perfect as well? I am so accustomed to my norm--my day to day, ordinary being, that I allow myself to become settled. I play a lot of different roles in this life: I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a friend, a teacher, a neighbor. These are all good and accurate descriptions of me. But none of these descriptions necessarily defines me. Yes, I am Mommy to the 3 little cowboys. What if I let that be the thing that defined my life? I would be left with pieces missing, because I was created to be more than just that. There is a universe of possibility out there, and my Jesus wants me to make the most of every chance I have to be the best me that I can be.

2--I can't be free if I don't trust Him. I mean, really really trust. Trust in the sense that I will go anywhere, do anything, give everything...all for Him. Trust in the sense that I am willing--no, EXCITED--to jump into the great unknown if He calls me to, because it never occurs to me that He won't be there to catch me. I can, and should, look for ways to demonstrate His love and glory in the middle of disaster and crisis simply because he is faithful and trustworthy. I am safe as long as I am with my Lord.

I love 4-year-olds. But it was a nice change of pace to go deeper and let my heart be penetrated by the sword of the Spirit. I will be seeking ways to live in God-reality. I don't have to worry. I can relax and be me. What a good God!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Glory Baby

Dear Baby,

A little while back, your mommy called me to tell me that you were coming. I had been waiting for that phone call for a while--almost since the day your mom and dad got back from their honeymoon! We cried happy tears and I may have even screamed and jumped up and down a little bit. The happy news of you spread quickly.

A few weeks ago, your mommy called me again. This call was as heartbreaking as the first was joyful. She said that she had been to see her doctor to check up on you, and that you had stopped growing and your heart was no longer beating. Just as quietly as you entered our lives, you left.

Your mommy has been my friend for most of my life. I usually refer to her as "my Caroline" around here, and everyone--even people who have never met her--knows who I am talking about. She is my most special friend. As an extension of her, you would have been the most special baby.

I imagine that you might not have had your mom's curls, but you would have had a touch of her red hair. I think that you might have had amazing bright eyes like your daddy and a huge smile like your mommy's. I like to think that you would have loved me intensely. You could have come to my house during the summers, and we would have baked cookies and played with the cowboys. They would have loved you so much!

So many people already loved you...your mommy and daddy, of course. Your grandma and grandpa. Me. You were a long-awaited answer to a heartfelt prayer. We all miss you. Your mommy is such a great lady, and she will be a wonderful mom. But Baby, no matter what, you will always be hers. She is walking through these sad days of missing you by claiming this verse:

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

My Caroline's heart desire is to be a mommy. Even though losing you isn't at all what she wanted, there is no denying that by your very existence you made her dream come true.

I hope that, even in your brief life, you felt love. You brought love to our lives, and because of you, we will never be the same. Someday we will see you again, and then your mommy will get to be with you forever. I love you, Glory Baby.


Auntie Allyson

Glory Baby--Christy Nockels

Glory baby, you slipped away as fast as we could say

You were growing, what happened dear?

You disappeared on us,

Heaven will hold you before we do

Heaven will keep you safe until we're home with you,

Until we're home with you.

Miss you every day

Miss you in every way

But we know there's a day

when we will hold you, we will hold you.

You'll kiss our tears away

When we're home to stay

Can't wait for the day when we will see you,

We will see you.

But baby, let sweet Jesus hold you

til mom and dad can hold you

You'll just have heaven before we do

You'll just have heaven before we do.

Sweet little babies, it's hard to understand it

'cause we're hurting,

We are hurting

But there is healing

And we know we're stronger people through the growing

And in knowing

That all things work together for our good

And God works his purposes just like he said he would

Just like he said he would

I can't imagine heaven's lullabies

and what they must sound like

But I will rest in knowing, heaven is your home

And it's all you'll ever know, it's all you'll ever know....