Hail, hail, the gang's all here! Finally a quiet morning!

They may be bigger but they haven't changed a lot! (Kids snuggling Kelcy-Sarah, 25, Joy 14, Nathan, 20, Joel 22)

I am sitting sipping my tea this cool morning and am so  very grateful to have all of my children home at once. Joel came home last weekend and will be here 6 more days. What a gift to me that he and Nathan love coming home. Nate got here Saturday night. So, I have been celebrating, cooking, having long and late-night discussions, and early morning breakfasts--celebrating as much life as we can until everyone disperses starting Wednesday when Sarah flies to Nashville, Clay to Texas and Joel back to Boston. I only have 5 days when we are all in town at once! Soooo......

Nate's belated birthday Texas Sheet Cake--yummmmm!
Sarah's birthday breakfast a week early! Have to have everyone home so we can bless the birthday child together!

I have spent so much time praying for my children this season of life. Please let Joel flourish in Boston. His arena is so secular. Please keep Nathan faithful to you in New York City--please, please, please! But much to my relief, God was in New York City, too. And He is still sovereign! Joel has grown by leaps and bounds and is flourishing. Nate has been reading the biography of Keith Green and it has really inspired him. (a biography for older teens when they are in the midst of integrating spiritual life in a fallen world).

It has been so fun to see all of them together and that they still love and enjoy each other and that we all still have those rousing discussions. They are all so different--the introverts are still more introspective and a little quieter. The extroverted, "cool" kids are still louder. Clay and I hold on for dear life in the middle and I am so very blessed to have them love us and love the Lord. Are there still problems and issues? Always!

A sweet mom wrote me a letter this week and said that she and her friends had been reading through Ministry of Motherhood together. She said they really enjoyed it, but is was a little overwhelming because it felt like I was always so positive about my children and that I always loved them. Then she asked if it was always that way.

Of course not! We all go through seasons where we wonder if some of our children came from another family. Sometimes we have feelings that suggest we are not really a good mom because we don't even like our children. And sometimes we just wish we could escape.

I learned very early in my Christian life about the concept of obedience. God asked me to obey Him with my heart and Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey me." So, obedience is out of love, not feeling. Many times, I would do the right thing, even though the feelings didn't match. In other words, I knew it was right to "act" in a loving, patient manner towards my children. Or I knew that God wanted me to "respect" Clay--even times when I did not feel like it! But because I wanted to love Jesus, I would obey. What I found out is that my feelings would follow. In other words, the more I obeyed the Lord in serving my children and encouraging them, the more of an investment they became to me, and the more I cherished them and began to see just how important children are in God's economy. Now, the thing that drives me to speak and travel so much, is that I can't stand the thought of children being abused or neglected in any way. I want to help as many moms as possible discover the importance of loving and accepting their children as a gift from the Lord.

Growth is a long process. My deep love and reverence for these children has grown after many, many years of cherishing them--sometimes because I truly loved and enjoyed them--and sometimes purely out of faith. But, as I have said before, as in a garden, whatever you water and nourish the most in this garden of life is what will flourish. If you water the garden of family and children and love and life-giving and beauty, it will grow and flourish--it is a long term work. 

Well, I am off for two more hysterical days--and two birthday party celebrations down, one more to go!