a letter to story

Dearest Story,

We know your debut is going to be a great one, because God is waiting until the very last minute to release you.  He must be enjoying this time He has with you all to Himself.  Like a painting still dripping wet with the loving strokes of it's Creator, He's adding the final touches to you, His masterpiece.  

Around here, we are anxious for your arrival.  Anxious to touch and feel and kiss you, to see your eyes blink for the first time and hear your lungs bursting with expression.  There's a sweet smell of heaven that still clings to that newborn skin and the aroma is a cleansing one.

Your brothers and sister are so impatient to meet you.  They love you already.  Your big sister Astair has been busy making you hair bows with Momma, helping decorate your nursery, and picking out clothes for you.   Everyday she asks about you, urges mommy to walk around the block with her "to help get Story out".  She draws you pictures and talks about how she will babysit you and give you lots of hugs.  

Yesterday, your mommy went in for an induction because Grandma Chick was here and we so wanted her to meet you before she had to leave, but we decided to let you come on your own time.  Your Grandma loves you and she was sad to go, but we know she'll get to meet you one day soon.  When we got home from the hospital, your brothers and sister made you onesies.  

And tonight, as I learn to trust in God's perfect timing, He whispered this sweet message to you into my listening ear,
My Story, 
Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.  Before you were born I set you apart for my holy purpose.  (Jer. 1:5)
All beautiful you are, my darling, there is no flaw in you. (Song of Sol.  4:7)
I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with an unfailing kindness.  (Jer. 31:3)
You have my heart,
The Lord Your God 

And my heart is yours, forever, too.

Your Mommy


the lovely lately...

This weekend has been a gift.
I'm so thankful for a husband who packs up all the kids and takes them to donut shops and for walks in the woods, who lets me sleep in, builds campfires in the backyard, and roasts marshmallows and hot dogs (for breakfast), grills burgers, and rolls my kids around in a barrel (just for fun).  
I love you, baby, beard and all.

My mom and I got to spend some precious time together.  
We browsed through a little gift shop where I found the most adorable handmade vintage fabric bag.  It's more spacious then the picture shows and I can't wait to use it as Story's diaper bag.

I've had a million and one sewing projects swirling through my head lately... 
Fabric bows, hand drawn dolls, ruffled onesies...  
But I had to limit myself to just one more and that was a nursing cover for Story.
Super easy to make and lovely as well.

Definitely a highlight of our weekend was an incredible surprise that landed on our doorstep from our cousin Sheri...
A box FULL of the most carefully thought out art projects and supplies for my kids!!
It was amazing and it felt like Christmas!  We had so much fun going through all the fabulous creative goodies!
She had packaged every project and included several ideas for the items she sent.
Completely FABULOUS.

There was a bag for the kids to personalize a onesie for Story, crayons to melt down in muffin tins, cards for them to design, art aprons, art paper, oil pastels, markers, frames for self portraits, chalkboard hangers, chalk board tongue depressers with chalk to label plants or play games with, and a lovely painted handmade flower.  
And everything was so thoughtfully labeled! 

It's no surprise she's a talented artist who sells her lovely paintings in her esty shop.
Her seascape paintings are my absolute favorites.
What a treasure this box is for us!

We're enjoying this last weekend with our Grandma.
Going to parks, riding bikes (Thad helped Astair learn to ride without training wheels and she is beyond excited), and eating all you can eat chinese (the kids all loved that part the most).

I'm trying not to drive myself crazy with waiting.  I've tied so many different things to help bring on labor and now I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that this baby isn't budging till she's ready.

So we'll wait some more.
And it will be ok.


on life and death, trust and fear

My sweet motherest is here.
And we are waiting.
Not sitting around twiddling our thumbs (is anyone capable of that with four children?)
But trying to cover all the baby bases.
Think evening primrose oil, black cohosh, and jumping on trampolines...
My babies like to stay put.
And get really fat and really, really big.
They've got it backwards.
I would prefer they do all their growing post partum, thankyouverymuch my little womb baby.

On the more emotional note (everything is emotional at this stage and be forewarned this is A LOT of emotions I'm throwing out there),

I've struggled with losing my peace during this pregnancy.
There are still some stormy emotional experiences I've had to work through, but I've felt the gentle healing hands of my God re-binding old wounds and walking me through forgiveness.  
Over and over again. 
It's the only thing that truly frees us, isn't it.
Forgiving.  And being forgiven.
I've wanted to understand, thinking that would make forgiveness easier.
I've wanted those I've forgiven to understand as well.
But I'm learning that love covers over all wrongs.
It overlooks.
Not ignores.
Just chooses to focus OVER the offense and LOOK into the face of Jesus.

And then there was the phone call last night.
My dear, sweet Uncle Johnny passed away.
My mother has been caring for her mentally handicapped brother and her 90 year old mother for the past few years.
Only two days ago, we found out that his body was completely infected with cancer.  
He was sick for the past two weeks and when they had tests done, they were taken aback by how quickly cancer had spread.
My mom was here with me and I know it broke her heart not to have been there when he breathed his last breath.
It happened peacefully.
In his sleep.
On the way to the cancer treatment center.
It's hard to explain just how special my Uncle Johnny was.
He loved Jesus with all his heart and with the purity and intensity of a little child.
Johnny was an eleven year old boy in a 65 year old man's body.
And in many ways, I believe that was a gift.
He knew Jesus and trusted him absolutely.
And I believe that God, in his mercy, spared my Uncle Johnny the worst possible pain, and gently led him home in his dreams.
I'll never forget his shy hugs or his loud, exuberant voice as he would sing along to his favorite gospel songs.
Even with all the medical problems he faced, he never wavered in his belief that Jesus loved him and was taking care of him.
He's an inspiration to me.
The greatest thing in life really is to love God and to be loved by Him.

Somewhere amid all the hurt and pain that gets so intense it robs the breath of life, I can lose my focus.
I get afraid.
Hurt can do that.
We wonder where God was when the blow landed hard.
Fear inhibits trust.
And love can't flourish without trust.

I have to trust my God's heart towards me.
And the more I trust Him, the more His love can fill me.
It's his perfect love that casts out fear.

I can look up into the skies of tomorrow with joyful expectation, not fearfulness or despair,
because I'm looking into the eyes of my Savior, the Love of my Life, my Soul Maker, who is completely worthy of all my trust.

And even as I was typing this, my two year old woke up screaming...again.
He has night terrors almost every night.  Sometimes two or three times a night.
He cries and screams inconsolably.  I try everything.
But mostly all I can do is pray.  And usually cry along with him.
I feel worry sink into my exhausted brain and with it comes the fear of having a newborn and a toddler both keeping me up all hours of the night and somehow still be a patient mom to my oldest three.

I get afraid that my mother won't get to meet Story before she has to leave on a plane for the funeral.
So many worries.  So many concerns.

But then I hear Johnny's sweet voice, feel his pat on my back and his shy, boyish smile and the words he would tell me when he was going through yet another surgery,
"It's ok, Joye, God's taking care of your Uncle Johnny."
And it's that kind of trust I want.
It's that kind of trust that I need.

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..."  Isaiah 30:15

In quietness and trust in my God is where I will find my strength.


story's nursery

I'm too impatient to wait until the whole room is done to show pictures.
So here it is.
Story's nursery.
Definitely a labor of love.
Not to mention that I'm having contractions even now as I'm typing this...
I've been having contractions for the past five days.
Not. Fun.

Decorating this little nursery was heaps of fun, though.
(ya'all probably think I have babies just so I can decorate their rooms...and you'd probably be pretty close to the truth...okay, I'm kidding...kind of)

I really love the challenge of using what I have or what I can thrift.
The fabric for the crib skirt I made is also in the quilt, as is the fabric in one of the clouds.
The doily banner is strung on quilt binding I had laying around.
And the book mobile is made from the Responsive Readings of Scripture in an old 1930's Broadman Hymnal.

As soon as we named her Story, the idea came to me to make her a "book mobile".
  I ended up using embroidery hoops and wire hangers to fashion it, 
but it was a whole lot harder to make than I thought it would be-- a lot of trial and error.  
I really love how it turned out, though.

Of course, every girl named Story has to have a book collection.
And don't you know she'll be reading Pollyanna before she turns a year old.

Time to go dream now...

story's quilt

I can't believe it's finished!!  
My first attempt at quilting and I'm so in love with the end result. 
There are vintage linens from her great-grandmother's closet, her grandma's closet at the ranch, and her mimi and auntie's bed sheets all sewn in with love.  I'm already planning on making all my kids a quilt, that's how much I loved the whole process.  Well, okay, the measuring and quilting is VERY time consuming (and most of it was done at midnight).  But I loved working with the colors and patterns.

Of course I had to make her a crib sheet with  leftover vintage linens.
Of course.
Yesterday, my mother in love gave me a birthday party and   then I got to sew this little beauty up.
Oh wonderful day!

Today it's official.  I'm thirty years OLD.  Still can't believe it.  
Maybe I'll be 29 for a few more years...my mother always told me she pulled it off.  And she's coming to see me!!  She flies in tonight, so Story better be coming ASAP!!  Prayers are welcome in that department :)

The kids are all so excited.  They've been helping me clean her room and Astair even helped me arrange her quilt and sew some squares together.  Even Legend can say her name in the sweetest little voice.  We can't wait to meet her.
And can I just say I'm looking forward to labor because it means a mini vacation in the hospital?
Desperate?  Oh yes.  


toss it

It's on.
Me (and my 36 week pregnant belly) versus all the clutter in this house.
It's got. to. go.
The wonderful midwives at my clinic informed me that this baby is already six pounds and could be ten by my due date.
In other words, she's gonna be here soon, and it better be earlier than we planned.
I have officially kicked into nesting overdrive.

I'm getting rid of junk.  Little by little.
Kind of like a physical and spiritual cleansing.
Completely inspired by the words of James:  " So put away all filth and evil excess and humbly  welcome the message implanted within you, which is able to save your souls." (1:21)

I always looked at that verse from the purely spiritual point of view, but this bible study on James is bringing scriptures into a whole new light for me.  "Evil excess" can also be material possessions.   All our "stuff" can choke out the word of God that is planted in us.  Distract us, busy us, blind us to the real blessings, the quiet and peaceful way of the Spirit.

I know this truth is going to take more than just a few weeks to settle into my soul, and even longer to truly purge from my life.

But nesting is a wonderful and powerful tool God gave for us to use, and I mean to put it to use!  I have already tackled attics, closets, toy chests (well, as much as I could with children digging through the trash with exclamations of "mom, how could you throw this away?!  it's my favorite!")  They can't all be favorites, my little children.
If I find one more lego out of it's place...

I still have so much more to organize and toss.

Not to mention Story's room.

I'm at a frustrated halt when it comes to that one.

My dear husband is working too many hours and can't possibly accomplish all the tasks I've envisioned (and they are endless of course--it's the curse of a creative personality).

I want to use only what I have, but that takes a little more elbow grease and a whole lot more patience.

There is one project I had in mind that ended up turning out beautifully and I can't wait to reveal it when I'm finished with the room.  It's a story book mobile I made out of an old 1930's Broadman Hymnal.  It's pages and pages of readings from scripture and a few classic hymns.  I love it and I'm anxious to get the room readied so I can hang it up!

But, until then, I guess I'll just keep on tackling my closets...and cupboards...and other cluttered spaces...and why does it always feel like I still have too much "excess"?  I have noticed a difference, though, in my spirit.  It's a feeling that gets lighter and lighter the more I let go of "things" and embrace the Words of my God.  

It feels like I'm weeding the garden of my soul and scripture now has more room to grow.


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