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Waiting for Tulips (the March gifts)

driving home for the first time

daffodils saying hello

Indian butter chicken

friends who love us enough to clean the showers and every other inch of our moving mess

. . . and haul all our earthly belongings

quilt spread in the backyard grass

first sunburn at a luncheon

waiting for tulips…wondering their color

my sister’s carrot cake with citrus notes

“is anything too small for a child to talk to his father about?” —Anneliese

small prayers answered, as well as big ones

first package on the doorstep, containing a treasure (The Sugar Mouse Cake by Gene Zion)

dressing our new sturdy bookshelf with picture books

cold-brew and premarital counseling

the first grilled chicken of the year

finding an empty cupboard in the kitchen, days into unpacking

meeting the neighbors while bearing spring monster cookies

singing “Safe Am I” to my little one

brave sunshine and a little stroller

shire songs

These Happy Golden Years

baby’s first steps

marco polo conversations with friends from childhood

thrifting finds

1,000 piece puzzle owning our kitchen table

“Home is everything you can walk to.” –Jerry Spinelli

exploring our new home by walking

more thoughts, On Walking from Bethany’s blog

petitioning the God of the impossible, our Defender

–Who never tires of our requests

“How great is Your goodness which You have stored up for those who fear You.” Psalm 31:19

A Book Held Safely: God’s Sovereignty in Motherhood

In my first few months of motherhood, anxious thoughts simmered. I was even nervous the first time alone with my baby, feeling we needed at least four sets of hands to keep our precious bundle safe!

Every creak sounded like a break in, and during nap time, I constantly zoomed in as close as possible on the monitor to ensure the rise and fall of his breathing.

Certainly, motherhood is a steep learning curve, with hormones and normal concerns. But I hope to share how God’s Word encouraged me and established truths a little tighter in my heart in those newborn days.

Isn’t it amazing how God’s sovereignty envelopes us with sweet confidence?

I find daily courage in these two verses.

His Safety

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” 
Psalm 4:8

Even if I could be a perfect parent, and utilize every earthly precaution, I’m still not in ultimate control. With the psalmist I acknowledge, the Lord ALONE sets us in the safety. It’s a safety we long for (Psalm 12:5).

The Lord gives peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). All the understanding a young mom doesn’t even have time to acquire yet… a river of peace runs much deeper. 

His Book

Secondly, our children are infinitely more valuable in God’s sight than our own. He knew us in the womb, and His care goes to the length of etching each day in His book. 

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.”

Psalm 139:16

Some have a life story filling many pages into old age, chapter after chapter. Others’ lives are brief and also beautiful, but still penned in glorious love and purpose. It’s not for me to know the number of my days, nor the number of my little one’s. He knew before we were fully formed in the womb, and each day is a gift of grace to enjoy. What comfort and courage!

Whenever those fingers of fear and worry start reaching for my heart, I remind myself of these bedrock truths. God is sovereign over motherhood.

What do we believe about God?

As my son grows older, I’ll have more opportunities to fear. It won’t be just his health, but I’ll think about his emotions, his personality, his education, his relationships, everything. I’ll need to reaffirm that it isn’t my job to be in control. I must remember that even at my baby’s most vulnerable state in the womb, I could trust God to sustain his heartbeat in accordance to His will. Can we not continue to cast our cares and anxieties on such a wise Father?

At a baby shower last week, a mom much further down the road than me, shared how she desired to communicate her trust in God to her kids even when it was hard to do so. Because sinful fear shows others what we believe about God — that He isn’t to be trusted.

Instead, we can rejoice in the knowledge of His power and complete control. Safety isn’t a place. Safety isn’t a frame of mind. Safety isn’t perfect health. Safety isn’t a high-dollar security system.

Safety is a gift from God alone. He faithfully walks with us each day, until welcoming us to our forever home. Yes, I can place something even as precious to me as my loved ones in the hollow of His hand.

My sister recently reminded me of this old hymn Safe Am I. Sing this over your baby’s nap time, and give thanks He ordained this very day in His book, before we were born.

“Safe Am I, Safe Am I,
In The Hollow Of His Hand.
Sheltered Over, Sheltered Over
With His Love Forever More.

No Ill Can Harm Me, No Foe Alarm Me;
For He Keeps Both Day And Night.
Safe Am I, Safe Am I
In The Hollow Of His Hand.”

Turn Up the Sound Doctrine

I recently introduced my husband to my favorite book, The Hiding Place, and we haven’t been able to stop talking about it since we listened to it together on our holiday road trip. 

What I love about the Ten Boom family is their lack of fuss. They simply read God’s Word and sought to apply it even while their home country decayed in the WWII German occupation. They intimately knew God’s voice and leaned on Him for courage. 

The Ten Booms knew they held no value to the Nazis. They weren’t young, rich, or cutting edge, just one wrong move away from prison or worse. They fixed watches for a living and loved the disabled people, the strays, the beggars, the homeless, anyone who knocked with need. In aligning their view of other image-bearers with God’s, some of them paid the ultimate sacrifice for their diligent obedience to the Lord. 

Wanting Ears Tickled

For all the things that will be hard next year, there is something that will be all too perfectly easy for us. It will be easy to skate around the Bible instead of studying it. Even silencing it by listening to the believer’s three worst enemies instead. 

1) The Deceiver subtly seeks to feed us lies, or even half-truths, suggesting we question God’s goodness like Eve did. He’ll try to make us ashamed of both Christ and the words of His mouth.

2) The World blasts anything that will sell for its own fat profit and cleverly hide the true price tag.

3) Our Flesh will crave the things the world offers because of its raging appetite.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” 

2 Timothy 4:3

It’s easy to accumulate teachers who tickle or scratch our ears because we don’t even have to leave our couches to hear and read them. 

The Worthiest Voice

But God’s Word equals the brightest light and the source of sound doctrine. Our God is sufficient for our needs, and He speaks the raw truth. Our ears need it in an enormous amount so we can discern everything else we hear. 

I’ve seen the slow fade in my life. By giving my time, attention, and priority, I twist up the volume of other platforms. Perhaps of gifted writers who weave things that sound good, are mostly true in some contexts, and who emphasize the trending mantras. I have to be wary, lest I’m desensitized to deceptions cloaked in lovely prose. Humans are good at convoluting truth, one catchy phrase at a time.

Am I tuning into any influencers/teachers/writers/celebrities/church leaders who speak into my own fleshly desires? Who are easy to look at and promise enlightenment, but serve sickly-sweet flattery and feel-good stuff? I never want to stay informed of the culture at the cost of opening my heart to deception.   

Can we endure sound doctrine? The Piercing Lamp, volume turned up?  

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust In Jesus, –Louisa M. R. Stead

We would do well to follow in the footsteps of the simple Hollanders from The Hiding Place, just obeying what “saith the Lord” in daily tasks and stewarding opportunities for sacrifice with courage. Sound doctrine was their light in the hellish concentration camp. Sound doctrine spoke louder about their value than the guards who called them only by their prison numbers. Sound doctrine gave strong promises of God’s care and kindness in the absence of their basic human rights. 

In war-torn hunger, Jesus still proved the Bread of Life. While they had threadbare blankets in the cramped barracks, His Word is called a fire. When Corrie and her siblings were weak, His Word is known as a hammer. Their earthly bodies shriveled, but God’s Word stood as a mirror to their precious souls. They were defenseless, but the Nazis could not take away the Sword of the Spirit. 

It’s so sweet just to take Him at His Word.

As we venture into 2022 — be it easy or hard times — take up this Light. This Mirror. This Sword. Let’s delight in rather than wander from His commandments. Refresh ourselves with the accuracy of God’s own account of Himself. Turn up the sound doctrine so we can see our path.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet

And a light to my path.”

Psalm 119:105

The Good about the Bad

The sky hung weighty and pale. Backyard held a foggy hush, but inside the whole household glittered with candlelight and beamed with courage.

Christmas togetherness circled a long table laid with evergreen. The year had been mostly good, aside from an unwelcome medical diagnosis in the midst, and this could have disheartened the season.

But . . . joy and light and great news for all people.

In Psalm 112, the ones who fear the Lord are described as blessed and fearless. Light arises in the darkness for the upright, those who delight in His commandments (vv. 1,4).


For he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be remembered forever.

He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is upheld, he will not fear . . . “

Psalm 112:6-8

The reason we’re not cowering in fear of more evil news, tonight or next year, is because:

“…The gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials.” ― Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer

Are you clothed in Christ’s righteousness? Be steadfast in heart, trusting the Lord; there’s nothing left to fear.

Think about the shepherds, faced with a reason for terror.

When the sky split, it wasn’t Christmas-pageant, Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy imagery. An angel army began shouting in the sky.

I, too, would have been stricken with fright. I think the shepherds anticipated evil reports, judgment, or end-of-the-world pronouncements. Perhaps their sheep scattered.

No wonder the angel declared “do not be afraid” first of all. Their presence necessitated it.

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

The shepherds’ fear of bad tidings was overwhelmed by good news in a manger.

The shepherds had sinful souls destined for wrath, and so do we. It paints the bleak night stage, set for the desperately needed good news/great joy of Christ’s birth, His death, and His resurrection.

Still today we have no need to be afraid because the light arises in the darkness. Sinners are called to hear and know the gospel, which changes everything about everything. We are considered “the righteous” because Jesus bought us. Each medical diagnosis is about glory to God in the highest. And He leaves peace with us, but not the kind the world gives.

Nothing can truly shake the righteous one’s position before God. No terror of the night can steal the peace promised that surpasses all understanding.

It’s why my family doesn’t need to fear evil tidings but can rejoice in the knowledge of our eternal security, the goodness of God’s perfect plan, and the desire for gory to the Prince of Peace, come what may. This is the good about the bad.

My Childlike Taste in Books

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

C. S. Lewis

My 2021 reading list may look like I got it mixed up with my youngest sister’s list. Because, once hooked, I never stopped reading fairy tale-ish adventures.

Books for the young are often the innocent entertainment, happy endings, and the clear sense of good and evil that we crave. Maybe it’s a way to return to the sweetness of childhood.

For another thing, don’t you love to absorb history through the eyes of children? Children’s historical fiction/nonfiction is more about the day-to-day burdens of growing up, rather than the complex ethical decisions behind the scenes. Children are often good at seeing the silver lining of the dark clouds, and they perceive the deepest details. Remember the first time you ventured out of country and how it engaged your five senses? This is how children observe their own cultures, with acute awareness of the sheer newness.

As I ponder the compilation of reasons for my childlike taste in books this past year, I hope you can relate to the love of wholesome literature!

A few of my favorite 2021 reads:

A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

“Set against the backdrop of World War II, Anna, Edmund, and William are evacuated from London to live in the countryside, bouncing from home to home in search of a permanent family.” A friend gifted me this kindle book as a pleasant surprise. I absolutely loved reading every paragraph of this delightful novel. Don’t you love it when books reference books? The author gave the pages a touch of Narnia magic even though the genre is historical fiction. Such a satisfying ending, too. I bought this for my little sister’s birthday!

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr

I enjoyed every chapter, because of the simplicity, beauty in word choice, and humor. As the family travels to escape the Nazis, we brush up against several different cultures. Another though-provoking WWII refugee book, this one is even partly autobiographical. I’m hoping to find and read the sequels. *UPDATE: I do NOT recommend the rest of the books in the Pink Rabbit trilogy. They’re not appropriate for children and not for me either!

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

“The War that Saved My Life” is real and raw, allowing me to better understand children with traumatic childhoods. It isn’t as well written, in my opinion, as the first two I reviewed, and a bit slower paced, but still an enjoyable storyline and realistic characterization. Also set during WWII.

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Wanda is a Polish girl and her classmates make fun of her for her differences. She takes solace in her “100 dresses” and in kindness. This is a brief read.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

What if a few lab rats escaped their cages and made their own civilization with their newfound knowledge? An interesting, quick read about the secret lives of mice and really smart rats.

A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter

By one of my favorite American authors, this story shares a young woman’s (Elnora’s) journey to funding her own college through catching moths, mending her torn relationship with her mother, and doing what she believes is right at all costs. It’s set in Indiana’s Limberlost Swamp in the early 20th century.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I recently found a lovely hardback copy of this story after listening to it in audiobook form (which is how I intake most of my books.) This story is just sweet, wholesome, transforming and humorous. Mary finds her health and character grow as she tends the secret garden. This story is gold.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

“A Little Princess” is one of my favorite rags-to-riches stories! How the plot unfolds is just magically enchanting and oh so satisfying. A timeless must-read!

I also enjoyed reading Elizabeth Elliot, Corrie Ten Boom, and a couple vintage career-girl novels, but fell short of my goal of reading 30 books this year. Here’s to better reading success in 2022!

What are your favorite children’s chapter books? You know, in case I try to cram in the last few books to make my goal?

Or perhaps your favorite books for adults, but that still hold a wholesome wonder?