This week while reading in the bathroom- yes, we do that at our house!- I came across this in a little book by Watchman Nee:

“God never asks us to do anything we can do. He asks us to live a life which we can never live and to do a work which we can never do. Yet, by his grace, we are living it and we are doing it.” (Watchman Nee in Sit, Walk, Stand, Tyndale House, 1982)

Wow. That thought has stuck with me for several days, and brought to mind the many, many times I have heard this after telling people we have six kids, two bio and four children adopted through the foster care system;

“Good for you! What a blessing you are to your children! I could never do that!”

You know, what? You’re right- you could never do that. I could never do that too, even though I told Rob that I wanted six kids before we were married! You see, I was a bit OCD in my younger years, and worked really hard to maintain a neat and orderly life. I was a perfectionist, and struggled with anxiety that often kept me awake at night while my husband snoozed away beside me… I was a giver and a helper and a good person, but always on my terms, when I was willing to bear the cost, when it was something I could afford…

I could never do that- until God called me to do just that! Until a friend opened my eyes to a young woman in need of a family, until a social worker reminded me that “babies don’t need much room!…” (She was wrong, BTW. Babies take a huge amount of room in a house- and in a heart!)

Really, I could never do that! And I still can’t- on my own. I am the mother of six, and most days? I am still in this waaay over my head! Self-doubt creeps in, tears fall, and my heart breaks. I love my kids, no doubt, but some days being a mom is Just. Hard. And btw, bio kids? They’re really not any easier most days! My oldest son? Whew, has he pushed my buttons over the years! My youngest daughter?- well, as I always say, she came into this world butt first, and she has done things her way ever since!

Throw in the daughter who entered our lives at 15, and the three baby boys, all in diapers at ages 1, 2, and 3. (Rob, what in the world were you thinking?!!! You said yes- to that???) But we did it, we survived, and we still are…

Because we couldn’t do it. But we had faith that we had a God on our side, leading us on, lifting us up, carrying us through. How could we say no, when the Jesus in us was saying, “Look, there they are! They belong with you!…”

How could we say no?

Still pondering,

I blew it…

This year, Rob and I decided not to give each other Christmas gifts. Instead of trying to find that something special for someone who, let’s face it, usually acquires the things he really, really wants, I decided to focus on others instead of my spouse.

You may not know this about me, but I really, REALLY like to give gifts! I start Christmas shopping early, pouring over online shopping sites, and by the end of August you will find my Christmas idea list on Amazon for that year.  I spend lots of time there, looking, and thinking, and adding and subtracting as I ponder the wants, needs, and wishes of each of my children. I ask questions like these…

Who are they this year? What are they really, really interested in? Have they developed any new hobbies? Have they hit a different stage in their growth and development? Are they in a new relationship that is significant? What do they NEED, and maybe even not know that they need it?

You know, it takes time to ask and answer these questions- hours and hours!… and I dwell there for weeks, as I work to get my Christmas purchases- three for each child- made and stored at the North Pole (Dad’s basement!) by Thanksgiving. It’s an artificial goal, I know, but one I try to meet each year to avoid the stress of the last minute shopping spree.

And I just now – yes, in February!- realized that by agreeing to not purchase gifts for my dear husband, I. Missed. Out.  I didn’t get to spend that same time and energy thinking about the person that is the most important to me- my partner in life for the last 25 years, and hopefully the next 25 too!

I blew it, friends.  I missed out on asking the questions, and listening to the “it would be nice to have” and “I sure could use” and “hmm, that’s pretty cool!” statements made in passing conversations here and there. I missed out on the opportunities to PAY ATTENTION to the one most dear to me…

This isn’t about giving someone an extravagant gift, because we really don’t do that around here. Three gifts per child, remember? We started that when Daniel was just a babe, and it is orderly, and fair, and fiscally responsible for us. (it’s a little expensive, granted, but only because we have six kids- now seven with the addition of a future son-in-law!) The gifts are often small, a game, or a book, or a sweatshirt, but they are always bought thoughtfully and carefully, especially for that one…

So this year, I am publishing my intention right here, right now, Rob WILL get a gift from me, chosen just for him, this Christmas! It may be small, it may be silly, but it will be thoughtful, and hopefully tell him once again how very, very much I appreciate him and the life we have together.

And even better? I can start paying attention and asking the questions and listening now, and maybe not even wait until Christmas to give him a gift! It might be a favorite candy bar, or an invitation to go to lunch with me. It might be a new book that I see that makes me think of him. It might be making his favorite foods once in a while- a real gift, since I really, really don’t like to cook! The gift is a token, you see. The paying attention, that’s the real gift…

Who needs to receive that gift from you?

Still pondering,