I owe you posts about Evan's 7th birthday (his party will be this Saturday) and Ben turning 6 months old (on January 30th). Emmett celebrated his 38th birthday, too.
I can't access any pictures right now - something happened with our server at home that I do not understand. Take it from me that my kids are as cute as ever. I'll show you photographic evidence eventually.
I've been feeling really down the past few days. I'm coming down with some kind of cold or flu, I think, and it makes me tired and weepy. I look around and I see all the things that I'm not doing well - haven't shopped for groceries, haven't been reading books with the kids, haven't been stimulating Ben enough or figured out his feeding schedule, haven't been getting up early for quiet time, etc... I'm discouraged.
So tonight, when I woke up at midnight and couldn't sleep, I came down to the living room to read my Bible and pray. I'm reading through a devotional called Streams in the Desert, and - when I take the time to read it - it speaks to my heart.
In a recent reading, the author wrote about how an oak tree grows: "Yet it is in the storm that God equips us for service. When God wants an oak tree, He plants it where the storms will shake it and the rains will beat down upon it. It is in the midnight battle with the elements that the oak develops its rugged fiber and becomes the king of the forest.'"
Shortly after I read that, a friend pointed me to Isaiah 61. In Isaiah 61:3, Isaiah says that he (prophetically: Jesus) has been sent "... to provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
That's what I'm praying in the middle of the night - that He would replace my spirit of despair with a garment of praise. And that in my life and in my family's life, we would display HIS splendor. I'm trusting that these times of illness and busy-ness and dreariness are just part of the rain of life, and that He is shaping me.