One Year, One Life, One Soul

I never would have imagined myself to grow complacent in this thing called life. To see my life as ordinary, mundane, or even average. Yet, somehow over the last handful of years that is how I have viewed, even acted out my life. Aren’t we called to more? Hasn’t God put us here for a greater purpose?

If you have known me for any length of time, you know that having a family was not on my 10 year goal list when I was in high school or the years that followed. With that said neither was God. When God got ahold of me and opened my eyes to His hand of grace and mercy in my life; when He called me to acknowledge my sinfulness and the truth of His love and His Son, that all changed. My priorities switched and God’s will became mine and I longed for a family, children of my own. He has blessed me abundantly above more than I could ever have asked (2 Corinthians 9:8). Though I know that with my head, some days my heart fails to grasp that truth. The very truth that is interwoven through my entire day, I am blessed with this quiverful (Psalm 127:5). I am called to love them, nurture them and raise them in the truth of our Lord. Why is that so hard to remember? Why can’t I allow that calling on my life to hit home and motivate me to greater things?

Then it happens-that one event, that one moment that puts you in your place and the brevity of life is realized. All of the sudden this passel running circles around me faster than I can blink, isn’t a burden but a blessing. All of the sudden the life with in me is a fragile piece of china, begging to be handled with care, because it is fragile. In that moment, life stands still, priorities are rearranged, and I realize how “everyday” my life has become.

That moment…That event that woke me up….April 25,2014 and the life and sudden death of my nephew Zayden Rufus…Why? Because I too was carrying a child. They were suppose to be born within weeks of each other. My hidden hope, days within each other. They were to be close in age and prayerfully close friends as well. And though I never met him, Zayden left an amazing impact on my heart. My life now has this amazing void that no one can fill. It may be trivial to some but Zayden lived and he died. I was left terrified for my own baby. All of the sudden pregnancy became a high and holy calling and not something to take for granted. My life will never be the same because of Zayden.

With each new milestone my heart has ached for what my in-laws are missing out on. My thoughts wander to where Zayden would be in his development. Would he have started to roll the same time as my baby? Would he be cutting teeth now? Would he be walking yet or content to let his siblings carry him around? For once in this parenting thing, I don’t think about me and my children. I have this daily reminder of a life lost, a soul so precious to God that He needed him more than we did. My daily reminder begs me to pray, calls me to cry, longs to hold those whose lives are missing their son and brother. My daily reminder keeps me heaven focused, life focused and other focused. Because with each milestone my baby makes and I rejoice (though I ponder where Zayden would be too) I wonder more about how Zayden’s parents are? Is his month-iversary anguish or sweet this time around? Are they awake at night wishing he was in their arms needing to be held? Are his siblings missing teaching him to walk? Are they silently aching because they want to be strong for mom and dad?

You see Zayden left me with more questions than I already have as a mom and relative. Zayden called me to Jesus’ heart. His heart for the hurting and grieving. His heart for the never answered what ifs, whys, and hows. Because of Zayden, pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) has taken on a whole new life. I am not just caught up in my thoughts of where Zayden would be, but driven to pray for his parents, his siblings and the ministry he was (and is) a part of. Because of this one life, I have been called to pray and remember.

Life isn’t fair. God never meant it to be. I have had my eyes opened up to the pain that many of our friends have endured. I can’t see an article come across my facebook feed about abortion, adoption, foster care or miscarriage without getting teary eyed and feeling a hint of frustration for what could have been. Through Zayden I have learned that life matters. I knew that before but now it has a face, a name, a life, meaning. Somehow their loss awakened within me a piece of God’s heart I refused to allow be seen, and that is scary. Why do we stuff those feelings God wants us to have? Those feelings that show us who He is? Those feelings that deepen our relationship with Him and remind us of our dependency on Him?

Unborn babies are children, they are loved and waited for. Their parents have dreams for them, hopes for their futures, ponderings that only a parents heart can entertain. These children aren’t a burden, they are a gift. Each milestone is a major accomplishment, it is one more step into becoming fully God’s creation for His glory. What have I learned over one year?

Each child is knit in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:14). God has called each of us before we were born. He numbered our days before we were born. He knows every detail about us hidden or seen. I have learned that I need to hold my children tighter, tell them they are loved, let them see me cry, let them hear me pray, rejoice in the big and small victories of childhood, because believe it or not they won’t always be this small. I won’t always be picking up socks off the floor or scattered magnets or wiping noses or pushing swings. I now know that in the blink of an eye things could change and I won’t have these moments. What has one year, one life, one soul meant to me? More than any words written on this page. More than the numerous tears I have cried for what could have been. One year has awakened a piece of God’s heart in my own that I don’t want to let go dormant again. I don’t want Zayden to be forgotten. I don’t want any lost child to be forgotten because they lived. They touched lives. They brought a piece of heaven down to earth and showed us a small part of God.

One Year, One Life, One Soul…..may God help me to hold onto these lessons and help me learn more through the life and in the memory of my nephew Zayden Rufus Ebersole. It is a happy birthday for him, spent celebrating with Jesus.

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Beef Barley Stew

I have been told time and again that not following recipes or making up my own and not writing them down will bite me some day. Well, it did. Last year I froze a bunch of beef stew and gave it as meals to friends who needed a little extra help. At least two of them asked for my recipe. What was I going to do? I never use a recipe for it. So I humbled myself and let them know that I didn’t have a recipe but I would be willing to show them how I do it usually. So here we go….

In the morning I start soaking barley and lentils in hot water and some salt. This sits on my counter until I am ready to begin the stew.

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When I am ready to start the stew I begin with some left over beef roasts I have frozen. I usually let these sit out to thaw before cooking begins. This is an awesome way to start the stew. The meat and stock already have some kind of seasoning, depending on what kind of beef roast you did.

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After I have the beef roasts dumped in to the pot and starting to cook down I dump the soaked beans, water and all into the pot with them.

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Next step is adding some beef broth for some extra flavor and liquid.

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Here is where it gets tricky. Besides not knowing the seasonings I used on the roasts, I don’t measure these ingredients but these are the ones I use to flavor the stew.

Worcestershire Sauce, Marjoram, Ground Mustard, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cinnamon, Franks Hot Sauce, Paparika

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Once all the flavorings are added stir and let simmer down and flavors blend.

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Next add vegetables. The roasts had some potatoes and onions in them so we just decided to add carrots this round. But I have been known to add green beans, soybeans, lima beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery and/ or any of these combinations. Use your judgment and family preferences.

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Simmer until vegetables are cooked and the family is ready to eat. Hope that helps some. We love to freeze this if there are any leftovers. Lately there hasn’t been any seeing that we have two growing boys and two growing girls with hearty appetites. 🙂

ENJOY!!!!!!!

Letting Go!

This has been a post in the makings of my mind for over a month now. It’s amazing that no matter how many times you sit in front of the screen, something that is so dear to your heart just won’t come to words, so the screen has been blank but my mind full. Today I am attempting again, feeling inspired and renewed.

Childhood…This period of time that only spans for a few short years in lieu of a lifetime. A series of years filled with awe and wonder, growth and curiosity, hope and trust. Childhood…What do you remember about it? Your friends, the games you played, the toys you had, the adventures you had (even if they were only in your imagination).

This topic of childhood has fascinated me since we started schooling our boys last year. I have moments where I feel an overwhelming guilt for the things their going to miss out on. I crave to pack lunches and write notes on napkins. I long for them to be able to dig deep into the depths of their memories as adults and walk back through the school in their minds and remember how big everything seemed. I ache for them to have that one teacher who made all the difference in their education. It may seem silly but these things, though they were insignificant as a child, seem real and important to me now as a mom. Are my kids missing out?

The age-old question every parent wrestles with, whether homeschooler, public or private schooler, we each have our questions and doubts about what is best for our children. What will they experience? Some say homeschoolers are sheltered and unsocial. I am realizing how untrue this statement is. My children are getting some similar opportunities as those who go away. And though I may not be packing lunches everyday, hearing the horrible jokes that another student taught them, or even going to parent teacher conferences; I am going to be that one teacher that changes who they are.

Today, we embarked on a new step in this parenting and childhood area. (This year we joined a homeschool group.) My boys, went away with other mothers and students on a field trip (4 to be precise). And though they aren’t back yet. I am feeling my heartstrings pang. Pang with excitement, nervousness, praise, fear, hope, and more. I rest in knowing they are in good hands with friends they have grown to enjoy. I am nervous not knowing how they will behave away from me. But this is all a part of parenting. I need to give them wings to fly. Yes it may only be a field trip, today, but tomorrow it may be something bigger, more daring, are we ready for it? Today will show if we can give a little more freedom to grow, or if we need to do more training before we try again. And you know what. I got to pack lunches, draw cool pictures on their bags, write on their napkins, and my husband got to make them apple puzzles. Who needs a formal school setting to have similar experiences? We need to be open and alert to those opportunities before us. Each new day offers us choices. Will we see them?

So today, I relinquish my hearts longings for my kids to experience similar things as I did and I rest in knowing that God has their story planned out and it is far more amazing than I could ever imagine.

Oh to be a child again.

“Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke 18:16-17 NASB