Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Restorer of the Wall

There was an upset in our neighborhood a few months ago. Word traveled fast that a 17-year-old girl was found shot to death on the back steps of a duplex near our elementary school. She had no criminal record, and the story remained hushed once the home owner claimed no connection to her. A botched robbery or something like that.

So fast forward a few months, and it turns out there’s a connection after all. The homeowner, a man from a prominent family in his 40s (who had since moved), was found burned to death in his car in a near-by town, and in a strange coincidence, he was slain on what would have been the girl’s 18th birthday.

Speculations point to drugs, burglary, dealing, etc.  
I don’t know this family. But I understand this man was a father of three, including one little boy Hudson’s age, who attended our school until just recently. I never knew this boy, but as the stories circulated last week, evidently he was a handful. Shocker.

It’s impossible, as a parent, to hear this kind of story without feeling a punch in the gut regarding the surviving children. In the conversation I was a part of, we voiced the sad conclusion that this poor (albeit difficult) child has been relegated to a hopeless future. He’s been left with no chance for normalcy, much less a thriving life. No possibility of overcoming the traumatic childhood he’s been dealt.

Statistics point to it, and heck, common sense points to it.

I have a couple of friends in difficult circumstances right now that statistically, or at least based on conventional wisdom, are spiraling downward into despair. And while these two situations are on my heart now, there are many others, as surely each person alive bears the weight of loved ones in hopelessness: stagnant lives reduced to poverty and depression; marriages eaten up by years of hurt and pride and sin; hardened hearts rejecting truth rather than trembling before it.

It can be difficult to pray, to encourage, to hope, when I look at the situations of my  loved ones.

But I am reminded today that our God - our Repairer of Broken Walls - is not bound to statistics. He is not bound to conventional wisdom or to police records or certainly not to my expectations.

Living and active, Isaiah’s words circle around even in 2012 with fresh meaning, fresh encouragement, fresh comfort:
“Do not remember the former things nor consider the things of the past. I will do a NEW thing. It will spring forth!”
God is the Restorer of streets with dwellings (our homes).
He makes a way in the desert, He makes streams in the wasteland.
He looses the bonds, unties the heavy burdens we put on each other, breaks every yoke. His light breaks forth like dawn, and our healing quickly appears. 
Then the righteousness of the Lord goes before us, and His glory guards us from behind.

But wait - what if my friends don’t have it in them to pull all this together? To do something to start healing?
They don’t.
God says of his chosen,
Before they call, I will answer.”
Thank you, Jesus.

I don’t know what our Restorer will do with my friends, with these specific broken lives and dead marriages.
I tend to pray according to what I deem possible, according to my friends’ efforts or the degree of their situations.
But the truth is that my prayers are heard by the God MOST HIGH, and He will work according to His abilities, His choices, and His standards. And, as it turns out, He deeply loves His created ones and their marriages. Even more than I do.
Thank you, Jesus.

Isaiah 43:18-20, 58:6-8, 64:15

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 ~ Our crew of 24 and counting...

 My sisters-in-law get a prize. A really big one. They each endured plane trips and road trips to Texas with all their little kiddos for a fun-filled week at the lake. Because our family has exponentially grown in the last five or six years, we've never all been together quite like this. But we survived enjoyed a few days with lots of precious ones at Driftwood, and after much trampoline jumping, fishing, playing on the dock, canoe rides, bonfires, tire swinging, board games, and too many hands working in the kitchen to count, we're pretty sure all the cousins know each others' names. 

6 SUVs packed like this for the lake...
Cappy explaining to Ashlyn where the sun always sets
Marshall's unquenchable curiosity focused on a moss discovery
Loved watching all the different family groups interact. Daboo and Luke here with Joy Taylor
Ashlyn and Bran
Something's got their attention. Didn't take much.
Daboo and Cappy with 9 of their 14
Where are your comfy clothes, Uncle Trey?!
Corbin gets a little Brantley time
Broderick - goodness he's a sweetie
Marshall, Basden and Broderick - Kings of the Hill
Bunk beds double as a swing set
Marshall teaching Bran a few new tricks
Hud and Brantley
Anyone know how to fix a dishwasher? Great minds at work.
Never a dull moment
Scarlett, Hud and Marshall
Oragami lessons
Oh my gosh, Aunt Amy. Seriously?? All the way from Georgia with CRAFTS?!
Hilarious. Scarlett, Bogan, Essie
Success! Hud with his catfish
Bran, Marshall and Corbin coming in from the river
Bran credited Marshall as a good luck charm for catching his bass
Sweet Naomi with her papa, Chris
Bran's bass went wild in the canoe - love Esther's exuberant laugh
Fishing... fishing... and more fishing
Corbin and Bogan
She couldn't get enough of her little cousins - nurturing spirit on steroids this week
These two make me smile - admire Julie's flexible, laid-back heart. Brings much joy.
Ashlyn is quite the little beauty
The three Montana girls ~ Payton, Naomi (21 month twins), and big sis Joy Taylor (3)
Daboo and Joy Taylor
Canoe rides down the river and back. A rare moment of Esther without Bogan.
Luke and Julie with 2/3 of their boys
Brenna! She catches your eye and offers generous smiles
Uncle Chris, Joy Taylor and Bran headed on an adventure
Bogan and his well-thought-out creation
Precious Brantley. E-A-S-Y-going little guy.
Is she the sweetest thing?! Joy Taylor savoring her cupcake
Caught Broderick in a spirited moment
Decked out "Driftwood Cousins"  - minus little Brenna already in bed!
Yes - I was there too. I took more than 250 pics, and Crystal thought to get me in one.
I have no pride...
Until next time ~ Thank you, Daboo, for all your mega-planning and preparing, and again, to Amy, Julie and Crystal for getting your precious families all the way here from Alpharetta, Tulsa and Bozeman. We loved every wild minute, and love your families dearly. Making memories ~ not always easy, but always a gift. And maybe, just maybe, next time the cousins will all remember each others' names!