Bath Poo. A True Story.

My baby had an “accident” in the bathtub yesterday, reminding me to finish this true life glimpse into the step-by-step process of recovering from bath poo. Proceed with caution, unless you have personally experienced the horror of bath poo, in which case, I offer you this piece of solidarity, with all my love.

~

When babies poop in the bathtub...

After missing your morning opportunity for a shower before your husband goes to work, you finally send the big kids upstairs to play at 10:00 a.m., you strip your rambunctious 1-year old down and start him a bath, and you quickly get in the walk-in shower right next to him.

During the first shampooing of your hair, right after your hair gets all sudsy and almost ready to rinse, you notice that the baby is being very still and that his face is slightly red.

Then you hear the grunting.

Oh, Lord,” you pray, “please let it be constipation. Just this one time? Just until later this afternoon, maybe? Pretty please??

Trusting that all will be well, you proceed with your sudsing, you begin to daydream a little about what needs to be done that day, and then you realize that your baby has stopped grunting and is playing in the water again.

Perfect,” you muse, happy that your constipation prayers have come true.

And that’s when you see the toy in his hands.

It’s brown.

Last time you checked, all of his bathtub toys were black-and-white penguins from McDonald’s Happy Meals.

“Ack!” you yell, throwing your hands up in panic, berating yourself for being so naively optimistic.

You venture closer to the bathtub and see that the little brown playtoy is one of many brown playtoys, some big, some small, some so exceedingly tiny that you know this is a code red situation. All bath-poops are bad, but some are REALLY bad.

You slick your shampoo-filled hair into a bun to give you a good headstart before the soap starts to drip into your eyes, you turn off your shower and you tiptoe as quickly-yet-carefully as you can to the side of the tub where you immediately grab the baby’s hands before surveying the nightmare.

Your attack plan presents itself without conscious thought and step one is definitely to get the baby out of the water. You grab him by the trunk and lift him out of the water…

now where are you supposed to put the little booger?

Standing right beside the tub will have to do.

“Stay here,” you say, pointing down at him like he is a puppy, knowing full well that he has no idea what you’re saying.

You berate yourself for only knowing how to say “more” and “milk” in baby sign language.

Step two is to go fishing. You grab the big, clear plastic cup that just happens to be nearby (thank you, Lord!) and start scooping the biggest pieces of poo out of the water so you can drain the tub, and the saddest thing, in your mind, is that you have done this before. Many, many times. With four children in your house, you’ve probably fished for poo at least twenty-five times in your life, which is funny because you didn’t know that poo fishing was a thing before you had kids.

Before long, the cup is getting too full of water to catch any more pieces. This is a real predicament.

Meanwhile, the baby has started wandering about on the tile floor behind you and you are so flustered by this and worried over his haphazard slipping and sliding that you just plunge into step three and start grabbing poo with your bare hands and tossing them quickly into the cup.

Now, with the added poo, the cup is really full of water and the only course of action is obviously to proceed to step four by quickly covering the top of the cup with one hand and draining all the excess water back into the tub, like you’re a human colander.

A bundle of poo is resting affectionately on your hand, which is just like you’d think it would be – SHOCKING AND SO GROSS – but soon the water is all gone and you can flip the cup back over.

The big cup of poo and nothing but poo.

(When you bought those pretty plastic cups at Target, you never dreamed they would be used for this purpose).

The shampoo has started to drip down onto your face now and is apparently running into your mouth because you can taste it. You sputter and spit into the tub and wipe the suds off of your forehead with your shoulder, all while holding a cup of poo.

The baby is still wobbling and falling and grinning his face off behind you. He hasn’t had this much fun since the day he emptied a giant bag of miniature M&M’s on the kitchen floor!

You finally get the last big piece of poo out of the water, and scrunching your nose, you plunge your arm into the littered water to pull the plug, sending any last tiny vestiges of ickiness down the drain.

Your baby has fallen on the tile now three times, but he’s still smiling, so you just go with it.

You dash to the cabinet above the bathroom toilet and grab the Lysol wipes.

You zip back to the tub, turn on the hand-held sprayer, and start washing down the sides and bottom of the tub before grabbing a huge wad of Lysol wipes and disinfecting the tub with the vigor of Rosie the Riveter.

During this cleaning frenzy, the baby has made his way to the toilet and is happily splashing in the water, but since you have one eye closed to block shampoo and you are freezing to death, and since you know he is about to receive the scrubbing of his life, and since you are SO close to being finished, you find this rather fortuitous as it is keeping him busy and he is no longer ice skating on the bathroom tile. But you still call out his name and tell him that “that is a no NO!“, just so he’ll know you heartily disapprove of his behavior.

You rinse off the disinfectant and you start a new bath for the baby.

While his bath fills up, you scrub his bottom with wet wipes and you vigorously wash his hands in the sink.

You return him to the bath before turning on the shower so you might rinse out the shampoo that has nearly dried into a meringue on top of your head.

Five seconds into your rinsing, however, the baby pulls the plug out of his bath and you have to hop over to put it back in place, scolding him while he blinks at you with his precious baby eyes.

This is clearly a fun game, and so he does it five more times, and your shower water gets less hot with every trip you make to the bathtub and back.

Finally, panting and frazzled, you finish your shower and while you are hurriedly drying off, you realize the big kids have wandered back downstairs and are hunting you down in the master bedroom.

Your oldest daughter is calling for you to tie the sash on her dress, your youngest daughter is jumping on your bed and you can hear your son’s voice drawing closer to the bathroom. You shriek at him not to come any closer because you’re drying off.

You frantically get dressed, and you realize there is still a big cup of poo sitting in the floor. You grab it, dump the offending contents in the potty, and flush it resolutely away.

Then, because the cup still looks rather disgusting, you rinse the cup in the toilet water to get the excess poo off so you can disinfect it in the sink and then put it in the dishwasher so you can throw it away and then burn it.

But first you have to get the baby out of the bathtub. He has drained the water again and keeps falling in the slippery tub and his lips are tinging blue from the cold. You set the cup down on the counter and turn to fetch him.

You wrap the little stinker in a towel, you take him to your bed, dry him, diaper him and dress him, all while chaos resumes in the master suite, with your entire litter present and talking and wiggling at one time.

And then, in the haze of the mayhem, you absentmindedly hear the sink water running, you hear one of your children say “ahhh…” in thirst-quenching relief, and you hear a plastic cup being set back down on the bathroom counter.

And…

scene. 

~

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Grey Photography

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Kenneth and Virginia (Part Three).

Continued from Part Two

“When Virginia’s mind began to suffer and Alzheimer’s set in, I felt confused and hurt. ‘Why, God?’ I asked. ‘Why, after all this time and all their faithfulness to you and to each other, does it have to be like this for them in their last days?!’

It made no sense to me, and I was plagued by the questions that often assail me as a woman of weak faith…

Is God good?

Is God even real?

And, as such, are we completely wasting our lives here in this tiny church in this tiny town?

One Sunday afternoon with Kenneth would change everything.”

~

It was the visit of a lifetime.

Standing there in the guest bedroom of the home they had shared for over thirty years, I instinctively knew that I might never hear words like he was speaking again, I might never encourage a Christian brother in such an important way again, I might never be the recipient of such an enriching and humbling experience again…

Virginia had died just yesterday, his wife of 66 years.

In twelve short days, they would have celebrated their 67th.

And here we were in the sacred space where their lives had played out, cradling his heart and his memories with our ears.

The words just poured from his lips, and in every sentence, the love he had for her was palpable.

But then, it always had been.

Kenneth and Virginia.

For six-and-a-half decades, there had been no Virginia without Kenneth, and there had been no Kenneth without Virginia.

Married at a young age and never bearing any children, it had always just been him and her.

And “him and her” was such a beautiful thing to watch.

Approaching their driveway before that Sunday afternoon visit, I had taken a couple of deep breaths as I wondered how I could face one without the other. How long had I dreaded this day, spending many silly moments playing out the different scenarios of how their story on earth would end; as these daydreams always go, the only one that ever brought me any satisfaction was the one where they departed from this world at the exact same time.

But that hadn’t happened, and now, in the breadth of one second and in the rise and fall of one last breath, it was just Kenneth.

He greeted us into his home as cheerfully as he always had, hugging us, patting us on the back, asking about the kids…

but it didn’t take long to see that his world had shifted immeasurably.

Their entire home was a reflection of his devotion to her.

On the kitchen table, he had already neatly laid out everything he needed to take to the funeral home: a portrait of Virginia, the baby doll her mama and daddy had given her when she was two years old, and important papers and family histories.

On the counter nearby lay four notepads in a tidy row, scribbled upon with telephone numbers, dates and notes.

In the living room, her medical supplies were stacked in organized piles next to the wall, ready to return to the home health care nurses who had been stopping by every day for months.

“I’m sorry about this mess,” he apologized, gesturing to the notepads on the counter.

Discreetly, Mr. Gore and I looked at one another with amusement. If this was his idea of a mess, his skin would surely crawl upon entrance to our topsy-turvy house.

And then our conversation naturally turned to Virginia…

“God has just worked everything out perfect in our life,” Kenneth mused in his unique and peppy tone as we stood near the kitchen table. “It wasn’t always what we had planned, you know, but we shouldn’t have had those plans in the first place. Yes sir, He had it all perfect.”

His words, as usual, both put my heart at ease and pricked my ears to attention; the Spirit beckoned me to listen closely and to do whatever I could to follow in this man’s footsteps.

You see, as a wet-behind-the-ears minister’s wife who has spent more than four-fifths of her life petrified of death and all of its distant cousins, I was starving on that day to receive confirmation from my friend that life would go on.

I needed to hear him verify that God’s plan was good, even in his greatest sorrow.

My eyes, as they had been for these last fifteen years, were glued on him, and I was desperate to see that he meant the words he was saying.

And this is the very thing I received from Kenneth on the day after the love of his life departed.

As he recounted to us dear Virginia’s last moments, I was filled with a peace that can only be categorized as supernatural.

“I had her for a moment before she left,” he said, referring to her recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Though they had remained one of the most compatible and gentle married couples I have ever been around through her entire sickness, things had become very difficult near the end.

“She was looking at me and she couldn’t talk, you know, but her eyes were following me everywhere I went. I finally walked up close and touched her hair and said ‘Your hair looks real pretty today,’ and she just gave me this little smile. Right there at the corners of her mouth, you know, she smiled right at me. It was real cute”.

Her passing couldn’t have been easier, he said, and he was there beside her to the very end, holding her hand as she took her last breath.

“It was just so peaceful,” he kept saying, “it was perfect”.

“Perfect…” I mused.

That’s exactly what I had hoped to hear.

It was what I needed to hear.

And then we cried together.

God had been so good, but we were going to miss Virginia so very much.

~

And all of these moments and days, all of the sadness and the trials and the comings and the goings, and the church split, and the fallings out, and the hurt feelings, and the continual personal fight against bitterness, and the call to serve our home church, and the life we’ve built here since…

it all seemed to swirl together in a beautiful portrayal of meaning and purpose as I walked beside Kenneth to the front pew of the church we’ve attended together my entire life to lay sweet Virginia to rest.

“Have I been created for this moment?” I thought, my heart flooded with awe as my fingers grasped his arm. “Did God place me here, in this church, married to this pastor, so I might be a friend to this brother during his hour of greatest need?”

It was one of the most awe-inspiring, bowl-me-over instances of clarity I’ve ever experienced in my entire life as everything, finally, made sense. My love for senior citizens. My friendship with Ken and Virginia. My admiration for WWII vets. My obsession with yesteryear. My “old soul”. My marriage to Mr. Gore whom God would call to love the church I loved. My lifelong desire to be a part of this church. All those trips to Cracker Barrel. The parties. The love. The unity.

None of it was me.

None of it was just “my nature”.

None of it was a coincidence.

It had all been God, all along, and all for a beautiful purpose. And so I have seen it with my own eyes: God loves His Church and He takes care of it, even when it is flailing about and broken, even when it seems like a waste of time and effort, and even when it is so small it would never show up on a map.

And, oh! Our tiny, unimportant, unpopular church was abounding in beauty that day. Starting with a potluck lunch where the ladies truly outdid themselves, we feasted with this father of our congregation, filling up his belly with the best food in Oklahoma and filling up his soul with the tangible reminder that he would never be alone. There was laughter and there were memories and, most of all…

there was love.

And friends, it is without contestation that, anything I could have been in this life, any notoriety I might have achieved, any of my childish and fanciful dreams that could have possibly come true…

they paled in a ghostly comparison to my walk down the aisle with Kenneth.

Our brothers and sisters were seated and waiting for us as we stood at the back of the sanctuary with our arms intertwined.

“I hope I don’t fall down,” he confided.

“You’re going to do great,” I assured him.

He was nervous.

I was watchful and so sad and somehow joyful and my eyes were all his.

And then he returned my gaze.

“It’s an honor to have you here with me today. It’s what Virginia would have wanted,” he said. “We always thought of you as a daughter.”

“Believe me,” I quietly replied with a breaking voice, “I feel the exact same way”.

And then the music started to play, and we walked.

~

And here I am, several weeks later, still reeling from that moment.

Virginia’s loss is deeply felt.

While I am so happy to have Kenneth back among us every Sunday morning for worship, when I look at him, I see who is missing. My friend is now a widower, and the woman who defined half of him is no longer with us.

It’s like walking without legs.

Sitting without a chair.

He is handling his loss in his persistently chipper manner and has been a hero in my eyes, packing up his life, selling his house, moving to a retirement community and entering this uncharted chapter with all the pluck that you’d expect from a World War II veteran; in other words, I’ve seen with my own eyes that Kenneth is going to be okay.

But before the world moves on and Virginia’s memory fades like the pink carnations Kenneth gave me at her graveside service, I can’t help but feel compelled to send out a plea on behalf of my beloved friends.

For the churches that are floundering, for the congregations that are immersed in overwhelming conflict, for the members who feel restless and long to start somewhere fresh and new, please, before you take another step, stop for a minute and look around you.

I am by no means an expert on church polity, I am in no way blameless in my church’s messy past, and I would be a fool to pretend that these are simple matters that are easily resolved.

But none of that changes the fact that this body of believers is your life.

This is your family. The people in your pews, the Kenneths and the Virginias, they are as bound to you as your own flesh and blood and should be cherished as the infant who sleeps in the bed next to yours, the child who lives in the bedroom down the hall, the spouse who is curled up beside you, the mother who bore you, the father who raised you, and the brother and the sister who were your dearest and most lifelong companions.

Would we, the called-out ones, leave our flesh-and-blood children to find a family that suited us better?

Would we build a new house and take half of our kids with us and leave the other half with our spouse?

Would we allow tertiary matters of how we spend our free time and the type of music we prefer to rip our home in two, putting asunder what God has sacredly brought together?

Or would we battle it out? Would we compromise? Would we choose to love, even if we had to die in the process?

Would we find a way to make it work?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this: we have to start finding a way to make it work.

The American church is in peril and God cannot be amused by the way we have represented His gospel.

Looking back through the tangled maze of years in my home church, I see infinite beauty in our story and I see glorious hope rising out of the ashes, but those things only strengthen my resolve to share what I have had to learn the hard way: the world will know we belong to Christ not by our programs, not by our worship music, not by our doing all the things that we think must be done to be successful or doing away with all the things that we feel harbors our success…

but by our love for one another.

God used a little man and a little woman with snowy white hair to teach me that lesson, and it is my honor to pass it on to you today.

Learn from our mistakes. Weep with us. Pray for us, please. And then join us, in a Church where every life counts and where the family blood pulses through our veins so vibrantly that we would rather die than walk away from each other.

~

Grant Lord, that with Thy direction, “Love each other,” we comply 

Aiming with unfeigned affection thy love to exemplify

Let our mutual love be glowing, thus will all men plainly see,

That we, as on one stem growing, living branches are in Thee.

~

O that such may be our union, as Thine with the Father is,

And not one of our communion e’er forsake the path of bliss;

May our light shine forth with brightness, from Thy light reflected, shine;

Thus the world will bear us witness, That we, Lord are truly Thine.*

~

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Me and Kenneth, after Christmas Eve communion. It was his first Christmas without Virginia, but he was safely and joyously surrounded by family. <3

~

* “Christian Hearts, in Love United” by Nicolaus L. von Zinzendorf

~

Thank you to everyone who has given an ear to the story of Kenneth and Virginia! Your encouragement has blessed me this week, and I cannot thank God enough for the kind audience He has gifted me with at Mrs. Gore’s Diary. I honestly don’t think there is a sweeter readership on the internet!

If you are new here, my blog policy is that all comments are welcomed, but when it comes to sensitive subjects like today’s, extra discretion will be used when moderating. To send a private message, feel free to find me on Facebook! Although I cannot usually respond to messages at this point in my life, I am happy to offer a listening ear.

God bless us all as we strive together to build a Church that glorifies Him!

Kenneth and Virginia (Part Two).

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Continued from Part One

“And while this plea was on the behalf of our entire church, my eyes were still on Kenneth and Virginia.

They had no children?

God, let us be their children.

They had no family?

God, let your Church be their family.”

~

Through these initial prayers, born out of frustration and sadness, God has crafted a beautiful story.

The getting there would be far too long and complicated to tell in a blog setting, but here I am today, 33 years old, married to a pastor, and the longest I have been away from Ken and Virginia and the church that I love so deeply is the year-and-a-half that I spent in Kentucky as my new husband was finishing up his seminary education.

In a merciful and sovereign turn of events following Mr. Gore’s graduation from the masters program, God sent us back to the church body where our hearts had remained, and for nearly seven wonderful years we have had the joy of worshipping and fellowshipping alongside them with my husband serving as pastor.

And what was once a dream and a prayer soon became a blessed ritual.

Every Sunday morning when the weather permitted and she was feeling well, I would stop in to talk to Virginia where she still volunteered in the library. She’d welcome my children as she used to welcome me and she’d tell us all the story again of how I used to check out my books as a little girl.

Then, meeting many other friends along the way, I would resolutely make my way to the other side of the church where Kenneth would be sitting in his regular seat near the entry, greeting every brother and sister who walked through the doors of the fellowship hall.

I would sit next to him and we’d spend a good ten or fifteen minutes discussing the week and the weather; I don’t know what he was feeling when we talked, but not a week went by when I didn’t melt a little on the inside to have this sweet time with him.

And the years sweetly rolled by.

Kenneth played kickball in that room with my son, Gideon, when he was a toddler.

When my daughter, Rebekah, was a baby, she’s toddle up and sift through his shirt pockets, playing with his comb and his pen and his glasses.

And how he laughed last year when, after pointing out that he had forgotten to shine the dust off of his dress shoes, our little Betsie-girl ran and retrieved a wet wipe and started cleaning them until they sparkled!

There have been special occasions, when our church has had the opportunity to step in as Kenneth and Virginia’s children to commemorate and honor their milestones. I’ll never forget their 65th wedding anniversary, when we hosted a special surprise dinner just for them and gave them a big love offering and flowers and a memory-book of photographs. Neither of them could stop thanking us for the gesture for months.

And then there was Kenneth’s birthday party last summer. Leading up to his 90th, I had big plans, but in the fog of pregnancy and the hectic nature of our life with little children, time got away from me.

Late one Saturday night, I remembered in a panic that his birthday was the next day and I had completely forgotten to plan anything. Jumping out of bed, I tore through our house to see if anything festive could be procured.

The end result was meager in my party-loving eyes: three rolls of leftover crepe paper, a few mismathed candles, a giant cinnamon roll cake that my mother-in-law just happened to have dropped off that morning, a handmade card, and a book I had on my shelf that I thought he would enjoy, “The Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw.

But it would just have to do.

The next morning, before anyone else had arrived for church, Rebekah and I raced to Kenneth’s Sunday School classroom and, stringing up the crepe paper and writing “Happy Birthday” on the dry erase board, threw together the most unplanned and unscripted party I think I’ve ever orchestrated.

My stomach was a twisted mess of excitement for his surprise, along with regret that I couldn’t have done more, but when he came in and clapped his hands in shock and delight, I felt pleased as punch.

As the church began to arrive for the day, we clustered around our beloved friend to sing to him, but there was someone missing. “Wait, wait, wait!” he interrupted us. “Where’s Virginia? We can’t sing before she gets here!”

We ushered her in from her class down the hall and, with her hand intertwined with his and her smile beaming in his direction, we sang “Happy Birthday, dear Kenneth” before cutting up the cake, pouring some coffee and returning to our classes.

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Do you know what he told me later that day? 1. He couldn’t remember the last time he had blown out candles on a cake and, 2. That was the best birthday party he’d ever had.

He read the book I gave him that very week, and it warms my heart everytime I notice it propped up on their little shelf of knick-knacks when I go to their house.

But my most memorable moments with Ken and Virginia always seemed to take place on our breakfast trips to Cracker Barrel where I sat across from them and listened to their wonderful stories and gleaned as much precious advice as I could before the biscuits and gravy (Kenneth’s favorite) arrived.

It was there that I first heard the story of how they met, at a baseball game. Virginia, seeing Kenneth out on the field, determined that he was “the prettiest thing she ever saw”, and Kenneth, equally smitten with the petite redhead in the stands, was so flustered that he struck out three times. “We lost that game,” he told me, “but I won Virginia’s heart, and that’s all that really mattered.”

It was at Cracker Barrel that they first told me what they did on their honeymoon, going straight from their wedding ceremony to see a picture show. Fresh out of the military and low on funds, that was all the could afford, and though neither could remember what movie it was, they felt sure it was a western, most likely starring Gene Autry or Will Rogers.

It was there that they repeatedly told me the secret to their long and happy marriage: be friends and never go to bed mad.

And it was there that I decided for a fact that these two friends – who, by the way, had manned the guest table at my own wedding – were truly a city on a hill, and that I should pay very close attention to every word they spoke.

Early last year, however, I am so sad to report, our sweet and peaceful season together was met with an abrupt interruption: walking to her Sunday School class one church morning, Virginia fell and seriously injured herself.

I watched, eyes swimming with tears, as the church body that God had crafted for her in her final season gathered around to load her into a car, to hold her hand and to pray for her. And when an ambulance couldn’t arrive quickly enough to ease her pain, I watched my husband jump into the driver’s seat to race her and Kenneth to the hospital and I thought my heart would explode. He was my knight in shining armor that day, and I could not have been more proud or grateful.

Our church is so small now, and so very forgettable, but Virginia? She was seen that day. She was loved.

And I can’t help but think that God was honored.

Her health swiftly declined from there, and I watched in awe and heartache as Kenneth’s love for his “little lady” soared under severe testing and trials. He tended to her so faithfully, so tenderly and so tirelessly, bathing her, sitting up in a chair all night to sleep next to her in the living room, and spending every minute of every day seeing to her comfort and healing.

It was a truly difficult time for both of them, but their love continued to blossom through the storm.

Thus, when Virginia’s mind began to suffer and Alzheimer’s set in, I felt confused and hurt. “Why, God?” I asked. “Why, after all this time and all their faithfulness to you and to each other, does it have to be like this for them in their last days?!”

It made no sense to me, and I was plagued by the questions that often assail me as a woman of weak faith…

Is God good?

Is God even real?

And, as such, are we completely wasting our lives here in this tiny church in this tiny town?

One Sunday afternoon with Kenneth would change everything.

~

To be continued…

(Read Part Three here)

 

Kenneth and Virginia.

I wrote the following words many, many months ago and, compelled by the Spirit, have held onto them prayerfully. Content to share them for the good of the Church OR to take them to my grave, I asked the Lord to give me guidance as to which course I should take.

This week, after much prayer, I am feeling the inexplicable nudge to share them, with faith that God will use them for good and not pain. The following thoughts and stories come from the most sacred and vulnerable places of my heart, and I am entrusting them to you, dear readers, with humility and trembling. Please read in good faith of my intentions, as one who adores the Church and longs to see her purified.

~

It was a crowning moment, as far as moments go.

Heaven met earth, mysteries were revealed, and life, for just a little bit, made absolutely perfect sense.

And as I slipped my arm through his and walked down the aisle next to his side, our history flashed before me…

~

I was a teenager when I first began to really notice him.

He was a married man, but it was actually his relationship with his wife that caught my eye.

They were so alike, the two of them, with a gentleness, a friendliness, and a sweetness that was perfectly matched. They both wore polyester pants every Sunday. And their hair was the exact same shade of white.

Looking back, there was nothing spectacular about the day my heart chose them. There was no voice from the sky, there was no spotlight, there were no goosebumps or premonitions…

I just liked them and, in a rush of spontaneous affection, I wanted to know them better.

How could I know then that God had a specific plan for us?

How could I know that their story would one day intertwine so beautifully with mine?

And how could I, a young and clueless teen, have any idea that, though sad days lie ahead, God would use every sorrow we endured for the good of all of us and for the glory of His name?

Obviously, I could not.

Not even a little bit.

During that particular time in my life my heart was beginning to soften toward the elderly, in general; by His grace, God had been tuning my ears to appreciate their wisdom and tweaking my sensibilities to sympathize with their season; I couldn’t even enter a Braum’s during those days without being brought to tears by the elderly men who ate there alone. “Did that man’s wife die?” I would wonder. “Is he lonely?

But in a moment of supernatural sovereignty, God specifically trained my eyes upon Kenneth and Virginia.

They easily returned my affection, recounting stories of my childhood days when I was less aware of them, and fully embracing me with their encouraging words and faithful interest in my life.

Hardly a week went by that Virginia didn’t recall her memory of me, as a young girl, coming into the church library where she volunteered, setting a book down on the table and staring up at her with giant, solemn eyes. I was too shy to speak a word, but she, in her thoughtful manner, didn’t press me and went straight to stamping my library card so I could take a new treasure home with me.

She and Kenneth were as proud of me as my grandparents and I flourished under their friendship.

And week by week and month by month, my love for them grew as God continued to focus my eyes upon their well-being.

Before too long, however, that love would turn fierce.

Midway through my college years, the unthinkable happened. A tragedy, really.

For reasons too manifold to name and for faults on every possible side (including my own), the church that my parents had been a part of since the day my daddy became a believer, the church that had been my home since the day I was born, split right down the middle.

The building was still there and the foundation was still in place, but the real church, the body of Christ, was ripped violently in two.

It was the darkest day I’ve ever lived through, and the darkest I have experienced since.

Those of us left behind after this massive divorce were hit by wave after wave of aftershock, marking the beginning of a rather intense decade of consistent pruning and shifting of which the repurcussions continue to this day.

Aided by cultural transience, a widening gap between morality and church attendance, and an overabundance of rural churches, this initial and unprecedented uprooting began a new era in which it has become normal and, sadly, even expected to see person after person and family after family depart from our fellowship for any number of reasons.

And while I have naturally had personal hurts to work through from these heart-wrenching losses and doubt that I will ever completely get over the pain of what happened among us, at the end of the day, my sadness seemed to hover particularly over the senior citizens in our church.

Especially Ken and Virginia, who, without the body, would be utterly alone in this world.

Does anybody see them?” I finally found myself wondering in frustration as another brother or sister departed through our doors, never to return, “How many people are going to walk away from them and never look back?!…

And, before I move on, I want to be very clear here that it was not that I was good and others were not.

It’s not as if I had compassion while everyone else was heartless.

Church disagreements and splits are a complex and seemingly insurmountable beast, with a thousand nuances that cannot always be nailed down to a group of good people versus a group of bad people or a group of people who “get it” and a group of people who do not, and I say that to assure you of this: if I was strong in this one tiny area, I was hopelessly weak in a hundred others.

No, I was not good, but this was God’s will for me, to see and feel these things.

And from that time on, He sealed a longing firmly inside my heart, that I would never have to leave our congregation for another and that I could see these brothers and sisters through to the end.

And while this plea was on the behalf of our entire church, my eyes were still on Kenneth and Virginia.

They had no children?

God, let us be their children.

They had no family?

God, let your Church be their family.

~

To be continued…

(Read Part Two here)

A New Wish

January the First, 2015

Before the children were whisked off to bed this New Year evening, we gathered around a chair at the kitchen table and opened the mason jar that had been sitting on our computer desk for 365 days.

The jar’s lid was lightly covered with a year’s worth of dust, and it is really a lucky happenstance that I had seen it hiding behind the computer last week, for its contents had been long forgotten by this addle-brained mama.

Had I really made a card for each person in our family (including my parents and grandmother) and jotted down their favorite part of 2013? And had I asked each person to share a wish for the year to come?? And had I then carefully folded up each card and placed it in the jar that was on our desk???…

Apparently, I had, and my handwriting on each card was enough to prove it.

(But I am in good company. My husband had also completely forgotten this New Year exercise. We’re compatible like that).

And it was like unlocking a short-term time capsule this evening, giving us a surprise glimpse into who we were and what we were thinking a year ago. Our children clustered around me, I screwed off the lid, popped the top, and began to pull out our words from the first day of 2014, one by one.

The children giggled as I read their cards. We had forgotten that Betsie had called my grandmother “Miss Granny Bear” last year and that her wish was to go visit her house in Texas. We couldn’t believe that our dog, Jake – and Gideon’s favorite thing about 2013 – had only been a part of our family for a year and a half. We were chagrined that we had never taken Rebekah ice-skating, her only wish for the year 2014, but assured her that we could make up for that…

and then I opened my card.

My one great wish for 2014?

“I want to have a book published.”

I smiled at my family.

“Well, I’ve almost finished writing my first book, so that’s a good start!” I laughed.

But, in my heart, I was communing silently with my Creator and thanking Him for the changes He has wrought within me since January the First, 2014.

A year ago, it had been a burning passion.

I wanted to see my name on a book. I wanted to accomplish something tangible. I wanted to succeed in the writing biz. I wanted to move from the blogging world to the publishing world.

And I wanted it bad.

But somewhere along the way, after pouring my heart and soul into the book that I have been writing since this summer, after hearing 52 incredible expository sermons from the Word of God, after being sanctified day by day by day by day by day, my desires have shifted in monumental ways so that, before I pulled that year-old wish out of the jar, I had completely lost touch with the woman who wrote those words at the beginning of the year.

I have changed, and until this evening, I didn’t realize how much.

And by the sweet grace of God, the thing I truly cherish the most about 2014 and the thing I long for the most in 2015 has nothing to do with what I will accomplish or how I will succeed or if I will ever be a published author…

but everything to do with how I have known and will know God better.

And with all these things in mind, I wanted to pop in here for a bit to offer up a word of encouragement to each of you for the year we are leaving behind and the one we face ahead…

Do you know what? It really doesn’t matter if you lost the ten pounds that you planned to lose in 2014. It doesn’t matter if you are killing it at your job. It doesn’t matter if you have managed to organize your house. I doesn’t matter if you’ve mastered the art of couponing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve found your way to a better you or gotten all your ducks in a row or have started to experience your “best life now”. It doesn’t even matter if you got your book published (or if you finished writing it!)…

but have you grown kinder?

Have you lost a bit of the zeal you had for your own name?

Have you learned to trust Him more?

Have you become more patient?

Have you learned to love your spouse better?

Have you grown bolder in your witness?

Have you developed a greater love for God’s word?

Have you persevered through difficult relationships within your church body?

Have you been conformed daily to the image of God?

Have you seen – in one or a hundred ways – His continued work in your life?

These.

These are the things that we should measure our years by. These are the things that should cause us to rejoice at the close of one year and inspire us to pray for the opening of another. These are the fruits that we should be pursuing and wishing for. And these are the things that should allow us to close our eyes in relief and to realize that, YES, this has been an enormously successful year!

I know Him better than I did last year. His Word makes more sense to me than it ever has before. I have grown in wisdom and understanding…

I am still His, and I am still loving the one who loved me first.

Oh, friends, what more can we ask for?!

And so there is no doubt. I may not have even finished the book that I was hoping to have published yet, but 2014 turned out to be one of the most successful years I have ever experienced, and my one wish for the year to come, the wish I folded up into our empty mason jar this evening before sending the children to bed, is this…

whether my name is on a book by year’s end, whether my words ever go beyond the space they now occupy, whether the world will ever tip their hat to my accomplishments, may I strive to be an encouragement to anyone who needs it in 2015 and to pour myself out for others.

I have to tell you, I am so excited to open our jar next year and see how God has answered my prayer and granted the wish of my heart.

If, indeed, I remember by that time what that jar is behind our computer.

~

And now I want to leave you with my favorite photos from 2014, which is a prayer in itself.

2014 is the year that I truly became content in my calling, and this captured moment, to me, represents all that I learned and all that I am resting in today. I never want to forget what it felt like to relax and begin freely living in the life He has crafted for me, and these pictures represent that time in a tangible way.

Here is me and Betsie, cuddled up under a blanket watching the rest of our family play in the yard. I’m not wearing make-up and no one knows who I am and my name is not in lights, but this is who I want to be, forever and always. A mama who has found her home, who is rejoicing in her Kingdom work and who is finally content to the tips of her toes.

God is good, to fix our hearts.

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~

Happy New Year from Mrs. Gore to the wonderful friends who have found a home here. You all have been a HUGE part of my sanctification and growth, and I thank God for the gift of this readership every single day. May we bring glory to our God in 2015!

And now I hope you feel free to share! How has He fixed your heart this year? What changes has He wrought? How are you hoping to live for him in the year to come?

My Sweet Home – Christmas 2014

Before 2015 arrives and the Christmas decorations go back to the attic for another year, I tidied up my house and took some photos of what our home has looked and felt like for the past month.

This year was our best Christmas yet, and the peace that permeated my soul this season seemed to spill over and encompass our home in a cozy and life-giving atmosphere.

It wasn’t always perfect, no, not a bit. There were boots and scarves and mittens scattered to high heaven. There were baking days where the kitchen was unrecognizable. There was the aftermath of Christmas morning…

but in between the Christmas merriment, our little home seemed to glow with a sweet holiday ambiance that just pleased and ministered to me so deeply, enough to inspire me to work hard all year long to present my family with such a back-drop, one that puts the soul at rest…

one that shelters and encourages…

one that embodies all of the meaning and emotion behind the word “home”…

Merry Christmas, from Mrs. Gore’s House!

 

 

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Christmas on Grandmother’s Porch

Special thanks to Benjamin Grey Photography for capturing this day for us!

~

Last year, as our Victorian Christmas photo shoot came to a close, I had this fleeting vision of our family tossing on some cozy and festive winter clothes and dragging a Christmas tree on a sled to the open-air pavilion next to the creek on my parent’s property where we would decorate it with strands of popcorn and cranberries, followed by a hot chocolate party next to the fire.

I already knew what coat I would wear and everything, and from that day on, I’ve been gunning for this year’s photo shoot.

(we won’t pause here to discuss that I have serious problems).

Thankfully for my entire family, there are 365 days in a year, and I had ample time to tone things down a notch so that, by the time our annual Christmas picture day arrived last week, I had settled on simply purchasing a small tree for my parent’s front porch and taking some fun pictures there, right next to the heated house. We could still have popcorn and cranberries and hot chocolate, but it would be the easier, quicker, less-involved and long-walky version.

And WOWZERS, did this turn out to be enjoyable!

If I’m being truthful, picture day used to throw me into hysterics, and it thrills me to the core to be able to measure God’s continued work in my heart by how much more relaxed and laid-back I am about this entire unnecessary-but-super-fun tradition. I had FUN this year. Lots and lots of fun. Even the day before when I was packing up half of my house, ironing tiny dresses and bathing kids on non-bath day!

Mostly because it was just a good time to think about my family, to enjoy the beautiful ambiance of the Christmas season and to meditate on all we would be celebrating together in the week to come.

The details of this “photo shoot” were pretty simple to throw together. Candy canes. Plaid. A simple tree with white lights. Leather shoes. Chocolate. Popcorn. Enamelware. Galvanized metal. Cranberries. Flannel.

You know…Christmas stuff!

And, even better, COUNTRY Christmas stuff!

And I’m so happy today, not only to have pictures of my little family at the ages of 33, 33, 7, 5, 3 and 1, but to have us all sitting on the porch where I grew up, attached to the house that contains my history. This is heart stuff, right here, and you guys know how much I love heart stuff.

Soooo…

ready to see the pictures?

Me too! I just wish I would shush already and show them to you!

But I’m feeling very talkative!

Because I love Christmas!!

Okay, seriously. Here are the pictures.

Up first…candy canes! I like candy canes. Always have. Teeth permitting, always will.

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 followed by a medley of marshmallows of traditional white, pink peppermint, and star-shaped-beauties from Williams Sonoma that cost roughly a thousand dollars.

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 First up, we took some group photos out in the pasture.

Can I tell you something? I think I look sassy in this picture, which is funny because I’m not a very sassy person. 

Who knows? Maybe I’m growing sassier in my old age.

I’ll keep you informed.

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 Little Shep, looking all grown up and slightly perplexed. He doesn’t know why his mommy is being sassy. He misses his old, non-sassy, obliging mommy.

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Gideon, shivering from the cold under the wing of his mother who drug him out in it, in the first place. He’s very loyal.

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And Poor Betsie. Those are goosies on her arm. But I couldn’t bear to put a shirt under that glorious puffed sleeve. I made it up to her later with cookies, fruit snacks and tickle fights.

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So, speaking of Betsie, we quickly moved out of the pasture and onto the porch, and here she is, doing a curtsy, in the to-DIE-for vintage baby dress I bought at Vintage Market Days in Tulsa.

Yes, I bought it in October with this photo shoot in mind, and yes, it was the last piece in my photo shoot wardrobe puzzle. Everything else had already been procured.

No, we’re STILL not going to pause to discuss my problem. Leave me alone, okay?

(Gasp! I AM getting sassy!)

p.s. Betsie makes me laugh.

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During this portion of the shoot, we took turns warming up in the house…

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Except for hot-natured Rebekah who had no problem on this outdoor picture day. I’m just really glad she kept her shoes on.

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And here is our crew of littles, the foursome that I get to do life with. I love them to pieces. Seriously. It’s popular these days to say that you should be your kid’s parent and not their friend, but when I’m not busy parenting them and teaching them to be civilized, these are my PEEPS, yo.

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During a brief intermission, Sheppy found some dirt to play in. Typical.

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I’m learning that it is a good idea to keep things hoppin’ when you are photographing littles. For our first porch activity, we strang… strung?…stringeded?…stringalingadingdonged?…some popcorn.

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Then we strang…strung…oh, forget it!…we did the same thing with some cranberries that we did with the popcorn.

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And then while Grandmother heated up some hot chocolate, we just hung out on the porch for a bit.

Sisters…sisters…there were never such (sort of) devoted sisters (they’re getting there, okay??).

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And, oh dear. I honestly, sincerely, really, truly, seriously CANNOT believe how old this child is. Months away from 8, and taller every day, it seems. Stop it, Gideon! Just stop it.

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I’m glad some of us are still 5. I can handle 5.

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3 is even better, especially when they get a boo-boo and need someone to hold them.

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and 1? 1 is PERFECT.

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Moving on.

Next we hung candy canes and our star ornaments on the tree. 

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and to wrap things up, we had hot chocolate and cookies and marshmallows for a treat.

At 9:30 in the morning.

The recipe for these pretty – and quite yummy! – cookies below can be found in Pioneer Woman’s new holiday cookbook. I love her. But you knew that already.

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And now comes my favorite picture of the entire shoot, THE picture of the century, really, wherein our friend, Ben, was able to capture the essence of my happy, hospitable, loving, generous, lovely, servant-hearted mama.

I will treasure this picture for the rest of my life.

She didn’t know she’d be having her picture made on this day OR in this moment. This is just who she is, what she always looks like, and what she always seems to be doing, delivering food or drinks to her family.

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I like it in black and white, too…

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But I REALLY like it in color.

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Finally! Hot chocolate time!

Now, I find the next picture humorous, for several reasons:

1. My husband and I never sit on the porch, just us.

2. My husband and I never sit on the porch, just us, in festive and complete outfits.

3. My husband and I never sit on the porch, just us, in festive and complete outfits and drink hot chocolate.

4. My husband and I never sit on the porch, just us, in festive and complete outfits and drink hot chocolate with a tray of holiday-themed Christmas cookies and treats nearby.

5. My husband and I, not surprisingly, do not look natural in this picture.

6. He looks pained.

7. I do not look sassy, but severe and cold-hearted.

8. But I’m sharing it anyway, because, honestly, my coat is FABULOUS here. We’ve been together for three years now and it still feels right, you know?…

(me and the coat, I mean, not me and Mr. Gore. We’ve been together for fifteen years. And it still feels right, too. Except for when we are having hot chocolate on the porch).

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and you’ll be happy to know that, after this, we just enjoyed our hot chocolate, standing, walking, or however we normally consume our hot beverages on a cold day.

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I hope that your Christmas, too, was full of family, joy, pretty Christmas colors, and maybe a couple of expensive star-shaped marshmallows from Williams Sonoma.

Merry (belated) Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Gore family!

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~

Thanks for stopping by! To keep up with Mrs. Gore and family and hear funny snippets from our days at home, find us on Facebook!

The Best Thing I Have Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever Done with my Kids. Ever.

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Four children have graciously been entrusted to our care thus far, and my husband and I have nearly reached our 8th year of parenthood.

These years have been as full as our hands.

We’ve had themed birthday parties. We’ve started a homeschool. We hold to all the great holiday rituals. There have been “Daddy-Daughter dates” and “Father-and-Son outings” and shopping days for just the girls. There have been “Life Day” celebrations and Field Days and theatrical plays and countless moments of family togetherness.

But nothing we have done or hosted or accomplished or planned in our time as a mother and father has compared to what God has wrought in our midst in the last month.

It began as a stirring, a spontaneous tug, during a typical read-aloud session at school. The book was “Sarah Whitcher’s Story”, and as I read aloud to my two eldest children, my heart experienced a quick pang of yearning when the story highlighted the Whitcher family’s nightly ritual of reading the Bible together.

The children in this story were practically babies, just like ours, and the scene brought to mind all the stories I’ve read over the years of pioneers and Pilgrims, stories of families who had so much less than we do but who treasured the Word of God as their life and breath.

These forefathers and mothers had no picture Bibles. No daily devotional books. No storybook collections of biblical heroes.

Just the Bible.

The thought flitted across my mind as quickly as the turn of a page. “I want this…I NEED this…”

But before I knew it, the plot of the story thickened and I was following Sarah Whitcher through the woods on a big adventure, her family ritual forgotten, and along with it, my desire to follow suit.

And so how could I know possibly know that, later that evening, in an act of true love and kindness, God was going to bring my yearning to fulfillment and bring to pass a MOST surprising turn of events?

After tucking the children into their beds that night, I spontaneously plopped down nearby in my Granny’s old mauve upholstered rocker and opened up my son’s Bible to the first chapter of John.

It was as Spirit-led a moment as I’ve ever experienced, so sacred and poignant and perfectly-timed that it took my breath away, on the spot!

How well I remember the nights in years past when we attempted to have “family worship” in that very same nursery, children rolling all over the place, interruptions galore, tears and fighting and eyes that were glazed over in ambivalence. My husband and I would leave the upstairs nursery after “family worship” and I would feel more frazzled and frustrated than I had been during the children’s bathtime, which is saying quite a lot.

But this night was so very different.

The room was still. Calm. Beautiful. And by the light of the lamp on the corner dresser, I began to read.

The words of John’s witness rolled off of my tongue and landed straight upon my heart where unceasing prayers sprang up for our household. And the children listened, spellbound.

I finished the first chapter and moved to shut the Book, but to my great surprise, they asked for more.

I finished the second chapter and they asked for more. 

I finished the third chapter and they asked for still more.Occasionally, there would be an interruption so a question could be asked. Or one of the children would exclaim, “Hey! I know this story! We read this in our class!!”

By the end of the fourth chapter, two of the three children had fallen fast asleep. I shut the Bible and, after kissing the sleepy straggler goodnight, I tiptoed downstairs with my heart absolutely full of worshipful contentment, amazed beyond belief at what had just taken place on the second floor of our home.

The next night was very much the same.

Teeth brushed, final bathroom runs complete, pajamas on, the eldest children crawled into their beds, I turned on the lamp and, with my 3-year old nestled in my lap, I began to read, picking up from where we had left off the night before.

Once again, they were eager to listen, asking questions, making comments and proving without question that their hearts were ripe for this harvest.

The words of Life, coupled with the intoxicating ambiance of a nursery turned down for bedtime, seemed to calm them and feed them, simultaneously, and it is with this beyond-simple ritual that we now consistently end our day. My youngest daughter falls asleep in my lap, without fail, and most usually her big brother and sister eventually join her in slumber, dictating where we will end that night’s reading. Sometimes we cover four chapters, sometimes we read one, but every night of our Bible reading has been undeniably rich with meaning and satisfaction and familial affection.

And best of all, perhaps, is the nourishment that I, their mother, have received from this practice.

It is no secret to those who know me well that a “daily quiet time” of reading the Word has long evaded my grasp. To my great shame and distress, I have tried and failed for a good twenty years to sit down with my Bible on a faithfully consistent basis to draw strength and wisdom from its depths.

I have cried about this failure, I have heaped guilt upon my head because of this failure, and I have prayed about this failure, begging God to give me a love for His word that I would find irresistible.

And, oh my.

I never dreamed that He would choose to answer these prayers for help in such a perfect way, surrounded by my favorite little children aged 7 and under. As I read to my babies, the Spirit pricks my heart, illuminates mysteries, woos and comforts and convicts. To my children, I am just reading, but in my heart, I am being changed, and I have grown addicted to the daily rhythm of rocking my family to sleep under this spoken cadence of truth.

And as I make my way down the stairs every night, I can feel it from my head to my toes that, of all the things I have done for my children, this one is the most important, by miles.

The Bible was enough for Sarah Whitcher’s family and their counterparts because it was all they had.

And do you know what? It is still enough today.

~

I am passionate about helping young families. If God has used this post to encourage you, or if you know anyone who will benefit from it, I invite you to share! And if you’d like to stay in touch with Mrs. Gore and her family, find us on Facebook!

A Fairytale in the Flesh

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It has been a lifelong theme, for me.

A yearning for “good ol’ days”. An attraction to happy endings. A steady heartbeat of longing for things that cannot be found where we are, no matter where we go.

This world is a hauntingly beautiful song that is being played on a slightly off-tune instrument. One side of it is so lovely that it brings me to my knees in praise and amazement and the other side splits my eardrums in two, tempting me to claw at the dirt in a desperation for escape.

Relics from Eden abound. In love stories. In the laughter of children. In nature. In acts of kindness and self-sacrifice.

But the strains of discord ever threaten, and ruinous vines entangle what should have been perfect. Divorce and adultery shatter families. Children become victims. God’s handiwork is decimated and cluttered by our filth.

And isn’t this why we love good books, inspiring movies, and fairytales? Any story, really, that will carry us away from the reality we try so desperately to ignore?

Craving wells up and reverberates through shed tears as we survey all the tales that should have been fact, tales of redemption, of true love, of peace, of hope. In those pages and on those screens, our broken and searching hearts whisper that “yes! This is what life is supposed to be like! Shouldn’t love last forever? Shouldn’t men should choose to do good, even when it is hard? Cannot even the vilest offender be redeemed and spend his life in beauty??”

And, fueled by the ache within, we labor our lives away, attempting to craft fairytales with our own hands and by our own means.

We pursue love, dreaming with stars in our eyes of how that man or woman will fulfill us and make life the song that we’ve been trying to write since we could pick up a pen.

We pursue a life of comfort, with a couple of healthy kids and a cozy house with all the trimmings.

We pursue fame, attempting to fill up the burning of our hearts with more recognition, more ‘likes’, more followers.

The options for soul satiation are so shiny when they are still on the shelf.

And so we choose an available portion with glittering eyes, greedy with hope that this will be the solution that will finally tame our hunger.

We pick up a spoon, we dig in and we feast with passion…

but as we chew on life, the realization soon settles that every single dish we have chosen to fill up our soul was nothing more than a heap of dry ashes masquerading as fulfillment.

We begin to choke on them.

We can’t swallow.

We drown in a rush of bitterness and disappointment that life, once more, has let us miserably down.

Try as we might, there is just no dodging the truth that every single fairytale this world has to offer is a phony, an illusion that, once tasted, loses its luster and dissolves into dust.

Except, that is, for one.

A mother and father traveled far from their home, and in a borrowed stable, a baby boy was born. They bundled Him up like parents do, but contained in the flesh of His humanity beat the very heart of God.

He lived a perfect life, fully God, but in a body that was fully man. He loved. He had friends. He lost friends. He witnessed death, seeing and feeling the sting that haunts the human race. The wretched sting that haunts us today. And, like us, He wept, tasting the salt of human tears that sprang forth from a heart that felt real human pain.

He was Emmanuel, God in the flesh, and everything He touched was made beautiful. Lame were healed, blind were given sight, sinners were redeemed, and His perfect words of truth and wisdom sliced through the veil that had shrouded centuries.

Bur three years into His public ministry, the time arrived for Him to fulfill what He had come to earth to do. The fall of man needed to be paid for, and He, in the greatest act of love the world has ever known, was going to provide the sacrifice.

His body groaned the night before His crucifixion, and His spirit was violently tested as He submitted to the will of the Father. But still He marched, resolutely, surrendering himself to his enemies and to the cross of a criminal. He was nailed up and tortured, and in unspeakable pain and suffering, He willingly took every last trace of mankind’s punishment as His own…

even as mankind spat upon the gift.

And all those things that plague us? The tragedies, the disappointments, the addictions and the brokenness that leave us raw with pain and longing?

He defeated them on our behalf, annihilating each and every one with a passion that made the earth quake in reverence.

And then He was no more. The debt had been paid in full, His spirit was given up, and His dead, limp body was carried away as His mother and His friends mourned in despair that the Light of the World had been snuffed out.

They buried Him in a borrowed tomb and the next three days were filled with unimaginable darkness. Darkness of soul. Darkness of grief. Darkness of doubt. Yet another fairytale had been dangled before human eyes, only to end in utter disappointment and loss.

But just this one time…

a happy ending was coming…

and it was going to change the world.

Their world.

Our world.

The fairytale came true.

In the exact miracle that He and the prophets of old foretold, three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Hundreds of witnesses saw Him, talked with Him, touched Him, and a hunkered down and mournful Church rose up, bold and fearless, in belief. They had seen this man die, and now, He was in front of them, the wounds in His hands and side to prove it.

He remained among them for forty days, teaching and ministering, before ascending into heaven where He is preparing a place for all those who believe on His name, even those of us who have yet to see Him with our own eyes.

And in a day that is coming soon, oh glorious day…

He will return to this fallen and disappointing world and He will make all things new for those who put their trust in Him.

Love will become true and eternal, children will be safe, creation will shine in all of its intended glory, and all of those stories that we wish could be REAL, those glimpses of Eden that are so beautiful that they bring us pain…

They will be an every-day, every minute reality, as natural to us as our fears are today. The craving will be satiated. The ache will disappear. The emptiness will be filled up and forgotten.

And all the wrongs will be made right.

Our souls will finally rest.

My heart is irresistibly compelled to believe and to proclaim it, that Jesus Christ is the fairytale we’ve been hunting, the love that will remain, the comfort that is forever, the hope for today, tomorrow and eternity…

but He is no fairytale.

He is real.

I believe.

Do you?

~

All comments are welcome and read, but are only made public by my discretion. To hear more from Mrs. Gore, find me on Facebook or Instagram! Thank you for reading!

The Dark Side of Halloween (No, not THAT “dark side”. The “Star Wars” one).

I am very giggly and giddy tonight. Halloween is over, I ate a lot of candy, and really, I’m just pretty darn tickled about our costumes this year.

I suppose I should start at the very beginning…

Gideon, 7 years old, saw this random “Boba Fett” costume in the Chasing Fireflies catalog early in the summer, and he fell madly in love with it. So much that he got a job, worked for hours and saved up enough money to purchase it by himself. It was like he was Jacob of the Bible and that costume was Rachel.

Now, I must admit, I didn’t “get” it.

Mostly, I think, because I don’t “get” Star Wars. I’ve seen enough clips of the movies through the years to feel like I’ve seen it, but if I really sit down and think about it, I don’t really know what the story is about or what happens in the end. So I guess what I’m saying is, I’ve never seen Star Wars.

My husband, on the other hand, spent the first seven years of our firstborn’s life shielding him from the Star Wars storyline. He wanted the entire trilogy and any surprise twists to completely blow our son’s mind, and I’m pretty sure I almost saw him tackle someone when they were referencing the Luke/Vader relationship in front of Gideon before he’d see the movie.

And so it was a HUGE deal when, after his 7th birthday, he and Gideon went to the house of our friends, Zac and Chrissy, where a really awesome Star Wars watch party was laid out for them – I really should dedicate an entire blog post to that sweet party sometime – and the rest is history. Gideon has been a pretty big fan of the franchise ever since.

Still yet, this Boba Fett costume that Gid was so set on having really just boggled my mind. I don’t even know who Boba Fett is, and it was a lot of money to throw down for a costume of any sort, especially one that looked like it could fall apart if you looked at it funny…

but it was his money, and he worked really hard for it, and we honored his decision. The costume arrived, and true to his quirky nature, he was stoked to wear it at every possible opportunity.

Fast forward to an evening in September when we were having our first rousing family discussion on this year’s Halloween theme.

After a few ideas had been tossed about, Star Wars came up and I immediately started shaking my head “NO” because Star Wars is not a family costume theme I ever would have imagined myself partaking in. Because, you know, I’m not a trekkie. (Just kidding. I said that to my husband tonight to get under his skin).

But later that night, and this is proof of how much I love my boy, I started to think things over. If we DID go with Star Wars, Gideon already had this beloved costume he could wear. Boba Fett. One costume down is a BIG deal when you have a six-person family, you know?

And it had been a really big rite-of-passage for him and his Papa to watch those movies together earlier this year. If we were ever going to dress as Star Wars this really was the year to do it…

I couldn’t deny that it just seemed like it needed to happen. Then and there, I decided this was a year to take one for the team. Star Wars, it was!

And you know what? If you’re going to take one for the team, you might as well GO for it and surprise your son with a costume he would never expect you to wear. My costume this year was a gift for Gideon, a token of my love, a reminder that I see him and hear him and I “get” him, even if I don’t “get” who Boba Fett is.

All that said, the reason I’m so giggly is because our Halloween this year was full of humor – I found myself laughing at every turn, even now as I upload pictures.

For one, Betsie kept telling people we were dressed up as “Star Whores”.

For two, the pictures we snapped before our Trunk or Treat kind of crack me up, for numerous reasons.

For three, my husband kept making lewd jokes about the characters he and I were portraying (you’ll understand when you see the pictures).

For four, Rebekah’s wig.

For five, the feminine spin Betsie put on her boyish costume.

It was just, altogether, a funny, funny night. I am sure I will always get tickled when I see these photos, and I hope they bring you joy, as well.

Oh! And I have an idea for you to tuck away for next year. Plan an extra twenty or thirty minutes on Halloween to find a spot with good lighting for picture-taking, have an easy little photo shoot, and you can just relax the rest of the night and let your kids trick or treat without snapping a gazillion photos. I told the kids that, if they would cooperate and give me some good pictures at the start, we would be done with all formal photographs for the rest of the night. It was so nice to know when we departed for our Halloween fun that these pictures were already in my possession.

So. Up first, we have Princess Leia. When I ordered this costume (free for us with our Amazon reward points!), I assumed we’d chuck the wig and just do Rebekah’s own hair like Leia’s, but DUDE…this wig was hilarious. I couldn’t part with it. (p.s. and if you’re a Facebook reader, you’ll notice Rebekah’s faithful “lady smile”).

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Next we have Boba Fett. There is no doubt that this night was especially fun for Gideon. He is the most costume-oriented child in our family, and it was a treat to dedicate a family theme to him. (Rebekah has dibs on next year’s theme, by the way. She, too, took one for the team).

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And now, little Yoda. At least that’s who everyone thought she was. In actuality, her name was “Yodette” because she had a hairbow. Betsie made sure that she corrected everyone on this point at the Trunk or Treat. “I’m YodETTE”. I also really appreciate the posing skills Betsie employed tonight. She was in rare form.

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Then we had a little squishy Ewok. I die.

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Then…hubba hubba…Luke Skywalker. I don’t know who Luke Skywalker is, but I think I love him.

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And THEN…Lord, have mercy…Darth Vader.

Gideon about busted a gut when I came walking out of the master bathroom in this get-up.

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My husband, by the way, was APPALLED by the way I held my lightsaber. “You can’t touch the blade!” he exclaimed. “You will LOSE your hand!”

Whatever, man. I’m new here, okay?

He also wanted me to take a scary picture where it looked like I was trying to choke someone, but I don’t think I nailed it. I just look like a weirdo.

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Good guys.

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And (since Gideon wanted to be on my team), bad guys.

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Then, of course, my husband and son had to act out a fight scene, and I swear to you, when I saw the last picture in this series, I fell over laughing. That one is going in a frame to hang next to Gideon’s bed.

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Group fight!

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Luke and Vader, going at it. Tee hee. My husband titled this Halloween “A Freudian Star Wars”. I’ll let you mull all this over.

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And, finally, a few family pictures.

I mentioned this on Facebook already, but my husband noted that, in the first picture, I look like a sheepish Darth Vader or a teenager whose parents made her dress up for Halloween.

And again with the lightsaber. I need to take a lightsaber safety course or work on my villain acting skillz, I guess. I just don’t think I have it in me to be fierce.

Oh, and also take note of  a detail my cousin, Jeff, pointed out: “And the award for most congenial Yoda goes to…

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Action shot! Again, props to Betsie for really going for it.

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I know I say this ever year, but…

best. Halloween. EVER.

~

p.s. when time permits, I’ll come back and add links, reviews and info to our costumes!