And here is where I tell you a little about my family…
I live smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt with my church planting husband and our small tribe of children, four girls, two boys.
We live in small town America where tobacco still pays the bills and where the railroad tracks still divide the city into two groups: the haves and the have-nots. Our house is about a quarter of a mile from those railroad tracks and our neighborhood is a mix of both groups. I’ve never been more aware of how white my skin really is…or how blessed we really are.
We live in a 100-year-old home with drafty doorways and cracked window panes and we love it. Our yard is a mud hole and in need of landscaping and if I stand in the yard too long, I start having heart palpitations. Y’all, it is in bad shape. I have big dreams for this yard, but my bi-vocational pastor is poor so my yard will have to wait 10 years. Maybe 15 years.
I am married to Thad. I love his bald head, his blue eyes, and the way his eyes crinkle in the corners when he smiles. I love his laugh, the way he rubs his head when he is thinking about hard things, and the way he chews the end of his pen when writing. He loves Jesus more than me and I love that the most. He’s my best friend. He’s the father of my children. He’s the one I want to grow old with.
Elliana Grace is our first born. We call her Elli and the shortened name fits her. She is artistic and her watercolors and sketches fill my walls. She doesn’t know how gifted she really is and that makes her works of art that much more special to me. She is my mini-me, my helper, my swooper-inner when things get crazy and loud and out of control. She saves me on most days.
Audrey Caroline is our second born. I was thrilled when I found out I was pregnant with another baby. I prayed for a girl so that Elli would have a sister, a best friend. She came exactly 18 months after Elli was born and she had my cheeks and my eyes. She now has her daddy’s freckles. She is our peacemaker, our calming spirit. She is the tag-a-long, the go-with-the-flow kind of girl and she is the one I want to live with when I’m old and need help in the bathroom. She blesses our family with her sweet heart.
Josiah is our third child. He was a surprise, our little gift from the Lord, that made us rely on God’s timing and not our own. He is compassionate and caring and loving. He is his siblings’ keeper. He serves with a joyful heart and he seeks to love others as himself. He is his daddy’s son. And he is quite handsome.
Issac is our fourth child. He is the first baby we longed for, the first baby that we planned. He slipped into this world the morning after Thanksgiving and his birth was effortless. He was our biggest baby and he lives up to his namesake: Laughter. He fills this home with laughter and his freckled nose melts this heart of mine. He longs to be a man, but his mama still loves to have him curl up in her lap.
Ainsley is our fifth child and well, I think this picture says it all. She is a ham. She is loud and boisterous and she keeps us on our toes. She has been tiny since the day she was born and she makes me want to stop everything and dance. She will tell you that I taught her all of her dance moves and she’s right. I did. Tomorrow, I will be teaching her the Harlem Shuffle. She loves without boundaries and she is quick to forgive and she brings life to this house.
Greenley is our last baby. She has a head full of blond curls and her clear blue eyes sparkle and she holds all of our hearts in her hands. She speaks and we all jump and she laughs from deep within her belly. She makes me want to have one more. She loves her family and sleeps with a different sibling every night and we spoil her beyond measure. She’s the last one and we are milking it for all it’s worth. She may wear diapers until she is 5. Grace abounds over here and if she wants to potty train late, well then, may the Lord bless her.
And I’m the mama. The hen of this nest. The keeper of everyone’s shoes. The finder of stuff. The cooker of meals. The dishwasher. The boo-boo bandager. The trash bagger-upper. The teacher of history and phonics and math I know nothing about. The wife to the church planter. The broken woman who is prone to wander. The Jesus seeker and Jesus flee-er, sometimes at the same time.
May you find Jesus here, in the midst of our mess, and in the fullness of the grace we seek to grasp.