Dear Mother,

 

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Thank you for bearing me in your body for 9 months, enduring the discomforts and challenges that a growing baby placed on you. Thank you for your delight at my rolls, punches, and kicks within, for your kind words to me and prayers for me as you awaited the day of my birth. And when that day came with all the anticipation, pain, difficulty and joy, thank you for giving yourself and experiencing it all to bring me into this world.

Thank you for holding me in your arms when I was born, holding me close, loving me; for kisses on my cheeks, belly and feet; for those sleepless nights that followed as I tried to figure out this whole daytime-nighttime thing. And thank you for the many, many nights that followed that, when either because of hunger, teething, or the need to be close, you woke up to minister to my needs when I cried.

Thank you, sweet Mama.

Thank you for the awful, messy diapers and diaper rashes you cleaned and tended to; for brushing my teeth, brushing my hair, and fixing it so pretty; for wiping my runny nose; for bandaging my wounds; for prayers when I was sick.

Thank you for waking up too early for the amount of sleep you had to put breakfast in my belly; for the many, many meals you prepared, and served, and cleaned up after, when there was no one around to help. Thank you for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Toasted. For bowls of oatmeal with the brown sugar and milk sitting on top.

Thank you for bringing me into bed with you when I awoke with a bad dream, for calming my childish fears. Thank you for keeping us home to school, and for staying home yourself. Thank you for that stability, for always being there–even when it may have felt nice to you to be very far away. πŸ™‚

Thank you for the patience you had for me, to let me help you in the kitchen, to let me help with the babies, to learn.

Thank you for bedtime prayers.

Thank you for being my mama, sweet Mother; for all those little things that are a part of the special love and sacrifice of motherhood, special bond of child to parent and vice versa, and for which I never thanked you.

I am thankful for you, and for all the decisions that at the time may have seemed so unfair but were made out of protection, love, and wisdom, if not sometimes for the sake of your own sanity, which is very important too. πŸ˜‰

Thank you, Mom, for this and so much more, done for me and all your others–your loads and loads of others. Speaking of loads–laundry! How could I forget the laundry? Thank you for the hours upon hours you spent making sure we had clothes upon our backs, if not always socks upon our feet, but only for the notorious sock bag. πŸ™‚

I love you so much, sweet lady. Thank you for being my mother.

Your daughter with much love,

Lauren

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In the Trenches of Marriage and Motherhood

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ETA: DISCLAIMER: Nathan read and approved this post, but even so, since writing it I have been unsettled that it may negatively reflect on him or put our marriage in a more hostile light than it in fact is. I originally titled it “In the Trenches of Motherhood” and wrote it accordingly, but then considered that this may reach some who are not mothers but whose struggles were different and changed it to “reach” a broader audience.

There. I feel so much better now. πŸ™‚

It may seem extreme to use battle terminology in the context of marriage and motherhood…unless you’re a wife and mother. πŸ˜‰

There are days, and weeks, and dare I confess? months that go by where this whole calling seems like one great big battleground that I am woefully inequipped to fight on.

Oh, I have wounded, for sure–have plunged with a great battlecry and with sword wailing into the thick of it–have laid my blows and received them, too, but without victory.

And why?

Because the enemy has not been identified, much less injured, by this indiscriminate skirmishing.

If I could see through the smoke of my own perceived defenses across the field at this enemy, that causes so much damage and disrupts the peace of the home, what would be found? What would this enemy look like?

Would it be my “trouble” child?

My “whiney” child?

Would it be an image of bickering, disobedience, or my messy house?

Would it be my husband or his decisions?

My circumstances?

Would it, could it possibly be this man, this home, this family that the Lord Himself has given me?

No, no, no, and a thousand times NO.

They may be the ones I have battled with, but they are not the enemy, which is why the engagement always seems so fruitless.

What would I see if I could be given a glimpse of the foe?

My own spirit.

That hasty, proud, selfish, unquiet, unmeek part of me that gets offended, irritated, and vexed when things are not going according to my order.

I’m sure that satan gets involved too, but my self-absorption makes his job very easy.

He doesn’t really need to get into the fray because I do a good job all on my own of opposing the offenders when my autonomy is threatened.

Don’t get me wrong, children need to learn obedience and to get along with each other, to respect and to help their parents and one another.

Husbands should love, honour, and cherish their wives (as wives should love, honour, and obey their husbands)

But you know? When they are not doing these Β things they do not become the enemy.

They are simply losing the fight against their own enemy: their own spirit, their own self-will.

We are given by the Lord Himself to our children as mothers, to aid them in this battle, to our husbands as a help, to pray for and support them in the same, as they also are given to us for headship, protection, and help.

Too often, Β I have lost this focus, have spent all my energies in trying to correct exteriors and frustration that it never stays correct, rather than remembering that my children are very unskilled in this whole self-denial thing that I myself am far from perfect in as well.

So we come back again to grace. To give as we have been given.

We are in these trenches together, they and I, you and I. We’re on the same side, y’all!

The best part of all? The Lord God is in here with us, and thanks be to Him “Which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Oh! It is not just a hope, a sure confidence of things to come, it is a present grace! He gives it, gives it now–today!–this moment.

The love of the Lord to invite us to this!

“And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

Here is victory.

 

 

Giving Thanks

“For Thou art with me”

It has been a wonderful and interesting last few days, full of reminders to give thanks and to praise!Β  My beloved had 4 days off together due to Thanksgiving, and it was a real treat having him around.

I love the wisdom of the Lord displayed in designing the relationship between man and wife. I still notice, every time the door closes upon his departure (or even if I just think it’s his departure–my back is turned and I hear the door close, thinking he left) my heart dips, but then upon hearing the door knob turn at his return or the sound of his voice assuring he never left at all, what joy and gladness! Every time. What a beautiful type of our relationship with the Lord. When His presence is gone, (or even only thought to be) more than a dip of heart, what anguish this is! What would willingly be done, given, endured, just to have that back again. But, Oh! When His voice again is heard, and His presence made known, there is no joy comparable.

A sweet taste of this was enjoyed recently. On the day before Thanksgiving, I received a note from a friend after describing some symptoms that I have been having that it was likely a blood clot in my leg. This may sound unreasonable, but I was beside myself with fear. All day long I struggled with it, crying, fearing it would travel to my lungs or heart and kill me, travel to the placenta and kill my baby, or I’d get it evaluated “professionally”, get put on blood thinners, then die of hemorrhage at birth, since that almost happens every time without their help anyway.

If anyone is wondering, YES, I am a pessimist. Not proud of it, of this stronghold of fear that stands so high and makes it so hard to see anything but that. But having said that, being fearful has this one virtue. It makes the fearer that much more thankful when the emergency DOESN’T happen: when everyone in the family doesn’t die of botulism because they ate sweet potato casserole from sweet potatoes wrapped in foil and left to sit for several hours (seems like I read a story somewhere of someone who almost died of eating a potato wrapped in foil that had sat for some long period of time, after all); or of food poisoning because stock wasn’t made from the chicken until 4 hours after dinner was over (because bacteria starts to multiply after only two hours at room temperature, or so I’ve read) or that their two year old didn’t die from the hacking cough she developed spontaneously one night, (there are some weird and dangerous viruses going around the US these days, as we’ve all heard); or that what you were told was likely a blood clot actually probably isn’t. I’m just so thankful that we’re all still kicking. In spite of all that, and so much more. πŸ™‚

However, this is a side track. Back to the original point. The next day, which was Thanksgiving, Nathan led us all in family worship, and one of the passages selected was Psalm 23. Such a beautiful Psalm, but sadly, it can become so familiar that the beauty is overlooked or even forgotten. As he read the Psalm the words rang out and struck my soul with reproof and blessing, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me”. “I will fear no evil!” Could I say that? Judging from just the day before, I failed that test. But that is because I failed to remember in that crucial (to me) time that He IS with me. Yet, He is! He will be! Of all comforts this is the greatest. Of all joys this is the truest. And though it seems at times that the measure of faith granted to me is such a small one, that I should be left to greater woe because of it, yet, yet as long as that faith is placed in HIM, not in my faith itself, not in my feelings of His nearness or lack thereof, not in the words of others that say if you doubt at all you are damned or on the other side if you only desire Him you are saved, but in Him alone, I will never be confounded.

He is true. He can only be true. And He is with me.

For this, and His innumerable promises and blessings I am truly, truly thankful.

The Shepherd’s Lamb

Unfinished projects. My life is far too full of those! So, to overcome this unbecoming characteristic of quitting before completion, I have a new resolution: before this pregnancy ends I want to have completed all the projects I come across that have already been started.

One that I’m particularly excited about is a poem I started 2 years ago. It’s very special to me; never before has a character become so “alive” to me in writing than this shepherd boy who is the subject of the poem. It’s written to a tune that came to me at the same time as the words, but the idea was to have it split up into a number of songs, because it will be rather lengthy. I hit a snag when the very best part was coming because I didn’t know how to capture it in the beauty that it’s worthy of, so it has been put away…for 2 whole years!

Here is the first “installment” of the poem:

The Shepherd’s Lamb


As a shepherd young in Judah’s hills I watched my father’s sheep
But on this night my heart did yearn so much I could not sleep
I thought of David young and bold, a shepherd just as I
Whom God anointed, made a king, and said, Who would not lie
That of his seed would come a King to sit upon his throne
Who in all righteousness would rule, Whom God would call His Son
And with His sword upon His thigh in majesty and might
Would with success reign by His truth, by meekness, and by right

I thought as well of David psalms writ from my heart as his
Beseeching God for mercy and His cleansing from all sins
“Purge Thou me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall then be clean,
Whiter than the snow, if Thou dost wash me, shall I be”
But where, I wondered is this found, this hyssop that may cleanse?
What did Israel’s sweet Psalmist have in mind when this he penned?
How may I be washed cleaner, even whiter than the snow?
My sins from me as far as East from West be made to go?

For though from this flock is taken out the goodliest young lamb
That myself took care of, nurtured, from the day he left his dam,
I find no true atonement when for me his blood is shed
My guilt lies just as heavy then as ere the beast had bled
That God Himself would bear the branch! Ah! this must be his thought!
His sprinkling with waters pure must make all sin but naught
Thereby would perfect grace be found and truest life be known
The joy of His salvation would then within me be sown

O Lord! that even now would come that King in majesty!
That I might kneel before Him, cast myself down at His feet
And learn of Thy salvation full, that I might drink and sup
In pastures green, of waters still, that overflowing cup
I hunger Lord, I hunger so, I thirst for righteousness
To be, as David spoke of, in that place of blessedness
My sins all fully covered and transgressions all forgiv’n
Iniquity unreckoned when confession I have giv’n

But though I weep and cry with buried face in lamb’s warm wool
And its coat is greatly dampened, yet I still do not feel whole
My tears do just as much as does the lamb slain in my place
For redemption they are empty and they can bestow no grace
I’ve sought Thee Lord with all my heart and with my whole desire
Oh that Thy mercy seat were here that I might there inquire!
How canst Thou purge me, O my God? with what shall I be washed?
And when, O Lord, shall this take place? for I, Thy sheep, am lost

Make haste, I pray, to help me, for I cannot find my way
Thy fold I gladly now would dwell in, fain would ever stay
Though enemies encompass ’round, my greatest are within
I feel that I shall perish from the weight of all my sin
Yet Thou art great, O Lord, my God, in kindness and in truth
Thy compassions never failing, and Thy mercies ever new
With this recalled unto my mind I know that I have hope
And in it I shall wait for Thee, Thy way to me to show

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There’s another part written to it, but since I hadn’t read and reread it as many times as the first part, I don’t have it committed to memory. When I’ve been able to unpack my notebook, I’ll post the second installment.

Once upon a time

October, 2006. A young man planning on joining a group for evangelism and gospel outreach faced a problem: his van had broken down days before the planned trip. He called an organizer of one of the tours to inform him sadly that he would not be able to come. Just hours before this, the same organizer had heard from another family planning to attend that before heading up north for the ministry tours they were going to stop at a museum and theme park in Pensacola, FL: Dinosaur Adventure Land. This is where the young man worked! In the providence of God he was able to gather up his things in short order and take off with this family to join other believers in Virginia.

This family is very dear, I had known them from previous outreaches together. I stayed with them the night before the first day of ministry began. As I talked with one of the women she told me about the man who was traveling with them, and out of the blue this thought shot through my mind: this is the man you will marry. Right away the thought was rejected as absurd. I didn’t know a single, solitary thing about this guy. He could already be married for all I knew! He could be old, he could be worldly, he might even be ugly (not that that’s the be all-end all, but, he could be)! O folly of youthful, feminine thought–be gone!

The next day I met this man of whom I had heard. He was young, (22, I would learn later), unmarried, conservative, and handsome. And, in my immediate estimation, completely smug, maybe prideful. First impressions. πŸ™‚Β  I wonder how many times I’ve been esteemed that very way because of hanging back, not necessarily looking shy but also not engaging. Poor guy. Everyone knew everyone, but him. My brothers were able, in the course of the next few days, to carry on meaningful conversation with him, which I often was in earshot of, and I was inwardly reprimanded for my swift judgment. In short, he conversed quite easily, and I liked everything I heard. πŸ™‚

He lost his ride after one of the stops, and came along with us to go to the next destination. He would ride in the back of our van a good number of times after that first time, and I would listen to him speak Bible stories to my youngest brothers (8 & 10 yrs. old) and was impressed that he could detail dialogue word for word from the Bible in his unfolding of it. In all truth, before that first week of ministry ended, my little heart was going pitter patter every time I saw him, which I made every effort to do as frequently as possible. πŸ˜‰

Every person that knew me (which was everyone there, but him) knew I was “fallen”. I mean, I was talking to a guy. Lauren Murch doesn’t talk to guys. I even had the brazen audacity and forwardness to ask him if I could sit across the table from him! Yes, it was very obvious to everyone, but him. One lady, a female pastor or some such, that was not a part of our group but that had clashed with us and had tried to stir up trouble in a number of ways, at one point while we were holding signs close together to each other said, “There’s a fire between you two, isn’t there?” Then to him, “You like her, don’t you? I saw you hanging around until she left today” Everything in me was fed up with that woman, and also afraid of his reply. He simply ignored the question and addressed something else. After that, I was sure our sweet times of conversing on matters and the Bible were over, because he wouldn’t want to encourage the idea “Reverend Faith” had shared so insightfully. But then a couple minutes later he asked me what time it was. Oh, the relief!!!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Actually, we conversed just as easily as ever after that somewhat awkward little happenstance there. He told me later that it was then he actually realized that he did hold an affection for me, because he said he would not have been able to honestly answer “no”.

By the end of the nearly 3 weeks of ministering together, I felt almost sick with the thought that he would simply go back down to Florida, I would go back to Virginia, and we’d never or rarely see each other again. So I called my father, and asked him to pray, because I had met the man I hoped to marry and didn’t want him to just slip away! My father must have had a number of reactions to that. His daughter, that had on so many occasions at his hintings about getting married and “giving him grandbabies” and had replied with doubt that that would ever happen (not for not wanting to, but I’d always been shy, awkward, plain, and convicted about so many things I couldn’t imagine the possibility of someone getting through all of that AND being compatible doctrinally/practically) was now, after he let her go on a 3 week trip calling him about a marriage prospect! He handled it with wisdom, and he did pray with me.

This story has gotten so long and it is so much longer, but, in short, I married that man. Nathan Tyler, the guy who hitched a ride with some of my friends at the last minute, is now my husband of 6 years (this Saturday) and the father of our 5 children (assuming there’s only one in my womb).

He turns 30 today. I truly don’t know what I would do without him. He is one of the Lord’s richest blessings to me. Marriage would teach me that neither he nor I were as holy and humble as we might have thought about ourselves and the other, but it has grown us. Sometimes I wish I could somehow change back and be what I thought I was when we married–that sweet little headcovered girl that above anything else in the entire world, wanted to SERVE, to serve GOD, to serve my husband. With all my heart. I wish I could be more worthy of wifehood, more worthy of my Nathan. Instead of being a picture of sacrificial love to him I’ve been the object of his expression of it. He has rebuked me when I needed it for sure, and reasoned with me through many, many questions, but has also shared wisdom in my fears, held me in times of weeping, and borne me up when I’ve fallen.

Anyway, this post was sort of disjointed, my “tribute” wanting, but I will close now.

I love my Nathan. May the Lord enrich it. And may the Lord enrich him with all the good and pleasant gifts reserved for His faithful children.

Let the Journey Begin

It is now time to do what I have desired and dreaded to do for a long time now: update my poor forsaken blog!

There are a number of reasons for the long absence, but the most significant is that it has become very clear that though I began this blog with a vision to minister to other young wives & mothers by sharing things that have helped me in perspective & practice, in truth I have nothing to offer and everything to learn. Everything.

Additionally, I’ve gone from keeping a home and trying my level best to switch to healthier ways of eating & living, more efficient ways of cleaning & keeping up with house & children, to a situation where there is a lot of blessing, but also a lot of change. I don’t have my “own” kitchen right now, and have really faltered in adapting successfully to this temporary arrangement. (So, simply, I don’t feel like much of a home keeper). Right when I began to though, when the flow of the day included enough to keep me busy enough to not be nauseated by eating the bread of idleness, a most joyous and welcome wrench was thrown into the attempt: morning sickness! πŸ™‚

After an early miscarriage in June, during which pregnancy I never had a hint of symptoms (though for me they usually start within a week after conception), I am overjoyed to be feeling so yucky so often now–a wonderful indicator of a healthy baby. For those of you that are wondering, I’m 9 weeks today. πŸ™‚

Because of my history of post partum hemorrhage, this pregnancy is going to be a true journey, both physically/emotionally & spiritually. There’s a lot of good advice to sift through and figure out what to do with–what would be the most beneficial, and what we just won’t be able to manage. One thing I need a very good dose of is commitment. Those areas of change that I can manage must be done consistently. This is so hard for me, and I don’t really know why. It’s a terrible character flaw, and is often enough even a sin. It’s easy to jump into something that’s “new” and promises good return. But the newness wears off so fast, and difficulty becomes more apparent, and then I give up.

The regimen I have pretty much decided on includes:
–Reading the Word of God every day, even if it’s just a little bit. Starving one’s self of life is never a good thing!
–A qt. of red raspberry leaf tea infusion every day
–A qt. of nettles/oatstraw infusion every day (when I can manage it again, aversions kicked in against those recently)
–A pint of raw milk every day (when we get the cow share)
–An hour of walking and/or exercising at least 5 days a week
–Adding probiotics from either homemade sauerkraut or kombucha into my daily diet (slowly, so as not to endanger the baby from the die off of bad bacteria and toxins released, as they would cross the placenta)
–Eliminate MOSTLY all processed sugar (I say mostly, because I don’t know if I can commit to not having any ice-cream ever) πŸ™‚

There’s more too that I’m considering, but these are the big ones. What would you add? If you’re a healthy person or you’ve had a healthy pregnancy/birth (especially after a previous difficult one) please share any insight you may have–I would be indebted to you.

Begging your pardon

To my dear little faithful readership: please forgive me for my long absence. There has been an awful lot happening in the past couple weeks, not the least of which is a visit-turned-relocation-in-the-making to my beloved homeland of Virginia. Even now I lack opportunity to fully engage in this little blog of mine, but wanted to at least leave this update, just so anyone who may check back will know that I’m not truly through with it yet, even if it looks that way for now.

Keep up your good work, ye handmaidens of God on high..