Our Internet was down all day yesterday, so I couldn’t post an entry. I thought about you all day and hoped your day was a good one!

As I was thinking about last week’s entries, I knew that I had not yet updated you on Erich, Mallory, and Todd; so I want to spend a couple days this week doing that.

Erich is working at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville as a nurse, and he loves his job. Mallory is working as a professor’s assistant at Middle Tennessee State University and taking classes towards a Masters degree.

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We love hearing about all of their adventures, and we couldn’t be happier with who Erich has chosen to spend the rest of his life. The church they attend in Nashville has been such a blessing to both of them; and as a mom, I am so thankful they have found a home away from home where they can worship and serve together. christmas 2011 394

Hugo and Phoebe are doing great too!!christmas 2011 295

As you can tell from this photo, we are never bored when Erich and Mallory come to visit!

I love thinking back on Erich’s childhood and what a great big brother he was to all of his siblings.

Erich was always an outgoing kid. He never feared public opinion. I remember him proudly wearing a huge plastic Easter rabbit fastened to the front of his shirt to school in kindergarten. This rabbit was meant for a window or door, but Erich insisted on wearing it anyway…….I am going to find that picture and share it one day.

I remember a time when Erich became very sick that very same year; and we ended up in the emergency room, Erich receiving a spinal tap while I sat in the lobby with a friend holding Todd who was just a few months old. Tim stayed with Erich until the procedure was over, and we learned that Erich had spinal meningitis. It was a scary time, and I know I prayed many prayers that involved trusting Erich to God’s work. So when Erich decided he was ready for a mission trip to Mexico without us at the age of 15. I was terrified, but we let him go. Now, many trips later, Erich sees life as one big mission trip.

We couldn’t have made it through the last week of Nick’s life without Erich’s help as a nurse and big brother. Honestly, all of our kids stepped up and became helpers like I never dreamed they could be.

It seems like yesterday our house was full of five little ones running, playing, laughing………ok, and sometimes fighting, screaming, and complaining.

There were definitely good days and not-so-good. We didn’t have a perfect home, and I wish I would have been more intentional about reading the Bible with the kids at night; but I’m praying God will redeem the parts of motherhood in which I was lacking.

Mallory has risen out of a lot of suffering and illness, too, winning a battle with anaplastic anemia after a successful bone marrow transplant just a few years ago. She has definitely taken all the pain of her past and turned her life into a thing of beauty.

I was reading in Exodus this morning about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness and how they came to place where the water was bitter. They called this place Marah and turned to Moses asking, “What are we going to drink?” Moses cried out to God and was then led to a piece of wood. He threw the wood into the water, and this made the water good to drink.

God then spoke to the Israelites about how He would protect them from all the diseases that had fallen on Egypt if they would follow His decrees and do what was right in His sight.

After leaving this place of bitter water, God led the Israelites to an oasis, where they found 12 springs and 72 palm trees. They camped beside this water for a season, and I know it must have strengthened them for the next part of their time in the wilderness.

When I think of Erich and Mallory’s past, I see moments of bitter water.

But, like the Israelites, I believe God has delivered them to an oasis for this season of their life; and I am thankful.

I don’t know the details of their future, but Tim and I pray for them daily, trusting God to lead them every step of the way.

If you find yourself by a spring of bitter water today, know that God is a God who longs to use your bitterness to help others find their way to an oasis where the water is pure and the shade is refreshing.

A Psalm I cling to with great hope is Psalm 84:5-7,

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

The Valley of Baca is a place of weeping. I love that God uses our tears to make places of springs when we put our strength in Him. I also love that it’s okay to travel from “strength to strength.” This phrase reminds me that in between there will be times of weakness…..but until the day we appear before God in Zion, He will keep leading us one step at time……………..

from strength to strength.

That’s how I make it.

That’s how I walk.

I hope you walk that way too.

I love you all so very much,