Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Knowing Who it is about...

More Ephesians...

Knowing it is not about me, I realize how important it is for me to really know who it is about, to really know God. Internalizing the idea that it is not about me tempts me to think that I really don't matter. Since my life is not for my benefit, but for God's, truly understanding God's nature is what makes life worth living.

As I thought this through, I continued reading and saw that Paul was thinking the same thing. In Ephesians 1:17 he tells the Ephesians that he is praying for them to "know Him (God) better." Paul wants them to know the hope they are called to and the riches of his glorious inheritance. It struck me that these are not earthly things, but eternal. We won't even clearly "see" these things until after we leave this life.

So, how to go on? How do we a live a life not for our benefit? How do we live a life for goals we can not reach during our lifetime? We can go on because God has great power for us (vs.19). And Christ has been given dominion and all authority (vs. 20-22). Christ also spent time here, we can read about His life, His love, forgiveness, and patience. He is someone we can trust.

It is just making me realize how important reading my Bible is. The more I know about God, the more I see of the hope I am called to and the inheritance I have. God is so big, He is so wise, He is so good. As I get to know him better, I better understand that while it is not about me, it is about what is best and what is most important.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It is not about me...or more on Ephesians

I've been reading the first chapter of Ephesians and trying to really have it sink in. The first 14 verses have really hit me with a theme... It is not about me!

Paul even starts out by pointing out that it isn't about him. In verse one he states he is an apostle "by the will of God" Then verse by verse he shows us how it is not about us.

In verse 3 we find we already have every spiritual blessing.

In verse 4 we find He chose us before creation began.

In verse 5 we find it is His pleasure and will that motivates our predestination.

In verse 6 we find He has given us his grace freely.

In verse 7 we find our redemption and forgiveness correlates to His riches of grace.

None of this has anything to do with what I have done or will do. None of it has anything to do with my talents or potential. It isn't about who I am or can be, it is about what He wants to do with me. But there is more...

In verse 9 we find we now know the mystery of His will.

In verse 10 we find His will is to bring all things together under one head.

In verse 11 we find we are chosen according to his plan and purpose.

In verse 12 we find we He has done this for the praise of His glory.

In verse 13 & 14 we find we are marked and His possession again for the praise of His glory.

None of this has anything to do with my plans. He didn't choose me for my benefit. It is not about what I want or need, it is about what He wants to with my life.

My first thought was how wonderful. A feeling of freedom filled me. But my immediate second thought was "Oh, it really isn't about me." I read this passage and realize that I so often live like it is about me; "God, I want to do this so please help me," or "God I don't like this please take it away." In a way it made me feel like I'm not really that important. I mean God could do without me. Isn't that bad for my self-esteem?

But that is where that freedom comes in. God could "do without me" but he chose to "do with me." How cool is that? My talents and potential aren't critical to His success. I am free to just be what He makes me. My plan may fly out the window, but God's plan is the one that will have success. My failures may just be exactly the achievement God is going for.

If I can only remember this I could eliminate much of the worry and fretting from my life. Growing up in public schools in the 70's, and 80's they spent a lot of time telling us that we were "free to be whatever we wanted to be, and free to do whatever we wanted to do." I think a lot of us were let down when we discovered that in reality our plans often don't work.

But I want to remember that I'm truly free. Free to be what He makes me and go where He leads me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And then life happens...

Well I meant to get back to blogging, but you know there is this thing called life.

In the beginning of August was the fair, then we went camping, then we had the boys stay w/ us for a week, then babygirl's (littlegirl now) first bday party, then my Aunt and Uncle came for about a week. We thought things were slowing down... but August 31st we found out we are having another little one!!! due date May 4th. So, while very happy, I barely had energy to function until the middle of October.

On September 2nd we found out about some farmland for sale. This will fulfill a lifelong dream. But in order to safely make this investment I ahve returned to work 2days a week. Littlegirl enjoys spending one day a week at each grandparents' home. And since I grew up w/o grandparents around I am happy for her opportunity. I actually really enjoy my work overall. While the paperwork and government regulations get annoying, serving my patients is such a blessing. Even though I get paid for it, it feels like a ministry to me.

So here I am, hopefully back again. I am sort of glad I didn't blog through the election. I think I have gotten past my tirades and frustration about that now anyway.

Right now I am reading Ephesians. I have been reading it for several weeks. But started to jot notes down today. Do you know God has already blessed us w/ every spiritual blessing? We are already blessed. We just need to make use of those blessings...Also he chose us before he created the world. This one was amazing to wrap my mind around. Although I know that God is eternally omniscient, it just never ocurred to me that he knew what was going to happen to my life before the world existed!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Long time no blog.

Wow It has been more than a month! I have been using my internet time recently to get used to my new role as a moderator on the bulletin board at Hearts at Home. Now that I've gotten caught up and used to my new "job," I'm looking for a little time to blog again.

Another thing I have been busy with is Bible Study. I just completed a six week study at my parents church Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. It was excellent and gave me lots to think about. Hopefully I'll have some time to put my thoughts into complete sentences.

In the last month babygirl has also developed the skills of crawling and cruising. While I'm delighted at her newly acquired skills, it has made it difficult to concentrate on typing as I try to keep her from eating rocks, pulling stools down on herself, falling down the stairs, and pulling the cats' tails. And yes she has done or almost done all of those things.

Well as babygirl is chasing cat around the room, I'd better go. Hope to update w/ more later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

People of the Exile

Reading Haggai, has inspired me to look again Ezra, Zechariah, and Isaiah 44 & 45. I have always found the exile and returning from exile periods in Israel's history to be fascinating. Maybe because I don't remember learning those stories much in Sunday School. Or maybe it's because I see so many parallels between The U.S. and Babylon.

Now please understand, I don't mean the United States is "evil like Babylon" But there seems to be some very similar attitudes. I am not an expert on Babylonian culture. But I do understand from the scriptures that they were not annihilators, they were assimilators. They didn't conquer a people and wipe them out. They assimilated them into their culture. Tolerance and diversity seemed to be pretty common themes. Well tolerance to a point, there was the fiery furnace thing. But even there they didn't forbid them from praying to God, they just wanted them to bow to idols too.

They also seemed to be a pretty modern society. Even though we consider them to be ancient, I imagine they considered themselves to be quite high tech. They had the best technology and living in Babylon was probably pretty cushy for some. Many of the Jews, Daniel for example, became high ranking officials. Babylon was a melting pot and a land of opportunity in some ways. Tolerance, diversity, technology, opportunity - sound familiar?

I guess that is one reason the exiles fascinate me. How did they stay close to God in a culture so similar to ours? How did they deal with the temptations of prosperity, and push for tolerance? Was it difficult to leave Babylon and return to the ruins of Jerusalem?

It had been seventy years. Few of the returning exiles actually remembered Jerusalem. Many were born in exile, others were just small children when they left. I imagine their parents told them stories about the gorgeous temple, the gates, the walls. I wonder how it felt to them to return to find it all a pile of rubble.

Anyway, I guess that is why the exiles are so interesting to me. They had decisions to make that I can relate to my life. They had to discern when it was right to stay involved in the things of the world, Daniel, Mordechi, and Esther for example. They also had to discern when it was right to give up there wordly comforts as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel did.

There is lots to learn from them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tackling my clothes

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

I decided I really needed to weed out my wardrobe. Since I was in maternity clothes last summer I didn't weed last year. So it was long overdue. I also want to move a dresser out of our bedroom because it is just too crowded, so I had to empty out the 2 drawers that actually had clothes in them. I decided to put ALL of my clothes on my bed. (Except for some clothes in the laundry, but I figure I wear those anyway.) It looked like this:

Babygirl had a ball playing in the mountains of clothes while I started sorting. I started at a corner and worked my way in. I tried to be ruthless. I got rid of every bra with a "C" on it. If I ever get back there I'll just buy new. I also got rid of all the t-shirts that didn't quite cover my belly if I lifted my arms, and all the long sleeve shirts that didn't reach my wrist. I did keep some pants and shorts that "almost" fit. I decided if I could button it I could keep it. (I don't tend to have a lot of extra pants and shorts) Hopefully I will lose that extra ten pounds so I comfortably fit into them again. After I was done it looked like this:

I got rid of a lot, but still have a lot of clothes! I figure I need to ban myself from buying t-shirts for a couple of years maybe. Before I put things back I had to rethink my storage system. I decided not to just put things back where they were before. I would like to get a closet organizer, but that won't happen until after we paint our bedroom this summer. But I still managed to free up an entire drawer, in addition to the 2 drawers in the dresser I'm moving. And I have a lot of extra room in my closet.

So, now I can move the extra dresser. I can store some of the stuff overflowing the guest room closet in the extra dresser and my closet.

I also developed an appreciation for how blessed I really am. I have too many clothes to even wear them all. I have been to places where people who have two sets of clothing, one to wear and one to wash, are considered fortunate. I don't need any more clothes, not for a long time anyway. So, no more clothes shopping for me for now. Instead I will endeavor to remind myself of the great bounty that I have been given, and choose to be grateful.


Monday, May 19, 2008

More on Haggai...

"...'I am with you' declares the LORD." Haggai 1:13

Why is it so easy to neglect God? In the daily day to day He so often is the first to be set aside. I am so guilty of this. There is rarely a day when I don't check the internet or watch at least a little t.v. But there are too many days when I don't read my Bible, and my prayers are just short petitions thrown in here and there. I think it is a bit of a paradox for me. It becomes easy to put God last because he loves me and will forgive me. In Haggai as soon as the Jews, who had neglected God for 16 years, turned to Him He said, "I am with you."

But that is also the reason to put Him first. He is so deserving of our attention. He is our purpose for existence. The message in church yesterday spoke to me about this. Our youth pastor was preaching. He talked about the sacred and the selfish. It is selfishness that makes me put all the busyness of the day before God, who is sacred. And according to Haggai it is self destructive selfishness at that. God's blessings are limited when we neglect Him. I want Him with me!

I guess one of the reasons I find so much in Haggai is because I relate to the Jews in this story so well. You see these weren't the bad guys. They weren't Jews in name only. They left lives of relative ease in Babylon to come to a destroyed city and rebuild to honor God. They didn't stop building the temple because the rocks got too heavy and the work was uninspiring. They had real persecution and threats from the people around them. They wanted to put God first. But they lost sight of that in the discouragement. Then they got into the habit of neglecting Him. I can fall into this. I don't "completely" neglect God. I am at church everyweek, I listen to Christian radio, I think about God everyday. But that is not what He wants. He wants me to spend time directly with Him in His temple, my life. He wanted the Jews to spend time directly with Him in the Temple, that was still in ruins.

What encouragement that God is there waiting for them. And this time the same discouragement comes. But in chapter 2 they hear these words from God, "...take courage and work for I am with you," "My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear." Instead of succumbing to the discouragement, they take action. Then they begin to see the blessings of the Lord.

So through my day, as I clean my house and care for babygirl, I must remember I have God's Spirit with me. And I can't be discouraged or distracted by the busyness of life. Because if I get focused on the busyness I will miss the blessing. And the greatest blessing comes from spending time with Him.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

OK this is the first time I'm trying this. But I saw it on a "friend's" blog and was inspired. I wanted to tackle the paper pile on my counter. You know those papers you want to do something with but don't have time right now. So you either lose them or forget about them and find the 3 months later. I have a basket for this stuff but it becomes the basket of doom since it is all jumbled together. Then everything just gets left on the counter, because "you'll never find it in the basket." So here is my before:

I cleaned off the counter around it too. In order to control the clutter I decided to add folders to the main paper area. In our house I figured it would work best to have 1 for me, 1 for him, 1 for church, and 1 for 4H (we're very involved as volunteers). They're color coded too, green for 4H etc... Basically church stuff and 4h stuff will automatically go to their folders. His work stuff and financial stuff to his. And everything else to me to deal with, file elsewhere, or toss. There are 3 small spaces in front, one for this month's and recent large purchase receipts, one for the errand/shopping list and current coupons and a pen, and one for the calculator and banking. Here is the after:

I also cleaned out my coupon/paper overflow drawer. Now I just need to take 15 minutes each week to keep it in good shape!

Reading Haggai

"You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house." Haggai 1:9

I guess it might seem kind of strange that one of my favorite books of the Bible is Haggai. It is short, only two chapters. It can be hard to find, near the end of the Old Testament tucked in between Zephaniah and Zechariah. But it has so much to offer us for our lives today.

It is about focus and perseverance. It is about putting God first. It is about going on in the midst discouragement.

You see a small remnant of Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, they got a start and then got discouraged by the peoples around them. So they stopped for sixteen years. In the meantime they built their own lives, but they just didn't have the blessings they expected. Then Haggai comes on the scene to tell them they have been neglecting the things of God (building the temple).

I know we don't have a temple building anymore. Instead our lives are supposed to be temples of the Holy Spirit. So this book always challenges me. How often do I get so busy with my earthly house and life, that I neglect my spiritual life - the temple of God?

It is a struggle, but praise God there is more to come in the book of Haggai. I will share more later in the week. For historical context, read Ezra chapters 4-6.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Garage Sale-ing in the rain... or ohhhh books!

It was garage sale day in the town just east of us. Now I have to admit, garage sales are not my specialty. Normally, I shop with a specific mission. That doesn't translate well with garage sales. But, last spring I went on a mission and found a crib and changing table at the first 2 sales I hit. So, I was inspired to try it again.

My mission today - babygirl stuff : 12/18 month clothes, a toy piano, and books. Babygirl and I set off around 8:30, around 8:35 it started raining, pouring actually. But now I was on a mission. So between showers I visited the handful of sales that braved the weather. I found clothes : overalls, shorts, and 2 cute "red" outfits - one with the cutest denim jacket. I thought $5 for 7 pieces was pretty good. And babygirl looks so good in red. Sadly there was nary a toy piano to be found. But, what I really want to talk about is the books.

I was inspired at my MOPS meeting last month to expand my horizons when it came to books for babygirl. Our mentor mom, Holly, spoke about creative ways to use books. She encouraged us to choose a variety of books; fiction and non-fiction, old and new. She also encouraged us to let our children have access to the books, just keep scotch tape on hand. I have always loved books, but hadn't really thought about the wealth of possibilities in children's books. So the third part of my mission turned into a treasure hunt.

I found the treasure trove at a country farmhouse a little ways out of town. The garage was out back and jam packed with stuff. It was dark and dim and the door was down partway to block the recent downpour. It was too muddy and crowded to use babygirl's stroller, so I perched her on my hip as I squatted to sort through the 3 laundry baskets of children's books. Here is what I found:

2 Little Golden Books - Mother Goose and Baby Farm Animals. I love the old fashioned illustrations and sense of nostalgia from my own childhood.

Sea Creatures - Okay, this is 109 pages, photo and fact filled. Probably a little beyond my 8 month old, but the photos are beautiful and hopefully someday she will find the information fascinating. I especially can't wait to watch babygirl and her Aunt Becca pour over the 25 pages devoted to penguins, Bec's favorite animal.

Baby Animals - This is not a highly sophisticated anthology. But I liked it for the simple text, and variety of animals grouped by their habitat.

Rhinoceros Tap - One of my favorite finds. A mint condition book and music CD, of Sandra Boynton's fun silly books set to music, including my favorite "Barnyard Dance"

The Grumpy Bunny Goes West - A silly little perfect condition paper back about a pessimistic junior Easter bunny who wins a vacation at a dude ranch. It is certainly an original concept. And as an Easter baby, I have a soft spot for bunnies.

Who Says a Dog Goes Bow-wow? - This is not your standard "a cow says 'moo' " book. It also tells you that a cow says "Boeh-boeh" in Dutch, and "E-bah" in Ethiopian. The multilingual "animals" in this book are a wonderful way to expand world view, and a fun way to play with language sounds.

Whose Tracks Are These? - A fun little fact filled, "figure it out" paperback about forest animals. Perfect for our camping, hiking, nature-loving family.

Shiver Me Letters - A fun frolicking alphabet book. A crocodile pirate forces his animal crew to find him more letters to add to his "R" (as in "Arrh") A great creative book using letters for words more original than "a is for apple."

Curious George Goes Camping - Does this need an explanation? Where wouldn't I go with my childhood friend Curious George.

I limited myself to 10. They were 5 for a dollar. But I couldn't resist picking up the slightly battered copy of The Cat in the Hat I found at the last sale I visited. Dr. Seuss is well worth the 25 cents.

All-in-all I think I did pretty well. I hope mentor mom Holly would be proud, and I hope babygirl Holly will be pleased, fascinated, enriched, and delighted. Now it is time to go read some books!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Accidental Environmentalist

I'm sitting in my green chair with a green shirt on. Guess I'm making the most of this Earth Day thing. Actually, it is just a coincidence. The green shirt was at the top of the laundry pile, and the chair - well forest green is a frequent theme in our decor. But coincidence seems to be the norm for me when it comes to environmentalism. I am an "accidental" environmentalist.

I came to this conclusion when watching Oprah a few months ago. My sister-in-law and I stumbled across the "going green" show and thought we would check out the tips they offered. We spent most of the hour laughing. What was presented as "changes to live more green" seemed like normal common sense to us. Hmmm... only run the dishwasher/clothes washer when they're full, clean the lint screen on the dryer, avoid single use water bottles, recycle, turn your AC up to 75 degrees (we keep it at 80 anyway), donate old clothes instead of throwing them in the trash... Ummm... don't most people do this stuff anyway? The scary thing is I have come to understand that many people don't.

I have never considered myself an environmentalist. I actually find the hypocr- errr... irony of the environmental movement irritating. While on one channel a famous face is recommending we limit our toilet paper use, on another channel the same person is the spokesman for Clairol hair color. I imagine that box of hair dye, cardboard w/ paper instructions, plastic bottles etc... uses more resources and causes more pollution than my extra square or two of t.p. Then there are the "heinous" plastic grocery bags. I actually heard a guy on the Today Show lamenting that they were still legal! But the "go green" picture of a filled cloth grocery bag I say the other day, had a 4 pack of individual plastic pudding cups sitting on the top. Seems to me those are a lot more wasteful than my thin reusable, easy to recycle plastic grocery bag. Guess they should be illegal too? The list could go on and on, the rock star standing on the stage with big spotlights telling me I shouldn't have my incandescent bulb in my desk lamp, the politician with the huge multimillion dollar home complaining because our pick-up truck isn't energy efficient enough.

I guess I understand these people a little better though, now that I've seen how devoid of common sense so many Americans are.

But, it all comes down to stewardship. I have never been motivated by the panicked cries of "We're killing the planet!" I believe God is in control. I know that our sinned marred earth will definitely be destroyed one day, and has been slowly dying since the fall of man. However God has given us the things of this earth. And we are to be good stewards of the resources He has provided. Stewardship means using the resources the best way for the most important priority, people. Balancing this stewardship is tricky, and requires discernment. In our vast imperfectness we make a lot of wrong decisions. Pesticides for example can pollute our air and water, potentially making people sick. However pesticides also expand the food supply and control insects, potentially saving millions from starvation and deadly diseases like malaria. Unfortunately on the bandwagon of global warming hysteria and "green" marketing campaigns, wise stewardship decisions aren't the norm.

Like all modern problems the answer to the environmental issues of today is following the Bible. People are the only eternal thing on this earth so they are the most important. When God created our world He said it was good, and He expects us to use the resources for His purposes. He knows each sparrow that falls. Proverbs teaches us to not be lazy and wasteful. Jesus teaches us in the gospels about using what God has given us for His glory. The Psalms praise the wonders of God's creation. Genesis gives us a picture of God's perfect purposes for our planet.

So, on Earth Day, let us remember that it is really God's Day not the earth's. We shouldn't worship our planet but should look around us and figure out how to better use the earth's resources to serve God. I can see ways I can do better. But, I guess it is not really an accident that I have made some good environmental choices. Because, it is not an outcome of being an environmentalist, it is an intentional attempt to be a good steward for God.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Its my Birthday...and I'll smile if I want to!

I remember seeing a few thirtysomething reruns as a teenager. They seemed older than I am... But I have definitely learned from my patients, whose average age is eightysomething, that age is what you make of it. So thirtysomething is just fine, and I hope I enjoy eightysomething someday too.

April 14th has historical significance in the U.S., the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Of course depending on your opinion that may or may not be outdone by the international significance, as the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Yes those "on this day in history" birthday cards are a bit depressing for us four-fourteeners. But my philosophy is that my birth certainly improved the date a lot.

My birthday is also bad timing in our household. There isn't any time for hoopla or fancy meals around here the day before tax season ends. In fact there is barely time to say hello, and how was your day just isn't a very good opener until after tomorrow. So babygirl and I went to dinner at my parents house. I figure they are responsible for the existence and scheduling of my birthday anyway. And further celebration will be postponed until later in the week when we can celebrate both of our birthdays together. But, I never get the free dessert anymore.

I have always loved opening presents and having birthday cake. Have I mentioned my favorite food is frosting? For the past several years my birthday has just come and gone, with modest recognition. I don't worry much about people actually forgetting it. I always talk about my coming birthday several days ahead. I figure if people forget your birthday, anniversary etc... it is your own fault. But wrapped surprises are few and far between, I guess when your a grown-up it is easier to just give you money. And I rarely get to blow out candles on the actual day. Although, usually a birthday cake for one or both of us shows up sometime during the week. But with tax season, and a shared birthday week, it just isn't "my special day" that much anymore.

But the timing is good for reflection. After tomorrow life changes. We have brief slowdown of the pace of life. A brief window between tax season and planting season to breathe. The world around us is even marking it. The grass is greening. The trees are budding. The sky was such a beautiful blue today. I have time to count blessings and make a plan to enjoy them. This is the first year I got to spend the morning of my birthday, with my child giggling in my arms. I can't imagine a greater blessing.

So even though there was no party, no presents, no cake, there is smiling. God has given me another year. A most blessed and wonderful year has passed. One filled with brightness and blessings is ahead.

A special happy birthday goes out to Jack, Julie, and Laura, others who have made an excellent contribution to improving this day in history. And happy birthday a few days late to Stephen, and a few days early to my beloved taxman. Hope your days are blessed beyond your imagination!

And don't worry, somehow this week I will get a hold of a cake w/ butter cream frosting ;)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Blessings of Low Expectations

OK I really love to read. Anything and everything. I even read the entire cracker box. So when I stopped by the library the other day and found a pile of parenting magazines free for the taking I was delighted. I love to read magazines. I love books. But they suck me in and I have a hard time putting them down. I only like to read good books because they take my time and energy. Magazines on the other hand are quick, easy to drop and pick back up. Also I can tolerate a page or two of someone's different viewpoint even if I disagree, its a learning experience.

Anyway, back to the parenting magazines. Is it just me, or are we just a little bit too caught up in our own problems these days? Are we much to expectant of a life of comfort, ease, and perfection? It just seemed like article after article, magazine after magazine was devoted to the trials and travail of motherhood. Of course interspersed was the latest toys, gear, and gadgets, marketed to make your life easier or your child the next prodigy. And yes there were a few articles with helpful information about feeding and babycare, but even those often had references to diffusing mommy guilt or the general frustration of life as a mom.

I just want to say ENOUGH ALREADY!!! When did hardwork and difficulty become an anomaly in life?!! When did we come up with the idea that doing something so important should be easy?!!!

The church group I met with in college had a fascinating old fashioned hymnbook. At first I was surprised by the tone of the songs. I was used to praise choruses about God's goodness and our delight. These songs however often spoke of our sin, our brokenness, the total impossibility of happiness and success without the great and generous mercy of God. At first they seemed odd and sad. But then I began to discover that they were truth. They spoke too of the troubles of this world, they are everpresent and unavoidable. Only when we leave this world will we find perfection, only in God's presence.

I realize I was reading secular magazines. And sadly they don't even acknowledge God's existence. But I see Christians sucked in to the same mindset. If we just can figure out the right combination to make everything easy. The right psychology, the right invention, the right words, the right food, it goes on and on. The more we chase making things perfect the farther we seem to get away from it. Or maybe the more we despair about not achieving it.

Being a mom is a lot of work. So is not being a mom, I've been there too. Being alive in this world means facing difficulty, hardwork, fatigue, frustration, and confusion. That is what we should expect out of life on earth. Instead of fighting it, instead of striving for perfection here, why not embrace the imperfect. There are great blessing we receive even in this world. They are made all the more amazing and sweet when we have to work for them and yet realize we still don't deserve them. Of course we will fail in moments of pain and panic. But can we remember in the between times that pain, panic, and failure are to be expected this side of heaven.

Guess that was why I kept getting s0 frustrated with those magazines. Month after month trying to solve the same problems. Seeking success and happiness with the right combination of ideas and methods. OK, Maybe I shouldn't have read fifteen of them in one week. But then maybe I wouldn't have noticed the pattern I so easily get sucked into.

When I started writing I was thinking of how beneficial it was to have low expectations of this world. But I realized it is really having high expectations, high expectations of the next world. I'm reminded of this quote from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Since I'm up...

Well, since I'm up at 1am, I might as well blog a little. Sorry for the typos in advance, as I am typing one handed, without my glasses at 1 am.

So why one handed? I'm holding a half awake baby in my left arm.

Why sans glasses? I left those in my bedroom, there is a "taxman" trying to sleep in there. And you just don't wake a sleeping taxman at 1 am in the month of March if you can possibly avoid it.

Why 1 am? I think it may be because I had caffeine. No, I didn't have caffeine just before bed so I'm wide awake. I had some caffeine about 12 hours ago, its effects on my synapses have long worn off, so the bed looks wonderful. But for some reason when I put more than 25 mg of caffeine in my body it turns poor babygirl into a screaming gassy insomniac.

I just wanted a little extra energy for the cleaning spree I did today. I figured her digestive tract has matured, surely she could tolerate a little. She always sleeps through the night. (This said in a pitiful whiney voice) Will I ever learn.

Normally I'm a cry it out momma. I am rarely holding my child at 1 am. But I have chosen not to be a scream it out writhing in pain momma. Especially as I feel the guilt of inflicting it on my poor child. She seems to do better if I hold her upright, except that she is burping and passing gas like a bunch of Jr Hi boys on a campout.

Ahhhhhhh... finally she is asleep. Time for both of us to go back to bed. Maybe she last longer than 45 minutes this time. (This is the fourth time she has been up) Funny 20 minutes ago it was torturous, watching her discomfort, listening to her scream. Now its a rare treat, her little face snuggled to my chest, kissing her fuzzy little head. What is more precious than a sleeping baby? Part of me could sit here for hours studying her precious face and hands. But another part of me just yawned. And tomorrow this snuggly little one will want to play and eat and have her diaper changed. She needs a momma to be able to be responsible to care for her and be awake.... without any caffeine!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cloth diapers, and organic ketchup..., not together. The organic ketchup is in my fridge. The cloth diapers are on babygirl's bottom. But it is somewhat of a marvel to me that both are in my home at all.

I have never considered myself an environmentalist, a hippie, or particularly "crunchy" (a term I have just recently found). I have always considered myself to be a practical, common sense, indpendent type. It never really occurred to me before that the same result can come from two different points of view.

A few years ago my brother and sister-in-law announced they were eating organic. We love them so we humored them. They are kind considerate people, so they aren't pushy about it when they visit. And they live a few hundred miles away so we don't eat together too often anyway. But, living in the middle of corn and soybean country, saying "organic" often includes an eyeroll or snicker. Well, now organic has entered my cupboard and refridgerator. And yes I do occasionally snicker and roll my eyes at myself. To be honest I don't really care that it is "organic." I am really just trying to avoid all the high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils that are in prepared foods. And although I've gone natural and homemade for many things, I really haven't had the opportunity to make my own ketchup or barbeque sauce. So organic ketchup and BBQ sauce it is. And when the price is congruent, I've started to "go organic" on other things too, guess a few less pesticides isn't a bad thing.

Funny thing is, when my sister-in-law was visiting I began to explain my new strategy to cut the junk out of our food. Her reply, "That's why we started eating organic. Back then you couldn't find hardly anything natural unless it was organic." So I will make it official, Chrissy you were way ahead, I beg forgiveness for every rotating iris, and covered mouth chuckle. It is amazing what you learn when you adjust your point of view.

So that brings me to babygirl's bottom. Which I must say looks so much cuter in her colorful Thirsties diaper covers and Bumgenius 3.o's. I certainly don't miss the orange and green Whinnie the Pooh cartoons. But, ummm... I didn't choose cloth for all the great "crunchy" feel good reasons. Sure it is nice to have less garbage, to have more natural materials against her skin. But mostly it is a great money saver and I have honestly found it to be more convenient. However, I am quickly becoming a cloth diaper advocate. They are really fun, really easy, and even less smelly than disposables. But, I laugh as I wonder how I would have reacted to myself a few years ago. I am sure that as I listened to the wonders of cloth, I would have been rolling my eyes and snickering about that too. It is amazing how different things sound with a change in point of view.

Ten years ago, as new bride, I would have not just snickered but laughed heartily at the suggestion of organic ketchup and cloth diapers being in my home. I think me at 23 would think me at 33 was a little off her rocker. I guess I never expected to really grow and change as much as I have. And, its not just in my point of view about the "crunchy" things. I hope me at 23 would have humored me and loved me anyway, because she might just have learned what an adjusted point of view could do. Actually, I guess she did. And maybe I'll stop rolling my eyes so much, because well... who knows what I'll be like at 43 =)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Living Dangerously

What are the terms? Boundaries, balance, American Academy of Pediatrics reccommendations... So many choices how to guide my life decisions, and our decisions for babygirl.

Facing fear seems to be a topic God is working on with me recently.

My first big scary thing, putting babygirl to bed at night in her crib. Thats where the AAP comes in. She isn't six month yet, officially it is safer for her to sleep in our room. But, our room is small. She is too big for the basinet, and 2 out of the 3 of us sleep much better with her in her own room. The 1 out of 3 is me. All my life I've struggled with fear at night, when I wasn't in control. As a child at night I was afraid of fire, storms, robbers... now I get to add the fear of my child ceasing to breath, besides the danger of fire, storms, and burglers who might now decide to become kidknappers. It was so much easier to cacoon the three of us in our room. Where I could see her from my bed, could grab her in a second if necessary. When I wake up at 3am feeling the need to make sure she is OK, God has been teaching me to trust Him. His eyes see more clearly. His hands are faster and stronger than mine.

So He is setting me up for challenge number 2. There are people out there. People who need Him. People who I hear Him calling me to care for. There is a family who I already love but I'm not sure I can trust. These are real people, who really need God. But they could be dangerous. My mind works, It is not just me to consider. I have an innocent little one. What if because of them something would happen to baby girl? Shouldn't I protect her keep her safe. I ask these questions, but my heart calls out God's answer. He is able to protect her, keep her safe. But he desires to use us, including babygirl, to make others safe for eternity. God's call is to live sacrificially, to visit the prisoners, the sick, people who are dangerous.

As I ponder these things, yesterday God added another layer. I may be contemplating the danger of crib suffocation, or loving people with difficult histories. But I am sure very few Northern IL students were pondering the dangers of attending geology class, yet that was the most dangerous day in there life. It often takes tragedy to teach the true meaning of protection. It is not in the caccoon that we can try to build around ourselves and our children's lives, but in the safety of our souls held securely in God's hands. For neither death nor life... nor anything else in creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord! {Romans 8:38,39}

Monday, February 4, 2008

A heart that knows Him...

A song popped into my head today, one I hadn't heard in a long time. The amazing thing is that it is the same song that became a lifeline for me, 6 years ago today.

Six years ago today I was awakened by a phone call from my dad in NY to tell me my nephew had been born in Georgia. My dad could barely hold in his proud delight. I got all the vital statistics, expressed my delight, hung up the phone, took a deep breath, and tried to hold back a torrent of tears.

You see, it should have been me. I was supposed to have the first grandchild. My 4th anniversary was just a few weeks away. My brother and his wife had only just past the 15 month mark. While they were celebrating the arrival of a baby they had not planned and weren't particularly prepared for, I was grieving the failure of my last cycle of infertility treatments. I wanted to be happy with them. But it was so hard when their joy just seemed to highlight my pain.

Lying on my bed I silently cried to God for help. Immediately the song came to me. I hadn't heard it in years:

...And a heart that knows You
is a heart that can wait
Die to the dearest desire
...And a heart that knows You
Is a heart that can still celebrate
Following love through the fire

It is a Twila Paris song I used to listen to a lot in college. And that day the words seemed to be written just for me. I dug out the tape, and played it in my car on the way to work. There were more words that touched my heart and gave me hope. "... it may be for my sake just to help me grow, maybe for your kingdom Lord, I don't need to know."

That day was a turning point. Oh I still stuggled, almost constantly for months and off and on for years. But I remembered those words and somehow it brought me great hope, that "I didn't need to know."

This morning, I was awakened by babygirl's laughter and chattering. As baby girl and I cozied in for her breakfast that song came to me again. It was then that I realized the date, and that I was in the very same place, lying on my bed. Only this time my dearest desire was in my arms. I had waited. I had followed love through the fire, I had reached the blessing on the other side. I still can't say that I know just why God took me through this trial, but it doesn't seem to matter right now. Right now life is filled with easy joy. Celebration is spontaneous.

But I know that as long as I remain in this world, someday there will be another fire. Another time when I will be called to celebrate through my own tears. I pray that experiencing this blessing on the other side will help me to persevere with more strength than I had before. And I am so thankful for the song that reminds me I don't need to know why, I just need to know Him.

{"A Heart That Knows You" is from the album by the same title, by Twila Paris, 1992.}

{Another note: I found out later on that Twila Paris had also experienced years of involuntary childlessness. Although the song does not speak directly about infertility, it was such a "God thing" to realize that this song really may have been written just for someone like me.}

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Humble Man

I have been thinking about something all week and just needed to write it out.

Last Sunday we went to a visitation. A friend's husband died in an accident. It was sudden, unexpected, so sad. We arrived at the visitation about 5 minutes before it started. We waited in line two and a half hours before we got to talk to our friend. There were well over 1,000 people waiting to offer their condolences.

As we waited two women walked by talking. One was younger (late teens, 20's?) The other was an older women who worked at the church. I couldn't quite hear what the younger woman asked, but could see the amazement on her face. I clearly heard the older woman's response, "No, he was just a humble man who was loved by many." Those words sunk in, they have been rolling around my thoughts. What an aspiration, to be humble and loved.

I have imagined what the younger woman might have asked. Was he famous? Was he important? Certainly it must have been something like that. Maybe he was rich? powerful? To have touched so many lives, that he would be missed by thousands. But no, he dispatched school busses and raised pigs. He touched people in the everyday.

It is so easy to desire to become "known". We want to be remembered for our accomplishments, our abilities. It is so easy to forget that it is our humble everyday that touches people most. In our quest for a life of significance, it is easy to forget that it is things like kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness, and faithfulness that leave a lasting legacy.

A famous movie star died at the same time. In twenty years I might vaguely recognize his name from some old movie. But in twenty years I am sure I will clearly remember the "humble man who was loved by many."

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." Galations 5:22-23a

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Guess I'll probably never get my PhD...

Or a Masters degree for that matter. I recently found a high school friend through cyberspace. It was so fun to reconnect with her. She is working on her PhD in biology. Every once in a while I google some high school friends to see if I can find them. One has a PhD in physics, the other has one in computer engineering. These were the people who I hung out with. It's funny I did really well in high school. I love academics. I was voted "most likely to succeed". I was not just expected to go to college because that is what one does, I was expected to go because I was "really smart".

But what did I really want? I wanted to be a wife and mom. This option was not on the horizon when I graduated high school. So I went to college and got my BSPT. I'm glad I did. My physical therapy degree has been a gift from God. I have loved serving my patients and touching their lives. Also, I would not have met my husband if I hadn't come out here for college. But, I could have done more. I had the brains to go on, I could have gotten a PhD.

Finding my friend made me reflect on this. I liked being a brain. I liked school. I liked being known for how smart I was. It would be fun to be Dr. Debbie. I even had the fleeting thought of looking at the listings of the Masters programs at the nearby University.

Then I had to look at myself and say "What are you thinking?" I have a beautiful 5 month old babygirl. One who I waited 9 years for. In some ways waited all my life for. It is hard to leave her for the 4 hours a week that I occasionally work when she is having fun with grandpa or auntie. Why would I want classes and homework and lab time? Why would I want to miss out on so much?

I think in some ways it is pride that fuels those fleeting desires. If I had those letters after my name people would remember that I'm smart. I wouldn't be "just a mom". People would be impressed.

But, it is also the joy of learning and discovery. I love to learn new things. I enjoy change. One of the hardest part of my infertility years was that I felt stagnant. Nothing was changing, I went to the same job day in day out. Came home to the same house. It appeared I could be doing that forever. When I went to a class for work or got involved in a good Bible Study I felt that energy of learning, changing.

Now I realized that God has provided perfectly. I want to be here for babygirl, and since she won't be grown up untill I'm in my 50's, I don't think I'll be getting that degree. My pride will not be fed. I will just have my little secret, "I'm really smart y'know". I must learn to find my significance in being a child of God, and doing what He has given me, not what will most impress others. But the joy of learning and discovery! Oh wow! Meet my babygirl. I learn new things everyday. And can look forward to 18 years of us both growing and discovering.

Yes, I could be researching the intricacy of cellular transport. But reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" and pondering the the intricacy of how babygirl's retina and inner ear are translating the concept of yellow duck to be applied to the color of sunshine and daffodils, is just as intellectually stimulating and a lot more fun. Yes, I could be teaching motor learning theory to college students. But applying it by practicing "so big" with babygirl produces giggles and precious memories, and she doesn't ask if this will be on a test.

So to my educated friends with advanced degrees. I am truly happy for your pursuit of knowledge. I know God can use it in great ways.

But I will be not just satisfied, but truly overjoyed to be pursuing my knowledge with a research partner who babbles and drools, and celebrates new finds with smiles and laughter.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why a blog? Who am I?

Why? Sometimes I just have things I want to say. I've been blessed by what others have to say as I've navigated through blogs of friends and linked to others. It is a fascinating form of communication, being able to share with others alike and different through this screen. Finding someone who lives far away who sees things like you... Finding someone who has the advantage of a different perspective who opens your eyes... Having the opportunity to see God working outside of my limited sphere of daily life.

Who? Well first and foremost I'm a child of the King. I'm also a wife, and finally a mom after long years of struggle to become one. I'm a physical therapist too. Its a job I love, but do sparingly because I love being home with my baby girl more. I'm tall, talkative, and like to teach. In high school I was known as a brain. I'm a former northeasterner who has become a midwestern farmgirl.

Maybe no one will read what I have to say. Maybe someone will learn or be touched through my thoughts. Either way it is an opportunity to "say what I want to say" to more than just my 5 month old. Welcome!