Nov 16, 2011

The Greatest of These is Love

My husband has this specific message that he's believed in ever since we met. (In fact, hearing him talk about it at the Baptist Student Union devotion time was what first drew me to him!) It's a simple message that has such a profound impact: love.

It's a message that he was blessed to share with about 30 youth last Friday evening at a lock-in (hosted by our friends, Brian and Laura Leigh). How if you say you love God but hate your brother, you're a liar. If you don't love according to 1 Corinthians 13, you don't really love. (And, yes, we all fail in that area because we aren't perfect, but this is our standard.) And this love is not just found in 1 John or 1 Corinthians but throughout the Bible. In fact, my husband firmly believes that the Bible is nothing but God saying He loves us and wants a relationship with us. And I can't help but see the same theme.

This morning, for example, I read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. From chapter 5 to chapter 7, there's a theme that I noticed. Can you guess what it is? Yep...love! "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also...If you remember that your brother has a complaint against you, go make it right...Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy...Blessed are you when men persecute you and spitefully revile against you for My sake...Judge not that you be not judged, for in the manner that you judge you yourself shall be judged..."

In this, Jesus' first message to, well, anyone (as far as we know), He makes it clear that the difference between the Judaic law and the Christian "law" is love. Love is what makes Jesus the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. I have heard and even said many times that the difference between the two is the heart in which something is done...but if it isn't done in love, is it really done with the right heart?

I think that's what the real difference between the Pharisees and Jesus was. They were doing lists of things because they looked right, but Jesus did all of His actions out of love.

The lists of things to do, items to check off, they're nothing without love. Isn't that what Paul was saying?
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
We could easily say, "If I read my Bible, pray for others, go to church and Sunday School, if I lead the women's ministry and volunteer to lead every youth event, if I visit the homeless and the shut-ins and give half of my salary to the church but have not love, I am nothing."

Yes, it looks good on paper. It looks great to everyone at church and in the community. But to God? Paul once again says it best.
"...If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ..." (Philippians 3:4-8).
When Paul says that he counts these great things that he has done as rubbish, he means the very lowest form of crap. (Sorry to be crass, but the actual word used here in the Greek? Well, it's the most vulgar form of the word "poo" you can get...) These things that we do, that we strive for? Compared to knowing Christ, they are rubbish.

And when we don't do them out. of. love, they are worthless.

It boils down to this: if we love God, we will love our brothers (and sisters). And if we love God, we will serve Him out of love, not fear or duty.

How are you showing love today?

Sharing my heart this morning over at Ann's.

Nov 10, 2011

The Gracious Struggle

I've been getting blessed out of my socks for the past 2 days from reading the Compassion bloggers in Ecuador. (Twitter hashtag #cbec) If you haven't checked them out, I suggest you do. And be prepared. Tissues, your Bible, a journal to write down thoughts...

It's life-changing, heart-wrenching, and eye-opening. All of it. From reading about God's great grace He gives to a pig farmer from Canada to the grace He gives to an Ole Miss fan from Alabama. And every picture, every thought in between.

Still I'm caught in the struggle between, "We don't have the money," and, "We have so much stuff." Most of it was accumulated over time or given to us by many generous people at Abby's baby showers. (She has several outfits that she never wore. I kid you not.) What do we need? What can we sell? Send? Give?

I'm still not sure. And this has been mulling through my mind for over a year. Maybe I'm a slow learner, but I do know this: God is calling me to something beyond this American mindset. To something more than over-indulgence. As Ann pointed out this morning, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49 (emphasis Ann's)

I don't want to be guilty of not helping the poor and needy.

That's what I keep coming back to. That and the fact that even with a very low salary, even with our missing bills left and right, we're still richer than most people in the world today. We have so much, so much. And why can't we give?

I'm ashamed to admit that we could sponsor a child. If we got rid of the Internet and Netflix. And when I look at the faces of the hurting and the poor, that's all I want to do. But I also know this: sponsoring a child, for us, is something that we have to commit to. There's no turning back. And some months, we can't pay our Internet or Netflix bill on time.

So I pray. I wait. And I'm yearning for the day when God opens up a way for us to sponsor a child. Or two. Or ten. When He allows for us to help in a tangible way. And, oh, I hope it comes soon!

If you would like to sponsor a child through Compassion, you can click here for more info.

Nov 7, 2011

Counting Gifts Today...Because I Need the Reminder...

Today? Ugh...I'd rather not talk about today.

I had another meltdown. (Let's see...that makes at least one every day for the past week...) I think it might be stressed-induced. Because I've been stretched thin. Because I've been concerned about our financial state. I know the verses, and I can sing the songs, but it. is. hard.

It's hard when your ideas of how things should be come crashing down. Again. It's hard when things seem to be falling apart. For real. Even our hot water heater leaked last Monday...and it went into Abby's room. Our landlord had it repaired that day, but there's still damage to the room. (It stinks...and the carpet is somewhat stained.)

But I know that God is faithful, even when we don't feel like it. He is there, leading us and guiding us, even when we hurt. Even when we don't see it, He is there. And He is waiting to comfort us.

I spent some time with Him this afternoon. Some self-induced Mommy "Quiet Time Out" time. It was good. So very good. And I felt a huge sense of peace wash over me. I gave God all of the things I felt I needed or wanted to accomplish. And guess what? Some things got done. Others didn't. And we're okay. It's such a relief to type those words and to know they are true.

He is faithful. He has given us so very much. All I need to do is look...

Counting the gifts today...

long walks in the woods behind our house

seeing the pond my husband mentioned before

new car seat bought mostly with gift cards! 

moist pumpkin spice muffins from The Pioneer Woman YUM!

sweet smiles and kisses from Abby

hearing her belly laugh as she plays with her daddy

watching her grow up so quickly...waving bye bye, saying words like blue and book, trying to talk and walk already...

chatting with my #clothdiaper friends on Twitter

Drew taking care of me in just the right way when I need it most

Him taking Abby for me in the mornings/evenings so that I can relax

being in the top 5...and praying for God's will to be done

learning to praise Him "Even if..." (Dan. 3:16-18)

the hours and days that I feel aren't worth it...and the sweet look of total trust that says it is


figuring out that the striving isn't worth it...now if only I could live it!

coming back to this place. right here. and feeling at home. :)  

Nov 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Remember

It's been a while since I stopped and wrote out a Five Minute Friday...but in the stillness of this minute (or five...) I'm going to once again join Lisa-Jo and a host of other bloggers as we Remember...

Start!

It's been nearly 9 months. 9 beautiful, life-changing, never-wanna-go-back months. She's starting to pull herself along the furniture...been pulling up for a while now. She's a mess, and she gets into everything, but I'm loving every second of it!

But before that? It had been almost 2 years. Since the heartache and the hurt and the anger and the pain. Since the first miscarriage that went on to two. Since God drew me close when I felt so far and allowed me a glimpse into the sufferings His Son went through...and that fellowship sustains me even now.

And today? Today, this week, I celebrate five wonderful years of getting to know the man I now call husband and who my daughter calls Daddy. Five years of hurt and anger at times and love and understanding, better-than-happily-ever-after at others. Five years of being goofy and turning right around and having a deep, theological discussion because that's how we roll, y'all. Five years of getting to know each other better...and I can't wait to see where this road takes us.

Life...good and bad. Life...worth remembering.

Stop!

And just because I feel like it (read: because I can and want to...) I'm going to leave you with a picture that I want to remember every year from now on...

Abby, Daddy, Mommy, and Aunt Shea at the Pumpkin Patch

Nov 2, 2011

He Numbers Our Wanderings...

You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? 
                                                                                                                                         Psalm 56:8

So often it can feel like God isn't listening. That He doesn't hear us or care about what we're going through. This is especially true when we're in the wilderness, the desert, the valley, or in the midst of suffering. We easily, readily believe the lie that we're not good enough. That we aren't loved.

It's so easy to think, "If God loved me, then..." 

Things would be easier. 

Life would be kinder. 

Only the evil people would suffer. 

But He does love us. And often the times when we hurt the most are the times when we draw closer to Him and grow deeper in our relationship with Him. 

"For we know that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

They may not feel good. They may be incredibly painful. But we can rest knowing that they will work together for good.

The blessed promise in all of this is that He numbers our wandering and keeps our tears in a bottle. He hasn't forgotten us. Me. You. No, He numbers our wanderings. He keeps our tears. He is there with you today. Will you rest in that? That He knows where you are, that you have been crying to Him, and that He will make it work for good?

Oct 31, 2011

Grace Sufficient for Me

It's been a few weeks since I've been on here. I've been trying to spend more time offline lately, and when I am on, I gravitate towards Sisters 'N Cloth. But my heart wants to share all of the things on my mind...and that's only possible here. Well, not only possible, but I feel safer here.

Anyway...

We've been getting by lately. Drew is still looking for a part-time position that will help pay our bigger bills. So far, either God has made it impossible for certain jobs to go through (applications only on Internet and Drew couldn't get the online application to work) or Drew has felt such a strong feeling of, "NO! This isn't right!" that he hasn't applied. I even held a job for a day. Then quit because I didn't have a peace about it (read: I was freaking out so badly that I couldn't eat).

We've been looking, searching, and praying for a job. We've also had our faith tested more than once (okay, it's more of an ongoing thing.) We've seen God pull through and work miracles. Not always in the way we'd like, but they're miracles nonetheless.

For example, Abby has needed more diapers. My sister-in-law bought a box of diapers for $20...and there were some girly prints that she passed on to Abby and me. As well as a one-size cover. And a wool cover. And lots of inserts. I had been praying for God to provide them...but I never expected so very much!!

Another example is that Abby has needed clothes. In her size. Not only did I have a friend from college send me several outfits, but my mom also bought her some sweet outfits this past weekend. (Of course, we totally skipped the 6-9 month outfits, but I'm ok with that!)

Needless to say, though we've been worried and scared and stressed, He has been faithful.

This morning, we found that our water heater has been leaking. Probably for a while. And now Abby's carpeted floor is soaked. But we called the maintenance man. And hopefully we won't have to replace the water heater. And God once again showed us His grace and His mercy because the wires to the water heater had been in standing water...

Logically, we should have been fried. But the only "damage" done has been the soaked carpet and wet clothes/shoes that were in the closet. God is so gracious!! Once again, I'm amazed at His love and His care.

Just an hour or so ago, I was worried about damage and the repairs...about how could we even begin to expect them to fix it when we can't pay rent...and now I'm just thankful to be alive!

Perspective really does change our attitude.

I know I'm rambling (and it's pretty bad, too), but I guess what I'm getting at is that though we are faithless, He remains faithful. When we're scared, He already has a plan in place. When we fall, He not only watched us but He's waiting to pick us back up again. He already knows that we don't have it all together...so why do we hide it from Him? He knows our weakest points and our strongest. That's why He says that His grace is sufficient, for His strength is made perfect in weakness.

May I always be reminded of my weaknesses...

Sep 26, 2011

Whom do You Follow?

Something in the Christian church has been plaguing my heart lately. Something small, almost insignificant; something some would say isn't an issue at all.

But I have to wonder: have we so focused our beliefs on Jesus that we have excluded God?

I see it in the hymns we sing: What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Soon and Very Soon, Since I Have Been Redeemed. I hear it in the words that are preached. I even see it in the way that we (I?) think. How often have you heard the question, "How could a loving God ___?" We see Jesus' compassion, His love, and forget the rest of the Trinity. That Jesus is only part of God, that He is not synonymous with God, and that God is full of wrath.

I see it so often in the words my friends type online: Jesus is the King, Jesus is so good, would Jesus really want for you to do such and such?

Yes, Jesus is integral to the relationship we have with God. If it weren't for Him, we would never be good enough to enter Heaven. But.

Jesus is NOT the fullness of God. Yes, in Him the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col. 2:9), but to worship Jesus to the exclusion of the other two-thirds of the Trinity? That's where the danger lies.

God encompasses so much more than Jesus and His earthly ministry. Even His heavenly ministry. God encompasses the beginning of time itself, the harsh punishment He gave to Adam and Eve, the exile of Cain, the destruction of the world as it was with the flood, the annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah, the harsh and even cruel punishments of the nations that He chose to punish through the Israelites. God also encompasses the Spirit's work in the prophets, in certain men from the Old Testament, and in our lives today. The boldness to speak what we should, the words He gives us for a hurting friend...these are not done by the work of Jesus but of God the Father and God the Spirit.

Call me a heretic, but I believe that giving Jesus more credit than He is due is just as damaging to the church as saying that Jesus is nothing more than an angel, a brother to Satan. Call me a heretic, but I believe that this slight distortion can be just as damaging, if not moreso, to the church as Gnosticism was and has been. Call me a heretic, but I think we need to see a change.

We need to see the Bible as it stands as a whole, not just the New Testament. We need to view the Bible as one letter from one God who happens to have 3 parts. And we need to make sure our speech makes it clear that we not only follow Christ but that we also (and more importantly) follow God, the Trinity, the whole Person of the Godhead. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25 (NASB, emphasis mine)

Sep 24, 2011

What sort of people ought you to be?

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 2 Peter 3:11-12

I've been reading the New Testament, specifically any non-Pauline letters. I think a lot of times, we read and hear what Paul wrote while we neglect the rest of the New Testament or even the Old Testament. I read the passage above today, and it's been weighing heavily on my mind.

What sort of people should we be?

After all, this world is fading. It will be burned one day, along with everything we've accumulated. Wealth, power, prestige, success...even "good" things like clothes, computers, food, shelter. All of this? This that we've gained while on earth? It's going  to be burned. To ashes. Pointless.

How will we have affected this world? The people in it? What will the fires show at the end of the world? Were we caring? Genuine? Did we love our enemies? Did we bless them who cursed us? Did we show love and compassion to the lost and hurting, or did we just skim over their needs?

I'm often humbled with the knowledge that even though my husband is without a job, we're still wealthier than most of the people in this world. Tonight, I read this post that challenged that thought even further. I encourage you to read it (bring tissues!) I also encourage you to pray and ask yourself if your possessions have a hold on you. If so, pray for a new perspective. If they don't, then what is keeping you from sharing, from giving the least of these your all?

It's a hard question which I don't know the answer to. For myself. For our family. For the world.

Sep 23, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Growing

Linking up again with Lisa-Jo for the most freeing 5 minutes known to this blogger. :) Yes, I'm actually taking the time this week for Five-Minute Friday!

You know the drill: Write for 5 minutes on the topic (Growing) with no editing. Just writing what comes from the heart without looking for perfection.

Go!

Growing can be painful. It can cause stretchmarks on a pregnant belly and late night pains on a growing teenager. Scars, broken bones, stitches...all come from growing.

But the end result can be breathtaking!

I'm reminded of the Greek meaning for humility (one of my husband's favorite illustrations). The word literally comes from the idea of breaking a wild horse in. Of learning to use the strength and prowess for more than just yourself. God teaches us to control what He has given us through, well, growing.

Through the trials and the sufferings, through the hard times in the valleys. He teaches, strengthens, and humbles us so that He can use us better.

We've been in a growing season lately. Lately as in the past few years. Yes, it's only gotten harder. But God has also shown Himself in ways that we never would have dreamed possible. And as we've grown spiritually, we've also grown closer to our gracious God, who gives us all that we need in ways we could not have imagined.

Stop!

What about you? How has God shown you His grace as He grows and humbles you?

Sep 18, 2011

Today we met with the search committee again. Which is amazing simply because this morning was rough.

Abby woke up at 6. Drew had a headache/sinus pressure that kept him in bed. And I was up earlier than I have been in a while. Abby finally went back to sleep...right before we left for church. And didn't get her nap out until, oh, around 4. PM.

Thankfully, even with the hiccups, the meeting went well. In fact, I'd say it went very well. We're waiting to hear back from them right now.

Of course, this being a small country church, there isn't a lot of money in it. And even though we aren't in it for the money by any means, we know that it will still take a certain amount to keep us on our feet. (We don't know exactly how much he would be making right now if he did accept the job. We just know that there isn't a lot of money in it.) So, essentially, we would begin praying for another job to supplement, whether it's something for me to do or for him to do.

I'm so thankful today for His grace-gifts. This morning, while I was taking a shower, Great is Thy Faithfulness came to my mind. Then we sung it in church. Then it played on the classical Pandora station. To me, it's obvious that it was meant for me today. To revel in the fact that He is faithful, that His mercies are new every morning, that He gives "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow." That no matter how dark, how lonely life may seem, He is there. He is faithful. He is good. And He knows exactly where we are. He has blessed us beyond measure, and I realize that more and more each day that passes. He has given us so much, we who have so very little to give. And He doesn't expect for us to give Him anything but our love in return. 

 From Lamentations 3:
22 The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
     For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
   “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

Sep 15, 2011

What Happened Last Night

Meeting with the church last night went very well! We really enjoyed talking with the youth, and we even had a blast with the youth search committee! We're going to be visiting the church on Sunday and talking with the search committee afterwards again.

When we got home last night, both Drew and I felt really good about the prospect of being the youth minister there. It's a small youth group with an age gap between 7th and 8th graders and college-aged kids. But we know that we could very well leave a good foundation for them, which is exciting.

The other possible problem is that it is a part-time position. More than likely, Drew will need to get another job to fill in the gaps.

Your prayers are coveted as we seek God's will.

On another note, this morning, I woke up to another grace-gift: my morning glory vines, which have never had more than 2 flowers or 1 color bloom at the same time, had 7 blooms with both colors!! God is truly gracious and loving, and I'm so thankful that He cares enough for me to show me His love when I'm feeling especially down.

Thank you all for your prayers, your love, and your support. It means so very much to me.

Sep 14, 2011

Life Right Now: Drew has an Interview!!

I have some great news! Drew has an interview tonight!!

It's a part-time position as a youth minister, so it won't cover all of our financial needs. But it's a start! And it also happens to be with the age group that we both have a passion for! This position does have the potential to become full-time, too.

I'm also thankful that it's at a church nearby. We won't have to move! And we can coordinate events with the youth minister that Drew interned under for a couple of years!

Now, while I'm excited about this opportunity, I'm not going to lie: I'm also concerned about where we are now. Our daughter is actually getting to the end of her extensive wardrobe (for some reason, we didn't receive a lot of clothes after 6 months), and she is also outgrowing some of her cloth diaper covers. It's just been a lot lately, period, and to add these smaller things on top of it overwhelms. And while I have been doing fairly well, I tend to avoid it until I'm crushed under the weight of it all. Which is where I am now. I will say that at least God has been good to let my husband and I take turns with being overwhelmed. But I digress.

I want to thank each of you for your prayers and your sweet comments. It really does mean a lot to me.

Sep 8, 2011

A Note About Life Right Now and the God Who Can Handle It!!

I've been keeping certain aspects of my life hidden from this blog, choosing instead to put my more inspired thoughts here. Well, things are not going as we had hoped. Not at all.

But I've come to realize something incredibly important: if I hide all of what God does in my life, then I am hiding the things that I should praise Him for. I'm hiding His goodness, His grace. Even in the hard times, when I feel like nothing is going the way it should.

Right now, my husband is without at job once more. This, by the way, is the third or fourth time in a year. (I've lost count, to be honest...) This is the fourth or fifth month (depending on how you look at things) that husband has been without a job in the past year. And we're leaning completely on God to provide for us. Totally.

We've talked about it I don't know how many times, but we both agree that my role is to stay at home and take care of the house and our daughter. I don't know exactly what I can do from home to help (I'm not a salesperson, and I don't take time to do crafts, even though I hoard them on Pinterest!) I don't know if I should do something from home to help.

We're currently praying, seeking God's face, asking Him to show us where He would have us. We're waiting on miracles, and He has already provided one. One that should help us pay a couple of bills and keep food on the table and gas in our truck for a little longer, anyway. I'm not going to lie: we're also hurting. I'm not going to go into details, but we're being hurt from several people that we trusted. And my husband is also upset because though we've been trying to follow God, we are getting no where. Fast. It's enough of an effort to keep food on the table, much less clothes on our backs.

I've been holding onto the verses in Luke 12 that speak of God clothing the lilies and feeding the sparrows. That He loves us so much more than they. That He will provide for our needs, that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians). Reminding myself that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah). That He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalms), and maybe He'll sell one for us?

All that I ask is that you would pray for us. Just for a minute. I'll be updating how God is working as it happens (or at least shortly thereafter).

Let me be clear on a couple of things: I do not believe that God is punishing us or that if we just had more faith, He would move. I also do not believe that He will take care of us because all He wants to do is bless us. I do fully believe that He is testing us, trying us, and working in our lives through this hurt in order to bring glory to Himself and to prune us. If I see any comments that say otherwise, I reserve the right to delete them on the spot.

Sep 1, 2011

Five-Minute Friday: Rest

Linking up with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama again today! I forget how much these short posts really do re-energize me until I do them. :)

Five minutes, without worrying about being perfect. Just creativity flowing. Ahh...

This week's topic is rest. How. Appropriate!

Go!

Rest. What is that, exactly? I honestly don't know. But I do know this.

Rest isn't when you're half-crazed, trying to round up the things you need for a third week away from home.

Rest isn't when you're once again in the van, listening to your baby cry because she wants to get out and play.

Rest isn't when your husband is frantically trying to find people who will sponsor the radio station he's managing.

Rest isn't when you're in a smoke-filled room for the third night in a row, wondering how on earth you'll ever get rid of that smell.

Rest isn't when you're left wondering why or how or when...it isn't when you're stressed beyond measure, trying to trust and have faith when everything is crashing around you. Again.

Rest?

Rest is reading scripture over and over again because, yes, Jeremiah gets it!

Rest is remembering that God loves, He hasn't forgotten, that He does all things for good.

Rest is the peace that steals in, unnoticed, amidst the chaos and stress, and lets husband and wife enjoy dancing when little one has gone to bed.

Has my life been restful lately? No. But He has led me to find rest anyway.

Stop! 

The grace and the craziness never stop flowing! :)



Aug 31, 2011

Plans and Pleas

Life is slightly crazy right now.

My husband and I are suddenly faced with no direction, no purpose, and no job. Our plans have failed, drastically. We believe that God is faithful, but I'm not going to lie: it's hard. Lamentations 3:21-24 hard.

Go read those verses. I'll wait here until you've finished reading them. Go!

I know that God has a plan, that He is faithful, and that He works all things to the good of them who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

But.

We're stressed beyond measure, hurting because of other things going on in life, and pouring out our hearts before Him right now.

That verse in Psalms about feeling like your bones are being crushed? Yeah...we're there.

So prayers would be appreciated. Very much appreciated.

Thank. You.

Aug 26, 2011

Five-Minute Friday: Older

She has light brown hair that's slowly getting fuller, though it's still thin. Every now and then, in the sunshine, you can see streaks of red, promises of a fiery spirit.

She has two teeth now...two! Just a month ago, she had none.

She looks over at strangers in the restaurants and gabs at them until they notice her, and her biggest smiles come when she's entertaining someone. She loves dancing with her Daddy and me, too. Music is still her favorite.

She's eating toddler snacks and raw fruits and veggies. She loves toast strips and hates naps. She's always on the move, and she's getting faster every day!

No, she isn't my baby anymore, but I don't want her to be. She's growing into her personality, and I love watching her blossom.

Older, yes. Sweeter, of course! More of a diva? You bet! And I'm loving every. single. minute. of it all! Well, except for when she fights her naps. ;)



Linking up with Lisa-Jo for Five-Minute Friday again! Join in on the fun! :)


Aug 23, 2011

Mommy Needs a Caffeine IV...

These days, it's sometimes all I can do to keep going. For realz.

I wonder if coffee could cure this exhaustion.

Yeah, it's that bad.

My husband finally has a good job that gives him awesome hours. Well, mostly awesome. Because in reality, it's an all-the-time gig. Radio station manager. Take that, Walmart!

He's pretty much always going, and since it's his job to get the station to a self-sustaining point, he's been stressed to the max for the past two weeks. Oh, and the commute it 3-4 hours away. Woot. Thankfully it's one he makes only once a week, but that also means that he's gone for 4+ days at a time.

I've been going with him, for obvious reasons. I mean, really, if I have the ability, I'm gonna stick with him!

Of course, Abby has been having "fun" while traveling. Ugh...and she's teething.

This adds up to tired daddy, tired baby, tired mommy...and a ransacked house that really needs cleaning. Especially since we're only here for a couple of days at a time anyway.

Which brings me to my point...


Anyone want to some over and help? Please?? 



Aug 12, 2011

Five-Minute Friday: Beauty

Such a timely topic! I have to say that these short posts are the highlight of my week. Just writing bits of my heart and learning how to say exactly what I mean the first time...it's both relaxing and therapeutic! :)

Again, in case you're new, Lisa-Jo has offered us bloggy folks the freedom of just writing, whether it sounds just right or not. Interested in writing your own FMF post? Check out The Gypsy Mama for more info!

Start!

There is beauty in the everyday, the routine, the set times and set activities. There is a simplistic, restful way about rhythms and predictability.

There is also beauty in the tragic, the times in life where our muscles are pulled from our bones and life hurts. So deep, so painful, and we wonder if there will ever be beauty again.

Times when this world takes its toll, times when life seems unbearable. When the hard, dark questions rise and the soul longs to know if there truly is beauty or if it's all just a facade.

I know so many people right now where their lives seem so dark, ugly, and beauty sounds like a myth. But this is the lie that we have heard and believed for so long. Just a lie.

Tomorrow shows what today truly held, and in the midst of suffering, torment, hurt, and anguish, the soul is made pure, beautiful, and whole. The refiner's fire hurts, burns, and seems to steal away the beauty, but in reality the impurities are being scraped away and what is left is more beautiful than anyone could have ever imagined.

Photo Credit: http://nashikchandi.com/images/SilverMaking.jpg


Stop! 

Let me leave you with this thought: no matter where your life seems to be right now, beautiful or ugly, remember that God is faithful, and He is always making us into His Son's beautiful image.


Aug 11, 2011

Carried

She's quiet and content while I wrangle up some laundry. While I spray liquid allergy relief on sofas and pillows and beds and carpet. I sense her drifting off, her body slowly relaxing while I stay busy. Then I realize her head is down, her body quietly inhaling and exhaling. I grab some soup, some nourishment, and sit down for just a bit.

I feel her. Her still frame, her hot breath, completely at peace, at ease.

She sleeps on my back, in a baby carrier. Completely oblivious to all the things I'm doing, to all of the movements that my busy hands make. But she knows I'm there. She rests in perfect peace.

How is it that I am her rock? How is it that fragile, floundering me can possibly be her encouragement, her strength?

She wakes, balks a bit at the snugness, then gives in to rest, to sleep, again.

How often do I balk at the too-tight closeness of God? How often do I balk at His mercy, His love, His peace, only to finally give in to rest?

She will wake, will balk, will want put down. Or I will tire out from holding her and need my own rest. I lose patience, grow weary, and crave rest. For time on my own. Why do I balk at the One who wants to carry me? Balk at the One who can give me rest, grace, peace when I need it? All the time?

She doesn't know God. She knows me. She knows her Mama and her Daddy. When we forget peace, when we decide we don't want to listen or to do, she learns to balk from Him. To struggle and fight instead of lean in and rest.

It's such a humbling thought: she learns who God is from us. She learns how to perceive God from how we teach about Him.

Am I ready to teach her, show her God? I know that I'll never be ready if I'm trying to be perfect. But can I teach her to trust, to be humble, to rely and lean on Him? Can I teach her about faith, about love, about peace?

The only way I can teach is by acting it out. Daily. Hourly. Every moment will be taken into consideration, every act of mine will influence her walk with Him. Am I ready? I'll never be.

Unless...

I learn to lean and rest. Trust in the Everlasting Arms. Under the wing of the Almighty. In the safety of Him.

After all, He carries us.

Abby being carried in my fancy-schmancy Ergobaby

Aug 10, 2011

Why Two?: Thoughts on this Downpour of Love

I have heard it time and again, but it never stops resonating within my soul.

"Why were we given two?"

Why, indeed. Why am I blessed beyond measure, with countless joys coming from this little girl? Why me, when my own heart, my life, is wretched, cursed with sin? Why so much beauty, why so much joy, when my life should be nothing but sorrow, hurting, grieving over the loss and the pain?

Why did God choose to heal my hurts, be a balm for my wounds, and cure the ache within me?

Surely, it's nothing short of love. It's nothing short of miraculous.

Why would He choose to love me?

But He does. And His gifts, His love, His miraculous care for me never ceases to astonish and amaze.

I cannot escape it, nor would I want to. At times, I wish that I could go back to the girl who walked that long, dark road, but I know that I would not have listened. I would not have heard. Because God was working, slowly, surely, inside of me. I know that those dark days molded and shaped me into something I never could have imagined. Into something breathtakingly beautiful. Beauty from ashes. Life from death.

So many days, I just accept it all as is. I forget the blessings, accepting it all as normal, part of my days.

When, really, my life is nothing short of miraculous. The fact that I woke up this morning, the very breath in my lungs, my amazing husband who is so very good to me, and my beautiful, smart, active daughter who teaches me so much every day. Why was I given even one? Why am I blessed with all?

It's a question that I can never be fully satisfied with.

And my only solution?

To thank. To be thankful, grateful, every day that I am given. In the storms, in the rain, in the sun, in the hurricane, and in the breeze.

Thanking for the good and the hard, the easy and the difficult. For reminders that I do not deserve one, much less two. For the two and the three and the multitude of blessings. For the ever-flowing waterfall of love and mercy. For the never-ceasing molding and shaping and conforming to His image.

For the tools of sanctification and the outrageous downpours of grace.

Abby and her cousin, Aaron, on Mimi
Sweet moments with my Little Girlie  

My sweet girl and I

Such a beautiful daughter, and I'm so very humbled by it all!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!!

Aug 6, 2011

Can a Woman Forget her Nursing Child?

In case you missed the memo, this past week was World Breastfeeding Week. I'm not going to go into all of the reasons why it's great or why I love it. Not even on factoid! (Seriously, I promise!) I did want to share this post that I wrote for my (ultra-time-consuming) other blog, Sisters 'N Cloth. (The one where I would readily post facts and reasons, if you're into those.) So without further ado, my post for this past week's Worship Wednesday. 


"Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    or lack compassion for the child of her womb?
    Even if these forget,
    yet I will not forget you."
Isaiah 49:15


Because it happens to be World Breastfeeding Week, this verse seems fitting. But because of other events this week, it seems even more fitting.

Melissa introduced me almost two months ago to a little baby, born almost 8 weeks ago with Trisomy 18. This little boy, Tate, lived for over 7 weeks with this genetic disease, defying so many odds. When his mother went in to have her 6 week checkup, her doctor mentioned that it must be hard for her to make the visit. She was amazed to find out that, no, this checkup was not difficult because her boy was still alive. Yes, he is gone now. But Tate has touched countless lives with his and his mother's and father's testimony. They trusted in God to heal their boy, and He did heal him to the fullest when He brought Tate home with Him in Heaven. But not only did God heal Tate, He also allowed for him to be loved, cherished, and nurtured by his family for over 7 wonderful weeks. God is so good! Tate went home to Heaven on Saturday, carried by many prayers.

Another baby, Everett, never saw the light of day. His mother went for another checkup just after his due date in February and found that he had already died. She delivered him the next day and has carried him in her heart since. Her pregnancy had been completely normal, no complications whatsoever. Nothing at all even hinted that something could go wrong. But when it did, she and her husband fell in God's embrace, constantly reminding themselves of God's goodness, His mercy, and His love. It's been five months since they buried their son, and they are rejoicing today because, in God's great love, He has given them another baby. And while they are so cautious, they can still rest in Him, knowing that He loves them and that every day with this baby is a gift.

There are so many times in life when it feels like God has abandoned us. There are wars, famines, hurts, death, and it seems that God couldn't be in them. That He must not love us enough or He would do something about it. We may think, "Babies dying? Come on, God, how is that just? How is it right when their parents are faithful? You have a twisted sense of justice..." But the verse above? Remember what it says? Even if it were possible for these mothers who have lost their children, the children of their wombs, God would still not forget us!



I pray that as you nurse your child this week, that you will remember the great love that God has for each one of us. As far-fetched as it may seem, He loves us more than the love you have for your child. Even as you nurse. And that, my friend, is pretty spectacular.

If you'd like to read more about Tate's story and learn how to pray for his family, you can visit his mother's blog here. To read Everett's story from the "start," you can visit his mother's blog here, or if you'd like to read her announcement post and rejoice with her, you can read it here.


Aug 5, 2011

Five Minute Fridays: Whole

I have been woefully neglecting this little blog. I hate how inconsistent I've become with it, but I also know that this is a growing and a stretching of myself. Hopefully I will be able to come back more regularly soon, but until then, I believe that Five-Minute Fridays may be my best bet at staying sort of regular. :)

This week's Five Minute Friday topic is whole. Five minutes, no editing, no worrying about how right it sounds or how creative (or not) it is. Just writing to write...and then sharing the writing love with fellow bloggers.

Start!

Whole? What is whole?

I, for one, have had fleeting moments when I have felt whole. I've been nit-picked, hurt, and have felt very un-whole for so many days. Losing myself in the "what I'm not," forgetting the "what I am." Wholeness does not come easily for me.

But.

I am whole, I am complete in Christ. I am a new creation. And my wholeness is not found in what I say or do (or what I don't say or do). Wholeness is found in Christ. In grace.

I trust this, I believe this, but it still takes a lot of courage for me to be whole. For me to live this knowledge.

I'm working on it. Slowly working, slowly thanking, slowly becoming the woman I need to be. The woman He has made me. The woman He is making me.

Wholeness. Complete.

The circle starts again, mother bearing daughter. The circle is made whole. The girl is made woman. And the wholeness begins to fill.

I work at being whole for her. I work at this wholeness, laboring daily so that she may have life. Life. Wholly living on grace.

Stop!

Abiella, "God is My Father"

Jul 28, 2011

Five Minute Fridays: Still

Linking up with Lisa-Jo again today! For, wait for it...

Five-Minute Fridays!! 





This week's topic is still. And since the link isn't working yet, this should be fun. :)

Five minutes to just write, without worrying if it's just right or not. Five minutes to let my (somewhat) creative mind go free and enjoy whatever comes from my noggin.

Ready? Here we go!

Start!

Through the long days, the sometimes longer nights, through the mess and chaos that surrounds this thing called life, sometimes I can find myself, the person I've been in the middle of the person I've become.

I'm still the girl who would rather read and observe than act and participate. I'm still the girl who loves grammar jokes, puns, and smart humor. I'm still the girl who laughs quietly, shoulders shaking, with a huge smile.

Sometimes it's hard to find her. Amidst the mommy, the wife, the blogger...sometimes she gets a little lost. She forgets what it's like to be caught up in the pages of a good book, to write whatever is on her heart because it feels good to get it out, even to watch a favorite tv show just because.

But most times, if she can find a good cup of coffee, if she can find a new book to read, if she can spend just a few minutes writing down her heart, I see her. Still there in the stillness.


It's in the stillness, in the quiet, that she finds me, that we find Him, and that we realize we are the same person. Still.

Stop!

Jul 22, 2011

Five Minute Fridays: Full

I haven't been here in a while. It feels kinda nice to write a bit about whatever I want. In case you missed it, I've been blogging at Sisters 'N Cloth, and in between that and these crazy days, I've neglected this blog more and more.

While I'd like to say that I won't be as neglectful in the future, I really don't know if that's true. I'll try, that's for certain. Because I miss the warmth here. The freedom here. And, honestly? It's nice to be home.

Anyway, on to this week's Five Minute Friday topic: Full.

Go!

Oh, my days are full. Full of errands and cleaning, full of running after Little Miss Quick. (Yes, that sounds like Bisquick.)

Mostly, though, it's full of anticipation. Of wondering how and when God is going to lead. These days of wandering, of wilderness, they have an ending. They have an end. They are ending now. And we are so full of joy, of hope, of amazement at the wonder God is doing!

Even Little Bit is getting more and more excited. It shows in how fast she moves from right in front of me to the coffee table...and then over to the ottoman. My hands? They're so full right now with her. But they're full of good things.

My heart, too, rejoices in its fullness. Sometimes it threatens to spill over, this incredible, wonderful joy! God's promises are yes and amen! He never leaves, never forsakes, never abandons! He stays with us, even when we feel He certainly has left us. And when we look up and realize that He has always been there? Full doesn't even begin to describe it!

Full, overflowing, spilling over, dripping onto the floor, making huge puddles of joy...that's where we are right now, friends. Full indeed. :)

Stop!

It seems as though I really should update y'all on what's going on around here. :) Soon, I promise.

Jul 14, 2011

3 in 30: Starting to Plan

So...I have a problem. I'm a procrastinating perfectionist. Yes, it's true. We really do exist!

The place where this really shows up is in my housework. It's atrocious! And a routine or schedule? Yeah, there is none. Unless you count watching TV and staying online a routine. Then, yeah, I have one of those. 

I have tried schedules. I have tried lists. And guess what? None of them work for me. My perfectionism kicks in, and because I haven't done it just right, I freak out. I give up. And I let it go. Again.


I obviously have a problem with keeping up with a long, detailed schedule. I see this enormous mountain in front of me, and I have no clue how to scale it. So instead I plop back down on the couch, run around a couple of days a week trying to do a few things, and leave lots undone.

Or I'll start with a plan, keep it up for about a week, congratulate myself on a job well done, and then return to the couch for a day. But that day? It ends up being a week. A month. And I'm back where I started.

Enter the 3 in 30 Challenge.

3in30 I'm In!!


Apparently others have the same trouble: staying focused on goals and lists, eventually laying them by the wayside. What do they do? Break down lofty goals into three little goals per month. Bite-sized, easy to chew, doable goals!

So, instead of me saying, "I'm going to work on keeping the kitchen spotless every day, keeping the laundry cleared, and making sure that Abby has a bedtime schedule," I can say instead, "For this month, I'm going to work on keeping the dishes washed after each meal, giving Abby a bath every night, and reading my Bible in the morning." See how much easier that is? And guess what. If I don't "master" a goal this month, I can work on it next month too! No, I don't see this as a license to perpetually mess up but as a way of not beating myself up over it. (Being a procrastinating perfectionist, I can have some mean self-talk if I don't watch it! This gives me enough slack that I can shut myself up easily.)

I love the fact that I won't be alone in this. There's a Facebook group, a Twitter handle, a weekly blog linkup...there's definitely accountability! So even if I don't feel like doing it, the fact that there are hundreds of others behind me, encouraging me to keep pressing forward, will (hopefully!) help keep me motivated.

This month, for the rest of the month, and next month if needed, I'll be working on these three goals:
  1. Reading my Bible daily~attitude change
  2. Filling out my gift list daily~attitude change
  3. Giving Abby a bath every night~working on a schedule
There are so many goals that I want to accomplish, so much that I want to do. I want to clean my house more often. I want to get laundry done in a more efficient way. I want to have a daily routine for my family. I want to learn to cook better. And I'll get there, baby step by baby step.

3 in 30. 36 in 365. I can do that.

Jul 2, 2011

when grief comes to visit again

Grief. It's such a funny thing. You can go for days, weeks, months without it ever rearing its head.

And then, one day it pops up out of nowhere, leaving you hurt and angry and breathless all over again.

My babies. I will forever miss them, and I didn't even know them. Hardly knew they were even there. And yet they taught me the hardest lessons I have ever learned.

And today, I sit here thinking that I will never have anything but the vague memory that they were here. That the only thing I ever gave them was a name. And though they never called me Mama, they did bring to life my Mother's heart. Their short lives are filled with such paradoxes, the greatest being that my friends and family in Heaven know them better than I ever will while I live here on earth.

There are so many questions that I have, so many I'd love to ask that can't be answered. But even amidst the questions and the hurt, I know this: I am thankful for their lives. I am thankful for their deaths. Not because I don't miss them. Not because I've had a vision of them. I am thankful because without their deaths, Abby wouldn't be here today. Without their deaths, I would not be the woman I am. Without their deaths, I would not be nearly so anxious for Heaven.

Yes, I am thankful. Even when I don't understand why.

Jun 30, 2011

Sisters 'N Cloth

Dear Friends and Followers,

I am super excited to let you know that my sister-in-law and I have started our blog! And we have a giveaway open for you!! If you have time, please stop by Sisters 'N Cloth, read a bit about us, and maybe start following us there. We'd love to see you there!

Jeniffer

Jun 29, 2011

The Unveiling

I don't know if you're at all like me. If you read this fairly regularly, there must be something in yourself you see in me. Possibly. Maybe?

Which is odd. Because I've been hiding for years. From me. From everyone else. Because sometimes I really don't like who I am.

There have been years when I hid in books, imagining someone else's life in places far and away from my mundane life.

There have been years when I hid in my words, writing whatever is on my heart while not actually dealing with it. Writing the things I couldn't say...because my words come surer on the page than in the air.

Before that, I hid in my play, in Barbies and baby dolls and beanie babies. Pretend the world isn't as it is. Pretend I'm not me.

I hid from my sisters, my friends, my parents, and, until recently, even my husband. Because I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or neat enough. Because whatever face I could show them would be better than me

And now? Now the world hits me full-force because now I'm the shield for my daughter. Because I want her to deal with life and not hide. Not hide behind pretend, pretense, words, or stories.

Her story matters. Her words matter. And I want to hear those words instead of letting her bottle them up inside of her. I want to keep her unveiled because, you know what? She's pretty awesome.

Awesome baby girl

Jun 27, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays: Love Letters and Lists

I'm not sure when I wrote my first love letter to my husband. I know that I was already in high school and feeling like a failure at love. I had one boyfriend when I was in junior high. That "relationship" lasted for 7 days. And then I had a boyfriend for 6 days during my senior year. Woot.

While I had standards (which were pretty much limited to no sex), I definitely was open to the idea of dating. There was one major problem, though: my dad happened to be a pastor. Well, that and I was a good girl who never dreamed of what went on at parties. I wasn't exactly girlfriend material, at least not to red-blooded American teenage boys.

Sometime between my junior year of high school and my freshman year of college, something began to change. I started seeing just how ridiculous high school relationships were (at least most of the ones I saw first-hand). I also began realizing that I didn't just want any guy. I wanted the right guy. And so my love letters began.

Many times, they were written when my heart had been crushed. As the only one in a trio of girls without a boyfriend, lonely was an accurate description of my life then. Lonely and, well, forgotten. My friends didn't mean any harm by it, but it was so much easier for them and their boyfriends to double date or hang out...without me. I was the third wheel, and I knew it. So my letters are stained with tears in some places, tears because I knew that someone was missing in my life, and I mourned that he wasn't with me yet.

I also looked at what the Bible says about the characteristics of a godly man and a godly woman. I knew that I had a lot to learn about being a godly woman, and I began praying for my husband to be a godly man. Then one day, I made the list. Just a few things that I wanted to see in my husband: who love God first and me second, who is in a growing relationship with Christ, who makes me feel safe, who is a deep thinker and thinks for himself, who is committed to following God, who is attracted to my inner beauty, who can make my day better by being there, who can cook (!), who makes me laugh, who is somewhat of a romantic, who loves music, who appreciates my quirks, who is kind and not a liar, who can control his anger...

Can I just say that after re-reading these, I realize that I'm describing my husband to a T? (Yes, he even cooks!) These are the things that I wanted, and God blessed exceedingly abundantly beyond all that I could ask or think!

Soon, it was my last summer before college. That summer, I read a book that changed my perspective on dating and marriage completely: When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy. While I don't agree completely with all that they said, one thing stuck out: they didn't kiss until their wedding day. The more that I thought about it, the more that I wanted that for myself and my future husband. What better way to celebrate our love, to show our commitment to each other, than to save that first kiss? Thankfully, I had not kissed anyone before that, and I truly believe that while I felt alone and unloved, God was protecting me from myself.

Why do I say that? Is kissing so wrong? No! Of course it isn't! And yet it is. It was for my husband and me because neither of us trusted ourselves with just a kiss. And my husband had, years before, made a vow that he wouldn't kiss a woman unless she were his bride. Technically, it didn't matter if I had kissed someone previously, but I'm glad that I hadn't simply because we were on an even playing field when it came to kissing and other physical contact.

Now, all of this happened before I met the man who would be my husband. To a young girl who graduated from a public high school in May 2006. To a young woman who met her future husband in August 2006. (It really is quite a story. Perhaps I should share sometime? There's even a last-minute breaking of the engagement and a reunion!)

And, for the record, my husband still takes those letters out at times and reads them.

Gifts from the heart:

Letters to my future husband
Letters to my baby girl (begun in high school)
Hopes and dreams and wishes written down
List of who he is marking Song of Solomon
Prayers upon prayers written down, marking days and times and seasons of life
Markings in my Bible: notes on when, where, how it applies
Underlinings, circles, and highlighters noting important Words of Life
Bulletins and random papers scattered throughout
Notebooks and pens, writing style that changes with years
Random lists written in between pages
Notes from classes, written and preserved
Notes and underlines in textbooks
Poems and stories, handwritten and typed up
Professors and teachers who made me write
Doodles and pen marks on days that bored me
Gel pens and colored Sharpie markers and coloring pencils and crayons
The simple joy of coloring a page


The permanence of a pen, ink that tattoos our lives...



Jun 24, 2011

Five Minute Fridays: Wonder

It's been another whirlwind week! So, so much going on lately. Thank you for your patience, friends, as I learn to write two (!) blogs. Friday is here, and once again I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo to write without worrying about if it's just right or not! Can I just say that after a week filled with blog posts that I've been worried over, this feels like just the vacation I need? It's the simple things, I guess. This week's topic? Wonder.

Abby at 20 weeks: the day we found out she would be a girl!


Go! 

I sat in wonder at 20 weeks, awing over the sonogram I had received. In awe at the beauty, the glory of God forming in me. And I cried, I cried that God could be so very good.

I sat in wonder several nights...woken up around 5 or 6 by the little body moving around in mine. Just sitting, feeling her move and shift and play. Little baby girl, wrapped inside me...wrapped lovingly by God's hands.

I sat in wonder in February, after almost a day's worth of labor, and just stared at the little life in my arms. Just stared at her nose, at her eyes, at her hands. Awing over this little life just beginning, awing that I already knew her and she already fit.

Abby at birth


I sit in wonder now, listening to her cry from waking herself up. In awe and wonder that she is who she is, how she is a mirrored image of myself, much more social than I could ever be. And I wonder how it is that God brings a life into this world to enrich mine, ours, and shows us who we are, who we have always been, who we have hidden from the world. And it is so good to just wonder a while. 

Abby today


Stop!

Cut this one a little early. Couldn't let my baby girl. keep crying!

Jun 20, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays: Pink

When I found out that I was having a girl last September, I was excited. I had only known girls, being the oldest of three of that gender, and boys? Well, I had no clue. But there was one part that I did not like.

Pink.

Pink was never a good color for me, and I much prefer green or blue or purple or even yellow to the ultra-girly pink.

Pink is what girly-girls wear. Barbie wears pink. Girls who take hours to dress each morning wear pink. My daughter was not going to be one of those girls. Pink was out.

But there's a sad truth to having a girl. Almost all newborn clothes, nearly every girl-specific toy, and *almost every single girl gift at baby showers come only one color: PINK.

At first, I balked. I protested. I looked for other ways, other means. Pink would not be the defining color of my baby girl!

Then she was born. And pink indeed took over much of her wardrobe. And her toys. While there were (and are) other colors, we still have lots of pink.

But I've actually come to like it, accept it. Pink is so much more than a color. It's a mindset, a realization that this child is my daughter, a princess, and longs to be beautiful, even now. (Yes, my four-month-old loves to be put in pretty, albeit comfy, clothes...especially pink ones!) My daughter, even now, is showing her girly side: preferring to be a social butterfly, enjoying shopping trips to the fullest, and already trying to talk up a storm.

Pink. Is absolutely beautiful.

Counting the gifts that pink has brought us:

pink dolls
pink onesies
pink on her diaper covers
pink dresses
pink Moses basket
pink blankets
pink rattles
pink socks
pink pants
pink stroller
pink towels and washcloths
pink bathrobe
pink picture frames
pink photo albums
pink stuffed animals
...and a purple swing. 


Jun 18, 2011

Sisters 'N Cloth

Bloggy friends! I have such exciting news!! Tonight (estimated time is 7 PM), yes tonight, my sister-in-law, Melissa, and I are launching our new blog, Sisters 'N Cloth!

It's been a whirlwind week, from idea to themes to intro posts to Twitter to Facebook to launch! What a ride!

I am excited to be able to share posts about cloth diapers, frugal living, "green" living (to an extent), breastfeeding, babywearing, and homeschooling! We're also planning to have reviews and giveaways. So stop by, grab a cup of coffee, and join in the conversation. We can't wait to share this part of our world with you!

If you'd like to read my thoughts on green living, feel free to visit my post: A Greener View.

If you'd like, you can follow us on Twitter: @sistersncloth or on Facebook:  Sisters 'N Cloth

Jun 15, 2011

Project Love

I read Ann's post today, and the same feelings, the same compassion, overwhelms me. The same that started in September 2010, the same that has been haunting me ever since.

Every Compassion post on Twitter, every mention of writing letters, fuels this desire, this heartache for someone I've never met.

And since September, I've heard, "If you can find a way..." I have tried. But there are bills to pay, loans we can't pay, groceries, clothes, and list goes on. Still, my heart clenches and the tears well up because I know that we are so much better off than so many around this world. How can we make this work?

Right now, I'm working with my sister-in-law on a project that I hope will allow for this, for the love of Christ to be brought to others, for Christ in them to be their hope of glory, for God to be glorified and honored, and for us both to be brought lower.

Would you join me in prayers for this? That we may glorify God through this project, viewing it as much as ministry as anything? That we may be bold in our faith in the circles we will be in? And that, possibly, God would allow for one more child to be sponsored in our name? Thank you, friends.

Jun 10, 2011

Backwards

It's that time of the week again: Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo! Five minutes to just write...to do the "write" thing! (Corny, yes, but please indulge me.) This week's topic is Backwards. And unlike previous weeks, I have no clue what I'm going to write about just yet. ;)



Go!

When I looked up the image for "backwards" (above), I couldn't help but notice the definition. Backwards has one meaning that I've never really considered, but there it was, in black and white. The third (maybe fourth) definition listed said that backwards is "Unwilling to act, reluctant, shy."

That is me in so many ways. I know that I should do something. But I'm unwilling to put myself out there, to risk being hurt. I am reluctant so very often to act on my own (needing, wanting someone to go with me).

It's not that I can't do it on my own. I just prefer some support. Because, well, I'm shy.

Perhaps, instead of this clock here, I should have put a picture of me. In so many ways, I am "backward." Even though you may not tell, even in person, it is my nature. Maybe it's time for me to stop relying on others? Maybe it's time for me to spring forward?

How are you acting backward? Are you reluctant to try something new today?

Stop!

when you don't feel good enough

"Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end, I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." Colossians 1:28-29 (emphasis mine)

I am pretty good at putting myself down. The condemning self-talk only gets worse when I'm feeling tired, worn out, or just blah. It may start out with you didn't wash dishes today...look at the mess piled up on the counter. And then usually there will be an and look at the mess in the living room! You know Drew hates that. Suffice it to say that it escalates from there, sometimes even listing the ways that I'm a terrible wife or mom. Or both.

Tonight was one of those nights. And I just felt...dissatisfied. Because I'm not clean or neat. Because I wish that we had just a little more money...maybe to pay off student loans or buy a few more diapers. Because I miss being pregnant and though my sweet girl is such a joy, she's also a handful. (And, no, I haven't gotten to the part where I would actually have two kids. I don't dream that far ahead...on purpose.) I want so badly to be the person (albeit idealized) that I want to be. The person that I'm sure would do a little better than all of the things I feel that I'm doing wrong.

Here's the rub: I can't. There is nothing in me that is good. Nothing in me that is righteous. Even this idealized form that I aspire to, I cannot get there on my own. There is only this: "Christ in me, the only hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). And there is this: "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved..." (Colossians 3:12).

Because Christ is my hope of glory, because I am holy and beloved, He works mightily in me. He works in me...mightily. So often, I want to be better. I want to do more. And I fail. Why? Because I am relying on my own strength. Because I am not trusting Him to lead me in love. Instead, I lead myself...in fear and distrust. After all, who could love me? Just the way I am?

When I trust God to work mightily in me, I give up my own dreams and wishes for myself. I rely on God to lead. I strive because He leads me to strive. I rest because He leads me to rest. He leads me according to what He knows I can handle. According to what He knows I need. According to His will.

Oh, this is hard. And I fight against it, bucking against the One giving me life. I would rather believe the lies I tell myself than to rest in the Father. I would rather strive, working myself into a fit, than to be at peace. After all, haven't we heard so often that if you just change your mindset, if you just work at it, you can accomplish anything? Do better, work harder, strive. Often, these cries drown out the quiet whisper: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Because He is working in us. He is leading us from glory to glory. In His time.

Where is He leading you? To rest? To strive? To do the thing you think you cannot do? Lean on Him. Trust Him. Yes, it isn't easy. Yes, it's so very hard. But, friend, practice anyway. Because eventually this giving of things to Him, this leaning on Him? It does get easier. Even when it doesn't feel like it.

Jun 3, 2011

Every Day

Another Five-Minute Friday, brought to you by Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama! This week's topic to write about for five glorious, stress-free minutes? Every day. And for this week, I know just the subject! :)

GO!

I wait up every night, whether my little one has gone to bed or not. Whether I'm exhausted by noon or not. I wait up until anywhere from 9 to 11, and just a little after.

Because at that magical hour, just before midnight, my husband comes home from work. Tired and worn out from dealing with the many interesting people at Wal-Mart, he slips in. And I can't help but grin, even when I've been dealing with a fussy baby. Even if he doesn't take her (like I always think he should...after all, I've dealt with her all day!) But I grin because my best friend is home.

The best days are when he opens up and talks about whatever is on his heart. Yes, those days are wonderful. And then sometimes, even if he's still wired and wide awake, he'll snuggle in bed with me until right before I doze off because he knows that I sleep better when he's in the bed too.

Yes, he'll be around for most of the morning. Yes, sometimes he doesn't go in until 4 PM. But his coming home is always the best part of my day. Every day. Every day for three years this Tuesday. And a wonderful three years it's been!

STOP!

June 7, 2008




Thankfully, Little Bit was asleep so that I could take a few minutes and write. :) She has been an active little thing here lately. Just like her Daddy!


Jun 1, 2011

Words

There is a picture of a little boy on my fridge. A newborn, just hours old, wrapped in the sweetest little outfit. He sleeps there, reminding me of a simple truth: he was stillborn. And his parents need prayer.

This side of the grief fence is difficult to walk.

So often, I want to whisper words, but they're just words. Not inspired words. So I stop. Because this I know: when the words I speak are inspired, it does not matter what I say because I can have confidence that God knows exactly what needs to be said. When He inspires my words, they are beautiful, even if they are simple.

So this is what I pray for: words that speak comfort, words I cannot find until they come to me, words that somehow heal the hurting heart and become a balm for the soul. Beautiful, uplifting words.

And this is my prayer for this blog, too. That even when I'm talking about something random that at least one thing will stick. One phrase will make you think. One word will change your heart. Not because I'm just that good. Not because I feel I need an audience. But because I know the One who spoke the world into existence can speak blessings beyond measure to your heart.

He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. His mercies and lovingkindness are new every morning. His grace is so great, so good, so undeserved! He loves us deeply and dearly. He never changes. Great is His faithfulness!!

Wherever you are today, whatever you need God to be, just wait. Be still. Know that He is God.

Because His words, His life-giving words, are coming your way. And His grace is sufficient for you, for His strength is made perfect in your weakness.

May 30, 2011

Multitudes on Mondays: Flats Challenge Edition

Yesterday officially ended the flats challenge, which consisted of handwashing and line drying flats with only five covers daily. At night, we could use whatever diaper we wanted, though we were encouraged to try a flat wrapped in a prefold. (Honestly, I ended up using disposables several times, though I did put Abby in flats two nights on accident because she fell asleep earlier than I thought she would. Yay for Thirsties!)

I am so glad that I did take the challenge! At first, I was a little apprehensive, but I figured that since I'm a stay-at-home mom, I had at least a little more time than moms who work. And since Abby is only 16 weeks, she doesn't have nearly difficult diapers.

Some things the challenge taught me about flats:

1. That crunchy feeling from line drying doesn't have to be there! I just wrung them out a couple of times, and they were soft again!
2. Rinsing them out really does help! Even a "wet pail" or a soak all night just doesn't cut it like rinsing them immediately afterwards (especially with poopy or ammonia diapers).
3. Wearing rubber gloves not only saves your hands from becoming way too dry but also helps when rubbing stains out. Even works on covers!
4. There are other flat folds out there, and even though I use several, there's always something to be said about trying something new. I love the two folds I've found this week (the diaperbag fold and the airplane fold). So much trimmer than I though possible!

This is the diaperbag fold

SO much trimmer than my usual folds!
Another reason why I'm thankful for this challenge is that it really opened my eyes. My husband had been without work for several months before Abby was born, and then he was even out of a job for several weeks after. But God always provided for us. We never went without food (maybe some cravings, but not food!), we had some late bills that were paid for before any utilities were cut off, and we have never gone without the essentials.

One reason why I wanted to cloth diaper is because I knew that even with all of the diapers that had been given to us (and even with the ones still coming in), we would not be able to diaper our daughter with disposables. Thankfully, we had been given money that was set aside specifically for Abby's newborn/small-sized diaper stash. I had the information needed to cloth diaper, even in mostly flats, and I had a washing machine, even if it only runs cold water. I was even able to research several folds because, well, I had the time and I knew how to search for them.

The fact is that many families in similar situations to mine don't know about cloth diapers or they don't have washers or dryers to clean them with. The information just isn't there, so they re-use dried disposable diapers. This challenge was originally formed to raise awareness that there are other methods, other ways to save money on diapers, and that even this cheapest way is doable. Do I think that a single mom would have tons of time to do this? No. But in an emergency? This definitely works. When it's either diapers or food, this method definitely works. 

Do you know how often I have wished for a hot water heater in my washer? Hot water helps break down the detergent so that the diapers are rinsed out quicker. Even a warm wash would have helped. But now I realize just how blessed I am. Even though I don't have hot water running to my washer, I do have it running to my tub. A hot wash in a bucket with a plunger doesn't take that long. And here's the kicker: I can actually rinse my diapers in my cold-water-washer and then put them in the dryer, saving me lots of time! How selfish my wish seems now!

So my grace-gift list this week? I'm so thankful for:

my sister-in-law, who introduced me to modern cloth diapers and then showed me how easy using the most basic diapers really is
those who gave us the money for diapers :)
being able to get through Abby's first four months with the same diapers that were waiting for her at home
my cold-water-only washer!!
my dryer
having information from experience...and sharing it with others
diapers on the line...
being able to use my all-in-one and prefold cloth diapers again!!
tax return money (hopefully used to buy a couple more diapers)
God's great faithfulness: He brought us to the trial, and He is bringing us through it by His great love and grace!
winning diapers in giveaways! especially ones we can use for a long time!
finally trying out a Snappi (thanks to The Great Cloth Diaper Change in Memphis!)
the possibility of this challenge benefiting the lives of others
God's great goodness...so many gifts that I could never deserve





Flats Challenge Link-Up, Day 7!