Mar 31, 2011

Mantra of a Stay-at-Home Mom

When I started this post, I had spent one day at home. One half-day with little fussing and plenty of Daddy time.

Yep. It was a good day. I had a very attentive baby who enjoyed Bible story time, watched without a fuss as I cleaned her room, and in general let me do what I wanted.

Then yesterday came. Yesterday, with its extra-fussy, extra-tired, no-naptime baby who mysteriously took the place of my usually content daughter. It was all I could do to get a meal together so that I could eat, much less spend any time to myself! She even cried when I went to the bathroom! By the time Daddy came home, I was more than ready to hand her over to him just so that my arms could get a rest. Yep. Yesterday.

Yesterday challenged what I had wanted to say two nights ago. I had wanted to say that as long as I have my daughter to keep me entertained, as long as I am privileged to teach her, then I would have no problems staying at home and exploring her small world with her. And I still think that, to some extent.

But I also realize that I need adult conversation, I need breaks from watching my daughter all the time, and I need the ability to grow in more ways than as a mother. I realize that my little girl will only be this little for a short time, and I do intend to make every minute count. I intend to fully enjoy her, to count the many blessings God gives me as I watch her grow up, and to love her unconditionally (yes-even if she does keep my baths short and my hair unruly) because I do know what it's like to crave these moments and not have them. Oh, I would most definitely trade all of the free time, all of the me time, just to have these precious minutes. As long as some of these minutes are sprinkled with Daddy time, Mimi time, Gigi time.

I can't do this alone, as much as I would love to. For the times when I have to, though, I will definitely count the blessings in it, see the small joys that are mine alone, and praise God for the chance to influence this life.

(Side note: I am anxiously waiting for Five Minute Friday! Seriously giddy to start some sort of plan to get me writing more.)
Here's the skinny and the button:
Want to join me?
1. Write for only five minutes.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Go leave some comment love for the five minuter
who linked up before you.

Mar 28, 2011

Feeding on His Faithfulness

 Psalm 37. This is the chapter that God showed me the week after graduation last May. I could clearly hear Him as I read these verses, especially the ones about resting, not fretting, and trusting God to take care of us. My mind focused on the previous semester, one that left me underweight from all the stress that I faced. I had no idea how powerful these words would be just 10 months later...after being jobless for almost five months  with the anticipation of a baby. I also didn't realize just how often God would show His glory to us: rent has always been made, we have never gone hungry, our daughter has had every need met (clothes, diapers, bath supplies, toys, and a ridiculous amount of blankets), and *most* of our bills have been paid. And now? He has graciously supplied Drew with a job that will hopefully let us catch up on our student loans!

I honestly have no clue how we have been able to pay bills, how each month rent is made, but I do know that God promised that He would take care of us. He promised, and He has provided exceedingly abundantly above all that we asked or thought (Ephesians 3:20). Our daughter will never need clothes (my cousin has a ton from her girls), toys (I'm fairly certain that the ones she has will suffice...and that her grandparents will be unable to restrain from buying a few more), or food (since I'm taking care of that for now). We even have diapers covered for a while since I'm cloth diapering. The only thing we'll need are covers, and that is still further off. "Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness," really says what we've been doing. Not always without fear, not always perfectly, but always. And still, because jobs are undependable and things don't always turn out the way that we plan. Despite our limited view, He still takes care of us. Daily blessings are multiplied when all is seen as a gift from God. :)


1 Do not fret because of evildoers,
         Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,
         And wither as the green herb.
 3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
         Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD,
         And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
 5 Commit your way to the LORD,
         Trust also in Him,
         And He shall bring it to pass.
 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
         And your justice as the noonday.
 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him;
         Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
         Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
         Do not fret—it only causes harm.
 9 For evildoers shall be cut off;
         But those who wait on the LORD,
         They shall inherit the earth.
 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more;
         Indeed, you will look carefully for his place,
         But it shall be no more.
 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth,
         And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
 12 The wicked plots against the just,
         And gnashes at him with his teeth.
 13 The Lord laughs at him,
         For He sees that his day is coming.
 14 The wicked have drawn the sword
         And have bent their bow,
         To cast down the poor and needy,
         To slay those who are of upright conduct.
 15 Their sword shall enter their own heart,
         And their bows shall be broken.
 16 A little that a righteous man has
         Is better than the riches of many wicked.
 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
         But the LORD upholds the righteous.
 18 The LORD knows the days of the upright,
         And their inheritance shall be forever.
 19 They shall not be ashamed in the evil time,
         And in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
 20 But the wicked shall perish;
         And the enemies of the LORD,
         Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
         Into smoke they shall vanish away.
 21 The wicked borrows and does not repay,
         But the righteous shows mercy and gives.
 22 For those blessed by Him shall inherit the earth,
         But those cursed by Him shall be cut off.
 23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
         And He delights in his way.
 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
         For the LORD upholds him with His hand.
 25 I have been young, and now am old;
         Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
         Nor his descendants begging bread.
 26 He is ever merciful, and lends;
         And his descendants are blessed.
 27 Depart from evil, and do good;
         And dwell forevermore.
 28 For the LORD loves justice,
         And does not forsake His saints;
         They are preserved forever,
         But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off.
 29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
         And dwell in it forever.
 30 The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom,
         And his tongue talks of justice.
 31 The law of his God is in his heart;
         None of his steps shall slide.
 32 The wicked watches the righteous,
         And seeks to slay him.
 33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand,
         Nor condemn him when he is judged.
 34 Wait on the LORD,
         And keep His way,
         And He shall exalt you to inherit the land;
         When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
 35 I have seen the wicked in great power,
         And spreading himself like a native green tree.
 36 Yet he passed away,[a] and behold, he was no more;
         Indeed I sought him, but he could not be found.
 37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright;
         For the future of that man is peace.
 38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together;
         The future of the wicked shall be cut off.
 39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
         He is their strength in the time of trouble.
 40 And the LORD shall help them and deliver them;
         He shall deliver them from the wicked,
         And save them,
         Because they trust in Him.

Mar 27, 2011

The Orange Peel

(written during the summer of 2009, but so relevant to today)

I eat an orange for breakfast everyday.  Okay, so it’s really a Clementine, but most people have never heard of them.  Imagine a smaller, sweeter Satsuma.  Don’t know what that is either?  How about a smaller, sweeter tangerine?  Got it?  Good.

So today I was peeling my Clementine when I noticed something strange.  Most of the time, I can peel Clementines quite easily, leaving most of the peel intact.  This Clementine, though, was stubborn.  I had barely started peeling when part of the flesh came out.  So I started in another area.  Before long, the peel broke.  Again and again I tried to peel it, but when I was finished, the poor thing looked as though I had gashed out its flesh on purpose.

I pulled apart the Clementine to start eating it, but even then the skin broke and juice spilled out.  Almost every action I took against the Clementine hurt it in some way, whether small or great.

Know what it reminded me of?  Me.  I am the Clementine.  I cling onto the outer shell of who I’m not.  The part that no one, especially God, can use.  So when God starts pulling off the areas that I know need to be taken, I hurt.  I make it a much bigger deal than the situation has to be because I’m clinging to the things that He has deemed unnecessary.

As I pulled apart the Clementine bit by bit, I told God that I felt like the Clementine.  I felt as though God had been breaking me little by little over the past summer.  Honestly, I felt like the bits of me that He had successfully cleared of the outside skin were open for the entire world to see.  My flesh had been broken in such a severe way that it was open to all sorts of things:  the air, diseases, germs, bugs, and even people.  Where He has broken me, I am the most vulnerable.

I’m scared right now.  I’m hurting.  I wonder if God will fix the hurt areas, though I know He can.  I can’t help but think that He doesn’t have to make me feel better.  He doesn’t have to make me well again.  (Honestly, if He did cure my wounds, I’m almost certain that I would run back to the outer skin that He has already peeled off of me.)  But God is there.  He is making me useful in the ways He needs me.  He is preparing me to be so much more than just a Clementine that just sits around.  He is preparing me to be eaten.  (By the way, what happens to anything that is not eaten for any length of time?  That’s right…it rots and is good for nothing but to be cast into the fire…or put in the compost pile!)

“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says- “I cannot stand any more.” God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands.” Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest

Mar 24, 2011

Abiella Kaitlyn

I read "All is grace," I examine my own life, and I see it is true. But.

I look at the life of a friend of my husband, someone I honestly barely know, and I can't see it. I cry tears long buried in my own heart for her; I wake to crying, my daughter needing food, and I cry trying to feed a starving soul. So many of my own hurts resurface, so many unanswered questions come calling again, and I pray healing Balm of Gilead over the soul I once was.

Because almost two years ago, my dreams and hopes were shattered.

I had wanted nothing more than to be a mommy, and it had looked like my desires were going to be filled. I was able to look at the baby aisles with excitement and not anxiousness. There was so much joy even in thinking that God chose me and my husband to have a baby!

And then eight days passed, and I started bleeding. The ultrasound showed no baby, and I was sent home. Two days later, my husband and I went back to the hospital and birthed the remains of our hope alone in the ER.

Devastated doesn't begin to describe how I felt, but I didn't question God's goodness nor His love for me. It happened, but it was fairly common. I named the baby Abiah, which means "God is my Father," to show that, though I was hurting, I still trusted. Slowly, I began to find my feet again. By the end of summer, I was almost happy again.

In September, I found that I was pregnant again, and once again, I was over the moon. God had given us a second chance! A fresh start in the fall-what a wonderful way to count down the days until spring! For four blissful days, I wondered once more in the beauty and mystery of early pregnancy. Then Thursday came. Thursday, with its hope and promise of the weekend, turned to despair and anxiety when I saw the blood.

The doctor, though, couldn't say if the baby would live. Too small for a heartbeat, but not too small for a picture. More bloodwork would have to be done. Results would be in on Monday. Call if anything changes.

Friday came, and there was even more bleeding. Still, the baby had not passed. Had hung on another day. Hope. But Saturday morning, before dawn, I felt this baby pass as well. Second from my womb given to God early. So very early. Monday's ultrasound confirmed it. Ronan, my "little seal" put on my womb-promising that there would be children.

At first, I had such a peace about it. I could thank God, see good in it. Then the questions came. The hard ones that no one can answer except God Himself. Aren't You supposed to be good? How is this good? How can You say You love me, when You take the very thing that I want most? The thing that I feel deep in my soul is my calling in life? How can this be part of Your plan? Your will?

The most haunting questioned His love. And I retreated. I said, "No, God." I would not count anything as joy because what joy could there be when two of my children died before I could even see them? When only God knew anything about them other than they were ours, mine. I retreated because it was easy.

Then again, I really did want answers. I wanted hope. I craved joy. At my deepest hurt, I said I hated God for what He had done, and there were no words that could calm my soul. But as I began looking for answers, I realized that no one wanted to give them to me. There were few comforting words outside of family ties, no matter how I craved them. So I found them where they were hidden: online. Bloggers like Angie Smith and pastors like Francis Chan spoke to my heart in ways that no one else had, and when friends and even church members had no words or spoke hurting words instead, God saw that my heart did have what it needed.

I slowly retreated into a world that blocked out the pain by focusing on the good: I read how suffering brings us closer to Christ, about how Christians are called to suffer for Christ's sake, and how doing so brings us even closer to the glory that God wants us to be. I reveled in how God takes the sufferings of this world and redeems it all for His glory. But I still did not see how He loved me.

Until. One morning I drove to school under one of the cloud-blankets that occasionally comes up. For some reason, I looked at the clouds, even though there never is anything seen in this particular kind of cloudy sky. And there it was, plain as day: a tiny baby being held in much larger hands. I cried tears of joy because I knew that God was sending me a love letter in those clouds, and through the tears, I watched the image, burning it into my mind, until a grove of trees covered it. Once I had passed the trees, I looked again and could not believe my eyes. There was another baby being covered with angel's wings, so tiny and precious. And I cried even harder because God had proven it: He loves me! He loves me enough to show me my babies, the ones I had never had a chance to see. He loves me enough to remember, and He loves me enough to allow me to share.

It would be a grave lie to say that I immediately found joy again, but I did think so at the time. Instead, I gradually opened myself to see the riches of His grace and the joy found therein.

And then, in May, just over a year since the first miscarriage, I once again found that I was pregnant. I was so cautious, so afraid, but I realized early on that I could not live in fear. So I gave my child up to the only One who could take care of the babe. Daily, hourly, I prayed for God to have His way. I prayed that God would do His will, no matter what that outcome would be.

Gradually, May became June, June became July, then the summer that seemed like it would last forever found its way into September, and we saw our little girl for the first time. So many tears of joy filled the next several months...and then it was February. And she was born. And she was here, our Abiella Kaitlyn, "God is my [pure] Father." My daily reminder that God's ways are pure, holy and He knows what He is doing. My daily reminder that God numbers our days, collects our tears in a bottle, knows our hurts and weaknesses, and still is daily transfiguring us from glory to glory.

And this is why I cry for the one whose baby was stillborn. This is why I ache for her, cry for her, pray for her. Because out of all the lessons God uses to perfect His children, the loss of a child is the hardest to bear. Because out of all the losses out there, losing a child who hasn't spent one day outside the womb is the hardest for others to understand.

The world doesn't go on for you, even when others are getting pregnant, having babies, and living. And once you have lost a child before it is born, there is the fear that you may have more that won't be. There is the thought, however dark, that you may not have been a good enough mother. That God doesn't like you. That you weren't good enough to be a mother. Lies that the enemy tells to make us second-guess and question. Lies that tear apart the already fragile heart.

My heart has heard the lies, but I see now what then I could not. That God gives so many daily gifts that to question His love seems ridiculous. That His grace is sufficient for me because His strength is made perfect in my weakness. That thanking Him for these grace-gifts bring unmerited, immeasurable joy. That even in my two miscarriages, I can find joy. For what other way would I know pain? What other way could I minister to others than by experiencing deep sorrow first-hand? And it's more than just practical application: I know for certain that I will see them in heaven. I know that I will never have to question their salvation. I know that God can take much better care of them than I ever could. I know that I have two less lives to worry about. And, most importantly, I would not have my daughter if I had either one of them. I would not have her smiles, her grins, or her personality. She was made at just the right time for just the right purpose, and I could not choose her siblings, no matter how much I miss them, over her.

Oh, my Abiella Kaitlyn, you are a beautiful promise, a breathtaking reminder of God's sovereignty and love.

 Have you heard about the She Speaks Conference--a conference for women who seek to connect the hearts of women to His heart-- a place for those who desire to serve Him as he leads--a place I cannot see myself--a place He whispers I need to see...

She Speaks Conference

This post has been submitted for a scholarship to go simply because God, using this special writer and lovely woman, called me to come out of my comfort zone...Won't you join me? It's getting a little too crowded in here...

Mar 18, 2011

Beside the Still Waters

I have a very long story that would explain why and how my daughter is such a miracle to me and my family, but I think I'll save it for another day. Suffice it to say that my pregnancy was very long and full of worry on my part. And that since she was born just over a month ago, I have been living each day between joy at every single minute and preparation for what I fear may happen.

Now, this isn't just the run-of-the-mill fear. Not just a minute or two of fretting. Nope. This special brand happens to include hours of freaking out over I did last night. Despite my sleep deprivation.

I already suspected that I have an anxiety disorder. After yesterday, with all of its deep-pitted fear, I'm fairly certain.

But what finally subdued my thoughts, what finally started to ebb away the gripping fear, was the most common verses known to man, except perhaps John 3:16.

I have overlooked Psalm 23 for ages, completely ignoring the meaning behind those verses, what gives them such power. Then again, I am a sheep, dumb and deaf to the words of the Shepherd.

And, honestly, it was only two verses that really caught my attention.
"He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."

He doesn't cause me to eat in green pastures, but to lie down. To rest. In my Bible, it explains that sheep are disturbed by any noises, any commotion (sort of like my daughter before she enters that deep, deep sleep). So for a sheep (a whole flock!) to lie down means that they feel totally, completely secure. That they have no cares or worries in the world. Not at all like I was last night

Then, He leads me beside still waters. Again, my Bible points out that sheep are afraid of rushing waters. They can only rest beside the still waters. (Oddly enough, the memory of a bubbling brook helped me drift off to sleep last night.)

Still waters. Green pastures. Peace. As He restores my soul.

Oh, my soul needed restoring last night. My soul aches from carrying so much worry, so much stress. The dumb sheep strikes again. See, the sheep don't have to figure out their paths. No, the Shepherd "leads [them] in the paths of righteousness." And for almost a year now, my husband and I have been in the path of the Shepherd but we've been trying to figure out where this path is taking us. We've been trying to do things our way with our logic, when the Shepherd already knows our way. And He knows why He is taking us down this path: "for His name's sake."

His name's sake. His glory, His honor, His purpose. To righteous paths with righteous destinations so that He can be glorified. So that He can be honored.

Yes, caring for and nurturing my daughter did not bring this fear to me, but it did bring it to the surface. My ignorance, my similarity to the sheep.

I am dumb. I am easily spooked and frightened. But. God isn't finished with me. He is leading me in the paths of righteousness. And when I remember that I can trust in Him and not my own "logic," then I can truly rest beside the still waters and in the green pastures.