Friday, August 31, 2007

Thankful Thursday Friday, Take 46

A day late...but I have much to be grateful for and need to get back into the habit. These last few weeks, I'm thanking God for...
  • Elijah's safe arrival
  • his health and excellent weight gain since birth
  • the most amazing husband in the world, who has taken incredible care of me and is a joy to watch with his son
  • my parents and their wonderful support
  • my mom's staying for a week to help us
  • my in-laws and their wonderful support
  • my mother-in-law's staying for a week to help us
  • the church women who are bringing us meals
  • the midwives and nurses who provided fantastic care when we were in the hospital
  • the fabulous lactation consultants at the hospital in town
  • an abundant milk supply
  • good health insurance
  • Steve getting more time off than we anticipated
  • cooler temperatures
  • my new diaper bag, ordered from this seller (highly recommended!)
  • cards and packages in the mail from friends and family
  • encouragement from friends and from strangers
  • His grace in revealing my sin
  • His mercy and patience with me
  • the Psalms
  • His promise to "gently lead those that have young" (Isaiah 40:11)
  • sustaining me through the hardest three weeks of my life

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why Can't People Put Their Carts Back?

I have that self-righteous indignation every time I go to Kroger. Next time I may think differently about it, thanks to Mark Lauterbach. This is what I love about him: He can see shopping carts scattered all over a parking lot and make a gospel application. Go read it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Just Chillin'

My newest favorite picture of the little guy:

No, I did not pose him that way...he was just lounging on the changing table :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Cost of Pain Relief

...And the medical bills start rolling in. I am so, so thankful that Steve and I have great health insurance, so this is not a real concern for us. I don't know how people who don't have insurance survive. It is astounding to see how much the hospital charges for things before our insurance knocks it down to the negotiated rate. The pharmacy bill alone for my hospital stay was $935. NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

I took only two drugs while I was there: ibuprofen every six hours or so in postpartum recovery, and Lortab (a narcotic pain reliever) every four hours or so. Now if I round UP, my best guess is I might have taken about 8 ibuprofen and 12 Lortab, at maximum.

If you divide that out by $935, the logical conclusion is: I either need to buy stock in the company that makes Lortab...or I need to start buying generic ibuprofen and reselling it to Vanderbilt.

**UPDATE 9/4: Turns out Laura in the comments below was right. After reading her advice, I called Vanderbilt. Sure enough, we were billed for injections I never received. They've submitted a corrected claim to our insurance--not sure how much it is, but should be a little less unreasonable :) Makes me wonder, though, what other charges we are billed for that we shouldn't be...

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Elijah Owen Kannel
Friday, August 10, 2007
2:58 p.m.
7 pounds, 8 ounces
20 1/2 inches long

We're home from the hospital...feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and blessed by this new little guy :) Blogging will be light to nonexistent for a while, but here are a few more photos to tide you over...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 45

Thanking God this week for...
  • my best friend's delivery of a healthy baby boy!!!!!!!
  • dinner with some good friends from church on Monday night
  • the CD player in my car suddenly, inexplicably working again, after having been broken for several weeks
  • being pregnant in the dead of summer...I know, sounds crazy, but on the bright side, it means I can wear flip-flops 24/7 and not have to cram my hopelessly swollen feet into real shoes
  • air conditioning--the only thing that makes being nine months pregnant in August in Tennessee bearable
  • ceiling fans
  • a slice of lime in a glass of cold water
  • packages in the mail
  • a husband who often helps me cook dinner
  • finding out that we DON'T have to pay $260 in back taxes to the city of Cincinnati like we thought we might (whew!!)
  • encouraging feedback from blog readers
  • grace
  • commitment
  • unconditional love

Haven't said this in a while, but you're always free to add your own in the comments :)

Smoothie No-No

Though it may seem like a great idea, given all the extra fiber and protein, don't ever attempt to put Brewer's Yeast in your homemade smoothie. Even if you don't use near the serving size, the yogurt and berries do not cover up the shockingly awful taste.

I learn these things so you don't have to.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On John Piper and the Reformed Resurgence

Mark Dever has a series going over at the 9 Marks blog, Church Matters, called "Where'd All These Calvinists Come From?" He's examining the various influences that have led to a resurgence of Reformed theology among my generation. This phenomenon was the cover story for Christianity Today in September 2006, and Dever, agreeing with the premise, is proposing the top ten reasons for this growth.

Given that Steve and I are a part of the resurgence--after coming through college thoroughly indoctrinated by the Arminian Wesleyans, I did a full 180-degree turn and embraced what they so staunchly caricatured. I didn't even know what a Calvinist or an Arminian was before I went to Indiana Wesleyan, but quickly learned that the word "Calvinist" was usually accompanied by a tone dripping with disdain. And then I went and graduated and became one :)

But I digress. Given that Steve and I are part of the resurgence, both having come from Arminian backgrounds to be a part of an unapologetically Reformed church, I recently read through the series with interest (part 10 is still to come). Part 9 caught my eye especially, because it's about a theological "hero" of Steve's and mine--John Piper. We're huge fans. The more we read and listen to him, and the more we are exposed to Desiring God Ministries, the more we admire and appreciate him. I could (and perhaps will) do a whole separate post outlining why are so impressed with DGM, particularly their financial policies, but for now, I'll stick to Piper himself.

Truthfully, sometimes I don't like reading his books. But that's because I find his arguments so compelling, and so convicting. When I read Piper, I have to come face to face with the difference between what God calls for, and what I live out. I have to acknowledge the disparity between what I say I believe and what my life says I believe.

His preaching is even better than his writing--and, true to their generosity, DGM has 25 years' worth of his sermons available for free online. Steve has been working his way through Piper's multi-year series on the book of Romans during his morning commute. I think there's a fatherly warmth and tenderness that comes across more in Piper's preaching than in his books. He's one of my favorite preachers.

So, I appreciated this description in "Where'd All These Calvinists Come From? Part 9"--both for its characterization of John Piper, and for its characterization of the sovereignty of God (emphasis mine):

The starkness of John's statements, the uncompromising nature of his sermons' calls and claims have captivated this supposedly word-weary generation. John may have turned 60 not too long ago, but his discipleship, his Bible reading, and his preaching and writing have more of the freshness of the young convert's "anything, God, anything you ask of me" than they do of professorial overstuffed leather chairs with a retirement account to protect.

If nothing else, when he preaches, John makes it clear that the sovereignty of God he's talking about is not the sovereignty of some musty philosophical argument. No, it's the kind of dangerous sovereignty that means God may demand anything--or everything--from you at any time. (And God will never demand as much as He's already given.) And it's the kind of comforting sovereignty which points us to God's kind providential care of his own, and which allows the believer to get through some otherwise desperate nights by considering Christ's love at Calvary.

When everyone else has been out polling to see what people want to hear, or at least how they want to hear it, John has been meditating on Romans, and his own heart, and life as he sees and knows it. And he has been unsparing in reporting what he finds, whether it has to do with the greatness of God, or the foolishness of our own tiny goals and ambitions.

That, my friends, is why we like Piper.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Contact Me

Here's a blogging pet peeve of mine: When people don't have a clear and easy way to contact them from their blog.

I should be able to find, either in your sidebar or your "About Me/Profile" page, your email address, or some sort of comment form where I can contact you personally. Yes, I could just leave a comment in your latest post, but what I want to tell/ask you has absolutely nothing to do with your latest post. I don't want to clutter your comments with off-topic stuff--nor do I necessarily want all your readers to read my note to you. I just want to say hi to you personally.

If you're concerned about getting spam from putting your email address out there, that's easily worked around. Either set up a separate email address just for your blog, so your primary email address doesn't get clogged up--or, even easier, write out your email address in ways that it can't be farmed by auto-spammers. Like this:


Presumably your readers are bright enough to figure it out :)

Please, do me and your other readers a favor, and provide a way for us to contact you. Don't make me hunt fruitlessly for several minutes and then give up!

Monday, August 06, 2007

How to Handle Bad Press

Well, I have to give credit: They, unlike some very un-Internet-savvy companies, know how to handle bad blog reviews. After I wrote a negative post about them a couple of weeks ago to warn you, the company found my blog post and sent me a lengthy email in response: protects its reputation and monitors the blogosphere to insure information posted on our company is truthful and accurate. Through this monitoring, we found your blog comments posted about your husband's Reservation Rewards membership.

...At this time, we'd like to address your concerns by giving you some information on how the membership was initiated. Our records show that on May 16, 2007, when Steve completed an online transaction at he enrolled in Reservation Rewards by clicking on a $10 cash back award... I've enclosed the actual page through which he joined. Please note that directly above the section for entering email addresses, the text advises that you are authorizing the secure transfer of your name, address and credit or debit card information to Reservation Rewards for billing and benefit processing.

Immediately after accepting the membership offer Steve was presented with a membership acknowledgement page and within 10 minutes a membership confirmation email with details on how to use the membership was sent to his email address. These are also attached for you and Steve to review. We sent five
more emails to Steve’s email address from May 17 through June 15, 2007...

I hope this helps to clarify how the Reservation Rewards membership was initiated and why Steve was charged the membership fee.

After looking at the documents they attached and talking with Steve, I still felt kind of baffled...I just have a hard time believing he really would have intentionally signed up for something like that, knowing it was a monthly charge. It's not that he doesn't make mistakes--but I'm definitely the one in our family who signs up for "free trial" deals (and occasionally gets burned by them). Not him.

At any rate, the whole situation was resolved very easily and quickly (Steve's corporate credit card was immediately refunded when he disputed the charge), and I do have to give the company credit for their web presence and the way they handled this. It was only fair for me to update my blog accordingly--so here you go.

Moral of the story: Always read the fine print. And monitor your junk/spam email folder--you never know what important things might be going in there!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Motherhood and the Brevity of Life

The ladies at Metro Moms (a women's ministry blog for one of the Sovereign Grace churches in Florida) had a great series going this past week with reflections on Psalm 90. I'm finding it very edifying as I prepare for motherhood! Check out the index of posts here (scroll down to the bottom of the page for the first one). The lessons include:
  1. A biblical perspective on the brevity of life protects us from self-effort.
  2. It prevents us from the deception of a "time wasters" mentality.
  3. Provides grace-motivated desire to deal with our sins against our children.
  4. We can experience ongoing joy and gladness.
  5. It helps us to long for the spiritual hunger of our children.
  6. It protects us from self-sufficiency by reminding us that God alone can sustain our efforts.
Keep an eye on the homepage--various moms will weigh in on this topic this week.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Response #6: Encourage Them

(The following is part of a series of "responses to the persecuted church" based on a sermon by Eric Schumacher at An Infant in a Cradle. As a preface to his sermon, Schumacher noted: "It is important that we hear these stories. However, hearing them is not enough. We are called to respond. So, I want to ask this question...: How do we respond to the persecuted church?" I'm breaking down his "ten responses to the persecuted church," listing his suggestions and adding my thoughts.)

6. Encourage them.

I can't even remember the last time I wrote a post in this series. And sadly, it's not because of a lack of material. The honest truth is, there are times when I am passionate about the persecuted church...and there are times when it is "out of sight, out of mind." I am selfish and lazy--not willing to put forth the simple effort to do what I need to write about in this post.

I don't know about you, but I love receiving mail. A personal email from a friend is met with great delight--heck, I even get excited about blog comments :) And real mail is even better! I can't help but smile to know that someone is thinking of me and cared enough to take time to write to me. Now imagine for a moment if you were in prison because of your faith. Tortured, beaten, cut off from contact with your family...imagine how dark life would feel at times. But imagine how encouraged you might be to receive a letter from a brother or sister in Christ, praying for you and urging you to stand firm. And imagine how much more it might blow your mind to receive such a letter from someone you don't even know--a complete stranger who took time to encourage you.

You or I can do that for our persecuted brothers and sisters. We can let them know that they are not alone, that they are not overlooked and forgotten. We can remind them of God's precious promises. We can be God's instruments, used to encourage their hearts and enable them to stand firm in what they know to be true.

I'm ashamed to admit that though I've known I could do that for years now, and have thought, "I should do that!" countless times...I've never actually followed through with the thought. There's always something else clamoring for my time and attention. But I knew (and I suppose that's part of the reason for the delay in the series) I couldn't write or publishing this post without being a hypocrite unless I walked the walk first.

So, just now I went over to VOM's and wrote a letter. They've made it incredibly simple--the site offers profiles with information about imprisoned Christians and a page where you can compose a letter in the prisoner's own language. You simply select from a long list of encouraging phrases and Scriptures and print it--adding a few lines of your own in English if you want. Stick it in the mail for less than a dollar (international postage for a standard-size letter is $.90 for most countries, I believe).

Schumacher, in addition to urging us to write to persecuted Christians, offers some thoughts about the importance of the Word of God in encouraging them:

Much of the New Testament, such as the books of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, were written to encourage the suffering church to remain firm in their faith. We find many passages written and spoken for the purpose of encouraging persecuted Christians. (Romans 8:31-39 1 Peter 4:14 Matthew 5:11-12)

Close your eyes and imagine this situation. You and one hundred other Christians are arrested for your faith and imprisoned in a concentration camp. One morning you are all tied, beaten and then lined up on the ground. An officer with a rifle walks to the beginning of the line and begins shooting the prisoners in the back of the head one by one. You are about seventy-five people down the line. Within two minutes he will shoot you. As you lie there, blindfolded, hearing the shots ring out and people crying, you hear the man next to speaking to you, from memory:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11-21)
That would be encouraging, wouldn’t it? You see, books like Revelation were not written so that comfortable, persecution free American Christians could dispute timelines and enjoy a series of imaginative novels. ...The Bible was written by suffering Christians for suffering Christians to encourage them.
To summarize, there are two simple but important ways we can encourage our brothers and sisters:
  • Write to them. Show them that they are not forgotten; urge them to keep running their race with perseverance!
  • Support agencies that get them God’s Word. There is no better way for their faith to be strengthened than by reading about God and His promises.

What are you waiting for? Take five or ten minutes right now to write a letter to the persecuted church.

Previously in this series:
Response #1: Do Not Be Surprised
Response #2: Remember Them
Response #3: Research Them
Response #4: Pray for Them
Response #5: Have Generous Compassion on Them

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Favorites: Neutrogena Tinted Lip Balm

I know several bloggers who do "Friday Favorites," mentioning fun products they have recently discovered or have long enjoyed. So in the interests of getting something quick up tonight so you all don't freak out...

I had this great lipstick in college that I used to wear for ministry team & chorale concerts. It was sheer and subtle, but a little bolder than the pink/brown neutrals I usually wear for everyday, so it was better for being up in front of people. It's almost gone, and they don't make that brand anymore--I hate it when that happens!

I also am always hesitant to buy new makeup because I hate to waste money on something that ends up looking terrible on me. But the other day I decided to give some a try--Neutrogena MoistureShine Tinted Lip Balm. I love it! It just looks like a little tube of chapstick, easy to stick in my pocket, and it even has SPF 20. Sheer, shiny color, not sticky (I'm not a fan of sticky lipstick/lip gloss...and neither is Steve :) Less than $7 and it smells yummy! Best of all, the color--"Nude"--is nearly identical to my old favorite lipstick.

If you check out the shades on the link above, beware that they look totally odd. They're much different in person; the "Nude" I got seems misnamed because it's berry-ish (in fact it looks more like this picture).

So there's your little bit of randomness from me tonight :)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 44

Goodness, aren't YOU thankful--not just one but THREE posts today! Wasn't planning on it--but I completely forgot until just now that today was Thankful Thursday :)

This week I'm thanking God for...
  • the midwives I see every week now
  • the few shirts I have that are long enough to cover my belly
  • milk
  • ice packs
  • the guest bedroom sheets I bought on mega-sale last weekend
  • all the baby items we've been generously given
  • Steve's remodeling skills
  • encouragement from others
  • indoor plumbing--those poor pregnant women back in the days of outhouses, I can't imagine!
  • Steve's job
  • colors and patterns
  • companies with great customer service
  • the satisfaction of crossing items off my to-do list
  • His preserving grace

ESTIMATED Date of Delivery

[warning: cranky pregnant woman rant ahead]

My dear friend and fellow nine-months-pregnant woman Julie posted a helpful list a few days ago of "things not to say to a pregnant woman." It is astounding, really, the rude things people feel free to say to you when you are expecting. I've gotten a couple of the ones Julie listed, and added one of my own in the comments.

However, the question I'm finding increasingly annoying lately is not at all rude like the ones on Julie's list. It's a perfectly normal and common question, without the least bit of insensitivity or stupidity on the part of the asker. I just find it personally obnoxious because I'm anal-retentive like that. The question I'm tired of is, "So exactly how much longer do you have now?"

Have you ever heard the abbreviation "EDD"? It stands for Estimated Date of Delivery (or Expected Date of Delivery, or Estimated Due Date). It reminds me that my "due date" is an ESTIMATE: an educated GUESS. The fact is, your guess is as good as mine or my midwife's as to when this baby will be born. I do not know. She does not, either.

I knew before I even got pregnant that I wanted to try extra hard not to get attached to a certain date. Babies--especially babies of first time moms--just aren't that predictable. And I have personally seen due dates make expectant parents crazy, on more than one occasion. So I didn't circle a number on the calendar and write "Baby!" And I purposely have told almost no one specifically what the "exact due date" is--because the very phrase itself is oxymoronic.

It is highly, highly likely that Baby Kannel will be an August baby. But this is a baby, not a library book. If he/she sticks around past my "EDD," he/she is not "overdue." God has ordained the days of this baby's life before one of them came to be, and He alone knows the perfect time for delivery.

Consider also:
  • Only 5% of babies are born on their due dates. (source)
  • "It's perfectly normal for 80 percent of healthy babies to have anywhere from a 38- to 42-week gestation. Several generations ago, a physician might tell an expectant mother that she was due 'sometime in late October or early November'" (source)
  • "Robert Mittendord of the University of Chicago Medical Center has isolated 16 factors that can influence the accuracy of a predicted due date. ...First-time mothers can almost be counted on to deliver ten days or more after their due date."(source)
  • "No two women gestate for the same length of time. The 244 days of gestation used to calculate from your last period is an 'average.' It does not represent the 'ideal' length of pregnancy." (source)

That's why I'm trying to avoid preoccupation with a specific date. Frankly, I find it pointless. I want Baby to come when he or she is ready, not when the due date calculator says it's time. In other words, it could be tonight. Or a week from now. Or not until the end of the month. I have absolutely no idea. And that's why I find the question "How much longer do you have?" somewhat tiresome.

(Disclaimer: This post is not directed personally at any readers of this blog, and I hope none will find it offensive. If you have asked me this, you are definitely in the majority, and it's a perfectly innocent question--I am not annoyed with YOU, simply with the concept. It's just my anal-retentive take on pregnancy, and this is my blog, so I'm allowed to rant about stupid things once in while. Humor a pregnant woman, okay?)


A Reminder of Mortality and Mercy

John Piper has posted a profound and moving reflection in response to yesterday's Minneapolis bridge collapse.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Blogging Until Baby

OK, OK, everyone...let's not jump to conclusions...48 hours without a blog post does not automatically mean Amy is at the hospital in labor :)

I do understand the suspense though. I have felt the same way when pregnant blogger friends of mine went a while without posting! So, I'll make you a deal: Now that it's August, I'll start posting daily until the baby comes. If a whole day goes by without a post...don't hold your breath, it might just be pregnancy brain causing me to forget. But if two whole days pass and you still haven't heard from me, you can safely assume I'm at the hospital. If you get lucky I might even post telling you we're on our way there (I should have time as I plan to labor at home as long as possible--though who knows if I'll be in the mood to stop and sit down at the computer to blog :).

It'll be good for me to be disciplined about blogging every day, and then you all can relax :) Deal?