Friday, September 28, 2007


I went crazy with my camera this week--need to learn how to use more of its features, and I have a fun subject to practice with now :) Elijah and I had a big photo shoot yesterday. I practiced implementing advice from Nick Kelsh, author of How to Photograph Your Baby (a great, non-technical "improve your amateur photography" book). He suggests three basic ways to make your photos better:

  1. Get closer
  2. Turn off your flash
  3. Shoot more film

I've still got plenty of room for improvement with my photography, but just doing those three things makes a huge difference! Thought I'd share a couple of my favorite shots. You can see more here.

(For those of you who think he looks like Steve...I wish you were right, but I sure don't see it. These super-closeup photos look SO much like my baby pictures. I'll try to post some of those sometime next week.)

(P.S. - For you photo buffs/pros reading along, feel free to give me some constructive criticism either here or over at Flickr--I could use any tips you want to pass along :)

Thankful Thursday, Take 49

[You'll have to cut me some slack's awfuly hard to manage to get this up on time lately! But for simplicity's sake we'll keep calling it "Thankful Thursday."]

Thanking God this week for...
  • a great week with Elijah, enough so that I'm finally believing everyone who keeps saying "It gets better, I promise!"
  • five consecutive hours of sleep
  • the little wiggleworm on my lap who's smiling and cooing as I type
  • tiny baby feet
  • last weekend's women's retreat
  • encouragement and empathy from friends
  • my camera
  • Hello
  • advice from people who have been there, done that--on everything from photography to nursing to cloth diapering
  • a long walk on the greenway last night with our little family (and no crying from the stroller)
  • sore muscles from working out
  • my studly personal trainer (aka my husband :)
  • a chance to get out of the house yesterday afternoon and enjoy the company of friends
  • sunshine
  • meeting our insurance deductible (=100% coverage thru December!)
  • apple chips
  • our grill
  • orange bell peppers

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where Were You Ten Years Ago?

Life postpartum for me has been, in a word, overwhelming. I know that description is probably underwhelming--adjusting to a new baby is overwhelming for everyone, right? But it has seemed more so than usual for me--these last almost-seven weeks have seen me feeling completely overwhelmed and broken, with a whole lot of tears.

Part of it is hormones, to be sure. But part of it is also coming face to face with the sin in my heart. I knew God would use motherhood to refine me, and I wanted Him to do so--but I also feared it, because I knew the process would be painful. It's never fun to be confronted with your own ugliness. And there's been plenty of confronting these last several weeks, let me tell you. In some ways motherhood has brought out the worst in me. Compounding matters is the simple fact that I have sown laziness and selfishness for the last two years, and God's Word promises that you reap what you sow--so now I am reaping the consequences of my choices as old habits die hard.

Yet I serve a faithful God, one who is endlessly patient with me and, in His incredible grace, does not treat me as my sins deserve. And time after time, He has provided the encouragement and comfort I need, often using many of you as vessels of His grace and love.

Last Thursday and Friday were, I believe, rock-bottom. I sat at the dining room table on Friday morning holding Elijah and weeping, telling him he deserved a better mama than he got. Our church's women's retreat was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and part of me didn't even want to go. But Friday afternoon with Elijah went better, and so we went (all the ladies from church were so glad to finally be able to pass him around). Of course it was exactly what I needed. Amazingly, both the format and the date were completely different this year than in the past--and though I'm not so arrogant as to believe it all revolves around me, I am thankful that it was when and what it was this year, because it was absolutely what I needed, just when I needed it most.

On Saturday morning, the woman who was leading our discussion group on Proverbs 31 concluded by affirming each of us, saying that although none of us had raised our hands at the beginning claiming that we were a "strong Proverbs 31 woman," we each were, in our own ways. She said some really encouraging things to me that made me realize: I've come a long way, and God's not finished with me yet.

When I look at my sin, it can be so discouraging. I see where I am and where I want to be, and there's such a chasm between the two that I start to despair. At times like that I need to be reminded to turn around and look backwards. I'm not where I want to be--but I'm not where I started, either. When I stop and think about the person I was ten years ago, as a brand-new baby Christian...oh wow. God has brought me so far from that place and taught me so much in that decade. And so I remember that just as He loved me and patiently led me then, so will He continue to gently, compassionately, faithfully complete the good work He began in me.

And I need to look back even further--to the cross. When my sin is overwhelmingly ugly and I am tempted to despair, I can take heart that God's love for me and acceptance of me as His daughter is not dependent on my performance. It was bought for me once and forever, by the blood of His Son.

Life as a New Mom

I'm totally putting "shower" and "eat lunch" on my to-do list now. Getting those things done most days is a real accomplishment, worthy of the satisfaction that comes with crossing them off a list.

(Thanks to Kristin for the idea.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A New Use for Diapers

I can almost guarantee you've never seen anyone do this before. Head over to Luke & Kristin's for a good laugh--it sounds like their little guy, who was born just a few days after Elijah, has a lot in common with our son :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Little Preoccupied...

I don't know how all you blogging mamas do it...motherhood is kicking. my. butt.
Here's all I can manage to put up for this week:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Freeing You from Your Little Definition of Goodness

My Bloglines feed list is already overwhelming. And yet I keep stumbling upon MORE great blogs. The latest? Paul Tripp Ministries. He's in the midst of a series on Psalm 27, so the first post I read included this gem of a quote:

I am still confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (v.13)

Being confident of the goodness of the Lord shouldn't be confused with an assumption that because God is good, he'll give me the things that I've set my heart on. In his grace, God is freeing you from the small confines of your little definition of what's good so that you can experience the huge and satisfying good that he's planned for you. Grace welcomes me to experience what is eternally right, true and good. Grace invites me to good that I could never have imagined, deserved, or earned.

Check it out!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 48

Thanking God this week for...
  • a timely phone call from a friend today when I was feeling frustrated and isolated
  • encouraging emails that arrive at just the right time
  • Elijah's growth and health
  • his starting to make noises besides screaming bloody murder--we much prefer the coos over the crying :)
  • the lactation consultant at my local hospital
  • Steve's sensitivity, servanthood and patience
  • the internet and the vast amount of information at my fingertips
  • novels that are just as good the second time you read them
  • cooler weather
  • long walks with my husband, son and dog
  • pizza
  • homemade chocolate-chip-cookie-ice-cream-sandwiches, courtesy of a friend from church
  • His mercies, new every morning
  • the fact that He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love
  • the glorious gospel that reminds me I'll never be good enough--but I don't have to be

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Important Reminders

I recently discovered a new blog--important enough that I subscribed via email rather than adding it to my feed reader, so I'm sure to read every day's entry. The blog is called "Of First Importance." Its premise:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is "of first importance" (1 Cor 15:3), but we easily forget. Each day this blog will provide one quote to help you live in the good of the gospel.

The first day I subscribed, I was struck by the quote that showed up in my inbox:

“Would I gather arguments for hoping that I shall never be cast away? Where shall I go to find them? Shall I look at my own graces and gifts? Shall I take comfort in my own faith and love, and penitence and zeal, and prayer? Shall I turn to my own heart, and say, ‘This same heart will never be false and cold’?

Oh, no! God forbid! I will look at Calvary and the crucifixion. This is my grand argument: this is my mainstay. I cannot think that He who went through such sufferings to redeem my soul, will let that soul perish after all, when it has once cast itself on Him. Oh, no! What Jesus paid for Jesus will surely keep. He paid dearly for it: He will not let it easily be lost. He died for me when I was yet a dark sinner: He will never forsake me after I have believed. ..."

- J.C. Ryle

Check it out for yourself--and take the opportunity to remind yourself of the main thing every day.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Come on a Safari with Me

My friend Melissa gave Elijah his very first real outfit--she brought it over the first week we were home, but I hadn't tried it on until today. I put it on him this afternoon and almost died laughing from the cuteness. Enjoy:

With the hat and that pillow as background, doesn't he look like he's about to go on some sort of safari expedition?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 47

Thanking God this week for...
  • the sling Steve's cousin made for me to carry Elijah in
  • encouragement from friends
  • meals from friends at church
  • brownies
  • Steve's wonderful cooking abilities
  • a three day weekend last weekend
  • the way Steve spoiled me over the weekend so I could get extra sleep
  • news that faraway friends are moving closer
  • giving me friends with newborns to travel this road alongside
  • late evening walks with Steve, Elijah and Hank
  • hope that transcends circumstances

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Faithful to Meet Me

I had a rough morning. The afternoon wasn't much better, until Elijah finally fell asleep and I was able to get a shower and some time with the Lord. But just now (as my son naps with his daddy and I get a few moments of computer time) I am feeling incredibly blessed. God has met me today--in Psalm 86, much of which felt like I could have penned it myself--in encouraging words from a dear "friend" I don't even know in real life, but whom God in His kindness used to touch my heart (you know who you are...thank you)--and in this blog post over at girltalk:
"Like an astute coach or a gifted teacher, God prepares his saints for the tasks to which he has appointed them before he uses them. Moses, for example, spent forty years in the desert, herding sheep, before God called him to lead his people out of Egypt. What better preparation in patience could there have been for his assignment of leading an equally stubborn flock of people through wilderness for forty years? Similarly, David learned courage from his own experience as a shepherd. Later the one who had learned how to take on wild animals in the defense of his flock would be called upon to take on the biggest wild animal of all, mighty Goliath, in the defense of God's flock. God knows how to prepare his people for the tasks to which they are assigned" (from Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality by Iain M. Duiguid). present difficulty is “preparation for a task.” It isn’t simply something to get through. It is a training tool—to conform me to the image of Christ and make me more useful for him.

That "astute coach" is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love...and faithful to meet me right where I am. And so I praise Him tonight. Truly He "gently leads those that have young" (Isaiah 40:11).